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June 21 – Council Meeting Post-Script

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Here’s a quick follow-up to tonight’s meeting – I’ll try to tie the points to the earlier preview points:

REDISTRICTING
Heard a report and spent time with two options presented by consultants on modifying the city’s four council districts in order to account for the change in population from the last time this was done back in 2001.  District 4 has grown significantly while other parts of town have not.  The goal of redistricting is to attempt a total population balance among the various districts without significantly disrupting the voting power of traditional minority pockets within the city (District 1, my district, happens to have the largest population of minorities when you consider the high number of Hispanic and African-American residents.

The following is one of the options – an option the council is considering modifying a bit in order to prevent the break-up of certain neighborhoods:

This would bring the four districts into relative equality in terms of total population.  But a question I continue to have, which is important to my district, is how this pans-out in terms of actual registered voters and actual voters.  In other words, does the total population always give you an accurate picture of the voting power of a particular district? Provoked by that question, I crunched some numbers and my suspicions were confirmed.  Below is a table that shows the current district situation and the two proposed options – it shows the disparity, particularly in District 1, between the total population and the number of registered voters (and ultimately the number of voters).  So while we are balancing out the population, the practical situation is not balanced at all – but realize we are dealing with Department of Justice rules that have legal precedent guiding the consideration.  This may not be as big of an issue when it comes to elections for district specific seats.  But it does come into play when we have at-large elections.  If I were a sleazy politician running for an at-large position, I’d take a look at these numbers and might have a good reason to ignore the interests of District 1, given their low voting power relative to the other three districts.  Here are those stats that I crunched and provided to council today:

So what do you think?  This issue will be brought to the citizens for further discussion and even the opportunity for you to propose your own redrawing of district lines.  I have asked that the process be presented online for your consideration, along with readable maps of the proposed lines.  The goal is to finalize a plan in September and have the plans approved by the Department of Justice in time for the May 2012 at-large elections.

STATE LEGISLATION
We received an update on the legislation (some still in progress in special session) that might impact Denton.  The Texas Tea Partiers came into power with the assumption that they would yield influence.  Unfortunately, their enthusiasm to return powers to the individuals didn’t play out in many of their legislative priorities.  This session saw many attempts to take away local control of many issues in favor of state control (ironic given their approach to state vs federal issues and their desire to keep power in “local hands”).  Fortunately, apart from some financial grabs where the state is giving itself more local money (for instance, a greater percentage of the mixed beverage tax that would normally go to local municipalities), most of the harmful legislation did not survive.  This, of course, is not to mention the strike against local public education…

One particular item of interest – the Voter ID bill passed.  This initiative tended to cut along party lines, with Republicans pushing for it and Democrats seeing it as a way to diminish minority and low-income votes.  Instead of being able to simply show your voter registration card at the time of voting, voters need to also be able to present a state-issued photo ID at the point of voting.  Read this article for more information about it.  I have asked that we have a discussion about how the city can get on top of this issue and best educate our citizens about the changes in laws and voter expectations prior to the May 2012 city elections.

CITIZEN BOARD AND COMMISSIONS
To read more about these options, go here.  The council tonight began the option of nominating citizens to the various positions available on these boards.  We will visit this option again at the next meeting.  As soon as I finalize my nomination list, I will post it here for all to see.  With the exception of only a couple of boards, I am opting to retain the majority of the very helpful citizens appointed by my predecessor, Charyle Heggins.

DOWNTOWN INCENTIVE GRANT MONEY
Mellow Mushroom’s request for a $15,0000 grant was approved as part of the consent agenda.  The property owners of the elevated yellow house on Bell just beside the Center for the Visual Arts building, along with the anticipated business owners of Denton’s own “Aw Shucks,” presented their case at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting.  The city’s Economic Development Partnership Board had previously voted not to grant their $5000 grant request for facade improvements.  I see this project as a much-needed spark of business interest on the “other side” of Bell Avenue.  It will be a great amenity near the train, it will no doubt attract more interest in the area, it will be much more accessible to folks in the surrounding neighborhoods (in traditional SE Denton), and it begins the process of extending the downtown area in this direction.  Because questions of why it wasn’t recommended for approval, I along with others asked for further discussion to be had at the next council meeting.

