The City Runaround and a City Council Run: Where Does It Say That the Heights Is Dry?

The proprietor of the Heights’ Beer Island writes in, breathlessly and at length, to report on difficulties he’s encountered getting a beer-and-wine license for the Trail Mix Café, a second establishment he’s trying to establish just a few blocks west:

I am opening a new cafe on White Oak Drive by the new trail and was given a permit from City of Houston for the approval of address to be able to serve beer and wine. After i picked up legal document from permitting office i went to receive stamp from state comptrollers office, than went to city of secretary, received stamp, went to county secretary, clerk placed notification in paper, pd fee, picked up application after 2 weeks had gone by, than took to TABC and they reviewed application, was given window notification sign, I placed in window, 3 weeks go by, checked w/ TABC to make sure no problem, no one called me but thank goodness I called, found out a hold on license, went to TABC to meet w/2 representatives from TABC, they informed me that City of Houston had reversed their approval on location . . .

. . . because the café was in a “dry area.”

So . . . the owner of the new establishment at 3202 White Oak, next door to the Montrose Skate Shop, wants to know: Where, exactly, does it say that the Heights is dry?


On with his narrative:

How can the 1 city of houston office that is given the responsibility to check for location being 300 feet from church, school, and govt building, and checking for dry areas. Having an existing bar already in Heights for 4 yrs., no one seem to know of where abouts of dry line on white oak dr. I had heard by older gentleman it was the old railroad track, now trail, that is why i went to city to make sure i got legal document and approval before a spent any money.

After meeting w/TABC i went downtown to the Bob Lanier building to talk w/ supervisor about why I was given the approval for beer/wine service and it taken so long for them to correct mistake. No one had an answer or [could] show me dry area in Heights.

Then . . . the mysterious reversal:

Asst. supervisor leaves to get head supervisor, while waiting, TABC calls me and says Austin has called and that they could not hold license because I had received necessary stamps. So i left city, w/out any supervisor showing any legal document or map of dry area. I drive back to TABC and they give me application back to see judge in morning to sign off and I went to courthouse next day and judge signed application and circled NO PROTEST. Walked over to Tax accessor office to pay state $1,700.00 for license, and than back to TABC to pay for food and beverage part of license, 565.00, and was told license would be received in 5 business days. NOT!!!

Next day 2 City of Houston lawyers go in TABC and give them documents from City of Secretary’s office reversing appoval on address being dry. Why have a judge or judge rep to sign off at end and circle no protest and have me pay money to state, ( which as of April 15, 2009 have not received back)? So spending several thousand of $$$ on lawyers, now i am angry that no one from city has called me and no apology or answer of what was going to b done w/ this huge mistake their rep made by not given the correct decision someone high up on the ladder wanted, so they want me to sit back and be ok w spending $60,000.00, and just go away. Not!!!

Time to hit the books:

So I start researching like a detective to find out the history of the City of Heights and the City of Houston Annex Agreement. Well here it goes, when 2 municipal cities make an agreement it must be put on paper and be official by signatures of approved officers and have seal stamps. So they say there was a meeting by heights in 1912 and voted town to be dry, so when heights annexed into Houston they both agreed on keeping dry status.

If this meeting took place by [two] municipal cities and made a agreement of such, than their has to be a legal piece of document with two stamps that are half dollar size and where is the document, minutes, anything that states there was a vote by Heights to make city dry. Are these documents in a vault somewhere? No one knows where they are kept and if the city has this document, it should be in somewhere so public can review. If city has document than why would’nt the only office that is assigned to give appoval on Alcohol Free Zone certificates is not aware of dry area and why was it not fixed 6 years ago when same issue occurred when other restaurant had similar issue. I have viewed some crazy maze that is very misleading on exact boundaries, but who made this map? Hmm, a lady name Sister Mary Agatha ni 1956, i believe wrote i book and she was living in heights in early 1900’s, and placed this map in book and that book is the only place i have read that had that map, and a book is not a legal document and that book does’nt have any copy of a legal document signed by 2 municipal officers or reps.

So if no one has documents, doesn’t that mean when city of Heights annex w/ city of Houston, a wet city, it should become a wet area as well? Also if there is some legal document in a vault, when this agreement was made, it was made for no distribution or selling of any type of alcohol in all of Heights, and if area was changed by officers of existing city, without city having a local option election, would’nt that change for all of Heights. If you change the agreement of the area supposely was to stay dry, allowing a business to sale alcohol, than the usage of street has change from what the usage was when agreement was made, all of the street should be able to sale alcohol.

I think I deserve the respect of at least showing me a legal document that has this agreement. Several residents have acknowlegde the improvement of property and happy to be getting a new cafe to dine, and does it realy make a difference allowing a cafe to serve a nice glass of wine or cold import beer w/ a meal, when there are 7 places within a block or 2 on same street serving alcohol already, or is it just a bitter individual or individuals that wants to call anyomously to cause problems for an entrepuneur who is wanting, in times where alot of businesses are closing, to give the community a new enviroment to visit and relax and dine.

Remember, this is in the 4th largest city in united states next to downtown, not in the middle of the country or family suburbs. Also if people have a issue w/ a business or business owner that supports all civic associations and donates to their events, come out as an adult, and explain why you have a problem and stop the anoymous calling @ 311 or down at city causing delays for entrepuneurs to bring new businesses to the New Heights!!!

And then the announcement:

Being from Houston and seeing how small business owners are being treated unfairly i will be sending out a news release announcing I, Lonnie Allsbrooks, will be a candidate for the City of Houston Council seat At Large Position 1, and have already announced my treasurer’s name to the City of Secretary’s office and will be having several campaign fundraisers all around the Houston areas and will be supported by the largest community in Houston, bars and restaurants, my passion for this type of work is something i will always support and have the drive to make Houston one of the best entertainment communities in the U.S.

