On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council voted 8-5 to steal a Dallas business owner’s property in favor of new developers—without paying for it—by rezoning him out of business.
Voting against Hinga Mbogo were councilmembers Adam Medrano, Adam McGough, Carolyn King Arnold, Mark Clayton, Philip Kingston, Rick Callahan, Scott Griggs, and Mayor Michael Rawlings. Casey Thomas and Tiffany Young listened to the debate but left before voting.
Voting in defense of Mbogo’s property rights were Erik Wilson, Jennifer Gates, Lee Kleinman, Monica Alonzo, and Sandy Greyson.
Councilman Callahan, a real estate developer, justified kicking Mbogo out by saying the rights of property owners could be trampled in order to attract businesses the city deems more desirable, such as “Starbucks and the Macaroni Grill.”
Despite paying lip service to the importance of private property rights, a majority of the council hypocritically demonstrated their willingness to destroy Mbogo’s successful business in order to pave the way for politically connected developers. Apparently, Texans own their property, unless city overlords disagree with how they’re using it.
The Institute for Justice has stepped in to protect Mbogo’s rights, and plans on taking legal action now that city officials refused to negotiate.
“Today, the city council said loud and clear that it has no respect for property rights. This is Texas. Property rights are supposed to be fundamental rights. At this point, Hinga’s only option for keeping his Ross Avenue business will be to take the city to court.”
The vote by the council denied Mbogo’s request for a special use permit, which would have allowed him to continue operating the same business he’s had for thirty years. His request became necessary after the city retroactively changed zoning to remove auto-related businesses from Ross Ave back in 2005, without offering him or any other affected landowners compensation. Mbogo remains the only business that’s refused to move.
Under current state law, the city’s abusive tactics are not explicitly prohibited.
Updated: This article was updated on April 20th, 2016 to cite the origination of Dallas’ retroactive zoning change in 2005 that affected a group of Dallas businesses along Ross Ave.