Archive for the ‘Convenience Stores’ Category

Sign Blight Ordinance is Needed

November 12, 2009
This week  has brought news that the City of Dallas is being sued to fight the sign blight ordinance that was enacted last year. Apparently the plaintiffs feel that their free speech is being violated, when the reality is that the city is trying to clean up its neighborhoods.  Corporations like 7/11 have their own store rules and do not permit excessive covering of windows, and it would be nice if all stores would follow suit and clean up a bit.
When you go downtown to Neiman Marcus, they don’t have 10 signs papering the windows. You know what Neiman’s is offering inside. Well, the same theory should apply to stores and businesses throughout the city. Sharon Grigsby of the DMN states need need for such an ordinance here.
I know that the City Attorney’s office is confident that this case can be defended. This ordinance took quite a long time to be presented to City Council to make sure it would stand against the inevitable lawsuits by various groups.
Dallas’ ordinance leaves ample opportunity for businesses to promote at their location. I’m glad the city is deciding to fight. For neighborhoods like Oak Cliff, South Dallas, and others, such an ordinance is needed.

A Busy Week at City Hall

August 17, 2008

There are a few things coming up this week at City Hall which are interesting.

The Convenience Store Crime Ordinance is presented to the Public Safety Committee. Channel 8 News reports on this. I have written about convenience store crime as well as this ordinance in the past. The Task Force has done a great job in tackling this issue.

There is an update on ‘No Refusal DWI Patrols.’ Another effort is planned for Labor Day weekend.

Reunion Arena should be demolished by the end of 2009. Actual demo will take about 9 months. The city is continuing to look at the option of refurbishing the Dallas Convention Center Arena to compete with smaller venues like Nokia for concerts and other events.

The housing committee looks at “Permanent Supportive Housing,” which focuses on housing the homeless throughout the various council districts.

More after the jump.

Convenience Store Crime Task Force
As we meet with convenience store owners in the district, many of them claim to be powerless at getting rid or crime. Some have said that they are scared to call 911 because they are by themselves. In the past, because the store is technically “private property” DPD has not been able to issue Criminal Trespass warnings.

There are certain parts of this new ordinance that permit the police to address the issue of people hanging around the store and looking for trouble.

Definition of Convenience Store:
Primarily engaged in the retail sale of convenience goods
and/or gasoline and less than 10,000 square feet of retail
floor space.

1. Registration of Convenience Stores
– Must register with Dallas Police Department (no registration fee).

2. Surveillance Camera System (18 month grace period)
3. Video Recording and Storage (18 month grace period)
24 hour operation, minimum 30 day retention

4. Alarm System (18 month grace period)
– Silent panic or holdup alarm; Signage and permit required

5. Drop Safe (18 month grace period)
– Bolted to floor, Signage required
6. Security Signs and Height Markers
– No Trespassing/No Soliciting
– Height markers

7. Visibility (reduced window clutter per the new sign ordinance)

8. Employee Safety
– Employee safety training program, approved by DPD

9. Criminal Trespass (CT) Affidavit Program
– Chronic offenders
– Mandatory

The Mayor is Listening! Convenience Store Crime is being Addressed

May 28, 2008

For some time, I have been writing about convenience store crime in the City of Dallas. I am glad the Mayor and DPD are working to assemble a group that will make recommendations to address this issue. The panel is tentatively called the Mayor’s Convenience Store Crime Task Force.

According to reports, DPD officers responded to more than 6,300 calls to convenience stores from 2004-2007. These recommendations should come back to council committee near the end of June.
Here’s the clip from CBS 11 news:

Grocery Stores Selling Drug Paraphernalia

May 25, 2008

This story caught my eye this weekend:

Police Bust Denton Store For Selling Drug Items

It talks about a store in The Colony that was busted selling crack pipes.

If you think that these stores are only in Denton County, you’re kidding yourself. This is a problem all over Dallas. There were a few busts at stores in Lake Highlands a few years back, but it’s still a huge problem.

These items do not look like an actual crack pipe like you’ve seen in a movie. They are four-inch glass tube with a removable fake rose inside. They are sometimes sold separately or in a kit with a steel-wood pad, which is used to filter the crack rock or meth so these addicts can get high. The nicknames used include “”straight shooter,” “love rose,” “”rose tubes,” and a “glass.”

The so-called rose is simply a way to give the store owner an “out” and claim ignorance of its real purpose. But if 9 out of 10 people that buy the item look suspect, what would you think? The store owners know exactly what they’re doing.

The pictures on this post are from various news sources.

They’re already banned in Michigan, Chicago and San Francisco. In Washington, DC, citizens challenged the liquor license of every store that sold the items.

We need your help to help root out these plagues on the neighborhood. No one person can rid the community of drugs, but if we all pitch in we can make a difference.

Turner Courts – Learning, Hope, and Frustration

January 6, 2008

Yesterday, we had our first “official meeting” in Turner Courts. Turner Courts is part of District Four. I have been there multiple times, but this is meeting we like to do in which we really get to work on various issues. Janet Morrison talked about it on her blog as well (link).

I learned that such a meeting hadn’t taken place in Turner Courts in over 8 years. If that happened to you, how would you feel? I don’t blame them one bit for their frustration.

The strangest thing I learned is that Rochester Park is part of multiple council districts. How crazy is that? I guess that’s how the districts have been gerrymandered all of these years.

One thing that I told the neighbors is that I don’t expect them to believe a word we’re saying. These residents have been promised things year after year with no results. I think they realize that we are serious and genuine, and are eager for change. They are some of the most courageous people we have in our district. They have decided to mobilize and organize to make their neighborhood safer and to create more opportunities.

What really angered me was the corner grocery stores in the neighborhood. I look forward to when the health department follows up on the pictures taken of the brown (!) meat which was 5 days past expired. These same store owners also let drug dealers congregate around the stores.

I love these people, and believe they feel the same about us. We won’t let them down. In fact, our follow up meetings are already set up (when you have super assistants like Stephanie and Esmeralda that are always thinking one step ahead of you, that’s how it goes down!!!). The appreciation, hugs, and warm wishes I get every time I go to Turner Courts remind me why I do these things in the City. It’s why comments from haters that have their own issues don’t affect the mission. It’s easy to go into an area during election time, but the work starts the day after you’re elected and never ends.

It’s also easy to to throw rocks at people from your comfy perch or radio show when you don’t have the guts to go into the hood and tell store owners and thugs what will have to change. That’s what WE do. With or without the TV cameras.

I appreciate all of the people that came out to our Turner Courts neighborhood meeting, from the residents to the city staff and various departments. We are fortunate to have them in our corner.

10 Drops in the Bucket – A Visual Take

December 23, 2007

Last week, the Dallas Morning News had an editorial called 10 Drops in the Bucket (link). The focus are ten places in southern Dallas that need fixing, cleaning up, or closing. The editors said that they would focus on these ten issues, follow up, and then find another ten things to talk about (pdf map).

I figured I would take it to the next level by offering you the visual of what they are writing about, courtesy of Google Street View. You can zoom in on each picture by clicking ‘full screen’ once you get to Google.

This is the type of thing that all papers should be doing. I thank them for using their voice to try to effect change.

More after the jump. Let’s go:

(Right click to view in a separate window)

1. The house near Imperial and Montie streets cries out for code compliance – or any other inspector the city might have handy. The three tiny plywood shacks in the back yard – each reportedly rents for about $400 per month – are straight out of a Third World country. And the old toilets and trash covering nearby lots also soil the landscape (pic).

2. The pile of police reports detailing incidents at the Southern Comfort Motel stands half a foot high. Assaults, robberies, car jackings, unexplained deaths, prostitution and drug sales have been reported at the business on Lancaster Road. Neighbors and city staff members already have launched proceedings that ultimately could shutter Southern Comfort. But with an elementary school two blocks away, the resolution can’t come soon enough (pic). Note: The City Plan Commission, of which I am a member, voted to deny the Specific Use Permit for this motel to operate. They are on their last leg and fighting on multiple fronts to stay open. They have likely spent more on lawyers than cleaning up this filthy place.

3. Abandoned lots and buildings in the 5800 block of South Lamar have become makeshift parking lots and open-air markets. For sale: cinderblocks and dirty mattresses, among other things. Lack of code enforcement may have been good for business – but lousy for the neighborhood (pic).