Thank You and remember “The Trail to a New Beginning, starts by calling the City of Secretary’s office and asking where is the legal document that states the Heights is dry? Is the Heights really Dry??? GOT PROOF???

99 Comment

  • Love it! Hope I get to hear the resolution of this situation. I do wish the Heights becomes “wet,” I think on the wet side we would have a lot more businesses and small restuarants opening up. Glad someone took on this battle.

  • Well, he’s got my interest peaked.

    Outside of locals mentioning where the line and outside of the one book they all point to, I have never been referenced a real document.

    It has to exist to enforce the rule. If it doesn’t, then no more dry area.

  • I love this! Go Lonnie.

  • All those wishing to open up the dry area of the Heights, please provide your addresses, so that all venues requiring a liquor license be directed next door. You can then deal with the parking, trash, vandalism, noise, puke, and pee.

    All those desperate to patronize your new next door neighbors, evidently cannot walk, drive, bus, or bike the few blocks to a wet area. They are directed to the nearest 12-step program.

  • Darby Mom,

    What will you do if/when no official document is found or can be proved existed?

  • I seem to remember we covered this at some length during the discussion about the renovations to the strip center East of Onion Creek discussion about the renovations to the strip center East of Onion Creek . Looking at the comments there I don’t see an actual legal document but the dry zone was apparently the subject of a Texas Supreme Court decision in 1937 so I think he will have trouble claiming it’s not legal.

    In terms of claiming that residents have complimented him on the improvements to the property, compare this photo at the head of the story to what it looked like whilst it was the scooter store. Beyond the ramp and a new coat of paint what exactly is the big improvement here?
    View Larger Map
    By the way, the eventual discussion of where the Eastern boundary of the dry zone put it slightly East of Oxford at the edge of the original Heights. The railway line didn’t come into it.

  • Darby Mom, no offense to you or those that think the Heights is the way it is because it’s a dry area. Correct me if I am wrong but I think we are a responsible and very involved community, being just that, can we not control what does enter and what does not enter our community through the option to protest the license being granted? This I would think would then cause even more community involvement and in the long run make for a better community… no?

  • By the way, I’m not overly fussed either way on the dry or wet area seeing that I am already outside it and suffer no ill effects. Having said that it all kind of depends on what sort of establishment you are close to. I have the good luck to be near a couple of excellent restaurants and a little further from the White Oak/Stude intersection. If the owner of Beer Island wants to get more support for his cause maybe he could do more to clear up the scree of broken glass and litter that pollute White Oak in that vicinity at least partially as a result of his current operation.

  • Interestly the 1937 Texas Supreme Court decision about the validity of the Heights Dry area following the repeal of Prohibition seems to be one that is referenced in Dry zone cases nationally to this day. Not being a lawyer I don’t have access to the case itself but I would imagine that there must be some documentation of what the boundaries were at that point. The case is Houchins v. Plainos, 130 Tex. 413, 110 S.W.2d 549 (1937).

  • Any lawyerly types out there can help make Jimbo’s request?

    I’m not ginned up to read a legal document, but it would be interesting to see what this case said.

  • If you actually read that though it just states that it upholds the decision to keep the Heights in its current state as “dry” it never actually digs into whether the Heights was legally ever made dry.

  • By all accounts the gist of the decision was that neither the annexation of the City of Houston Heights into Houston nor the repeal of prohibition at the state level affect the fact that a legal dry zon exists within the boundaries of the previously existing City of Houston Heights. The decision states that the only way the dry zone can be made wet is if “it was voted wet at a subsequent election held in and for the same identical area which had theretofore voted dry”. Good luck with that.

  • The original vote by the City of Houston Heights may not exist any more. Similarly the agreement between City of Houston Heights and City of Houston may not exist although either or both may be in the Texas Supreme Court files. However I would think that both would have been reviewed in 1937 by the Supreme Court and that their decision would carry a large amount of weight. This claim that unless there is an original document with two dollar size seals and two signatures sounds a little too much like the recent kerfuffle over a certain person’s birth certificate to me.

  • If doesn’t physically exist in some file drawer and only a court case alludes to it, does it exist?

    If a tree falls in the wood, and no…

    Ah, never mind.

  • I have to agree with TheSaint that the existence of the dry zone itself is not what maintains the nature of a neighborhood. The active involvement of the community in reviewing and debating each application for a liquor license would be a far better tool and would prevent the clustering of bars that we see now around the boundaries of the dry area.

    That being said the provision in that court decision for overturning the dry zone would effectively require a special election involving only those people who live within the old boundaries of the City of Houston Heights which would be a hell of an undertaking.

  • I’ll print a copy of the decision off and take a stab at it.

    But I would not, in response to DarbyMom, that this proposed location should assuage any concerns as it is, IIRC, across the street from the nearest 12 step program…

  • Do 12 step houses count as churches or schools?

  • According the great satirical cartoon “South Park”, it’s more of a cult. I guess you can call it a church.

  • It’s not a cult! That’s catholicism. (HA!)

  • Jeez, Louise. Just have a BYOB cafe with a corking fee, and spend some of that frenetic energy on learning to spell check.

  • BTW, the Supreme Court case says that a dry town does not become a wet town simply through annexation. Whether the Heights properly became a dry town was not at issue in the case, because the parties stipulated as follows:

    “That on September 15, 1912, Houston Heights, where the defendant’s place of business is now located, was a separate municipality known as the City of Houston Heights, and as such separate municipality there was held in and for the City of Houston Heights a valid local option election wherein the qualified voters therein adopted local option and determined that the sale of liquor should not be permitted within said territory.”

  • EMME – for someone that is soooo worried about feelings and sensitivity towards others, that comment suprises me. Would you say that about Muslims or Jews?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not especially sensitive, but it is just very interesting coming from someone who typically has no sense of humor over those sorts of comments.

  • I knew this topic would bring out alot of swamplot commenters!

