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Dallas City Council

Sheltering rules updated by Dallas City Council

Winter Skyline Dallas City Council
“Calatrava Bridge with Downtown Dallas 2, 01-31-11” by skys the limit2 is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

Dallas’s City Council has once again updated rules regarding sheltering the homeless population. This change will be a welcome one that follows years of debate. Even then, it still isn’t exactly what some Dallas groups were looking for.

An update to the rule

On November 11th, City Council decided to update the rules for housing homeless residents overnight. The change will allow specific types of businesses to let the homeless stay overnight. Only specific, permitted businesses were allowed. Prior to the change, any business that was not on the list was given a fine or ticketed by the city.

According to DFW’s local NBC website, this all started when OurCalling let people in due to an impending extreme cold front. Almost two years ago now, this event caused quite a stir throughout the city. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center opened to the homeless that night. Unfortunately, the convention center did not have enough beds for everyone and many people were left out on the streets. OurCalling decided to take in many of those left without a warm place to sleep due to this. The next day, the business received a ticket for their kind actions. A faith-based organization, OurCalling is an outreach in the Cedars Neighborhood. It aims to aid the homeless and was only abiding by its mission. Businesses looking to help have fought since OurCalling’s stand to get this rule changed.

The coming winter

We at Air Conditioning Dallas are excited to see the change, especially with this rough winter coming up. It’ll be a difficult winter not only due to the cold, but also because of the pandemic. The rule change will allow churches and outreach organizations to house the homeless when emergency weather strikes. The caveat to the rule is that these businesses must be a half mile outside of Dallas’s financial district. Several of the city’s homeless residents stay in this downtown area, so it’s sure to displace many. It is still unsure whether or not the city will have enough beds to host the entire population.

OurCalling and other organizations like it plan to continue the fight. We have yet to see if Dallas City Council will make additional changes, but are hopeful they will. Regardless, this new change will allow many less-fortunate residents the opportunity to sleep somewhere warm this winter.

We provide this news as a service to our friends and neighbors. If you’re ever in need of AC repair in Dallas, Texas, we ask that you keep us in mind.

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Dallas City Council Dallas Police

Dallas passes new city budget for 2021

Dallas City Council has voted to increase the overall budget for next year to $3.8 billion. The vote was heavily contended on both sides due to this years’ efforts and calls to defund police departments across the nation. Perhaps the most difficult question on next years’ budget was whether to increase or decrease police spending.

At the end of an hours long meeting and after months of budget town hall meetings and feedback, City Council voted to increase the budget for this next year. Though the largest portion of the budget goes towards the costs of running the city, including economic development and infrastructure, the budget also features an amendment to police spending. General police spending was increased by $8 million, while taking $7 million from the police overtime budget. The decision to increase the spending budget while decreasing the overtime passed with an 11-4 vote, and upset some of the city’s leaders and citizens that were fighting for a larger change to defund Dallas police following the recent calls for police reform sweeping the nation.

Overall, the vote to pass this next years’ increase, 9-6, was seen as more controversial than last years’ vote, 15-0. The reason for this sudden change from previous unanimous votes was due to the controversy surrounding police defunding.

The budget increase also features a reduction to Dallas’ current property tax rate, cutting $0.0003 per $100 assessed valuation (DallasWeekly.com). This will be a continuation of years of property tax rates, but sees a positive change for the city’s residents. Residents had largely all agreed at the town hall meetings on the cuts.

Overall, this 2021 budget attempts to meet the best of both worlds when it comes to the people of Dallas’ views regarding police, despite upset from both sides. In addition, City Council’s hope is that these changes, including the decreased property tax, will continue to provide the best way forward for the vast majority of Dallas citizens. 

This news is provided as a service to our friends and neighbors. If you’re ever in need of AC repair in Dallas, Texas, we ask that you keep us in mind.

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Dallas City Council DFW Dining

City Council makes positive changes for COVID-era restaurants

Outdoor cafes Dallas dining
“Dining along a pedestrian passage, Main Street Dallas” by Payton Chung is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

According to the Dallas Observer, Dallas City Council has approved a change that will affect city restaurants in a major way. Previously, restaurants were required to have at least one parking spot per one hundred to two hundred square feet of space1. Dallas eateries also had to have patio or outside seating areas be enclosed. City Council’s latest decision allows these businesses to bypass the old rules that limit actual eating space and make the most of their room.

The original rules were made to ensure that guests have easy parking at the city’s restaurants. In a state that prioritizes open space so much, this was an ideal situation for most restaurant guests in Texas, at least prior to the COVID era. In these times, the amount of restaurant guests tends to be at a minimum but their never seems to be enough space, especially since everyone must be six feet apart and it’s typically ideal to be seated outside.

City Council’s newest rule change will allow Dallas restaurants to expand their existing spaces and creep into the parking spots that they’ve had all along. The one caveat to that will be that, though the outdoor “parking lot” seating won’t be expected to be enclosed, it will be required to have a covering. Fortunately, that can be as simple as purchasing a tent for most restaurants.

Outdoor dining across the US

Outdoor seating has proved to be one of the most interesting challenges for modern restaurants in the United States, and it has brought out some ingenious solutions from the most creative of restauranteurs. The city of Chicago, Illinois, recently held a contest to see who could create the best outdoor dining setup for winter. Being the “windy city” and being located in the upper Midwest, Chicago has multiple challenges when it comes to its outdoor dining, but it is not alone. In multiple areas across the country, outdoor heaters are nearly impossible to find. Others that are located in warmer climates have been more fortunate, but still face the challenge of making the most of their space. In virtually every city in the US, restaurants have been rushing (and struggling) to keep up with the sudden changes required of them.

Possibly one of the most creative new concepts in the restaurant scene is the invention of the outdoor parking spot patio. In other cities, dining spots have taken advantage of all the space they can by transforming their parking spots into unique eating areas. Some have gone as far as getting permission from their local governments to use city-owned parking that’s extremely close by.

A short-term solution

According to City Council, the new rule will be in place until April 2021 and will hopefully bring back some of the industry’s customers. The change may end up lasting even longer, but we aren’t certain yet. We have yet to see what’ll happen with Dallas’s restaurants now that the change has taken place, but we have no doubt that the city’s restauranteurs will bring their best when it comes to their new freedom – especially given the innovation we’ve seen in the Dallas restaurant industry so far.

We provide this news as a service to our friends and neighbors. If you’re in need of AC repair in Dallas, Texas, we’d appreciate you thinking of us.

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Dallas City Council News

City lists open bid for removal of “Shingle Mountain”

On September 24th, an open bid for the removal of the controversial 70,000 ton mountain of shingles in South Dallas to the nearby McCommas Bluff Landfill was posted.

Shingle Mountain, the abandoned roof shingle recycling facility off of Central Expressway, has been more than an eyesore for years to the city. Area residents and environmental activists alike have called for its removal due to the danger it poses to air quality, since the shingles cause fiberglass dust to fill the air. To attempt getting the mountain removed, one resident went so far as to create the Southern Sector Rising organization. The group works with other legal groups, including Downwinders At Risk and Texas Rising, to push for not only the removal of Shingle Mountain, but also changes to environmental zoning in Texas that protect low income and minority neighborhoods from other similar incidents.

Due to the massive effort by members of the Dallas community, the city listed the opening worth $450,000 and has already received bids from multiple businesses. The top bid will still have to pass City Council in a vote happening on October 13th, so members of the city are nervous, but remaining hopeful, that this will finally be it for Shingle Mountain.

This news is provided as a service to our friends and neighbors. If you’re ever in need of AC repair in Dallas, Texas, we ask that you keep us in mind.