Oak Lawn councilwomen propose compromise
A proposal to prohibit new retail alcohol sales businesses within 1,000 feet of all Dallas public schools may get watered down before it reaches the City Council.
Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, said he is confident “cooler heads will prevail.” The proposed measure would affect Oak Lawn and Uptown.
“Everything I have been told is that this is going to be slowed way, way down,” Doughman said. “They can’t do it as a blanket proposal because it really is going to have a negative economic impact on the major entertainment districts.
The city’s Quality of Life Committee voted 6-0 last week to recommend the city create 1,000-foot alcohol-free zones around all Dallas Independent School District schools. Only new liquor stores, bars, clubs and other businesses generating more than 50 percent of their sales from alcohol would be banned.
The proposal would prevent existing alcohol sales businesses from being sold to anyone other than a surviving spouse or child.
The committee’s vote followed the passage of a resolution last month by DISD trustees asking the city to create alcohol-free zones around all of the system’s 180 schools or at least dozen schools considered to be in jeopardy. Similar zones are already in place around 13 DISD schools, mostly in South Dallas.
City Council members James Fantroy and Leo Chaney, both of South Dallas, spoke out in favor of the proposal.
The measure will be passed to the city’s Economic Development Committee for review before it is placed on the City Council’s agenda, said Councilman Ed Oakley. That committee will likely consider revisions to the proposal, he said.
“Nobody is trying to sell alcohol and economic development on the backs of children, but there are some urban areas where alcohol sales are acceptable,” Oakley said.
Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, said all of the school and business areas in the city need to be studied to determine where intervention in alcohol sales is needed. She favors implementing alcohol-free zones only in problem areas.
“If they are not having a problem in an area, why do this?” Medrano said. “I think we need to have each City Council member and school district member to study their districts who is having the problem?”
Medrano said consideration needs to be given to whether entertainment businesses have been good neighbors to schools. She noted that nightclubs in Oak Lawn have “adopted” Sam Houston Elementary School in Oak Lawn and has for years provided help to the school and students in terms of gifts, supplies and tutoring.
City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, whose district also includes parts of Oak Lawn, said she believes the majority of City Council members will agree to a milder approach to the problem.
“I think it is important that we work with out school districts to ensure safe schools,” Hunt said. “At the same time we have alcohol businesses downtown and in Oak Lawn that have proven to be good partners with nearby schools. Hunt said she plans to propose that businesses and schools that have not experienced problems be excluded from the alcohol-free zone.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 6, 2006.