On S. Lamar, Drinks Are on the Council!

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This council meeting leftover, which is no small morsel: Mayor Tom Leppert was vehemently against granting Augustine Ekukpe a specific use permit to open a bar called Neighborhood Sports Cafe on South Lamar Street, between Starks Avenue and Haven Street. Said the mayor during the council's Wednesday meeting, "If we look to the future in these neighborhoods where we want to see good things happen, at some point we need to make calls" against allowing permits for "alcoholic beverage establishments." Granting a SUP for a bar, he said, would be in direct opposition to public and private investment in a neighborhood in desperate need of "retail, housing and commercial" development, such as the kind suggested during last year's Urban Land Institute design competition.

Carolyn Davis disagreed with the mayor, insisting that Ekukpe was precisely the kind of business owner needed on South Lamar -- industrious, responsible. After speaking of assembling a South Lamar task force within the next two years, she found an ally in Steve Salazar, who said that South Lamar's "an area that needs change to happen" and that "this is one of those transitional uses that is acceptable."

Which goes completely against what Gerald Britt Jr. wrote in yesterday's Dallas Morning News. In his op-ed, the vice president of public policy at Central Dallas Ministries begged the council to vote against allowing the bar: "That familiar axiom 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results' springs to mind. This is no way to change South Dallas." D's Trey Garrison dismissed Britt's argument, lambasting it as the work of "jihadist holy rollers trying to impose their neo-prohibitionist will on an entire swath of the city."

The council eventually voted to grant Ekukpe the SUP, good for two years, against the advice of city staff. And it did so unanimously.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky