Arlington City Council to Consider Banning ‘New’ Used Car Dealers in Entertainment District

Jorge Zamudio said his auto repair business near State Highway 360 provides a lifeline for people with limited transportation options.

“Many of the citizens, they can’t just go to a new car dealer and always, you know, get a new car. It’s very difficult nowadays, so we’re like their last option,” he said.

A proposed development policy change would prohibit new used car dealerships from opening in the entertainment district, where Zamudio operates his business. If approved, existing businesses will be considered “grandfathered” in – meaning they can continue operating indefinitely, but will have limited options if they want to renew their business or rebuild it if the building is badly damaged.

Patricia Sinel, the city’s long-range planning manager, said her department suggested the proposal because the city has spent years tightening its regulations around used car dealers.

In 2022, the city received an influx of Certificates of Occupancy (CO) applications for used car dealers due to a policy change at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Businesses renewing or applying for their license to operate had to provide proof that they had a CO to operate rather than simply checking a box on a form.

The state policy change revealed that Arlington had about 430 dealerships in the city at the time, more than half of which operated in locations not zoned for used car sales. As of December, the city counted about 260 traders, 90 of whom did not have valid residency certificates.

“We had a lot of dealers come in and we had to turn a lot of them away because they weren’t in a zoning area that allowed used car sales,” Sinel said.

The city has since changed to the city’s Unified Development Code, a master list of development regulations and standards.

Sinel said auto service centers were already banned in the entertainment district.

“Based on preliminary guidance from the council, we made that suggestion to the City Policy Commission as to whether or not that was the direction they wanted to take … just based on the intent and purpose of the entertainment district itself and whether that was the vision that council had for the district fun if you’re coming off 360 on Division Street,” Sinel said. “Did we intend to target everyone? Absolutely not.”

Arlington’s entertainment district overlay includes the area around AT&T Stadium, Choctaw Stadium and Six Flags over Texas. The overlay also extends east of State Highway 360. The city has seven overlays, which are zoning designations for areas with specific development needs.

The Arlington City Council will vote on the proposal March 26 as part of the annual update to the city’s Unified Development Code, a master list of regulations and standards for land use and development in the city.

Council tabled discussion and vote on 30 top Arlington Board of Realtors policy changes. The group asked for time to review the proposed changes with city staff.

Sinel said city council members could decide to rescind the proposal or exempt certain areas from the policy change.

Several business owners, including Zamudio, wrote letters asking the council to spare their businesses, which lie on the easternmost edge of the entertainment district and are zoned for industrial production — a designation that would otherwise allow them to operate their businesses.

Hassan Rahmati said in a letter to the Arlington City Council that he has poured his heart and soul into his auto service properties since 1994, when he bought 800 and 804 Watson Road. He now rents out his property to business owners like Zamudio and says business operations across his properties have generated millions in annual revenue.

“I have been with this area since the beginning and have watched it grow into the Arlington we know and love today. As someone who has done business on this road for the past thirty years… I request that you please allow me to continue to grow this area through the car industry,” Rahmati wrote.

Heather Moreno with Lawler Motor Sports, Inc., said she is concerned with the implications of having a building deemed legally non-compliant. The designation would make it more difficult for her business to get a loan. The change would also mean she and other business owners could not rebuild if more than half of the structure’s fair market value was damaged by a natural disaster.

“Can you imagine going through something that would already be such a devastating experience, only to find that you’ve also lost your ability to continue your ongoing business operations?” she wrote.

Do you have a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at [email protected].

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider it by making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *