DALLAS — The City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to restrict operating hours for sexually oriented businesses (SOBs) in an effort to reduce violent crime.
The new regulations require SOBs, which must be licensed to operate by the police department, to close between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The SOBs will also be forbidden under the City Code from hiring or contracting with anyone under the age of 21. The latter change matches a new state law that is meant to combat human trafficking — a top priority of Mayor Eric Johnson.
Mayor Johnson had placed the proposal on the City Council’s agenda. Police Chief Eddie Garcia had recommended the changes to the City Code as part of his department’s violent crime reduction plan.
“This unanimous vote proves once again that public safety is our top priority,” Mayor Johnson said. “By restricting operating hours for these businesses, we are taking another step forward in our ‘kitchen sink’ approach to public safety that helped Dallas buck the national trends and reduce violent crime in 2021.
“And by continuing to follow the data and to look for solutions that reduce our reliance on our police department, as we have done today, I am confident that we can reach our goal of becoming the safest large city in the United States.”
The changes bring Dallas in line with other Texas cities — including El Paso, Fort Worth, Plano, and San Antonio — that have restricted operating hours for SOBs.
In Dallas, Chief Garcia formed a departmental task force in March 2021 to address frequent crime at SOBs. The task force’s work led to the recommendation to restrict operating hours.
City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua first introduced the proposal to the Dallas City Council in December. The Public Safety Committee, chaired by Adam McGough, voted in favor of the proposal and sent it to the full City Council for a briefing on Jan. 5.
Two days after the briefing, Mayor Johnson announced he would schedule a vote on the item for Jan. 26, giving City Councilmembers nearly three weeks to further assess the proposed changes to the City Code. At the time, the mayor said he supported the plan and that Chief Garcia “has done exactly what we have asked of him.”
“We have requested clear plans to address violent crime where it occurs. We have asked police commanders to make data-driven decisions. We have called for solutions that would alleviate the burdens on our police department by eliminating the need for a police response,” Mayor Johnson said. “This plan accomplishes all of those objectives.”
McGough and Bazaldua lauded the vote Wednesday.
“I’m appreciative of the mayor’s prioritization of public safety in our city,” said Chairman McGough. “Council’s unanimous vote to amend the Dallas City Code as recommended by Chief Garcia is encouraging news for Dallas residents and a win for public safety. The recommendation is data-driven, well-documented and makes common sense, and I’m proud my colleagues and I did our part to support the Dallas Police Department’s efforts to reduce violent crime in Dallas. Public-safety trends are moving in the right direction, and Chief Garcia and his team have made it clear that these amendments will enhance progress made since the initiation of the new violent crime reduction plan.”
“Today, we made an informed decision based on data and research,” said Chairman Bazaldua. “These changes are reasonable. We are prioritizing public safety for survivors of human trafficking, residents, and first responders during National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This crime reduction plan will help lessen our reliance on police resources and they will make our city safer. I am proud to have introduced this proposal, and I am grateful to Mayor Johnson, to Chief Garcia, and to my City Council colleagues for their attention to this issue and for their collective efforts to move our city forward.”