  • justsayin…you are right. I guess I was reacting to being called a member of a cult. It was a joke, but could be taken as being insensitive.

  • Off topic (but really when am I ever on). The ATF, FBI and SWAT were in the 900 block of Aurora this morning. KHOU said they knew what was going on, but were not at liberty to say. FBI friend of a friend said he didn’t know what it was about but that there was a lot of radio play about individuals beign relocated to the federal detention center.

    Anybody have any idea what’s going on? I swear I stopped cooking speed in my garage weeks ago!

  • As a wild guess I would say it is probably linked to the smuggling of weapons from the US to Mexico. Chron story today quotes ATF as saying that of all the weapons confiscated in Mexico and submitted by the Mexican authorities for trace 36% can be traced to Texas retailers (90% in total can be traced to the US).

  • 1st point is why did the office that is assigned by the City of Houston give me the permission and permit to go forward on my license and doing a lot of research on this annex agreement somewhere,besides a case that was not in the original agreement by 2 municipal cities, a legal document that has the boundaries should be somewhere so the public can view and why didn’t they fix this problem 6 yrs. ago and why is it ok to change part of White Oak Dr. and not all? Towards comments-I am an owner that you can find at my businesses every day at some point, working to keep clean,adding improvements,and helping to support all local events,even children events. I do not allow intoxicated,homeless,or rude guest in my establishment. To the person that commented on what i have done with other location,I have taken a much needed existing business,and cleaned up inside and outside of location. I haver spent 60,000.00 on this project,and seems that residents who complain about us are the first to put their hands out for our tax money we pay each month. All I am asking is why was I given the ok and why can’t the city show me what i am asking to see and if i want to get a private club license i can go that direction.

  • Lonnie, we get rather snarky here, please don’t take it personally. Based strictly on your being given the go ahead and then revoked, it sounds like the same dept. that gave Specs the go ahead on Washington. Clearly, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing or at least claims not to. As you probably discovered with Beer Island, it is always difficult to get beer and wine or liquor licensing in the Heights. I for one am glad it is difficult, but I agree that you should not have been lead on and allowed to spend your hard earned money only to be rebuffed. Good luck to you and please keep us posted.

  • what year was the annex? 1912?
    hello….almost 100 years ago. get with modern society and allow the people the right to be able to drink.
    some times I swear there is a timewarp over in the Heights, people still want to think its 1912.

    good luck Lonnie. hope you make headway with the political game. go “members only’ for the time being.

    and spellcheck? ha! this is the internet where everybody has the right for stream of consciousness rants.

  • No offense, but Beer Island is a cheesy place.

  • While agreed that community involvement can be powerful in preventing unwanted businesses from locating in the neighborhood, it’s only as good as the law has teeth backing it up. In general public opinion is trumped by the law.

    Unless you are trying to prevent the Ashby high rise. ;-)

  • DMc – agreed, and it should be! Property Owners should be able to work within the known confines of their site. Rules should be made/changed arbitrarily.

  • meant to say rules SHOULD NOT be made/changed arbritrily.

  • justsayin, for a moment I thought you might be an anarchist (not that that is a bad thing). Thanks for the clarification. :)

  • Lonnie, I’m certainly sorry that you have been a victim of the same sort of City incompetence that led to the Spec’s debacle. My personal opinion is that alcohol licenses would be better dealt with on a case by case basis rather than having a blanket rule. Unfortunately the situation at White Oak and Studewood with 5 bars effectively on one intersection is precisely the type of situation that reinforces the opinion of those would prefer to see the dry zone intact. No matter how well you can police your own establishment that sort of density will always result in more noise and more trash after a heavy weekend which is precisely what people are afraid of.

    I hope you can resolve your current situation satisfactorily but my reading of the documents I have seen, albeit secondhand, doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.

  • Lonnie’s “breathless” report was painful for me to read, with the numerous typographical errors, poor grammar, and sentence fragments.

    I wish Lonnie luck in his quest to obtain an alcohol permit and in his upcoming election bid, but he will not be receiving any contributions from me unless and until his campaign literature is properly written.

  • Passion and frustration can throw grammar to the wind.

  • (1) “some times I swear there is a timewarp over in the Heights, people still want to think its 1912.” It’d be CRAZY to let neighborhoods have slightly different characteristics to appeal to different people, wouldn’t it?
    (2) Look, I’m an avid drinker. I love the little ol’ bar down the road, so you’ll hear no judgment from me. I just think that *maybe* it’s not the end of the world if one neighborhood wants to stay dry — especially in light of BYOB options.
    (3) Maybe it’s because I deal with the excruciatingly inefficient judicial system, but I’m not at all surprised that city departments are incompetent. However, I’d love to see someone introduce competence to said departments.
    (4) While I exercised my right to prepare this stream-of-consciousness comment, my browser’s spell-check function spotted 4 misspellings/typos.

  • I don’t really care much that there is a dry area. My issue is the City gave the go ahead and this owner moved forward and spent money on this establishment. Then all of a sudden the City changes it’s mind. I think there is a good court case for the city to reimburse the owner for his expenditures or to grant this one place a variance to be wet.

    If all this means the real documents from the past are brought light, then it’ll ensure the neighborhood keeps it’s dry status (except for one establishment).

  • Sorry I’m a day late and a dollar short to the fray.
    Folks have been debating this issue since forever and there has always been disagreement on what would happen if liquor were available everywhere. Many think a lot more Glass Walls would be great (and then put in a Talbots and a Chicos…) while the folks I think make sense say the reality is Joe’s Crab Shack and Hooters. No reason to think the chains WONT move in.
    Many people like the drinking at Onion Creek and others are totally happy with Dry Creek. But I never heard anyone say they want more Beer Islands!

