As City Council Tries to Build a "Walkable" City, a Side Trip Down the Sidewalk

Every so often in city council committee briefings, you'll see the words "Forward Dallas!," which kinda rings a bell? Anyway, there's that phrase again this morning -- this time in the Economic Development Committee's briefing package labeled Streetscape Licenses. As "walkability" is the new buzz word, this morning the committee gets 'round to discussing ways to create "a pedestrian friendly environment" and "walkable mixed use areas" -- which means, quite simply, prettying up and widening sidewalks to allow for things like cafes and crowds, one of the mandates of Forward Dallas. Sorry -- Forward Dallas!

Right now, Section 43-115 of the Dallas City Code allows the city to license and charge for business owners' access to the public right-of-way -- say, $1,000 for every an awning, or between $1,000 to $2,500 for a sidewalk cafe. But the meeting this morning suggests the city's rethinking that -- not only because Forward Dallas! demands such niceties, but for far more practical reasons. "With economic slowdown," says this morning's briefing, there is "some indication that not all license fees can be honored." Hence, the discussion to reduce fees or raise incentives.