Texas Cities Follow Dallas' Lead and Stand Up to Payday Lenders. Is the State Next?

That gleaming wad of cash comes with a 600+ percent interest rate, if Texas predatory lenders have anything to say about it.
In Dallas, the political atmosphere for payday lending reform is optimistic. After three years of ordinances limiting lending practices, the local movement has spread to 17 other cities across the state. Today, Dallas City Councilman Jerry Allen went before the Amarillo City Council to try and recruit that city to the fight club against loan sharks. "The momentum just continues to gain," Allen told Unfair Park. "After the 2011 session, I realized that the state wasn't really going to do anything so I got back and worked with the city."

And increased limitations can't come quickly enough: Texas has some of the most lax lending laws in the country, with the highest surcharges. There is no cap on lending fees, and some interest rates soar over 600 percent. Moreover, statewide payday lending reform has failed in the Legislature for the past three sessions.

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Judge Restrains City from Issuing Building Permits for Cityplace Development

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Trammell Crow
Still talking about this place? Still talking about this place.
District Judge Emily Tobolowsky issued an order Friday blocking, at least for now, developer Trammell Crow's plan to build a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club in Cityplace, just north downtown.

Residents in the neighborhood near Haskell Avenue and Central Expressway won a temporary restraining order that prevents the city from issuing building permits for the East Village retail development that includes the warehouse store. They'll be back in court in two weeks to seek an injunction that would put the project on hold until a trial decides the zoning issue.

Members of the East Village Association, a group representing area residents, claim Trammell Crow misled them about the company's plans for the project, and neighbors weren't aware of the Sam's Club until not long before the Dallas Plan Commission was set to approve the company's development plan. Neighbors say they expected something similar to West Village across the freeway, with smaller retail shops and restaurants.

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CityPlace Sam's Approved, Until Court Hearing Tomorrow, At Least

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Trammell Crow
The development in question.

As expected, the Dallas City Plan Commission voted this afternoon to approve the Trammell Crow backed plan for the area surrounding U.S. 75 and Haskell Avenue. The plan, for a development that's been labeled the East Village, was presented to neighbors as being for a walkable, diverse multi-use outcropping. To an extent, that's what it is, but there was also, buried deep in the planning documents, a zoning change that would allow for a 100,000-plus-square-foot big box store, later confirmed to be a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club.

Once they became aware of the Sam's, residents mobilized to prevent it. They gathered 1,300 signatures on a petition and urged the commission to reopen the zoning case for the development at a meeting last month.

See also: Dallas Plan Commissioners Reluctantly Allow Zoning for Cityplace Sam's Club to Stay

None of that affected what happened today. Since the zoning stands, there was nothing the commission could do but approve the plan, which it did 11 to 4.

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Residents Seek Temporary Restraining Order Against CityPlace Sam's Club

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Trammell Crow

East Village Association, a group representing residents who live near the proposed East Village development, has filed a request for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against the city of Dallas and the Plan Commission to block a zoning change that would allow construction of a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club.

Residents say they were misled throughout the process that led to the potential approval of the plan backed by developer Trammell Crow. The zoning changes, they say, "[are] the product of a fraud upon the people and the city of Dallas."

Plans for the discount mega-retailer were never discussed at community meetings hosted by Crow to talk about the development; zoning change notices provided by the city failed to note the full extent of the potential development, according to the residents.

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Why Dallas Councilman Lee Kleinman Keeps Losing His Cool at the Mention of "Genocide"

Categories: City Hall

Lee Kleinman
Dallas cops act like terrorists in black communities, at least according to the gadfly speaking to City Council on a recent Wednesday. "Realistically, councilmen and councilwomen, this has reached genocidal proportions," the man added.

Councilman Lee Kleinman decided to let that one go. The gadfly pressed on.

"For us in the black community, when we see a Dallas police officer in a blue uniform with a badge and a gun, that's when we want to cross the street," the next speaker told the City Council. Like others who show up for the regular Wednesday open mic sessions, the speaker punctuated his talk with wild, seemingly unfounded accusations. Dallas cops are white supremacists, he said, the grandsons of Ku-Klux Klan members, and their bosses are encouraging them to kill black men. "Each one of you on City Council are responsible, because you are their bosses," he said. "You have blood on your hands. You have committed genocide against the black community."

This Kleinman could not abide.

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City Council Approves $4.4 Million to Fix Victory Park Issues

Categories: City Hall

Clay Coleman/Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Slowly, slowly moving toward being more than a special events hub.

This afternoon, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to kick in more than $4.4 million from sports arena tax-increment financing district funds to begin some of the more rudimentary tasks necessary to rehabilitate the dystopian pseudo-urban wasteland that is Victory Park.

The money is but a small part of the expected final costs of rectifying the wrongs that Ross Perot Jr. has wrought. According to an October presentation made by Victory Park's new owners to the council, private spending alone on the reclamation is expected to exceed $100 million in addition to any contributions the TIF will make.

See also: Dallas' Victory Park Struggles to Deliver a Win

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Dallas Cops Get Grant to Study How to Patrol the Trinity

Categories: City Hall

David R. Tribble
Soon to include more cops!

It may comes as a surprise, but as more of the Trinity River project becomes actually worth using, the security concerns facing the area become more complex. To that end, with help from a grant by the Caruth Foundation through the Trinity Trust, the Dallas Police Department is conducting a $300,000 study on how to best patrol the area's diverse terrain.

Today, the Vonciel Jones Hill-chaired transportation and Trinity River project committee received an update on the study and security throughout the project from Assistant Police Chief Tom Lawrence and Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan.

"To be quite frank it's an area we had not spent a lot of time on in the past," Lawrence said, talking about the area surrounding the Trinity. Through the study, Lawrence says, the department will figure out "what safety looks like" for the Trinity.

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Dallas Plan Commissioners Reluctantly Allow Zoning for Cityplace Sam's Club to Stay

Trammell Crow
Life isn't fair. It's why kids starve. It's why puppies suffer. It's why the people who live next to Cityplace will soon also be living next to a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club.

Dallas' City Plan Commission confirmed this afternoon that yep, the big box Trammell Crow has planned for the corner of Carroll Avenue and Central Expressway, much to the chagrin of neighbors, is in fact a done deal. All that's left is for commissioners to put their rubber stamp on the final development plan, which should happen next month.

Neighbors, most clad in red shirts and "No Mega Store" buttons, were optimistic entering Thursday's hearing that the CPC would vote to reopen the zoning debate, which could undo the decision it made, apparently unwittingly, to allow an enormous big-box store so close to the city center.

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City Council Spends Much of the Morning Arguing About Term Limits, Puts Off Uber Again

Categories: City Hall

Who's got at least one thumb and wants to be on the City Council forever? This guy.

After finally worming its way onto the Dallas City Council's briefing agenda, the newly revised transportation-for-hire ordinance, the one that's supposed to fix the whole Yellow Cab/Uber/Lyft mess, has been put off.

Despite protestations from Sandy Greyson, who headed the work group behind the new ordinance, and Dwaine Caraway, a majority of the council agreed to hear about the changes after the council's summer break.

The decision was made just before lunch, when Mayor Mike Rawlings seemed to realize that, because of the amount of time wasted bickering over changes to the city charter's term limit provisions, the meeting might last into Thursday morning if the sure-to-be contentious transit issues were discussed.

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For One Ex-Dallas Cop, Not Standing Up for Your Girlfriend Is a Beatable Offense

Chivalry, you'll be happy to learn, isn't dead. Almost, maybe, but it still burns on in the heart of former Dallas police officer Michael Mosher.

Mosher was one of seven officers who responded to a report of three potentially suspicious young men walking through an alley in the 6600 block of La Cosa Drive in Far North Dallas after dark one evening in January 2011. Those suspicions seemed justified when two of the young men bolted at the sight of the first squad car and when the other, 21-year-old Aaron Curtis, admitted to having a glass marijuana pipe in his pocket.

Since Curtis wasn't in possession of any actual marijuana, officers cited him for possession of drug paraphernalia and drove him to the apartment he and his girlfriend shared nearby.

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