  • I presume what happened here is that the City didn’t pick up on the location until a member of the public saw the notice in the window and called it in. The TABC applicants handbook is pretty clear that it is the City Secretary’s Office’s responsibility to ensure that the location doesn’t violate any dry area. I’m not an expert but it loks from the applicants handbook like TABC requires a notice be posted at the location 60 days before the receipt of the application by TABC whereas Lonnie sees to have posted his notice after he sent the application to TABC. Obviously hindsight is 20-20 but maybe there needs to be a clearer requirement by either TABC or the City regarding the posting of notices at the property prior to application.

  • Hey, I eat at Glass Wall and I resent that Talbots/Chicos inference. I may be more Banana Republic than Urban Outfitters but I’m no Talbots.

  • “No offense, but Beer Island is a cheesy place.”

    One man’s cheese is another man’s caviar.

  • I appreciate all your comments and have hired 2 lawyers to take care of my legal matters and interviewing for spellcheckers!!!! In 4 years, Beer Island has paid for itself, alot of people want more Beer Islands and I until you know me,my employees,and my guest,please do not describe us as cheesey when that comment is the only cheesey thing here. If you would like too support my campaign please visit my website @, Have a great evening!!!

  • Uh…raise your hand if you didn’t know Lonnie was the owner of Beer Island.

    [hand raised]

  • And now I’m raising my hand that I’m embarrassed I didn’t know that, because it was mentioned about 3 or 4 times in the previous comments. I need to call it a day.

  • I do speak from experience, I’ve been to Beer Island one time a couple years ago and it was cheesy. And it still looks like a cheesy place.

    At least Jimmy’s, Fitz, and even Onion Creek have a little character to go with the beers.

  • If anyone’s still interested, here’s a link to the full text of Houchins v Plainos (and Plainos v Houchins): link

  • yeah, you guys did all realize that Lonnie is running for City Council right? since that wasn’t clear to start with.

    frankly, i like the dry area just to keep 6th/white oak from turning in to washington ave. one of the most consistent and successful establishments in the heights, the one that opened the door for the glasswalls and bedfords flooding our neighborhood, is “dry” but i always manage to have a nice cocktail or bottle of vino when i’m there. so, why not let it stay dry and help protect the integrity of the neighborhood from chili’s and olive garden? people will go to good places, even if they are dry. that shouldn’t be a concern.

    in the end, if this becomes something the residents get involved in, i am willing to bet the dry area will stand.

  • Ok, say there was a special vote of the “dry” area….and, it becomes “wet”. If we as homeowners and tax payers have some control over who gets the licenses…couldn’t we stop the Joe’s Crabshacks and Hooters of the world? I am in the camp for more Glass Wall’s…and, i’ll take that without Talbots.

  • My mother was taught by Sister Mary Agatha at IWA while the nun was writing the book. She was a nice teacher (not always the case with all nuns ;), according to my mother.

    Not to challenge the lack of evidence, but the Sister didn’t really have a political mission to writing her book – and I bet she was thorough.

    Sometimes people of that era did have legitimate information to write down to preserve for Houston history. She isn’t random (“some lady”) – she was a real person recording what she researched and experienced.

  • The dear Sister’s book is probably the best source for Height’s info in one location, but as great as the book is it’s not a legal document.

    I think the city will need to find the documents to help their side compared to Lonnie’s

  • It is out there for the knowing which parts of the Heights are dry – and with a little proactive investigation the answers are there. It seems like Lonnie was aware of it generally, but not the specifics, and thought the city would be able to clarify – cue the aggravation. That said, there is a subtle but important difference between going to the city and asking “this application might be in a dry area – it isn’t clear – can you double check for me?” and just submitting an application without asking (or perhaps even hoping it could sneak through?). I wonder which it was?

  • Without knowing Mr. Lonnie, I can guess from the time line he’s put forth he most likely wasn’t sneaking it through.

    If you look through the post, he didn’t really invest much if any money in the place until after the City said it was ok. Yes, he still had TABC approval to go, but that isn’t difficult with the local authority’s blessing in place. It also appeared TABC would have approved it if the City didn’t change their mind.

    At this point, in my mind I would think the City has some liability for misleading the owner. Furthermore, making a simple list of properties within the zone available when the application is placed would eliminate a problem like this. The HCAD tax ID’s could be used. All the ID’s within this zone couldn’t have applications even filed. It’ll just be rejected by having a tax ID that isn’t available for serving alcohol.

    With GIS systems and databases (that I know the city has), it’s actually quite easy to create the list by defining the boundary and querying the properties within. Of course would have to have the official detail of the boundary!

  • I miss the mexican pottery place. Just sayin…

  • I am no Heightsionado – don’t know the ins, outs & history – but, I am impressed with Lonnie’s ‘researching like a detective.’
    I think his effort is commendable because this sort of examining/reexamining makes us a democracy afterall!

    I’m ALSO reminded of a certian Elvis Costello song:
    RE-seaching like a detective!

    Ooh, he’s so cute, researching like a detective,
    ‘til they shoot, shoot, shoot!
    They beat him up until the teardrops start,
    He can’t be licensed ’cause of Sister’s part.
    Long shot at that jumping sign,
    Invisible shivers running down his spine.
    Cut to maybe looking just like Montrose,
    Close-up of the sign that says, “We never close.”
    Oh, he’s researching like a detective…
    He’s so cute…

    [Absolutely, positively no offense intended! Just feeling silly in the middle of the night…]

  • I like Beer Island. I think its a great place to chill after an afternoon rollerblade. While I think it could do with a little more landscaping out front, I have never had a bad experience there.

  • I’m with you on the landscaping. Landscape it into a tropical island. It’ll look less cheesy that way.

  • But Jimbo- I hear you have great legs!

  • Flogging a dead horse here but whilst the City does indeed bear responsibility for checking whether the location was in the area this would also have been averted had Lonnie posted his intention to apply for a license significantly before turning his application in to TABC. Lonnie’s time states that he posted his intention after turning in the application whereas in the TABC applicants handbook it states

    “If the location has not been previously licensed for on-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages 24 months before the initial application review by your local TABC office:
    – you must prominently post an outdoor sign at the location for 60 days prior to the receipt of your application at TABC headquarters;
    – this sign gives public notice of your intent to seek a license/permit;
    – failure to display this sign could result in the delay in the issuance of your license/permit.”

