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Immigrant Could Lose His Business Because It's Not Fancy Enough for Lawmakers

If you thought eminent domain couldn't get any worse, Dallas will prove you wrong.

Hinga Mboko in front of his shopInstitute for Justice/InstagramHinga Mbogo is a Kenyan immigrant who has owned Hinga's Automotive Company in Dallas for 30 years. But because car repair shops are inconsistent with the local government's vision for an arts district, he may be forced to close. Even worse, there is no legal obligation for Dallas to compensate Mbogo for his property.

The saga began back in 2005 with Planned Development District 298. The city rezoned Ross Avenue, home of Hinga's, and made car repair shops illegal there. All other mechanics in the area have left as a result.

"When I found out about the zoning change, I couldn't believe that this was something that could happen in America," Mbogo said in a statement released by the Institute for Justice. "I left a country where something like this could happen, but not here. I thought that America was the land of opportunity."

The original law gave business owners three to five years to either sell their property or repurpose it as something more palatable to lawmakers, such as a hotel or restaurant. The ordinance did allow owners to file an appeal for a fee.

Because this is considered a simple zoning change rather than eminent domain—that is, the government's "right" to expropriate private property for public use—Dallas does not even have to compensate the business owners affected.

Mbogo was granted an extension until 2013, at which point he applied for a ten-year Specific Use Permit. Instead, the city gave him a two-year permit that expired in August of last year.

Mbogo has filed for another permit, but his request was rejected by the Dallas Plan Commission back in February—against the recommendation of the commission's staff. According to his local counsel, Daniel Branum, he has spent approximately $9,000 on the battle since 2010.

The city council is set to hear his case on April 13. There is a change.org petition with over 43,000 signatures asking the body to let Mbogo keep his business.

But even if his permit is approved, it will be temporary, meaning Mbogo could end up fighting the same battle all over again in a couple of years. The only permanent solutions to the conflict would be for the city council to repeal the zoning ordinance or for Mbogo to back down and sell his property.

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  • commodious spittoon||

    The original law gave business owners three to five years to either sell their property or repurpose it as something more palatable to lawmakers, such as a hotel or restaurant.

    I'm certain property on which sits an autobody shop that has proved a successful operation for three decades will translate to an equally successful and valuable property for an art studio, restaurant, or hotel.

  • commodious spittoon||

    Especially since his property will have to be repurposed for those uses, meaning his asking price will have to be discounted to accommodate the buyer's investment in a totally new facility. Not to mention the inevitable environmental impact fees such a purchase would incur.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    He should convert the business into a hipster spot that charges for an experience to work on cars while munching on kale fritattas and sipping fair trade coffee. "For $19.95, get the experience of changing an alternator on a 20 year car that runs only on gas!"

  • commodious spittoon||

    Har. I love it. Hated changing my alternator, though.

  • DOOMco||

    The inevitable electric problems that come out of nowhere after.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Mr. Mbogo really just needs to rebrand.

    "We are not Automotive Repairmen, we are Vehicle Artistes!! We make works of art (that just happen to be functioning cars) out of our supplies (which just happen to be broken cars)!! We are /clearly/ a high class vehicle artiste studio!!"

    It's very important to spell "artist" with an "e" at the end, like some snobbish asshole. That's what makes 'em think you're genuine about the "art" claim.

  • ||

    This is actually a good idea and might work for these Bozo politicians. This guy must also use his race to claim

    Headlin: = "Black Man's Vehicle Artiste is not artistic enough for white policymakers of Dallas".

  • ||

    This is actually a good idea and might work for these Bozo politicians. This guy must also use his race to claim

    Headlin: = "Black Man's Vehicle Artiste is not artistic enough for white policymakers of Dallas".

  • ||

    Headlin: = "Black Man's Vehicle Artiste

    That's terrible that you have to live with a fixed supply of 'e'-s.

  • sarcasmic||

    Maybe he could take over Gas Monkey's old shop.

  • LynchPin1477||

    The city rezoned Ross Avenue, home of Hinga's, and made car repair shops illegal there

    What kind of human being supports something like this? It's truly seems like a form of psychopathy.

  • commodious spittoon||

    The kind who looks at a zoning map with money signs in their eyes. But, you know, it's those greedy capitalist corporations you need to worry about. They'll build box stores in your town and rob its unique civic personality.

  • tarran||

    It's what the Joe Boyle's of the world live for.

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    The same kind of human being that would go into politics. So yes, it is a form of psychopathy.

  • Florida Hipster||

    We got some new asshole in our group from Martha's Vineyard or some place that complained about how orlando has walmarts. Where he is from it has to be small shops that appeal to his personal taste. Of course it's more expensive and forces the poors out, but what does he care, he's rich. A proud gay liberal.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The residents of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket have fought for years against a windmill farm that would supposedly provide a large chunk of energy for the region because it would ruin their idyllic views.

  • Zeb||

    Without the views and such, islands like that would be worthless. The only reason they are still populated is because rich people and tourists go there for the summer. That would be the honest argument, but of course they are giant hypocrites.

  • Florida Hipster||

    But they recycle. They paid their green indulgence.

  • tarran||

    I should point out that that's a case where two wrongs do make a right.

    All those fucking windmills would do is introduce a hazard to shipping, a hazard to migratory birds, a source of instability to the power grid (in the form of non-dispatchable power) and a huge maintenance headache.

    There literally is no benefit to using wind for electrical generation. It's just an expensive sop to green superstitions.

    The fact that many of the local residents buy into the green religion, but want their totems fucking up someone else's property is amusing hypocrisy. But any rationale keeping that expensive boondoggle from being built is okay by me.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I should point out that that's a case where two wrongs do make a right.

    You are right, but I was just pointing out the hypocrisy.

  • tarran||

    My big disagreement with your comment was your assertion that the project will supply much of the region's energy needs.

    Wind power is utterly unreliable. It's non-dispatchable, meaning that operators basically have a choice between idling the windmills or accepting whatever energy it produces at the whim of the winds. When they produce power it's unstable - the voltage and power factor vary with the winds. And to condition the power, the company has to have a plant that essentially produces power in a complementary manner to convert the windmills output to a steady voltage and power factor. And if the wind is blowing too strongly, you can have the problem that the grid voltage goes high.

    It's a fucking travesty with 0 upside to anyone who isn't drawing a salary from the companies, government agencies and lawyers involved with the project or its attendant litigation.

  • BambiB||

    And yet, wind farms in other locations seem to do well. The Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm (which I saw a few months back) for example, is a net exporter of power to the rest of the state of Insanity... er, Kalifornia.

  • Zeb||

    So, the world should be more like Martha's Vinyard? I could see a few problems there.

    Aren't there Walmart's everywhere? Seems an odd complaint about Orlando specifically.

  • Florida Hipster||

    I think he just wants everyone to know he's better than them. When I mentioned that it makes it hard to be poor when there are no low cost retail options, he said that's why we need more generous welfare.

  • Lee G||

    Douche. Of course he wants that money to come from everyone else.

  • invisible finger||

    No, what he really wants is poor people to be as far away from him as possible. It's the entire impetus behind welfare: give 'em money so they won't have any reason to be around wealthier people.

  • ||

    The main problem with Martha's Vineyard is that the cabernets all end up with this vaguely eucalyptus aroma, sometimes verging on downright musty.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The main problem with Martha's Vineyard is that the cabernets all end up with this vaguely eucalyptus aroma, sometimes verging on downright musty.

    OMWC: Great taste in music, questionable taste in women, and horrible taste in wine.

  • lap83||

    How does musty follow from eucalyptus?

  • Lord at War||

    Have you ever smelled a koala?

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    A friend of mine, who is otherwise a smart guy, has been leading a campaign for months against the Walmart that's been proposed to open in midtown Miami. He's a middle to upper middle class progressive and hasn't really responded to the fact that it would help the lower income people in the area, both with prices and jobs, since he's against the very idea of Walmart's existence as a corporation.

  • Illocust||

    Walmart drives that type insane because they have no buying power over it. They don't shop there, no one they know shops there, so they can't pressure the store into behaving the way they want. It's not for them and they can't stand it.

  • Zeb||

    since he's against the very idea of Walmart's existence as a corporation

    And I am against the existence of assholes who think the world should be set up to suit their preferences at the expense of everyone else, but I'm stuck with that too.

  • Toast88||

    Used to live in Fayetteville, Ark.

    The city council blocked a friggin' gas station from opening because, and I quote, "I'm fundamentally against convenience stores."

  • Toast88||

    Found the link. Turns out they later grudgingly approved the deal, while at the same time scolding the gas stations.

  • Toast88||

  • ||

    Progressives at their core distrust and dislike the poor. They know they can't bluntly say, "We want this law because we want people to live the way we see fit," so they couch everything under fairness and equality.

  • Irish ♥s Lauren Southern||

    "Progressives at their core distrust and dislike the poor. They know they can't bluntly say, "We want this law because we want people to live the way we see fit,""

    They love poor people so long as the poor people stay far, far away. Poor people as an abstract means of inflating your own ego are just wonderful, provided they don't fuck up your property values by moving in nearby or cause that nice bistro down the street to close down in favor of a KFC.

