LOCAL BRIEFS: Brite hosts therapy discussion, RCD unveils new website

Brite hosts therapy discussion

FORT WORTH — Brite Divinity School will host an evening conversation addressing practices of therapy for the LGBT community on Monday, Feb. 27.

Marshall.Joretta

Joretta Marshall

Speakers will discuss “reparative therapy” as well as “factors that contribute to a helpful experience of affirming therapy for LGBTQI persons.”

Speakers include Dr. David Jenkins from Brite’s School of Social Work who will share some of his research on what makes for good and helpful therapeutic work. Brite’s newly appointed dean, Joretta Marshall, and Cody Sanders will also serve on the panel.

The discussion, which is free and open to the public, runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brite Divinity School, Bass Conference Center, 2925 Princeton St., Fort Worth.

RCD unveils new website

Resource Center Dallas has redesigned its website to provide easier access to its assortment of services and events.

One of the new features on the website is “Share Your Story,” and RCD wants to hear from people in the community. Drawings will be held April 15, Aug. 15 and Dec. 15 to win tickets to GayBingo. To enter, go to www.rcdallas.org/about-the-center/share-your-story.

“How has Resource Center Dallas changed your life? Perhaps our education and advocacy made things better in your workplace. Maybe volunteering with one of our programs reinforced your reasons for giving back to the community. Did our services help improve or restore your health? Or, maybe the Center’s staff and volunteers went above and beyond to assist you.”

Lone Star Ride kick-off party

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS hosts its first fundraiser of the season on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Simpson.Danny

Danny Simpson

LSR will receive 10 percent of alcohol sales. Complimentary food will be served. Get a wristband at the door.

The happy hour is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Sangria, 4524 Cole Ave., Dallas. To attend, email LRS co-chair Danny Simpson at danny@77nmotion.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Flashing lights won’t fix Cedar Springs’ No. 1 problem: Shabbiness

Community must work together to spiff up our strip, which wasn’t even included in Dallas’ ‘Complete Streets’ program until recently

Phyllis Guest
Taking Notes

Afriend and I went to a Jan. 12 meeting at the Round-Up Saloon, hosted by Dallas City Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano. The meeting was called to address the epidemic of pedestrian traffic accidents on Cedar Springs Road.

We listened to a city engineer, other city staff, a police officer and local businesspeople. The engineer showed us slides of Cedar Springs as it is and as the city proposed to change it in three stages.

If you read David Taffet’s article on Page 6 of the Jan. 27 issue of Dallas Voice, you know what’s proposed. And if you’ve been on Cedar Springs, you can’t have missed the most obvious change: yellow warning flashers, first at Knight Street, then at Reagan.

They are supposed to flash 24/7 for a month, then only when a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street. However, when I left the Oak Lawn Library on Tuesday, Jan. 31, the flasher at Knight — just in front of the library and the corner of Ilume — was not flashing. Hmmm.

I also went to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association meeting Jan. 25. There, Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Mayor Mike Rawlings, took questions and listened to comments during the first half of the meeting. I thought the most important point was made by Luke Crosland, ilume’s developer: The area generates $30 million a year in alcohol sales.

That’s a huge amount of revenue. With the next phase of ilume scheduled for development, and with more and more apartments replacing the area’s older homes, no doubt that revenue stream will grow.

In the second part of the meeting, CSMA Executive Director Scott Whittall spoke of the traffic study the city will conduct throughout February to help officials make more decisions about traffic problems and solutions. Whittall also announced a new campaign, online and presumably in print, to market “The Strip on Cedar Springs.” (Go to TinyUrl.com/8yb7uj8 to enter the logo design contest.)

Finally, after asking CSMA attendees to sign up for one of two committees, “traffic problems” or “taxi solutions,” Whittall announced a whole calendar of events for the remainder of 2012. All are geared to attract locals and visitors to The Strip.

Sounds good.

And if more crosswalk lights, pedestrian signs and police patrols will keep people from being run down, that certainly is good.

But changing the behavior of pedestrians and drivers is not the main problem.

The main problem is shabbiness.

Drive slowly up and down Cedar Springs as I did on Tuesday at midday.

Look at the very different storefronts, the very disparate signage.

Look at the street, cracked and torn and unevenly marked.

