Council to Consider Easing Antiquated Restrictions on Downtown Street Vendors

downtown street vending.jpg
Flickr: Robert Torzynski
Downtown Dallas Inc. would like downtown to look and taste a bit more like, say, midtown Manhattan.
Tomorrow morning, I expect, we'll post the PowerPoint that goes along with a simply titled but nonetheless intriguing item that appears on the council's Quality of Life Committee agenda for Monday morning: "Downtown Vending." Rumor's been circulating for a long while now that efforts are underway to rewrite the section of the City Code dealing with street vendors, in large part due to the Downtown Dallas 360 plan, which calls for modifying "street vending ordinance consistent with DDI recommendations to support increased vending opportunities including kiosks, carts and temporary vendors." Is this agenda item related to that recommendation?

That's exactly right, says John Crawford, president of Downtown Dallas Inc., among the four groups pushing for the ordinance redo, the first in more than two decades. (Also involved, he says: the Arts District, Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the West End Association.) "This feeds into Downtown Dallas 360 and those quick wins we're trying to focus on," he tells Unfair Park this morning. "This will eventually fold into some of our retail kiosks, which isn't part of this ordinance."

What is part of the new ordinance? Well, says Jim Wood, DDI's director of Planning, Transportation and Development, "We've all been working on it for a good long time with the intent to make it easier for vendors to get the permits and make a living. The current ordinance restricts the number of permits you can have -- and you can't make a living off one hot dog cart. We're trying to make it easier for people to have multiple carts and locations and make it easier to sell things like T-shirts, umbrellas, which currently is prohibited."

One of the intentions of the new ordinance, which has yet to be drafted, is creating a "transit mall district," which DART would control and allow for the creation of, say, newsstands or pop-up coffee stands near light-rail stops. Says Crawford, DART has "concerns about trash and carrying food on the trains, but they're OK with what we've proposed, which is to make the transit line through downtown a separate vending corridor so that ultimately DART will have control over what's sold on the transit line."

Wood and Crawford say that if the Quality of Lifers don't have an issue with the ordinance redo, it should go before the council for a vote at its jam-packed December 14 meeting. And neither man foresees an issue come Monday.

"It may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people at first, but it'll be more pedestrian-friendly, more street-friendly and generate more activity at the street level, which everyone's always complained about," Crawford says. "And the mayor and council want to do things that can be done quickly by the stroke of a pen and shouldn't cost money and doesn't take money to study. ... Success breeds success. We won't have as big a critical mass as we want initially, but if we don't do this, we won't have the kind of vibrancy people want and expect out of their downtown. Our time has arrived to where we want to do more and different kinds of things, and we're optimistic things like this will help us achieve what everyone wants."
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Sidewalkastronomer
Sidewalkastronomer

I tried setting up as the sidewalk astronomer in the West End two weeks ago during the day for viewing of the moon. I just do it for tips. I spied a spot just on the other side of a short fence where the Heart attack grill used to be. As soon as I pull out my tripod for the telescope a building manager for the west end walked up told me I couldn't do it there. I said no problem and move three feet over to the sidewalk. Then less than a minute later a guy that sells flowers came up and said that he had the vending permit for block, I guess he wanted a cut of the action. Not long after that a homeless person came up and kept asking if I knew a phone number of a photographer. Who knows why. Even when I was doing this a few times on McKinney Ave. the police harassed me. I think they just wanted a look through the telescope. I hate to think if I had to go through the hassle and money in getting a permit and then getting hassle on the street too. I have looked into permits and I didn't see any for what I do. Downtown Dallas is not as dead on the weekend as it was years ago, but it is still pretty lame and no wonder. I hear downtown Ft. Worth has much more going on. I done this in Arlington without any hassles from anyone.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Great news.

Just another reason why John Crawford will be celebrated decades from now as the man who saved Downtown Dallas.

Tim Dickey
Tim Dickey

It's about time. Now let's get some pedicabs rolling, too!

Clyde
Clyde

Oooh! I know: DART could sell jewelry! That worked before, didn't it?

Zeeba Neighba
Zeeba Neighba

Now at least the nutty Dealy Plaza guy can spread his conspiracy delusions to his hearts content and quit whining.

db
db

If John Crawford and others get this done I'll give them all gold stars - don't understand the "Quality of Lifers" comment.  I consider myself to be on the Quality of Life side and I believe that making life easier for street vendors would be a huge improvement.  And while they are at it I would like to see push carts in the Arts District.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

The reference was to the Quality of Life Committee, which, if it likes the ordinance redo, will pass it along to the full council for a vote December 14. That's all.

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