    If this had happened the chances are that a member of the public would have called the mistake to the notice of the City before Lonnie’s application had even been filed.

    I have lived in another City in another state where the City required the applicant to send a letter to all residents within a given radius notifying them of their intent so that they have a chance to have their opinion heard. Perhaps a similar system would help here. At least that way noone can say they didn’t know.

  • Haven’t had time to comment until now, and don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been said. I agree with the interpretations above of Houchins, and am not really clear on what kind of legal document Lonnie is expecting the city to have. The City of Houston Heights became dry by local option election on 9/25/12. Is Lonnie looking for official election records to prove the election occurred? Or is he instead looking for something defining the legal boundaries of the City of Houston Heights as of the date the election occurred? The former might be hard to track down, but the fact and results of the election were published in newspapers in 1912. And the legal boundaries of the (former) City of Houston Heights shouldn’t be that hard to determine, even if you aren’t willing to rely (like I always have) just on historic maps, the block books, and similar things you can access on the internet. Like we discussed on the prior thread, those sources are all pretty consistent. I’m not criticizing Lonnie for not finding that information, I’m just unclear on what legal document it is he wants the city secretary to produce.

  • I was told by a friend who works for the TABC that the dry area in the Heights was not based upon the original City of Heights boundries. He indicated the dry area was made of the precints that voted to be dry after the repeal of prohibition. I have never attempted to verify.

  • NorhillJoe: I’ve never seen anything to support that account, and I think it conflicts with the history we do have. But I’d be interested to hear more, if you get a chance to talk to your friend about it again sometime.

  • Reading all these comments tells me that the City of Houston has some clarifying to do woth this very important subject and why they did not clear this up when this same problem occured 6 yrs. ago and yes I did have a 60 day sign in window.

  • Lonnie, I think it’s great that because you have experienced some difficulty, you want to make a change via public office. But based on turning the Heights into a “wet” area, I would not vote for you, in fact I would rally against you. Two reasons, one…I already have problems from the bar down the street that serves beer and wine. On several occasions, their customers have ended up in one of my ditches, lucky they didn’t kill themselves, and lucky that one of us wasn’t out walking.

    Two: It is part of what makes the Heights unique is that we managed to maintain dry status when absorbed by the city. While I love Chili’s…NIMBY! I wish you well and I hope you get everything worked out.

    Also, I thought you could get beer and wine licensing in dry area, just not liquor by the drink. Is that incorrect?

  • Dear Emme, I am not running for public office to bring Heights to an all wet status. I am seeking this position because restuarants and bars are the most tax businesses in Houston and are the least supported by our leaders,a better homeless plan,we need a better training program for all City of Houston employees,friendly service,just like our hospitality industry,and bring back the meaning of PUBLIC SERVANT,that is why I am seeking this position. I am fustrated because I did everything ask by all departments to receive beer/wine license and the day before released, state was going to issue license,but city would not,and without an apology or answers to my questions,I deserve the respect from our city leaders and I have been ignore by all of our public servants. Everyone needs to remember 1 thing,there are other residents in Houston besides the Heights residents. Thanks for your comments

  • EMME- No, you cannot sell any alcolhol in the dry area. That is why the Sunny’s at 14th and the Blvd keeps having to tell incredulous customers that they do not have beer. Ditto the Kroger on 20th and Yale.

  • Lonnie, I don’t disagree with you, however, I will note that while restaurants may pay high taxes (going on your word as I have no knowledge of that), they pay low wages, lower than minimum wage and offer very few benefits to the same employees. I worked in the restaurant/bar industry in this city for 13 years and on top of the low wages and total lack of benefits, I found it to be disrespectful of those low wage earners as well. I worked in very nice, high end restaurants and bars across Houston and Austin and found this to be true almost across the board.

  • The point of lower pay and lack of benefits for jobs such as a waiter/waitress is that these jobs aren’t the ones to aspire too. They aren’t meant as a career. You should use that job as a stepping stone to go up. Just because may live off minimum, it was never intended as a “living” wage.

    Just like college students bar tend and wait tables while working through school. It’s intermediate. It doesn’t mean you can’t foster a career out of it, but you really have to work at it to make it a livelihood. I have friends on both ends. Some work at a bar as a second job to waiting tables somewhere else. Some work at a bar for money while they are in school. I have one friend that has a degree, but works in a bar because he likes the lifestyle better than a 9-5 job. He also understands that bar tending won’t give him a great retirement or health benefits, but that comes with the job. If he wanted those benefits, he’ll go back into his original work.

  • kjb, that may be true for those of you fortunate enough to go to college or have other good opportunities, but the reality is that there is a large percentage of these workers that support their families with these jobs. Now, the low wage earners are tipped employees, so the less than minimum wage is not their entire income, but the restaurant owners get a pretty good pass when it comes to paying their employees, social security for those employees and the employees rarely if ever have sick pay, vacation pay, etc.

    You seem to want to live in a society that excludes middle and lower middle class. That is not the society that is the United States. I think you can find that in Kuwait. We value (or used to) all our workers. And minimum wage was originally intended to be a living wage.

  • Ok,

    Let’s raise the minimum wage to $20. Let go half the workers to pay for it or raise the prices and scare the customers away? Which is the better option? If you keep the workers and customers aren’t coming in, the business folds and all are without a job.

    The reality is that in any business (even ones that don’t provide benefits) labor comes to about 70% of all the revenue taken in. The other 30% goes to pay rent for facilities (few restaurants own the land or building), utilities, taxes, licensing fees (any restaurant/bar that has a jukebox or DJ needs it).