NOISY PARTY REQUEST
The request was put in to allow a late night loud party on Myrtle Street between the hours of 10pm and midnight at the beginning of July.  The Parks department recommended denial of the request after learning that there have been 5 complaint calls about this residence in the last year.  Unfortunately, the nature of those calls or the source of them was not available.  I was not comfortable punishing folks who were trying to work through the system with such little information.  Ultimately, another council member suggested that we split the difference and allow the noise exception until 11pm instead of midnight.  I went along with that compromise.

As always, let me know if you have any questions!  kevin.roden@cityofdenton.com

June 21, 2011 Council Meeting Preview

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In my attempt to make your city government more accessible to you, here’s a rundown on some highlights of this week’s council meeting.  Our council Work Session begins at 3pm at City Hall and we’ll convene in Regular Session at 6:30pm.  Work Session is a time to go over details relating to upcoming votes in the Regular Session – a way to vet issues and gauge council direction on upcoming votes.  No votes are taken in the work session – votes on items and public hearings typically take place during the Regular Session.  As always, you can access the meeting agenda and back-up information (more detailed information for each agenda item) here on the city website.

Here are some of the highlights…

  • REDISTRICTING – as a result of the 2010 Census, the city district maps show disparity in populations among the 4 council districts.  Council has started the process of looking at options (since April) and we will hear about a couple of proposals that seek to bring the districts into balance.
  • STATE LEGISLATION – been following the drama in Austin over the summer? We’ll hear a report on how the recent budget cuts and other legislation impact Denton for better or for worse.
  • CITIZEN BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS – Each summer, the council examines the make-up of the various citizen-run boards and commissions and takes the opportunity to select new people to serve in these various capacities.  This will be the first meeting where the council addresses vacancies and re-appointments to these bodies.  We will revisit this issue next month before finalizing our decisions.
  • DOWNTOWN INCENTIVE GRANT MONEY – two property owners in the downtown area have applied for grant money (from a pot of $50,000 per year) to help in the revitalization of older properties.  Mellow Mushroom Pizza is slated to come to Hickory Street (previously Garbage Kings) in the Spring of 2012 and is seeking $15,000.  Aw Shucks Oyster Bar (with a location on lower Greenville in Dallas) is hoping to be one of the first businesses to invest to the East of Bell Ave.  You know that funky-looking yellow house just to the South of the Arts Center? Imagine SE Denton neighborhoods and train riders having access to a mostly outdoor cajun seafood joint, thus sparking business interest on the other side of Bell… they are seeking $5000 from the grant program to help with facade work at that location.
  • LOUD PARTY REQUEST – don’t be too loud at your house party, because some irritated neighbors may try and keep you from being allowed to do it again.  A house on Myrtle Street is requesting a noise ordinance exception for a party and is being recommended for denial due to their track record of complaint calls.

If any of this interests you, come on out and observe the dialogue and deliberation.  You are also welcome to comment on any of the consent agenda items at the onset of the 3pm Work Session meeting.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on these issues or questions – kevin.roden@cityofdenton.com.

Downtown Living Focus Group

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A preference for urban living is growing, even right here in Denton, Texas.  There is an increased desire among many to live in a place where you can work, shop, play, and socialize all within walking distance.  We are already beginning to notice this in many of the core neighborhoods connected to our historic square.  A slow renaissance is emerging as young professionals and young families are opting for a post-suburban experience and willing to take a chance on neighborhoods previously in decline.  Additionally, with the continual revitalization of the downtown area and the new train line, interest in urban-style apartments and condominiums has and will continue to attract new development projects in this part of town.

As the council member representing this area of town, I’d love to hear from those of you on the front-lines of this emerging living option, so that we can be better advised on livability issues in this area – what are the joys and struggles of downtown living? what infrastructure is needed to help you get around sans cars? what amenities can the city or developers provide in order to make this area a more attractive choice for future residents? etc…

If you live in the heart of downtown or one of the surrounding neighborhoods, please consider serving your city by chatting with me over drinks this Thursday, June 23 at 8pm at Simone Lounge – 222 Hickory Street #104.

RSVP at this Facebook event page.

Gas Drilling Fee Vote – Some Context

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June 7, 2011

No doubt there will be some chatter regarding my vote tonight at my first city council meeting regarding the reduction of fees for gas drilling operations in Denton.  I voted with the rest of council to adopt an ordinance effectively doing away with the fees voted in by the council nearly a year ago as part of their Phase I review of the city’s gas well ordinances and instituting a new fee structure as recommended by an outside consultant.  The Denton Record-Chronicle’s Lowell Brown already caught up with me after the vote with a very honest question: “During the campaign, you argued that you would nickel and dime the hell out of the industry.  How does your vote tonight match with that claim?” (in reference to a statement I made regarding local gas drilling regulation at the Denton Neighborhood Alliance forum.)

I invite everyone to spend some time with the back-up agenda material that is available online relating to this item (4N of the Consent Agenda) – go here and then click on the link for the “Agenda with Backup.”

The city Planning Office admittedly “shot from the hip” when they suggested the new fee structure voted on by city council last August.  The fees were attempting to cover the costs of needed employees and support that would allow the city to effectively regulate the industry.  And this is a good thing – it would be a bad idea to essentially subsidize the gas industry on the backs of taxpayers.  Unfortunately, without having the Gas Well Inspection Division in place, the planning team had very little internal background in order to justify their fee suggestions.  Without this justification, the city risks a legal challenge that they are imposing a fee beyond what the service actually costs.  J. Stowe and Co., LLC came in to attempt a more thorough analysis.  It is unfortunate this issue played out in this way.  The increase of fees was a more popular component of the Phase I process.  I imagine the fees suggested under the current proposal would have been welcomed had they been a part of the original proposal last August.  Unfortunately, it now appears that the city is actually lowering the fees – and this perception is meaningful.

Here’s one silver lining – the council opted not to assess annual inspection fees of gas well sites in the Extra-Terrestrial Jurisdiction areas following their August 2010 review.  The consultant has argued that this should happen and tonight’s ordinance made this happen.  Considering there are 762 wells to be inspected in the city’s ETJ (and only 210 in the actual city limits), at $580 per annual inspection, this means a yearly increase of around $400,000 in fees assessed to the industry that resulted from tonight’s ordinance that wasn’t in play in the previous fee proposal approved last August.

Unfortunately for the general public, most of the discussion on this issue happened during a closed session called by the city’s legal department.  I can say this: concerned citizens would have appreciated the rather spirited discussion that took place on this issue.  Several questions remain about the new fee structure – and here are some of mine:

  • Little to no analysis was done on certain items by the consultant, making some of his fee suggestions seem as arbitrary as the original city analysis.  This came to light specifically relating to the fee for the Gas Well Development Site Plan, which is why this suggestion was pulled out from the motion to approve the ordinance tonight.
  • It is still unclear how the books balance between the costs associated with the new Gas Well Inspections Division (which now stands at 6 Full Time Employees – an increase of 2 since last August) are completely covered by the new suggested fees.  Taking into account just the annual inspection fees (which cover all wells – even those that have been around for a while both in they city and the ETJ), assuming a 85% collection rate, the salaries of the Division are covered.  Other items still need to be accounted for such as vehicles, equipment, office space, technology, administrative support, etc.  We will continue to examine this – there should be NO subsidization of the industry with tax payer money.
  • Much of what we mean by “inspection” will not be filled-out until we proceed with Phase II of the ordinance review – the costs associated with this may certainly rise depending on the levels of protection we afford our citizens from these sites.

Rest assured, this issue of drilling and production fees will be fully vetted as we move through the Phase II process – and the fees can be re-examined at any point where it appears discrepancies exist.

It should be noted that two other encouraging decisions were made tonight for those concerned about natural gas drilling activity in Denton.  First, the council voted unanimously to adopt the Fair Share Resolution in order to encourage TCEQ to mandate new control measures for the release of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the gas drilling industry ahead of its upcoming vote on a new DFW Air Plan.  The technology is already in place that can help both our air quality and the industry save more money – a rare win, win for this issue.

Second, there was support on the council to examine how citizens will be involved in the process of the Phase II gas well ordinance review.  Denton’s citizens are up for the task.  If you are interested in helping out, let me know.

As always, please share with me your thoughts and your questions – you can email me at kevin.roden@cityofdenton.com or call me at 940-206-5239.

Roden for Denton T-Shirts

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We now have a new and fun campaign t-shirt on limited supply… This is a great way to spread the word about our vision for Denton as we head into the final weeks of the campaign.

For a minimum donation to the campaign of $12, this shirt can be yours! Just click on the PayPal link to the right and put your shirt size in the comment section of your donation submission.  But don’t feel confined to $12 – please consider a $20, $50 donation or more.  We need help as we push to get the word out to as many District 1 voters as possible!

Here’s the front:

And here’s the back:

DCTA Tower Update and Thoughts

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The Denton City Council tonight voted to approve a controversial DCTA communications tower set to be built just off Teasley Lane in the SE Denton neighborhood.  The vote passed by a margin of 6 to 1 with District 1 council person Charlye Heggins voting against it.  At issue was the approval of a Special Use Permit allowing the construction of a 180 foot tower on DCTA property.  Prior to approval, the council attached three conditions to the permit including: 1) landscape screening surrounding the tower, 2) monitoring of possible TV, radio, or cell interference complaints for six months, and 3) only DCTA communication can be used on the tower.  DCTA claimed the site was the best of possible options.  Neighborhood concerns centered on neighborhood aesthetics, electrical interference from communication equipment, health and safety concerns, and placement decisions.

After a lengthy work session discussion with DCTA officials, council members at tonight’s meeting said they felt comfortable that the neighborhood concerns were met with the answers to their questions and the conditions placed on the project.

This entire issue sheds light on the problem of a decision-making process that tends to treat otherwise connected issues in isolation from one another.  Sure, the city council tonight technically addressed some of the concerns raised by the neighborhood critics concerning this tower.  But there is a larger narrative at play with this A-Train issue that runs beneath the surface of this specific neighborhood fight.  The fact is that the SE Denton neighborhood, more than any other Denton neighborhood, has bore the brunt of the issues relating to the upcoming A-Train.  They have had to deal with a rail line suddenly becoming active again.  They have had to deal with the future knowledge that a train would soon be running through their neighborhood.  They have had to deal with the constant construction with its associated road closures for the last couple of years.  They have had to deal with the possible safety issues for their children who might play around the tracks.  And much more…

Add to this the more fundamental subtext of a neighborhood that has a tragic history of being slighted by the city ever since the citizens voted to uproot and forcibly move historic Quakertown to make way for a city park back in the early 1920s.

To be sure, DCTA has made attempts to work with the neighborhood on a variety of issues: investing in previously non-existing infrastructure, insulating a house near the train, working with local schools to provide education to the students, and communicating with neighborhood leaders and businesses on key issues.  But at the end of the day, it is not DCTA’s responsibility to make sure neighborhoods are treated fairly with such a process – that is the job of the city council.

Although attempts have been made throughout the process to ease the burden of the coming train and its associated construction, the impression has been that these attempts are “just enough to get by.”  But a more important question must be addressed by our city council: What has been done to get the SE Denton neighborhood on board with the train?

What has been done to meaningfully sell them on the great possibilities this train can create for their families, neighborhood, and businesses?  All the focus of the potential of the train has been aimed in one direction – away from SE Denton and toward the downtown area.  No doubt, the square area stands to benefit from this, as it should.  But what plans are in place to make sure the neighborhood most impacted by these changes stands to gain considerably from this train?

As the train comes to town, it’s time for District 1 to have an experienced, proactive, and visionary voice sitting on the City Council to make sure their interests are represented.  Given the large sacrifice put upon the SE Denton Neighborhood, here are just some of my ideas of how they should benefit:

  • Every school age child living within a certain proximity to the A-Train tracks should be given a free train pass that is good for the entire summer.  This should be done as a joint partnership between DCTA, the City of Denton, and private donors who can even set-up SE Denton neighborhood outings to help the children learn more about train safety and to sell them on the benefit of the train.
  • DCTA is planning a series of Rail Safety days to introduce the train to the public.  The Denton day, scheduled for May 21, is set to be held at the Med Park station.  No such day is scheduled for the downtown station – the station closest and most available to residents of SE Denton.  This is a mistake.  Either the location should change or an additional day should be scheduled to accommodate the needs of that neighborhood.
  • Through adequate signage and brochures, the city should work with SE Denton businesses to develop a “Discover SE Denton” marketing campaign to direct out-of-town train visitors to the amenities to the East when they pull into the Downtown Transit Station.  This should highlight SE Denton eateries and businesses as well as other historic attractions in this historic neighborhood.
  • The city should fast-track a mobile food cart pilot program aimed at helping SE Denton businesses take advantage of rail traffic.  There are already existing taco stands along McKinney and other local businesses just waiting for the relaxing of regulations that would allow such an option.  The A-Train station is a great place to try out such a program and the SE Denton businesses should be given special consideration.
  • and let’s keep brainstorming…

The train is coming – let’s make sure it is a good thing for ALL of our residents.  Justice requires as much.

Welcome to Beautiful Southeast Denton!

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The town square says something about the soul of that town.  For all the genuinely good things that can be said about our downtown – its focus on humans, its increasing walk-ability, its constant invitation to linger a bit, its conduciveness to conversation, its historical preservation, and its eclecticism – it has yet to overcome one major obstacle: its own whiteness.