  • ||

    Absolutely. In my neighborhood in Chicago you have all of these Bernie Sander's signs but I bet that most of those people wouldn't even go south of 35th/Sox Park on the Red Line. They care about the poor but from a long distance.

  • invisible finger||

    They might go as far as 59th street. No way they go south of 63rd. Hell, the relocated hillbillies in Uptown used to call the East Side white trash.

  • ||

    A couple years ago my oldest friend's very liberal Vermont parents were lamenting the prospect of section 8 housing being built on the border of their development. I told them I was revoking their liberal cards. They looked appropriately ashamed.

  • ||

    It's kind of like Winston Smith in Room 101 when he said, Don't do it to me, do it to her!" All of them have this idealized and paternalistic view of the poor but yet wouldn't want these people anywhere near them or their fancy housing.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I know what the poor are like (I grew up as one), that's why I'm trying to get away from them.

  • ||

    I'm actually totally fine with the sentiment. I own property also, and am always on the lookout for shit that will make its value decrease.

    But you can't claim to be some uber-liberal, poor-people-loving progressive and then turn around and scream about section 8 in your neighborhood.

    The daughter of these parents, who is even more liberal & progressive, lives in NM and hates that the state doesn't have vehicle inspections because it's a "safety hazard" (for her). I said "yeah, it sucks when poor people have access to transportation."

  • ||

    Hahahaha. The difference between you and most progressives is that you don't claim to care about them or their interests. Hell I grew up poor and there's no amount of money in the world that would convince me to ever move back to the Southside of Chicago.

  • gaoxiaen||

    It's the baddest part of town.

  • Rhywun||

    LOL. I can't believe some of the sketchy Rochester neighborhoods my mom sent me to school in. Like, the absolute worst parts of town, the kind I would avoid at all costs today.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Yes, it's called paternalism. Progressives are paternalists at heart. I don't have to tell you how sexist that is.

  • Irish ♥s Lauren Southern||

    Instapundit linked to this story earlier today, mostly to whine that it's critical of 'white people.' It seems to me that he missed the point though because the guy actually made a pretty libertarian argument:

    "Problem is, surfacing is usually whitening: Gentrification by any other name would taste as hoppy, with the same notes of citrus peel. There is really only one strike against the New Urbanism, but it’s a strike thrown by Nolan Ryan: It turns cities into playgrounds for moneyed, childless whites while pushing out the poor, the working-class, immigrants, seniors and anyone else not plugged into “the knowledge economy.” Right around the time that Michael Bloomberg was remaking Manhattan as a hive for stateless billionaires, I saw a slogan that captured perfectly the new glimmer of the city: “New York: If you can make it here, you probably have a trust fund.”"

    There have been active policy decisions by the people running these cities to go to war on the middle class and the poor in favor of the rich, mostly white and Asian 'creative class.' That's why people support this kind of thing. They don't like the 'kind of people' who run car repair shops and they like the 'kind of people' who run upscale hotels.

  • ||

    A. Car repair shops invariably employ some parolees.

    B. So do high end hotels.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Well, if they really are childless whites, the problem should correct itself before too long.

  • Rhywun||

    Michael Bloomberg was remaking Manhattan as a hive for stateless billionaires

    [cite needed]

    Bloomberg didn't "do" anything of the sort. Crime stayed down, the schools remained awful but not noticeably worsening, and the economy was good for awhile there.

    And the article completely misses what "New Urbanism" even is. It has *nothing* to do with gentrification. Rather, it's about creating "new towns" like the creepy Truman town in Florida.

    Oh, it completely ignores phenomena such as immigrants - not rich white people - pushing the population of NYC and other "popular" cities to record levels at the same time as all those stateless billionaires were ruining them.

  • ||

    The kind that has a vested financial interest in real estate development companies.

  • Jinx Ovaltine, Jr.||

    What kind of human being supports something like this? It's truly seems like a form of psychopathy.

    Wood. Chipper.

  • DesigNate||

    Nearly every city here in the DFW area is overly antagonistic to anything related to automobiles.

    Progressive is a fucking mental disorder.

  • Rhywun||

    What kind of human being supports something like this?

    All of his neighbors, probably.

  • Free Market Socialist $park¥||

    Guess you were wrong about America, Slappy. Better luck next time.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Local governments' efforts to create arts districts aren't known for being glorious successes. Also, New York has a real arts district that is as important as any other in America, if not the world, that is next to an area of car-repair shops.

  • Doctor Whom||

    I'm not saying that the city's actions would be moral even if they were guaranteed to succeed.