    The owner is making some money, but not running home with the bank. On top of that, chain restaurants have to pay franchise and a percentage of their take to the corporate office.

    Restaurateurs that do well often need investment backing and enter other lines of income such as catering which is more profitable.

    If you want to throw benefits and higher wages, the two options for the manager/owner is lay off employees to pay for higher wages or raise prices. Employees are expendable, but customers are not.

  • I did not say anything about changing the way it is done. I was only saying it is hard to sympathize with someone saying they pay more taxes in the city when they are paying much much less in payroll taxes than most any other industry. That’s all. They choose their industry. The employees choose that job. Everyone is aware of what they are getting. But the employees often end up in emergency rooms without insurance, therefore costing the taxpayers more on that end. So don’t tell me you are responsible for contributing more to the community than other industries. I am not buying it.

  • Oh, THAT Lonnie. The one whose campaign signs are already illegally placed in the city ROW in my neighborhood about five miles south of the Heights.

    Lonnie does not need a spellchecker. He needs to go back to 6th grade and learn some grammar. It seems that every time he intends to write in the past tense, he omits the -d or -ed from the verb.

    Based on the whining I’ve read on this board and the sneaky timeline that appears to have occurred, the likelihood is that I am going to vote for whoever is running against Lonnie, unless that person is more objectionable.

    To clarify, though, it’s because of his apparent incompetence, and not because I perceive any malice in his actions.

    [Any misspellings in this post are probably typos. Any sentence fragments or split infinitives are intentional.]

  • GM – me thinks you miss content based on form.

    I have to say, I have always loved a man wih a dangling participle.


  • Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage for crying out loud. Get real and stop living in a pipe dream. There are all sorts of programs available for lower economic status people to be able to better their education and therefore rise above the rung of poverty. Raising minimum wage thresholds to unrealistic levels only increases unemployment. The days of people thinking they can plug along in low skill jobs for all of their lives and be able to rely on that job to be there are long gone.

  • Why CK? Why are you so angry?

    It is much better to be grateful for what you have than to be bitter about those that have less.

  • ArlingtonSt: From the Texas Secretary of State Web Page entitled “Local Option Liquor Elections – Questions and Answers” From the web page: “When Prohibition ended, Texas political subdivisions were generally “dry” by default, meaning that the sale of liquor was prohibited. State law specified once again that legalization of liquor sales reverted to a local determination by a petition-driven election process. Counties, cities, and justice of the peace precincts are generally ‘dry’ except where the voters have approved the sale of liquor (or with respect to wineries). Local option liquor elections may also be held to prohibit the sale of alcohol in formerly ‘wet’ political subdivisions.”

  • To Google Master: Even though at the bottom of campaign signs it reads, may not be placed in Right of Way, there is a loophole. This loophole is that campaign signs can pretty much be put anywhere, the signs that are illegal are the ones that are put up by homebuilders. These laws were created by politicians for politicians. They can be removed by the city, but Lonnie can not be fined for them.

  • Has anyone seen the row of closed businesses west of Onion Creek on White Oak? I think Lonnie, as a good citizen of the Heights, wants to see successful businesses in that area. Right now they are few and far between. He is not even saying that there should be a strip of bars there. He is saying that any restaurant, cafe, etc. should have the right to sell alcohol. He is also furious that the city location office, which has the responsibility to approve locations for businesses that sell alcohol, approved his location, and then retracted the approval and sent lawyers to the state to retract his beer/wine license after he invested thousands of dollars on improvements. He cannot get anyone from the city to return his phone calls regarding the matter and still has not been able to view the legal document defining the dry area. Everyone knows there is a map that came from a book that was written in the 1950’s that shows an approximation of the boundaries. Where is the legal document? Why won’t the city produce it. Chances are, there will be alcohol on the premises anyway. The law does allow for people to bring their own wine to the bar and be charged a corking fee. They can also charge a membership to a club, a la Northeast Texas. One of the main issues is that Mr. Allsbrooks is tired of the city government not responding to the taxpayers. We pay taxes. We elect the officials. Their duty is to answer to the public. The city is in direct dereliction of this duty. On the subject of cars being parked in front of houses and trash in yards there are a myriad of solutions to that problem. I have seen in many neighborhoods in Houston, parking signs for residents only. If someone else parks there, have them towed. I have also seen Lonnie and employees of Beer Island walk the areas around the business and pick up trash in people’s yards whether or not it came from Beer Island. Lonnie Allsbrooks is a good citizen of the Heights. He is also a good citizen of the city of Houston. He wants transparency of the city government and city offices, beautification of the neighborhoods, and a strong partnership between the city of Houston, neighbors, and all small businesses.

  • From markd:

    “I do speak from experience, I’ve been to Beer Island one time a couple years ago and it was cheesy. And it still looks like a cheesy place.

    At least Jimmy’s, Fitz, and even Onion Creek have a little character to go with the beers.”

    I don’t think Lonnie is here to debate the amount of character of his place. What he did was great. He built a very successful beer and wine establishment in an existing structure in a neighborhood that is in danger of having land developers scrape and demolish any type of architectural history left and replace it with cookie cutter strip malls and suburban eyesores. By preserving the original structure, he prevented another eyesore and preserved the character and historical nature of the Heights. What do people in the area do when someone demolishes a 90 year old bungalow and replace it with a West University style McMansion with Victorian facade. The place does have character. Obviously enough people feel that way that they have lasted three years so far. Maybe if Lonnie did not have to spend thousands of dollars after the city screwed up, he would have been able to plant gigantic date palms and make it as gorgeous as Moody Gardens. The place is unique, fun, and is full of people that feel the same way. Plus the beer selection is diverse and ever-changing. I think may have the most variety of beer per square foot in the area. It is fun, diverse, and quirky. That, in my opinion, gives it character.

  • Emme – “Why CK? Why are you so angry?

    It is much better to be grateful for what you have than to be bitter about those that have less.”

    What on earth do you think with? Oh, that’s right…. “feeeeeliiiinnnggggs”, instead of cognitive reasoning abilities. I am not angry about anything right now, or when I posted that comment you accused of being angry. What I have is because of hard work and perserverance, not some governmental handout or minimum requirement. Continuously raising pay scales of jobs never meant to be sole wage earner occupations is counterproductive to economic stability and leads to higher unemployment. That is economic common sense, not angry white man speak. Factual information is what you inaccurately perceive to be anger. “Feelings” is what I perceive to be “fluff”. This great country was built on capitalism, not socialism.

  • NorhillJoe wrote:
    “ArlingtonSt: From the Texas Secretary of State Web Page entitled ‘Local Option Liquor Elections – Questions and Answers’ From the web page: ‘When Prohibition ended, Texas political subdivisions were generally “dry” by default, meaning that the sale of liquor was prohibited. State law specified once again that legalization of liquor sales reverted to a local determination by a petition-driven election process. Counties, cities, and justice of the peace precincts are generally “dry” except where the voters have approved the sale of liquor (or with respect to wineries). Local option liquor elections may also be held to prohibit the sale of alcohol in formerly “wet” political subdivisions.’

    Thanks – hadn’t seen that before. I don’t think that necessarily conflicts with the supreme court’s language in Houchins but, to the extent it does, the supreme court’s discussion is more in depth. I think the fact that the City of Houston Heights had already HAD a local option election (making it dry) was key for the court. The intervening events (annexation, Prohibition, repeal of Prohibition, Texas’ ratification of the repeal of Prohibition) did not supersede that election, per the court.

    Here’s the Houchins summary again:

    I can understand that there could be confusion as to the boundary because of the reliance on old maps and boundary descriptions – it took a while to reach agreement in the discussion Jimbo linked to in post #6 above. And I’m a little surprised Lonnie wasn’t told by earlier in the process that the scooter store (would-be cafe, currently I guess campaign headquarters) is on the dry side of the line running down the western border of OC.

    But I had a hard time following what Lonnie is wanting to happen now – if he’s looking for the paper with the half-dollar-size stamps he describes or what. My guess is that he’s not actually challenging the historical fact of the dry vote or annexation, but maybe he is. It surprised me to find the supreme court decision directly addressing the questions raised about annexation and Prohibition, but I think it’s still good law, and the fact that it’s out there would seem to shut down any challenges on those bases. I’m just interested in finding out more about what exactly Lonnie is questioning – his rant was obviously just that, but his subsequent posts didn’t really address that point.
    By now, his complaint may be just that he was allowed to get as far as he did in the process of opening a wet business at that location before he was informed he could not. I know next to nothing about that permitting process, or how similar his situation is to that of Spec’s (w/their Washington Ave location and the regs that apply there), but Spec’s seems to be getting a lot of public support in their fight.

  • Hey, did lonnie have his tabc notification posted properly? an did he get a building permit before he started working on his new place? an if not why did he not do what every other bussiness owner is required to do.

  • He had absolutely everything in order. This is not his first rodeo. He owns a bar two blocks away. He knows what needed to be done and he did it. On the day his license was to be issued, the city of Houston sent two lawyers to Austin to have the license rescinded several months after his location was approved and after he invested over $60,000.00 improving the property. The city still has yet to provide adequate legal documentation to prove that the area is dry, that being a document that has the seal of the city of Houston or Heights before it was annexed. Sorry to all of you that say you have seen it, but a book written by a nun over 50 years ago does not count as a legal document. By law, he had to have a permit posted. There are enough people that want to see progress in the Heights halted that he is under a microscope. Everything there is legitimate. He should do what every other business owner would do under the same circumstances and sue the pants off of the city. Spec’s is doing it because of the same ineptitude in the city location office. Those people have one responsibility and one only. That is to research and decide whether or not a location is suitable for any given business. They know how close it is to a school. They know if a business is in the only dry section of Houston. It is not rocket science. They need to bring the short bus over to the location office, enroll them all in special education, and replace them with people that can perform simple tasks. This is another example of big government trampling on the rights of the small businessman.

  • Ok, lets cut to the chase here. –“Opening a business 101”—– The first thing you do, is submit working plans to the City Planning Dept., for their review. Anyone who claims to have run various businesses, for twenty seven years should know this. Presenting plans ahead of any construction allows the City time to find any thing that may cause a problem in the future. Once these plans have been approved, one must then apply for building permits, from “City Planning”, in order to begin construction. (Not after). This also gives the City Planning Dept. time to double check things like Boundaries, for wet and dry areas. OK, once permits are issued, and construction has been done. A call to “City Planning” will set up an inspection of said construction. –If work passes inspection, a “Green Tag” will be posted on the door. If construction does not pass inspection, then a “Red tag” is posted. These Tags are clearly marked, “Do not remove”. One then has a chance to correct the “Tagged” problem, and call for a new inspection. Depending on the amount of construction, Permits must be obtained for various trades. “Electrical” (don’t want any fires, due to shade tree wiring). “Plumbing” (no floods neither), “Structural” (sure don’t want the roof to cave in.) And AC if needed. —All these steps are to insure both the safety of the Building, and for the safety of the Neighbors. And unless all the above steps are taken, it makes no difference if one plans to sell horse shoes, or Spam Samiches, it ain’t happening. Even though some may say, “It’s not my job to worry about the neighbors”, some of us feel like without Our Neighbors, we are all alone, to wring our hands in silence. We have Laws, Rules, and Regulations in place to safeguard all of Our Citizens, and hopefully prevent these time consuming issues from taking place to begin with. It’s called “Planning” for a reason. “God bless Texas, and Long Live tha Heights”

  • Skateguy,

    Nice summary, but I always wonder how much of those regulations are even needed since all development in unincorporated areas (not in a city limit) don’t have to follow any inspection regime.

