A Washington-based Libertarian group is standing alongside the owner of a Dallas auto repair shop as he fights a city hall effort to close his business Wednesday.
Hinga Automotive has been open in the 3500 block of Ross Avenue for 30 years and owner Hinga Mbogo wants to stay in business.
“I’m doing what I love doing and I’m supporting my family,” he said. “I have four guys that work for me and they have families that rely on their income.”
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Dallas zoning laws removed auto repair as an allowed land use on Ross Avenue in 2005 in a city push to clean up the street leading into downtown.
Instead of the many car repair shops and sales lots, city leaders wanted to encourage new residential development and businesses to support new residents.
Neighborhood City Councilman Philip Kingston said Mbogo has already received two extensions on a 2010 deadline to close his auto repair business.
Kingston said the last extension came after Mbogo promised neighbors he would already be gone by now.
“And so to me the most salient point to me is that Mr. Mbogo made a deal that he has now backed out of,” Kingston said.
Large new apartments and townhomes that have been built on Ross Avenue the past 10 years make the area more valuable than it was. Kingston said the businessman’s property can still be used for other purposes.
“I am struggling to see his side of the argument,” Kingston said.
The Dallas Plan Commission last month voted against Mbogo request to stay in business.
Now, the Washington, D.C. based Libertarian group Institute for Justice has launched a petition drive on the businessman’s behalf. The petition had more than 60,000 signatures Tuesday, more than 1,500 from Dallas.
“What’s happening here is he’s effectively forced to sell his business to a private developer and that’s not a legitimate government business,” said Garrett Atherton with Institute for Justice. “I would love to live next to an auto repair shop like this. It’s a good asset to have in the neighborhood,” he said.
Atherton said the group intends to deliver a printed copy of the online petition at Dallas City Hall before the 1 p.m. city council zoning hearing. A large crowd of speakers on both sides of the issue are expected at the meeting before a scheduled city council vote on the future of the car repair shop.