Is "Stuff Dwaine Caraway Likes" officially a meme yet? If not, can we make it one? Because every time he opens his mouth, something fascinating emerges. (See sagging pants and, again, sagging pants, and the roof at Fair Park Coliseum, all in just the few weeks I've been paying attention).
Today, it was as the City Council's Quality of Life committee received an update on a proposed ordinance to regulate street vendors downtown. There were questions, like what exactly is the dress code? (Answer: Shirt, pants, and an ID badge); Isn't $1,200 per year a lot for a permit? (The consensus of the committee was yes.); Isn't it ironic that the city is "fostering" street life downtown by implementing more regulations? (Councilwoman Sandy Greyson says yes.); Isn't a maximum of 12 permits per vendor too high? (Consensus was yes, that's way too many).
Caraway then told assistant city manager Joey Zapata that there are vending conglomerates salivating at the chance to corner the downtown market and implored Zapata to put in place regulations to ensure that the smaller operations have an equal shot. "Y'all better have it right before y'all come, because it ain't gonna go. I'll tell you that straight up."
That's only part of Caraway's vision. Dallas, he also said, has one of the deadest downtowns in the country because the city hasn't marketed it properly but also because its popcorn options suck. "We need a popcorn vendor," he told the committee. "Folks will say, 'I'm going to get some popcorn. (Their family will tell them) bring me back some popcorn.' Especially if it's good popcorn."
That's exactly what would happen at H.L. Green's when Caraway was growing up. People would be there all the time, all because of the popcorn and cashew nuts. Which is why, in its downtown vending ordinance, the city needs to choose what type of vendor is best suited for which specific location. He didn't say, but we can assume that one or several of these spots would be exclusively dedicated to popcorn.
So there you have it. Downtown hasn't suffered because it is geared toward commuters or that the city has been historically reluctant to allow residential development or anything resembling nightlife. No, it's because you haven't been able to buy a bag of buttery, fresh-made popcorn on the street corner. Luckily, city zoning rules could soon change that, which will only push downtown's creeping revival into overdrive. If you pop it, they will come.