  • ||

    "Arts districts" often grow out of areas with cheap rents. Increasing rents by gentrifying & upscaling are pretty much guaranteed to chase out actual artists.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The NEA will fund artist-in-residence programs in those upscale communities. It is so simple!

  • gaoxiaen||

    They just want arty people, like people with berets and beards that hang around and drink coffee. They don't want artists that actually make art.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Why even bother with eminent domain? Rezone to something inconsistent with the current property use, then rezone it what you want it to be. Free money.

  • DOOMco||

    No no, we're not communist because we don't direct industries. We just regulate it and tax it in a way that produces the results we want. That's so different!

  • commodious spittoon||

    You know which other Kenyan immigrant is at the heart of a statist kerfuffle...

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Lupita Nyong'o?

  • Free Market Socialist $park¥||

    Laputah! Laputah da beautah!

  • Florida Hipster||

    Is that the legal name on the real birth certificate of "block gives me trauma"?

  • DenverJ||

    Daniel arap Moi?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    WTF, Dallas? What happened to you? What would J. R. Ewing think?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    "Ouch. WTF was that?"

  • Cyto||

    First, away from the ideological and toward the practical: Has any of the "arts district" gentrification taken place? If 5 years of "renewal" development has taken place, his business might be worth much more as a piece of property than as a car repair shop.

    Drilling through to a story from the Dallas Morning News, it seems that the auto-body and paint shop across the street is about to close as well, becoming apartments. With hotels, apartments and housing developments going up in the neighborhood, he probably has many potential suitors. If he doesn't want to sell outright, he should look for a partner. Rather than taking cash, he might be able to negotiate a deal for cash plus a stake in the new venture, providing a little upside for that overseas retirement he's looking forward to.

    The "third way" might be to approach the commission with a plan to do a makeover - making his business fit in aesthetically with the area. By being the last man standing in a newly upscale area, he probably stands to grow his business quite a bit. A new building with more service bays and moving some office space upstairs would also provide nicely for that retirement.

    You'll note that I'm assuming they are going to screw the guy. I don't see them not getting a pound of flesh, one way or another.

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    And what of the fact that he might just want to keep running his business the way he runs it?

  • Illocust||

    A car repair shop right next door to where the clients live and have their cars break down in the morning is incredibly valuable. Triple A takes you to the closest place most of the time. Being next door to the apartments essentially guarantee him long term business.

  • Rich||

    "I left a country where something like this could happen, but not here. I thought that America was the land of opportunity."

    "You fucked up. You trusted us."

  • The Last American Hero||

    If I was the owner, I'd weld a bunch of spare parts together, affix my "scuplture" to the corner of the parking lot, get a can of paint, and write "and sculpture studio" on the building. Problem solved.

    Of course, the sculpture would be of a hand with middle finger extended, so the city council may be upset about that.

  • invisible finger||

    Car Henge

  • Spartacus||

    He should just rename it "Mechanical Conveyance Enhanced Aesthetics & Functionality Boutique" and apply for a few NEH grants. Problem solved.

  • ||

    Winnar

  • Roger Perdactor||

    you forgot the word "artisan".

    You have to add artisan to all shops now.

  • ||

    Or better yet, "artisanal".

  • Libertarian||

    Anagram: Anal stair.

  • Spartacus||

    I forgot to add "Locally Sourced." Or maybe "locavorical".

    There's probably a great acronym in here somewhere.

  • invisible finger||

    Craft auto repair

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    "With each piece of art purchased, you will receive one voucher for a free auto repair."

  • commodious spittoon||

    The most galling aspect of their little extortion racket: they're allowing Mbogo to continue operating for a period to recoup his losses in the eventual sale. Imagine that: continuing to do what he would have done anyway and calling it just compensation for the inevitable haircut he'll have to take to sell his successful business.

  • Roger Perdactor||

    your welcome.

  • 0x90||

    An immigrant, you say? Is he left-handed? Peg-legged? Straight? Above/below average height or weight? Does he prefer brunettes? Deep-dish?

    How are we supposed to judge the issue, with so many pertinent factors left out?

  • Zeb||

    Seems like all he needs to do is put up a sign that says "Art Studio". Autobody repair is a lot like sculpture.

    And how the fuck is this not a taking?

  • R C Dean||

    Maybe rent out one of his bays to someone who does metal sculpture.

    "See, this is the kind of authenticity you can't get in a "studio" environment. You need to get out there and rub elbows with the working man. Besides, these dudes know some tricks with metal fabrication. Check out this wicked frenched headlight. I'm totally stealing the way they prep for that for my next piece, 'Keep Your Meathooks to Yourself".

