Oak Cliff may get to vote twice on wet-dry issue

Progress Dallas, the group behind the proposed Dallas wet-dry election, says it’s aware that state law may invalidate a wet result in Oak Cliff.

So it has a backup plan: To give voters in Oak Cliff a double ballot. Voters would be asked to approve retail beer and wine sales and to eliminate private club restrictions in Dallas, just like voters in the rest of the city. Then, on another part of the ballot, they would be asked to approve the same measures in the part of Oak Cliff that voted to go dry in 1956.

More, after the jump:

The process is called a concurrent election, says John Hatch, a partner in Texas Petition Strategies, the group that is putting the petition drive together for Progress Dallas. Hatch told me Friday that his group has been researching the issue, and knows about the state law that I wrote about last week. The law, section 251.73 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, says that the part of Oak Cliff that voted to go dry in 1956 would remain dry even if the city voted to go wet in a later election. The key? If the part of Oak Cliff that voted dry in 1956 was "wholly contained" in the city of Dallas.

The catch, as noted, is that no one knows if a map with the 1956 election boundaries exists, no one knows if the area was "wholly contained." Hatch has seen a 1986 map, with eight justice of the peace precincts, which is the same number the city had in 1956. But, he says, though he suspects the 1986 map is similar to the 1956 map, he isn’t sure.

Hatch’s group, as I did, filed an Open Records request with the county for a 1956 map. He expects to get it shortly. When he does, Petition Strategies will decide whether it needs to gather signatures in the part of Oak Cliff that went dry in 1956. If it does, Hatch says the area is small enough to allow it get enough signatures in time to get the concurrent election on the ballot.

This approach will clear up some confusion, though I’m still willing to bet that it doesn’t prevent the possibility of lawsuits over map boundaries.


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  • Jeff Siegel

    Actually, I did write about that — http://www.advocatemag.com/oak-cliff/blog/archive/booze_oc0301.html?c=y

    As you’ll note in the post, the city probably won’t be able to limit the retailers that can sell beer and wine to “grocery stores.” Doing so would raise various constitutional issues, and the city would get sued and lose. That means that anyone who qualifies for a retail license, which is given by the state, can sell beer and wine subject to city zoning laws like distance from schools and churches. That means convenience stores, gas stations and liquor stores that only sell beer and wine would be legal.

    And you’re correct — hardly anyone knows about that.

  • Corinna Bailey-Wills

    Hey Jeff, Thank you so much for covering the proposed liquor license changes for Oak Cliff! I am a N. Oak Cliff resident and area restaurant/bar owner and am quite excited about the proposed changes. I was wondering if you could please detail the liquor license changes which are being proposed by Progessive Dallas in your next (or following) blog? I think when most people read ‘Wet’ they think of Beer and Liquor stores (eg. Hasty and Centennial) and nudy places. I have actually heard most people call the proposed changes for Oak Cliff as ‘Moist’ instead of ‘Wet.’ My limited, un-eduated understanding is that only two changes are being proposed to the current policy: (1) eliminating the restaurant/private club liquor license and replacing it with the standard restaurant liquor license and (2) allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine. As the owner of a restaurant/private club I know the difference in the first change, but my guess is that most of your readers do not. For the second change, I have not yet found anyone who can give me a clear answer on which types of businesses can hold a grocery liquor license. Sorry for the long comment, but you seem to be a good source for clearing all of this up. Thanks!!