4. The Dallas Zoo is an attraction that should lure visitors from across North Texas to the southern part of the city. But for families exiting Interstate 35E one of the first businesses they’ll see is the ramshackle Dallas Inn. One look at the broken windows and the bombed-out-looking building, and zoo-goers might be tempted to turn around and head home (pic).

5. You can’t pull up a chair and enjoy your Frosty in the Wendy’s at Lancaster Road and Kiest Boulevard. The drive-through-only restaurant wants your money but won’t allow you to take a seat, leaving pedestrian patrons to eat on the sidewalk. In the future, the city should take a hard look at requests to build eating establishments that lack tables and chairs (pic).

6. The Bishop Arts District is a bright spot in north Oak Cliff, but it’s a pretty small spot. The boundaries seem to be marked by the absence of curbs and sidewalks on surrounding streets. With the addition of basic infrastructure, Madison Avenue could offer spillover parking for the district; right now, it’s a muddy, weedy mess (pic).

7. The intersection of Hampton Road and Ledbetter Drive has become a popular destination with a Fiesta supermarket, a Subway sandwich shop and an assortment of specialty stores. But the surrounding landscape is littered with old-fashioned telephone poles and exposed lines. These relics of the past are a rare sight on the north side of town. This busy corner and plenty of other southern Dallas neighborhoods would benefit from having the lines buried (pic).

8. The car wash near Sunnyvale Street and Ledbetter Drive has become a big draw – for people who arrive on foot. Neighbors report seeing open drug use and constant loitering. But despite their complaints, the car wash continues to draw a crowd (pic).

9. The low-powered street lights along Jefferson Boulevard make this marketplace a not-so-inviting place once the sun sets. Some additional wattage could go a long way toward attracting shoppers and diners. Surely buying some brighter bulbs would not be too much to ask (pic).

10. At the original Rosemont Elementary School campus, the recreational amenities consist of a rutted asphalt patch surrounded by a rusty chain-link fence near Mary Cliff Road and Ranier Street. Replacing the asphalt with a small expanse of grass – or perhaps some playground equipment – would make this neighborhood a more kid-friendly place (pic).

Reward for Slain Grocer

September 17, 2007

The DMN reports that the family of Alemu Abebe, a convenience store owner killed by three men in a fatal robbery at 825 S. Carroll Ave in September 2004, is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the case.

The paper says that anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477 or the Dallas police homicide unit at 214-671-3661.

Many of these grocery store murders go unsolved due to the lack of witnesses, clear videotapes, and information.

  • The murder of the grocer at Samuell & Hunnicut in Buckner Terrace from last summer is still unsolved.
  • The murder of the grocer on Hall Street near Roseland Homes this past July is still unsolved.
  • The murder of the grocer across from Chi’s Grocery at Denley & Morrell in Oak Cliff from June 2006 is still unsolved.

None of these three stores mentioned have reopened, which hurts the community in multiple ways. I’ve written about this several times in the past.

There are many others which I cannot recall, and the sheer number is disheartening. However, we must continue to fight in our communities the best we can.

August 4, 2006

Do you See what I See?

(Since Dallas Progress has a lot more readers than when we first started this blog, I figured that I would re-publish this particular piece.)

People ask me why I write what I write. Do you know why? It’s because our communities have a LONG way to go.

I have seen prostitutes with no upper-body clothing walking up and down the street in the daytime, while school kids walk home.

I have seen grocery stores that look like a bomb hit them. Overpriced dated meats sold by understaffed stores that take your money only because they have no choice.

I see shopping center owners (of all races) getting rich while they allow thugs to congregate and harass working people, kids, and seniors.

I see motel owners that allow full-scale prostitution, dope dealing, you name it.

I get pissed every time I hear about a kid caught in the crossfire. Why? Because my 5-year old sister was killed in a gang crossfire when my Mother was 8 months pregnant with me. That was in 1973 and NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

Where I’m from, I’m used to elected officials in the ‘hood being outraged enough to hit the streets themselves and lead protests and put real laws on the books … not to cry about ‘the man’ and ‘the media’, but against the knuckleheads and thugs that treat the community like its personal toilet.

