Are Texas’ local governments putting the American Dream out of reach for some? An interesting case in Dallas, Texas illustrates one of the most insurmountable new barriers preventing, not only immigrants, but small business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds from realizing their dreams.  

The case of Hinga Mbogo focuses on a first generation Kenyan immigrant, who faces seeing his legacy torn apart by a city council “using zoning laws to shut down a 30-year old, minority-owned small business—all without having to pay the owner a dime.”  While Mbogo’s story is moving, what makes his story distinct from the many other stories of those oppressed by big government, is the apparent retribution on display from the Dallas City Council.

The Dallas Morning News reports that: “City Hall wants an East Dallas auto mechanic [Mbogo] to pay for his defiance,” and as such, filed a lawsuit this week seeking to fine Mbogo upwards of $1,000 per day that he has operated without a use permit. The fines, according to the newspaper, could mean that Mbogo is “on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The city council’s unseemly use of zoning laws to attempt to stamp out this business and apparent reprisal beg the question: is it time for the Legislature to examine cities’ use of amortization and makes reforms where needed?