  • sesuncedu||

    This would be examined under the category of "regulatory takings". The government has not physically taken any property ; rather they have acted to prevent it's economic use for vehicle repair.

    If the regulation merely makes the property less valuable, tough titties.
    On the other hand, if the regulation blocks all economic uses of the land, then Hah! Scalia says "you broke it you bought it".

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Do you have your zoning permits in order?

  • Libertarian||

    Erogenous!

  • Notorious UGCC||

    SALES CLERK: "Welcome to the Community Coffee shop, where customers relax and discuss intersectional feminist LGBTQ discourse, how may I help you?"

    CUSTOMER (looking around furtively): Actually, Hinga sent me.

    CLERK (also looking around furtively, whispering): Drive around back. And remember, your bill will be disguised to make it look like you bought coffee. [In a loud voice] One extra-creamy spiced pumpkin mocha latte, that will be five hundred dollars."

  • ||

    LGBTQIA. Fucking exclusionary Knight of Malta.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    You sure know how to make a Maltese cross.

  • This Machine||

    Dammit, Eddie, I actually chuckled at this.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Then I better not tell you the one about making a Venetian blind.

  • Lord at War||

    The masturbation memes aren't over yet...

  • UnCivilServant||

    Zoning laws should be invalidated as a violation of the 5th amendment.

  • ||

    "Even worse, there is no legal obligation for Dallas to compensate Mbogo for his property."

    One can't argue that this is in effect a taking? On its face that's what it appears to be.

    Also, aren't these shenanigans the sort of shit Trump has been up to for decades? Behind this is someone just like him and the council members are in on the deal somehow. I bet a dollar the whole thing is rotten to the core.

  • Libertarian||

    "The original law gave business owners three to five years to either sell their property or repurpose it ..."

    Don't think of it as eminent domain, think of it as term limits for businesses.

  • ||

    Also, IJ, yet again, pounding the pavement for the "little guy". How great are they?

  • invisible finger||

    "I left a country where something like this could happen, but not here. I thought that America was the land of opportunity."

    Now I have Randy Newman's "Sail Away" stuck in my head.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Immigrant Could Lose His Business Because It's Not Fancy Enough for Lawmakers
    If you thought eminent domain couldn't get any worse, Dallas will prove you wrong.

    This is what happens to the lower class who opens up a shop and does not meet the standards of the ruling elitist turds who visit Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Marshall Fields, etc. and other places where our obvious betters frequent. They have standards too, you know.
    Let this be a listen to the America plebian class.
    You're next if you don't shape up.

  • AlmightyJB||

    + millennials

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Apparently in an effort to show how the retard media are playing this, IJ links to condescending article about the crochety old guy who stands as a speedbump on the road to modernizing an economically blighted neighborhood.

  • Loki||

    But because car repair shops are inconsistent with the local government's vision for an arts district...

    God dammit... A fucking "arts district"? Are you shitting me?

    "When I found out about the zoning change, I couldn't believe that this was something that could happen in America," Mbogo said in a statement released by the Institute for Justice. "I left a country where something like this could happen, but not here. I thought that America was the land of opportunity."

    Sadly, you thought wrong. On the plus side, that "immigration problem" will solve itself soon enough if this shit keeps happening. How do we compare with Kenya now in the latest Economic Freedom Index?

    Because this is considered a simple zoning change rather than eminent domain—that is, the government's "right" to expropriate private property for public use—Dallas does not even have to compensate the business owners affected.

    Property rights, how do they fucking work? God. Fucking. Dammit. RAGE TAKING OVER!!1!!11!!!!!!! FUCK ALL THESE STATIST SHITHEADS IN THE ASS WITH A RUSTY CHAINSAW AND THEN FEED THEM THROUGH A WOODCHIPPER!1!!11!!!!

  • Rhywun||

    The Lofts at Sodosopa Sododa.

  • Dixon Sider Woodchipper||

    +1 shi tpa town

  • ||

    whadya know. my shitheel democrat councilman is the guy behind this.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    He should have settled in Houston.

  • ||

    Why is this guy not using his race to defend himself ?

  • gaoxiaen||

    He probably figured that being a good mechanic was enough. How naive.

  • The Other Libertarian||

    Trying to create eclecticism through zoning, while ignoring that fact that lack of zoning is what creates eclecticism.

  • BambiB||

    I can think of another solution: Mbogo could go into the city council meeting and kill every one of the council members that voted to cheat him out of his life's savings.

    This is what the Second Amendment is for: Overthrowing oppressive government.

  • Ron||

    artist should be the first group of people to want mixed use business since it environmentally a good thing but then again this type is not know for truely being diverse.

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