A lot of people in power treat the community in the same fashion.

I am optimistic. I KNOW it can change, but only if some major changes go down. Who cares if we have a shiny new building if Grandma is scared to walk down the street to go check it out?

I’m sick of everyone saying it’s North Dallas vs. South Dallas, this group vs. that group. It’s the media….it’s the police chief… it’s about everybody but the person in mirror. Good grief – it’s about right and wrong. Open your eyes! Do you see what I see?

And that’s why I write what I write.

June 30, 2006

The Tale of Two Corners

Dallas’ Progress isn’t just about flashy hotels like the W and its accompanying development. It’s about the un-famous people who risk their lives to provide services to neighborhoods and put food on the table for their families.

Just 2 miles away from the W, on the other side of the Trinity (and for all intents and purposes, the world) sits Oak Cliff.

Oak Cliff is under siege. One of the many ‘ground zeros’ in Oak Cliff is at the corner of Denley and Morrell (map).

I was already working on a positive story about Chi’s Grocery, the first new store in the middle of Oak Cliff in some time. Chi’s store is on the corner of Denley & Morrell. Chi’s Grocery is a success story, having been at another store at the same intersection for more than 10 years. He recently moved into a renovated store with more space, more items, and no burglar bars. As mentioned in the Dallas Morning News, Chi’s Grocery is a store where kids can get items for upping their grades and seniors can get items on credit.

Chi’s old store, now called the Morrell Food Mart, recently got a new tenant.

According to Shaun Rabb’s Fox 4 News report, Morrell Food Mart quickly got a good reputation for having good breakfast and burgers. Two weeks after the store was opened, the owner is dead.

He was found beaten to death in the middle of the morning. In broad daylight, a man is murdered and his dreams shattered. The Grand Opening sign is still posted!

This is at least the 5th murder in the past few weeks in Oak Cliff. Just this week, there have been 2 other killings and several shootings.

Somehow, we have to get a handle on the crime in Oak Cliff. While the District 4 councilperson was clicking wine glasses at the W last night, ordinary citizens are just trying to make it. I wonder when was the last time she has been to Morrell and Denley. I would guess never, but I could be wrong. Everything is not political, but the ignoring of this area is political.

The W Hotel …… Morrell & Denley. 3 miles apart…Totally different worlds. This is an area where some rent houses cost less per month than one night at the W Hotel ($320+) and a trip to the Ghostbar (drinks $15 and up).

I’m sure the residents would love to have a townhall meeting on crime, drugs, and gun violence. But I doubt it will happen. If she can make time to go to a hotel opening at Victory Park, can’t she make time for the residents of her own district?

What’s going to be done about the violence in Oak Cliff?

June 24, 2006

Do you See what I See?
People ask me why I write what I write. Do you know why? It’s because our communities have a LONG way to go.

I have seen prostitutes with no upper-body clothing walking up and down the street in the daytime, while school kids walk home.

I have seen grocery stores that look like a bomb hit them. Overpriced dated meats sold by understaffed stores that take your money only because they have no choice.

I see shopping center owners (of all races) getting rich while they allow thugs to congregate and harass working people, kids, and seniors.

I see motel owners that allow full-scale prostitution, dope dealing, you name it.

I get pissed every time I hear about a kid caught in the crossfire. Why? Because my 5-year old sister was killed in a gang crossfire when my Mother was 8 months pregnant with me. That was in 1973 and NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

Where I’m from, I’m used to elected officials in the ‘hood being outraged enough to hit the streets themselves and lead protests and put real laws on the books … not to cry about ‘the man’ and ‘the media’, but against the knuckleheads and thugs that treat the community like its personal toilet.

A lot of people in power treat the community in the same fashion.

I am optimistic. I KNOW it can change, but only if some major changes go down. Who cares if we have a shiny new building if Grandma is scared to walk down the street to go check it out?

I’m sick of everyone saying it’s North Dallas vs. South Dallas, this group vs. that group. It’s the media….it’s the police chief… it’s about everybody but the person in mirror. Good grief – it’s about right and wrong. Open your eyes! Do you see what I see?

And that’s why I write what I write.