Whole Foods cited for environmentally unfriendly pay-to-park services

The City of Dallas' Code Compliance department cited the owner of Whole Foods weekend self-park service for operating a business without a permit or Certificate of Occupancy. Painstaking research by City Staff and residents confirmed what we already knew: The Whole Foods' manager lied when she said they had the proper paperwork to operate a pay-to-park service on their property.

It was Whole Foods' greed for more income before moving to Lakewood that got them into trouble. For years, they leased the Whole Foods property to a pay-to-park service, while the Blockbuster side was a no parking / towing zone. This created a safety buffer between the noisy and drunk patrons returning to their cars at 2am and the residential properties along Belmont Avenue.

Back in April, BD revealed the towing service was operating without a contract signed by Whole Foods, Blockbuster or the property owner, and was charging customers illegal fees in order to retrieve their vehicles.

Rather than hire a new towing service to maintain the buffer, Whole Foods decided to expand the pay-to-park service to the Blockbuster side of the parking lot. Despite protests by the residents on Belmont Avenue, Whole Foods lawyer'd up and refused to meet with the residents, answer any emails or discuss the issue with the Belmont Neighborhood Association. [Did you really think the Lower Greenville NA would do anything to upset one of their biggest donors by complaining??].

Lower Greenville Rule Number 25: It's one thing to piss BD off by operating a scummy business in the neighborhood. It's another thing when that scummy business is right in front of the Dog Pound.

BD and others started digging through the files and interviewing long-time Lower Greenville residents who remember when there were houses on Richmond and Belmont Avenues, torn down in 1969 and 1970 to make way for Safeway and Skillern's Pharmacy. We won't reveal what we found in these files, but the City accepted our claim that the pay-to-park service was not a valid use of Whole Foods Certificate of Occupancy for a Supermarket.

On Saturday evening, a Code Compliance officer issued a Notice of Violation to the pay-to-park contractor (see photo), and took dozens of photographs for the file, but the operation was not shut down immediately. According to the code compliance officer and our previous experience with these issues, City staff will pull all Whole Foods building and construction permits on Monday to confirm there is no Certificate of Occupancy for the pay-to-park service. Notices of Violation will be sent to Whole Foods and the property owners, ordering them to close the pay-to-park operation until (and if) a Secondary Certificate of Occupancy is issued.

The chances of that happening are somewhere between not gonna and never will. We can only hope - with our fingers crossed - that Whole Foods won't get special treatment just because a current City Council member is a partner in the property's ownership.

This leaves Whole Foods with two choices: Let any and all bar patrons park on the property, bringing with them trash and damage, or hire a legitimate towing service to patrol the parking lot on Friday and Saturday evenings. Putting a gate on the entry driveways would cause problems for Blockbuster (which closes at midnight, while Whole Foods closes at 10pm) and require someone on the property late at night.

Whole Foods needs to make the right choice before next weekend.

By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Lower Greenville