Car Wash Owner Fights City Leaders to Keep Business Open

MLK Boulevard location is near Dallas Fair Park

Car wash owner Dale Davenport has won past battles with Dallas City Hall over his Martin Luther King Boulevard business but the Board of Adjustment meeting Wednesday could be different.

"I got to weather the storm here, but I'm dug in," Davenport said.

Jim's Car Wash near Malcolm X Boulevard has been there for 39 years, the last 26 with Davenport as the owner.

In the past the city tried to label the business a nuisance. When he called 911 for help with crime, he said the city used the calls against him to support the nuisance label. State lawmakers came to his rescue at one point, defending Davenport against the nuisance attacks.

The new approach from City Hall this time is to use zoning rules to close the business.

"We feel like we have done everything possible to abate crime, so they're not coming after us on a crime issue. They're just saying we're not zoned properly and its non-conforming property after all these years. And we think this is wrong," Davenport said.

In October, the Dallas City Council voted 12 to 2 to ask the Board of Adjustment to declare the business out of compliance with zoning for Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The neighborhood's first term City Council Member Kevin Felder led the push.

"This has been a perpetual albatross, a perpetual negative," Felder said that day.

Stopping near the business Tuesday, resident Traswell Livingston, a neighborhood Realtor, said the car wash is a nuisance and he supports the push to close it.

"Washing your car is not a threat to us. It's just the tolerance of unlawful behavior that goes on," Livingston said. "Until the problem is solved, we're not going to accept this any longer. So we're not putting blame on anyone, but something has to change. That's the bottom line."

Across the street from the car wash, Simone Murry who manages Elaine's Kitchen restaurant said the car wash is actually good for her business.

"It generates business over here. They come over. They buy lunch. They buy cool aid. They buy meat pies. So, I don't have a problem with it," Murray said.

A Dallas Police officer in a squad car was seen watching the car wash from across the street Tuesday. A Police surveillance camera is posted right in front of the place. Davenport said he has added security of his own to comply with city requests. He said the one citation he personally received from the City of Dallas was for littering in 2017, and it was dismissed.

"I keep the car wash clean and it's working," Davenport said. "Free enterprise is at work here."

Regardless of what the Board of Adjustment decides Wednesday, the case can be appealed to the Dallas City Council so the place will not be closed immediately. But unless the City Council gets a complete make over in the May election, last year’s 12 to 2 vote against Davenport is a strong indication of how his case will wind up.

Other Dallas businesses that were declared non-conforming with updated zoning policy were given several years to wind down before closing. That could be the future for Jim's Car Wash. Davenport could sell the property or find a new use that complies with the zoning rules. Or he could sue the City of Dallas and keep fighting.

Contact Us