    Every bit of the Woodlands is built without an inspection. All of northwest, north east, north, west suburbs outside of city limits never have to get an inspection done.

    It’s makes you wonder what inspections really achieve.

  • kjb434:I totally agree with you. I have had to do some work on some of the older Homes in the Woodlands. And believe Me, if for no other reason than safety, We all benefit from building codes. Not only do they insure a level of quality for the present owners, but they insure quality for future owners. But just like when the Houston Skate Laws were found to be oppressive, we went through the proper channels to correct them. We didn’t take it personal and start blaming People, for laws they actually had nothing to do with. the Laws were on the books, since 1941. So we set about having them changed, through proper channels. Now, we Skate Free in the Streets, with no issues. And still have not had serious problems, since 1979. If we are not satisfied with “Our” Laws, we every right to attempt to change them. Until then, they are “Our” Laws. Obey them. Seems simple enough. Be well.

  • No matter what the decision on Beer and wine, at this location turns out to be, it does not address the reason for the City not allowing any further work to be done. Plans for the project were rejected twice by the City, seven months ago. And yet construction was done, and continued even after several “Red Tags” were issued. that stated to “Stop all work” until proper Plans were submitted, and OK by the city. And until proper Permits were obtained. These “Tags” were removed at least five times, and work was then continued after 2:00AM, to avoid the Inspectors viewing. And that is the bottom Line. Beer and wine are just side bars to the issue.

  • Many business circumvent the city’s wasteful inspection process (that doesn’t really do any real detailed inspection).

    When you’re finished, you just get the inspector back in and they’ll approve you.

    It saves a lot of time.

    As long as the business doesn’t open to the public before the final ok, there will be no violation issued by the city. This is standard procedure since the city won’t hire enough inspectors to inspect in a timely manner.

  • City Inspectors do a valuable Job for All of Our Citizens. They work for Us. We pay them a good wage, to perform their Duties. They are there for Our Safety, and to insure that dangerous, improper construction is not performed. That is the reason Plans for work, are submitted to the City in advance. That way if there are any planning problems, they can be detected, and then corrected from the start. Which prevents having to do expensive rework. No one wants their Building to burn down, do to unsafe, faulty wiring. Or tho have flooding, due to improper plumbing. Or for the roof to cave in due to sub standard framing. Tradesmen have Licenses issued by the City, after they have been tested, and approved, for having a Good working knowledge of their Craft, and proven their ability to perform it according to City Codes. Inspectors are there, to double check their work. —Now if a person chooses to circumvent these safeguards, they put their Neighbors in danger, and Inspectors are there to prevent that. If one house burns down, their Neighbors may also. But if a person has no concern for their nor his Neighbors safety, and decides to go ahead with construction anyway, then He should at least do it within the confines of “His own Property” where He will then assume the “Liability”. The Problem arises, when a “Renter” comes in to another Persons Building, and starts doing Illegal, unsafe, and shoddy construction. And then continues to do so, after several Notices from City Inspectors to “Halt all un-permitted Work”. And the Inspectors then issue Citations, for several hundreds dollars to the OWNER of said Property as the Person of Responsibility.—- Rules are there for a Reason. Circumvent them at your own Peril. But at least do it on your own Property, not on Property owned by another, that you are merely renting from. It’s all about respect, and all of Our Safety

  • If the owner of the property had a problem with what the owner of “Trail Mix” was accomplishing, such as, cleaning up landlords mess, he allowed a retail business for four years to to rent from him with out requesting to see a certificate of occupancy,he approved all improvements of property as lease states and if he had concerns about his property or safety, why did it take him 3 months or longer to speak up! Why did he take mutual friends in space and compliment deco? No ground was broken for any type of Plumbing, No constuction of building except for a counter built inside, and no eletric work inside space except change of covers on plugs. Part II Coming Soon!

  • Continue:Now on with the nice walk way that I had a survey company and engineer stamp and does not have a roof and is a much safer ramp than the old downhill concrete ramp that he watched for 3 days be jackhammer and watched me stain and paint outside without complainting once. The only drip of water that went on floor in his area was when he came over to my space and turned water on so it looked as if I had did some major plumbing and landlord was upset because tenant would not use landlord’s friends to do unecessary improvements. If landlord had not made up an address,3204 white oak dr., which did not exist and once again tenant had to take care of this issue, becoming 3202 white oak drive #100.

  • Tenant hired an arcitect, engineer, survey company, certify permit company, legal licenses agent, of which witness his approval and knowledge of serving alcohol at address. Landlord stated never signed lease and did not approve any of decor. Why would tenant have to find out landlord did not have insurance on property, which voids tenant’s insurance. Why would landlord not inform tenant he had a final judgement against him by State and after 5 months of judgement, no atempt of workin a payment plan with state. Why would landlord continously call 311 or City Planning to lie tenant had been building the empire state building, but had not been in space for no reason at the time? Why would landlord lie to a judge that tenant had not paid rent for 2 months, when he already had invested a large sum of cash?

  • Why would a J.P. Judge throw out lawsuit if he thought tenant was a crook or liar. Landlord does not understand our country’s Oath and what the word perjury means. Tenant met with Head of planning, Gary Bridges and has requested a new inspection of all areas and revoked his C.O. “The Trail Mix” will be opening soon, Very Soon, Mr.Skateman. P.S. Tenant hopes all u bloggers will forgive me on my writng. Karma is on my way! I will continue with my plans to open very soon and if landlord was concern abount his honesty, why he has not inform the City or State on his second floor when survey states a one story building, LIE. Homestead cannot be approved if all of property has 60% usage as a business, and confirmed it has more than what state is aware of currently. See U in Court, Mr. Skateman!!

  • Is Ylivealie a bad Eliza-bot? It doesn’t make any sense!

  • I think Ylivealie is the guy who writes the text on the Dr Bronner’s Soap bottles

  • its drunken posting at 3am in the morning…

  • Good one Harold.