Look around.  Who is hanging out on the courthouse lawn on sunny weekends?  Who is attending plays at the Campus Theater?  Who is dining in the restaurants or perusing the shops?  And lest we have the tendency to peg this problem on the more conservative segments of town, who do you find up until 2am frequenting our internationally renown indie music venues?  Typically, it is middle class white people.

Denton is much more colorful than this: 22% of Denton is Hispanic, nearly 9% is black, and altogether non-whites make up close to 40% of our population. In fact, the highest concentration of Denton’s black and Hispanic population resides within walking distance to the square in Southeast Denton – quite literally just on the other side of the tracks.  The story of how SE Denton came into its current demographic situation is tragic.  The area you now know as Quakertown Park or Civic Center Park (just North of Emily Fowler Library and the Civic Center) was once the home to a thriving working-class black neighborhood, complete with its own grocers and churches.  After being forced out by a city-wide vote in the early 1920s, many of the residents moved to Solomon’s Hill, a fly-infested cow pasture near the railroad tracks.  You can read more on this story here…

While most of the city’s commercial focus is directed at either the square or the Loop, this unassuming spot in between has continued to nourish a culture all its own.  Here’s a list of reasons to spend some quality time in Southeast Denton…

TACO STANDS!
Denton’s overly-cautious and embarrassingly-outdated ban on mobile food carts doesn’t stop McKinney Street vendors from serving up some of Denton’s best late night cuisine on Friday and Saturday nights.  One warm evening this Fall I saddled up my little red Honda scooter and made a solo ride to check out the scene.  Along the way, I brushed up on my best Spanish: “dos asada tacos,” I kept repeating, in hopes of sounding legit.  As soon as you cross the tracks, you’ll see a bright yellow dive that is all things to all people – a gas station, a mini market, a grill, and a carwash.  Ready with my bueno espanol, I was at once relieved and defeated when I was greeted with a “What’s up, man?”  La Estrella (602 E. McKinney) will boast that they are the only stand that cooks its meat outside over a fire grill.  After two wonderful asada tacos topped only with cilantro, onion, lime, and salsa, I headed East down McKinney.  Within a couple blocks there is a spot on your left where you usually pull up and buy Elotes and snowcones (just near the charming, one-roomed Veronica’s Cafe) – they weren’t open that night so I continued on a bit to Taqueria Guanajuato.

Located at 1015 E. McKinney and attached to a mini market, Taqueria Guanajuato’s entrance into the late weekend night street taco market is just another step of greatness that keeps coming from this little place.  An appropriate mix of techno-laced Tejano music blared from a pick-up truck parked next to their taco stand.  You could choose between tacos al pastor and asada tacos before heading back to your car or finding a spot to sit on the sidewalk.  More than one truck seemed to be treating themselves to some sort of unofficial parking-lot-BYOB-special as a compliment to their tacos.  I considered the same thing, but I quickly concluded that I couldn’t pull off the same sort of vibe sitting alone on my scooter.  Both spots are worth trying again and again.  Think date ideas, gentlemen…

THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Get on your bike and head East on Sycamore past Rubber Gloves and start exploring the neighborhood along some very bikable streets.  Along the way you’ll find plenty of charming older wood framed houses, historic churches whose history dates back to the days of Quakertown (check out St. James AME Church on E. Oak and Mount Pilgrim Church on Robertson, for instance), the historic Fred Moore High School, and a few tucked away small businesses (SE Denton has maintained a certain amount of mixed-use living, a city planning trend that is becoming fashionable once again).  Each time I bike or walk through this area of town, I find a phenomena that is rare in most other Denton neighborhoods – people outside their homes.  It is the exception when I am not waved to or greeted by neighbors sitting on their porches, conversing with one another.  There is something very human about all this…

NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS
If you have kids, bike them to one of SE Denton’s neighborhood parks.  Referred to respectively by my two-year old as “purple park,” “Rosie-size park,” and “yellow park,” Carl Young, Sr. Park, Fred Moore Park, and MLK Park provide some great equipment and scenery.  Neighborhood centers are also prevalent in SE Denton and often times connected to the parks (the MLK Recreation Center is beside MLK Park and The American Legion Hall borders Fred Moore Park, for instance).

