Hinga Mbogo is a Dallas mechanic who operates Hinga’s Automotive Company on Ross Avenue bordering the Arts District in the downtown area. In operation since 1985, Mbogo’s business has become one of the most highly rated in the city with clients including the Dallas Police Department, and even a member of the Symphony.

Recently however, the business’s very existence has come under threat. In 2005, the Dallas City Council, through a process called amortization, re-zoned the neighborhood, deeming it a “planned development district.” Properties that failed to meet the new zoning criteria were given a limited time to adjust. In April, Mr. Mbogo appealed to the Dallas City Council for a special operating permit that would allow him to remain open for an additional two years. In an 8-5 vote, the Council denied the permit.

An immigrant, Mbogo was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Raised on a farm, he soon learned how to repair tractors and other mechanical equipment. He moved to the United States with his wife in 1974, where his skills landed him a job as an aviation mechanic in South Florida. Naturally, he was thrilled to become a business owner, and devastated upon hearing he would be forced to close.

“When I opened this shop, I thought I had made it. I thought I had the American dream,” he said. “When I found out I had to lose my livelihood, I couldn’t believe that I was in America.