Look at the sidewalks, also cracked and torn. In some places, curbs are high, in other places low, in still others slanted to accommodate the disabled. Holes as big as a boot are everywhere. Round metal whatevers are inserted along portions of the sidewalk holding what look like tall twigs. Even if the twigs spring to life next month, they will still look weird.

This is a major “entertainment district” in a major American city? This is our answer to Manhattan’s Great White Way or Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade?

Our area was not even included in Dallas’ Complete Streets planning. In fact, I had never heard of “Complete Streets” until it appeared on the city’s handout of short-term, medium-term, and long-term Cedar Springs Pedestrian Safety Improvements. On the handout, as you might guess, it was No. 12, a long-term option to “Review area for Complete Street design.”

Check out www.dallascompletestreets.com. You’ll see that nine areas have already been selected for attention and investment, apparently by city staff or consultants. You’ll also see a list of workshops held this past November and December, none in our area and none advertised in the Dallas Voice.

How do we get from shabby to spiffy? We talk to the Dallas City Council, we talk to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, we talk to the Dallas Complete Streets planners, and we talk to one another. Perhaps we organize the equivalent of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, which works on conserving what’s best and reworking what’s not.

Today. We can start today. Each of us can make one phone call or write one email, and make one post on Facebook or Twitter.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to editor@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Cedar Springs gets flashier

Crosswalk lights, signs represent 1st phase of pedestrian safety plan

IMG_6176

SIGN, SIGN, EVERYWHERE | New signs warn pedestrians to use crosswalks, above, and cars to watch for pedestrians. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

City crews have begun implementing a three-part plan to make Cedar Springs safer for pedestrians with the installation of new signs and crosswalks. The short-term plan should be completed over the next few weeks.

Then, engineering studies will be conducted in February to determine whether additional traffic signals are needed and whether a turn lane should be removed. If warranted, that work will be done in June.

A long-term study will include the possibility of adding a center island with trees and wider sidewalks, and reducing traffic to two lanes.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Cedar Springs Merchant Association discussed the safety improvements during its first monthly meeting of the year, which was attended byIMG_6167-1-(dragged) Paula Blackmon, Mayor Mike Rawlings’ chief of staff.

In response to four traffic accidents involving pedestrians that included two fatalities within two months, the city has been working to find solutions to improve safety in the entertainment district, which the Merchant Association now refers to as The Strip on Cedar Springs.

“We want to see The Strip become the international destination that it should be,” said ilume developer Luke Crosland. He said ilume 2, to be built on property diagonally across from ilume, could break ground within the next few weeks. Crosland favors the two-lane approach to make the area more pedestrian friendly and more attractive.

He mentioned that The Strip does $30 million in alcohol sales annually and he’s about to invest $55 million in construction there — and he expressed frustration with the city for not paying closer attention to an important economic engine.

The short-term solution for traffic and pedestrian safety is almost complete. That plan began with the installation of additional street lighting early in January.

New crosswalks have been painted at Knight Street, with eye-level yellow warning flashers added at Knight and Reagan streets. For the first 30 days, the lights will flash constantly to warn drivers of pedestrians in the area. After that, they’ll be activated by buttons.

“No pedestrian crossing” signs were installed in the middle of the block in front of Kroger and ilume. Additional police enforcement has also begun. On Thursday morning, police cars were patrolling Cedar Springs Road after Buli owner Robert Clauson and others at the meeting asked for additional patrols.

Also this week, a push to educate pedestrians got under way. The effort includes fliers distributed by Cedar Springs merchants to explain the pedestrian crossing lights and encourage everyone to cross only in marked places.

The last item on the first phase of the plan is the lighted crosswalk near the Round-Up Saloon, which will be raised 6 inches to slow traffic. Yield bars will be painted in the street in advance of the crosswalk to distance vehicles from pedestrians.

In February, a study will be conducted to determine whether traffic signals are needed at Knight Street and Reagan Street. The study is expected to show that a signal is needed at Knight Street. The signal has already been paid for and would be installed in June.

The study is also expected to call for the removal of the island and turn lane on the southeast corner of Cedar Springs and Douglas.

Cedar Springs Merchant Association Executive Director Scott Whittall said the study may determine that from Reagan Street onto Cedar Springs would be safer as a right turn only from either direction.

The plan also calls for looking for “opportunities to install trees or other vegetation to calm traffic.”
CSMA formed two committees. One will be to create a long-term traffic plan for The Strip. The second is to create a plan for where taxis can stop to pick up fares along Cedar Springs Road.

Whittall announced upcoming events on Cedar Springs including the March Wine Walk and Easter in the Park. The Merchant Association took over that event last year with just a few weeks notice when its longtime sponsor, the Turtle Creek Association, pulled out.

Whittall said that word-of-mouth about last year’s reintroduction of Razzle Dazzle Dallas was strong. He expected twice as many people to attend this year’s main event on June 9. An announcement about entertainment will be made soon.

He also announced a new marketing campaign. He said that the entertainment district’s Facebook page was taken down and will be reintroduced in March after a new logo is chosen from a contest the merchants are holding.

The group is marketing the area as The Strip on Cedar Springs, which is how it is now most commonly known. Since Crossroads Market closed, few continue to refer to the area as The Crossroads.

Whittall compared The Strip’s Facebook fan page to that of Bishop Arts District. BAD has more than 17,000 fans, while Cedar Springs had just a few thousand. He said that was because the page was called the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, which sounded like it was a trade group rather than an entertainment district.

The logo contest-winner will be named at Easter in the Park and the new The Strip on Cedar Springs Facebook page will be launched then.

……………………

The Cedar Springs Merchant Association is running a contest to design a new logo. For more info or to enter, go to TinyUrl.com/8yb7uj8.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas voters to decide alcohol sales propositions

Hunky’s in Bishop Arts would benefit from Proposition 2

Four propositions appear on Tuesday’s ballot in the city of Dallas.

Proposition 1 would lift restrictions on the sale of beer and wine in convenience and grocery stores throughout the city. Proposition 2 would allow restaurants throughout the city to sell beer and wine without becoming private clubs.

Currently, restaurants in dry areas that want to sell alcohol must become private clubs. The owner of Vera Cruz in Bishop Arts said his board, made up of a group of his neighbors, meets three times a week to vote members in and out. He rents a storage unit just to store all the paperwork.

Kathy Jack, owner of Jack’s Backyard, told Dallas Voice that since alcohol distributors aren’t allowed to deliver to dry areas, her employees regularly have to pick up their alcohol.

Outside an early voting location in Oak Cliff last week, opponents of both propositions were campaigning.

“They do nothing but bring down our community,” said Tyrone Rushing. “I don’t want that in my community.” He was specifically opposing Proposition 1.

“We are for a safer environment,” Rhaneesh Dixon added.

The “No” vote is being coordinated by liquor stores that line the streets on the borders between wet and dry areas. They do not want the competition. If Oak Cliff residents could buy beer and wine at Tom Thumb on Hampton Road or Kroger at Wynnewood Village, they wouldn’t cross the river to shop at the run-down liquor stores on Riverfront Boulevard.

If the propositions pass, opponents of beer and wine sales plan to seek an injunction. They claim the election that made Oak Cliff dry was a Justice of the Peace District 7 election. The current election is countywide. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission code, JP district elections trump county elections and only a JP district election can repeal a JP district vote.

Propositions 3 and 4 are related to the sale of two parks by the city. For more on them, go here.

—  David Taffet

Wet or dry? November vote could impact LGBT neighborhoods

Liquor sales proposals could loosen restrictions, but mishmash of  laws, districts still leave some doubt

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Carolyn Beck
Carolyn Beck

Dallasites may vote to allow the sale of beer and wine throughout the city, including one of the largest LGBT neighborhoods, Oak Cliff, but even if they vote yes, questions could remain on the legality of liquor sales in some areas.

Two separate proposals will be on the November ballot in Dallas. Either would loosen but not eliminate the dry laws in parts of East Dallas, North Dallas including all areas of the city in Denton and Collin counties, West Dallas and everything south of the Trinity River including all of Oak Cliff.

One proposal will allow grocery stores throughout the city to sell beer and wine. The other will let restaurants that have liquor licenses sell drinks without issuing memberships.

Package stores and bars will still be illegal in those areas.

From Oak Cliff’s gay neighborhoods, the closest available stores currently allowed to sell liquor, beer and wine are those that line Industrial Boulevard within blocks of each bridge that crosses the river.

However, Carolyn Beck, Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission’s liaison to the LGBT community, said she has heard from several sources questioning the validity of the citywide election.

“I’ve gotten questions about whether or not the election would apply to Oak Cliff,” she said.