HIDDEN BBQ
Tucked away at 511 Robertson, Sweet Y Cafe and Catering provides all the charm and flavor that you look for in a hole-in-the-wall establishment.  Those of you old enough to remember the days of Steve’s BBQ near downtown will appreciate this.  The building is historic and the name hearkens back to an old cafe that used to serve pastries to the black residents of SE Denton during the days of segregation.  Literally sitting on a ‘Y’ created by the convergence of Robertson and Wye Streets, the old Sweet Y would serve sweet treats to students coming to and from nearby Fred Moore School.  Owner, chef, and Renaissance man Raymond Redmon is someone to chat up after you are served the best BBQ in town.  Though he might deny it, Redmon once held the District 1 City Council seat for two terms and he just might engage you in a discussion of city politics and happenings.  He might also take you outside and show you his organic garden where several of his side dishes are grown – all with the help of two on-site rain harvesters.  As Raymond will tell you, “I’ve been green before being green was cool…”

HISTORIC CEMETERY
A Texas Historical Landmark, Oakwood Cemetery, located just North of Fred Moor Park, began soon after the settling of Denton.  The cemetery is the resting place of many early Denton pioneers, including a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s.  Try and find the headstones for Andrew and George Brown – there you will find the inscription, “Executed.”  They met their fate at the Denton gallows in 1879.

DID I MENTION MEXICAN FOOD?
Beyond the McKinney Street taquerias already mentioned above, here are some other personal favorites:

– TACO NACO (501 E. Prarie) – housed in the old RJ Burger joint, this spot run by a former long-time Morrison Milling company worker will surprise you with their adventurous take on authentic mexican cuisine.  If you don’t know already, ask them what “Naco” means while you eat.
– TORTILLERIA LA SABROCITA (201 Dallas Dr.) – much more than just a place where you get tortillas, this place serves delicious meat options by the pound.  You must try their tacos al pastor along with an assortment of their many homemade salsa options.  If you plan on take-out and dine-in on the weekends, get there with time to spare – but it’s worth the wait.  The gal at the counter tells me that they have plans to open 24 hours soon…
– CASA GALAVIZ (508 S. Elm) – this is often my first choice for breakfast tacos in Denton.  Their tortillas are fresh and made on the spot.  Their salsa is never mild, yet it fluctuates between a 7 and a 9 most mornings – a great cure for early morning sinus headaches or late morning hangovers.  I suggest the chorizo, potato, egg, and cheese taco or a bowl of caldo de res.  Owner Joe will surprise you with his outskirts of Denton sounding Texas draw.
– LA MEXICANA (619 S. Locust) – one of the rare authentic Mexican spots that actually serves up cerveza, so this is a great spot for lingering dinners – it is also one of the only ones that is a sit-down establishment.
– ESTER’S TORTILLERIA AND BAKERY (710 S. Elm) – you must try their tortas and gorditas.  The best part of Ester’s is saving room for some fresh-made pastries for dessert.  My suggestion: churros.

THE FUTURE OF SE DENTON
For all its glories, downtown Denton risks pricing itself out of its own uniqueness.  High dollar consultants, an upcoming train, and special fostering by city leaders have resulted in an increased interest in investment and development of the downtown area.  That is good news in that the area will continue to prosper and add to the tax base of the city.  There is, however, a downside to all this: as interest in the area grows, so do rental costs and property values. The once “funky feel” of downtown Denton just may be harder to maintain once young, creative, risk-taking business ideas are priced out of the market.  Already, much of the lauded upcoming businesses are not entirely local or unique – they are coming from well-financed entrepreneurs who have succeeded with the same model in other college towns.  The likes of Sweet Y, Taco Naco or Taqueria Guanajuato could never dream of relocating to the square.  Yet it is precisely those sort of businesses that would make the downtown area more of what we all want…

All this to say, as the creative class of Denton continues to grow and prosper, there will be a increased demand for space to open up and try out new sorts of business ventures – from coffee shops and bars, to restaurants and small grocers, to record shops and art galleries.  If the downtown trend continues, these new start-ups will no longer see downtown as a viable place.  Denton just might see a shift of its cultural center as a result and a new place will be found.  Once Fry Street was torn down, we saw a shift to the Square – and once the Square prices folks out, we just might see a shift, once again, to the East (in this sense, Rubber Gloves is THE visionary venue).  The above mentioned amenities, combined with dirt cheap housing options (a fixer-upper’s dream neighborhood) provide a strong argument for the possibility of a new cultural district emerging in SE Denton.

In the meantime, let’s all spend some more time in this beautiful section of town.

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