Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dallas is smokin'

I'm trying to figure out what to make of this story from the Pop-Up Morning News about a push for a regional smoking ban. It seems to me this just gives city councils political cover to do nothing and say they're working towards it. There is no regional authority that can pass a smoking ordinance. It has to be done at the city or state level. And the state's not going to touch this for a very long time.

The restaurant and bar industry say they would love a regional solution because with different regulations in each municipality they see it as giving restaurants/bars in smoke free areas a disadvantage versus places like Addison. This argument no longer really holds any water, as restaurants in cities with smoking bans have continued to fare well.

Here's a regional solution for you: Plano and Fort Worth have already passed comprehensive public smoking bans. Dallas banned smoking in restaurants but allowed it to continue in bars and restaurant patios. If Dallas has the political will to extend its smoking ban (which I think we do), then we're a leader in the region and other cities will follow.

So Mayor Tom, take a few meetings with some other mayors if you must, then let's do this thing and act like the big dog that we are. The other cities will follow (except Addison). I'm not sure why it's so important for all the city smoking ordinances to line up neatly. It would be nice for uniformity's sake, but true uniformity would really require an action of the state.

And in a regional quick hit, we have a favorable comparison of downtown Dallas versus downtown Fort Worth in the letters section today:
Downtown living

After almost a year of living in downtown Fort Worth, I've made the decision to move to downtown Dallas.

My experience has been a mixed one. Downtown Fort Worth has no grocery store, no liquor store, no post office branch, no department store – all necessary components of a satisfying life as a Townie.

Yes, there are good restaurants and bars, cultural attractions and the city does an excellent job of keeping itself clean and safe.

There is no comparison with downtown Dallas, where the residential units have increased from 200 to 10,000 in just 10 years.

In downtown Dallas, no more than a few blocks' walk will get you to a supermarket, a post office, a pharmacy, a convenience store, a department store, a liquor store, world-class restaurants and cultural attractions.

Dallas has achieved what most cities outside the northeastern USA want, but do not yet have: an exciting, convenient, safe and satisfying downtown life.

Ron Sivo, Fort Worth

I must say I've been very impressed with downtown Fort Worth as an entertainment district. I never considered that it wasn't really a neighborhood like Dallas is trying to build downtown. People ask why Dallas can't do what Fort Worth is doing downtown, and that's a fair question, but you can see from this that Dallas is taking a different approach, hopefully one that will build a self-sustaining neighborhood of residences, shops, offices, art and entertainment venues, restaurants and bars. Without smoking.

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