She is referring to section 251.72 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code.

That regulation states, “An authorized voting unit retains the status adopted until status is changed by a subsequent election in same authorized voting unit.”

Section 251.73 says that results from a Justice of the Peace district election prevail against a city election if the JP precinct is wholly contained by the city.

In 1960, JP 7 held an election that failed to make alcohol sales legal. The vote was 22,439 against to 13,768 for. That JP district included Oak Cliff.

A previous election in the 1890s banned alcohol sales in the city of Oak Cliff. In 1903, Oak Cliff was annexed by the city of Dallas. Prohibition intervened, but once repealed, all previously dry areas remained dry.

The current election is a citywide election, but according to the Alcoholic Beverage Code, the only jurisdiction that can change the wet/dry status of an area is the same one that voted previously.

Since 1960, JP precincts have changed. However, Brazoria County had an election in 2008 using JP boundaries from 1958. Montgomery County is holding one using 1937 boundaries.

Complicating things are Oak Cliff’s multiple dry elections. If an election held in JP District 7 using 1960 boundaries voted to go wet, there would still be a question about the 1890s city of Oak Cliff ban.

Beck said that annexation and de-annexation do not change the status of wet/dry areas.

She said that should the proposals pass, the city could certify grocery stores and supermarkets to sell beer and wine. Restaurants could apply for a license to sell drinks directly and membership organizations would relinquish their licenses.

TABC normally would issue liquor licenses to qualified applicants once certified by the city.

Someone opposed to sale of alcohol in Oak Cliff, however, could stop the process by suing the city for certifying a liquor license application, suing the location for selling alcohol in a dry area or suing TABC for issuing a license in a dry area.

Courts would have to decide whether Oak Cliff actually was still dry.

With millions of dollars at stake, Oak Cliff’s status could be up in the air for years.

Restaurants, including the gay-owned eateries in Bishop Arts District, will benefit if the proposal passes. They would no longer be required to keep records on memberships or hold regular meetings to approve those memberships.

Kathy Jack, left, and her partner Susie Buck of Jack’s Backyard.
Kathy Jack, left, and her partner Susie Buck of Jack’s Backyard.

“I don’t think Oak Cliff will boom while we have this private club thing,” said Nathan Castaneda, owner of Vera Cruz in the Bishop Arts District.

He explained the club membership process, noting that after swiping a driver’s license through a reader similar to a credit card machine, a receipt that’s printed has to be kept on file. He said he’s out of storage room in the restaurant for all the boxes of membership slips.

Casteneda said his neighbors are the private club owners who have to meet every three days to approve and drop members. Under his license, membership numbers need to be kept at about 250 people.

The restaurant cannot profit from liquor sales, which he said keeps salaries down.

“Many good employees move on to Duncanville, Cedar Hill or north of the river,” he said.

To thank his neighbors for being his membership committee, Castaneda said they all eat free.

Kathy Jack, owner of Jack’s Backyard, said that passing the proposals would bring a lot more people to the area.

“It will put us on an equal playing field,” she said.

She said that now she pays about $28,000 in higher license fees and taxes. She said beer costs her more and she also spends money to pick up alcohol herself or pays to send someone to get it since distributors do not deliver to dry areas.

Private clubs in dry areas buy much of their liquor from retail stores. For that reason and because free-standing package stores will still not be allowed to open in currently dry areas, liquor retailers oppose the proposals.

Competition is not something bar owners in other parts of the city are worried about.

“Caven Enterprises is not opposed to the ordinance and we hope the results will benefit the residents of our city,” said Rick Espaillat of Caven.

Gary Huddleston is the southwest division spokesperson for Kroger and chaired the PAC that gathered the signatures for the election.

“Many people are leaving the city to buy beer and wine,” he said.

He said the city’s study showed that Dallas could collect $11 million in additional sales tax revenue. Other studies that include the impact of hiring additional people and sales of additional products along with alcohol purchases showed a $31 million increase in tax collection.

Kroger currently has six stores in the city of Dallas. The two in wet areas — on Cedar Springs Road and on Mockingbird Lane — far exceed the others in sales.

He said the PAC chose to hold a citywide election because it seemed cleaner. JP districts have changed. Numerous areas of the city are dry. He believes a win on each proposal would apply throughout Dallas. He doesn’t foresee the election results being challenged.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas