Saturday, June 11, 2011

The City of Dallas' Anti-Small Business Sign Gestapo

The state of Texas received high marks this week from the Wall Street Journal for its "free market and business-friendly climate" that has been responsible for the creation of 265,300 jobs there since the recession ended in June 2009.  The WSJ also credits the Lone Star state for regulatory conditions that are "contained and flexible."

But after hearing this story about how the city of Dallas is harassing small businesses and using "extortionary, mob-style and vindictive" legal tactics to preserve its petty sign ordinance, one has to wonder just how many more jobs might have been created in Texas over the last two years if regulations were just a little more contained and more flexible.  

From the Washington Times:

"The Institute for Justice was forced last week to end its constitutional challenge to a Dallas city ordinance that prohibited small businesses from displaying large window signs advertising specials or even specifying the store’s hours of operation. To prevent the case from going to trial, Dallas bureaucrats threatened a mom-and-pop vacuum store, travel agency, uniform store and dry cleaner each with $300,000 in fines.

The ordinance specifies that no sign may appear in the upper two-thirds portion of any window or glass door. In the space that remains, signage may not take up more than 15 percent of the available window space. The ordinance carefully carves out an exemption for artistic and political speech. So a gigantic “Vote Obama” sign is acceptable, but one that states “20 percent off on Wednesdays” is not. “To claim that the citizens of Dallas were harmed to the tune of $300,000 per business is just ludicrous,” said Institute for Justice attorney Matt Miller.

Typical big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy have plenty of money to advertise specials and mail out flyers that inform customers about upcoming sales. For the little guy, a notice in the window is often the only cost-effective way to entice passersby to try out their products or services. That’s why the small shops in the case only asked for $1 in damages. Their only goal was overturning an ordinance they believe violates the First Amendment. Rather than allowing the case to go to a jury, the city unleashed code-enforcement officers who levied $1,000 in “nuisance” fines for each of the 300 days the businesses were in violation of the ordinance during the litigation."


At 6/11/2011 11:35 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Texas faces $27 Billion Budget Shortfall in 2012 - 2013.

They got $6.4 Billion from the Feds this year, but that won't be there next year.

And, they still have an 8% Unemployment Rate, and a sorry Per Capita Income. Texas, Schmexas.

At 6/11/2011 11:41 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

And, if we're going to get all het up about poor states that added oil and gas jobs, let's look at North Dakota. Their Unemployment Rate, IIRC, is 3.3%.

Unemployment Rates by State

At 6/11/2011 11:54 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Plus, they have a $1.2 Billion Budget Surplus

And, has a Higher GDP per Capita than Tx.

At 6/12/2011 12:45 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...


I appreciate this post about Dallas, but I want to be certain your readers understand how irrelevant the CITY f Dallas is to the Dallas-Fort Worth economy.

Job creation in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area has been very strong the past decade. But very little of that growth occurred within the leftist confines of the Dallas city limits. Rather, suburban cities such as Irving, Plano, Frisco, and McKinney are the growth locales.

Your post seems to be suggesting that Texas is not as business-friendly as has been advertised, and using the actions of Dallas city government as evidence. Please know that the city of Dallas is becoming less and less relevant with every ordinance and regulation implemented by its government.

At 6/12/2011 9:28 AM, Blogger Virgil said...

This is true all over America, not just Texas.

For instance, I have been unable to find work in the software arena and I wouldn't mind opening a hamburger joint along the lines of what you see on diners, drive ins and dives.

And I even have a place to do it at with a working septic system.

However for me to do it, I have to put in a septic system that will cost in excess of 50,000 dollars which is not feasible.

I bring this up because I am seeing more and more stories like this told nationwide on my Keep America At Work site.

And this is sad because Americans can out innovate anybody in the World, but not when they have been regulated out of business before they can even open the doors

At 6/12/2011 12:12 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Here is the little 3"x5" sign that may be a result of Dallas micro-management:

Store Closing -- Moving to Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco

At 6/12/2011 8:05 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

Again we see just how anti-business most cities are. try operating a jitney, a push-cart food outlet, being a hooker, or recreational drug dealing.

Indeed, the businesses that most regular people could enter without much capital are nearly all outlawed or stupidly regulated. You can't even cut people's hair for profit in many states without a license. Or serve alcohol in your own front yard, or grow pot in your own back yard.

Many people could open businesses, and actually appreciate the free market system, instead of being forced into employment--and guess how they feel about the minimum wage?

At 6/12/2011 8:17 PM, Blogger juandos said...

rufus making noises about N. Dakota says: "And, has a Higher GDP per Capita than Tx."...

That's because N. Dakota doesn't have Mexico for a neighbor...

Still rufus brings up some good points...

N. Dakota ranks 10 vs Texas ranking 14 on the Freedom list...

Maybe like oil is helping N. Dakota it might also help Texas...


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