Last day to register to vote in May election

In May- all Dayton voters will be asked to choose who they want to advance in the nonpartisan city commission race. This is NOT a primary- you don’t have to declare party affiliation to vote.
The state has made changing and updating your voter registration easier- now allowing updates online: https://olvr.sos.state.oh.us/ovru/Modify.aspx
I usually have voter registration forms at my office at 100 Bonner Street, but, you can now print them out yourself.
You can go to any school or library- as well as the board of elections in the basement of the county building at 451 W. Third Street across from Sinclair Community College.

It’s not a democracy if you don’t actually vote, people.

Dreams of selling pot brownies out of City Hall’s building

The City of Dayton is the worst real estate speculator in the region. They also aren’t very honest about what “they” own (I say “they” because it’s the taxpayers that foot the bill). Recently there was an article about a building at 15 McDonough St. behind Garden Station that they owned and leased part of to Gosiger. I did a FOIA request on when the city purchased the building, for how much- and to see the copy of the lease with Gosiger and got nothing back. They are selling the building for “$10 to Bacon Street Properties LLC, which lists Gosiger’s headquarters at 108 McDonough St. as its mailing address” yet- somehow, “City Properties Group… (also) is involved in the project.” They are the ones from Louisville that have the old Supply One building next to Garden Station.

A long time ago, a local developer managed to get a printout on greenbar computer paper of the entire listing of city owned properties. With one property per line, the folded stack was several inches high. There was, and is, something fishy about that. But, on to other issues.

You may remember when a local entrepreneur tried to lease the old Chin’s, Elbo’s, Sa Bai from the city to have a Food truck kitchen, teaching facility, rental hall. Tonia Fish was paying rent, and then the city decided to kick her group of small businesses to the curb- which was part of a prior article on Esrati.com:

The Great Thanksgiving Day Food Truck Massacre

It started on Tuesday, when Tonia Fish told me that her temporary lease on the old Chin’s/Elbo’s/Sa-Bai space at 200 S. Jefferson St. may not be renewed. A meeting of some sort had been held in City Hall and the decision was coming. Mayor Leitzell had told me that in the executive session last week, where this matter was being discussed, Nan Whaley wasn’t prepared to vote on it and it was tabled. Had they had another illegal meeting of the commission to discuss this lease? There wasn’t an announced session- and since Executive sessions have to be done either as an emergency and announced- or gone into from a regularly scheduled meeting- what had happened?

via Explaining irrational behavior in Dayton, Ohio – Esrati.

The building sat vacant for over a year. Zero rent. Of course, no one in City Hall is going after Sa-bai for breaking their lease, or back rent.

Instead, we’re giving the space away, again:

Bethany and Aaron Horn, who own Cheeky Meat Pies, have agreed to a five-year lease with the city of Dayton for 200 S. Jefferson St.

The building will feature a breakfast and lunch establishment called Cheeky Cafe and Bakery, as well as a casual dining joint called Weeds Diner, likely featuring “farm fresh” food and alcohol, including craft beers.

“The cafe side will be more comfort food, and the Weeds side will be more seasonal based,” Bethany Horn said about the 5,786-square-foot South Jefferson Street property, located across from the Dayton Convention Center.

Sai-Bai closed in 2013 after accruing more than $60,000 in unpaid rent and taxes, which resulted in the city starting eviction proceedings….

Horn said the cafe should open around May, and the diner hopefully will open by August….

Under the terms of their contract with the city, Horn Food Enterprises will pay no rent through the end of this year, but will be required to pay $14,518 in rent and parking in 2016 (or $2.25 per square foot).

The Horns will pay $15,965 in rent and parking each year for the remainder of their five-year contract (equal to about $2.50 per square foot). They have a trio of renewal options to extend their lease for an additional five years.

Horn Food Enterprises are not being charged rent for the first nine months because the owners will make considerable improvements and renovations to the space, especially the kitchen, which will become the property of the city of Dayton, city officials said.

“If we wanted to make the space reasonably leasable or rentable, those would be expenses we would have to incur,” said Joe Parlette, Dayton’s director of recreation and youth services.

Parlette said the city in the last two years reviewed probably 15 business plans for the site, but the Horns’ proposal won out partly because they had capital and were ready to move forward.

Parlette said the new agreement means all of the city’s leasable space in that area is occupied. The city also owns property that is rented by ThinkTV, Gilly’s and Drake’s Gym.

“Anytime the city can avoid a vacancy downtown is a win for the city and its neighborhoods,” he said. “It will give citizens another unique option to enjoy downtown.”

via Two restaurants to open in downtown property | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

Why the director of Parks and Rec is doing property management is the first question. The second should be is why was the space no longer usable after SaBai left? Maybe because they took everything they put in, including the washroom sinks and left the city with a mess. No one is being held accountable for that.

And, considering Ms. Fish was in, and paying rent of $850 a month for a space that wasn’t “reasonably leasable” – the taxpayers went without 2 years of potential rent and tax revenue because, well, why?

The last laugh may be on the city, when it turns out the real business plan according to confidential sources is that the “Weeds Diner” is planning on selling marijuana edibles as soon as the laws allow it. That should just go over fantastically with the fine folks of Dayton. We already saw how fast Moraine backpedaled on their land lease to potential pot growers.

What we really have is questionable business practices by a government that can’t figure out how to plow snow, sweep streets, or get a cop to a Family Dollar while an assault is taking place in less than 10 minutes. Why our city is so focused on other people’s business instead of running their own is a major question.

When you realize these people at city hall spent at least $4 million to get a Kroger to Wayne Avenue and failed. They also tore down the Schwind, the Dayton Daily News and part of the historic back- for student housing that’s not coming thanks to a HUD deed restriction that they should have known about. The list goes on. Who in City Hall is qualified to review “15 business plans” and make this decision? The same one who spent $450K on 601 E. Third St?

Maybe it’s time to divest the city of all its real estate holdings that aren’t directly used for providing taxpayer services? Or maybe, it’s time for the rest of us to start eating pot brownies so we can be just as high as the fools we have managing our real estate holdings.

UPDATE

5 April 2015. As if I needed more evidence to prove to you that the city is an incompetent property manager, this was in the morning paper.

DAYTON —Hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure and equipment was removed from a vacant industrial building owned by the city of Dayton.

The security officer at the McCall Building, 2333 McCall St., filed a report Friday night on a breaking and entering, according to the Dayton police report.

Wiring, electrical equipment, copper pipes and generator equipment was listed as missing, an estimated $500,000 loss, according to the report.

The building is listed on cityfeet.com, a website that markets available commercial space.

The 348,000 square-foot building, valued at $1.5 million and available for rent at $58,000 per month, is listed as one of Dayton’s economic development sites.

via Thieves strip $500K in material from city-owned building | www.daytondailynews.com.

Another half million that could have been spent providing government services wasted.

Family Dollar fires manager. Crack addicts have better protection than a working mother.

The store manager at Family Dollar on Wayne Avenue is a friend of mine. We’ve lived on the same street for 29 years, and when she was a teen, I had her working for me doing minor office work. This morning, Family Dollar fired her over the altercation at her store on Saturday.

Here’s the story from the Dayton Daily news:

DAYTON —A woman told police she was desperate to support her crack cocaine habit when she tried to walk out of Family Dollar with a cartload of items.

Sparkle Colquitt, 33, is being held on suspicion of felony robbery after her arrest Saturday, according to the Dayton police report.

Family Dollar employees told police the woman walked in and started going down the aisles and loading up a shopping cart.

The alleged shoplifter then pushed the cart toward the entrance. An employee moved to block the door and asked the suspect what she was doing, to which she replied, “Making it easier on myself,” according to the report.

Police said the suspect started to pull hair and fight with the employees, who were able to subdue her and hold her down for police.

She was trying to walk out of the store with more than $255 worth of items, according to the report.

Police said while she was questioned in the back of a cruiser, Colquitt admitted she was addicted to crack cocaine and planned to sell the items she was about to steal to get money to buy more of the drug.

Colquitt, who has a history of arrests in Montgomery County dating back to 2000, is scheduled to appear for an arraignment on Monday.

via Police: Crack addict caught shoplifting sparks fight at Family… | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Family Dollar and their mistreatment of employees: Boycott Family Dollar. Makes Walmart look good on employee compensation. Since then, the store installed real video cameras. However, the security guard they provided after the in-store gun discharge only lasted a few weeks- apparently, this store doesn’t “make enough” to provide real security for its employees.
On Saturday, the manager was in the back with two other employees, putting away inventory from their weekly truck delivery when they heard a ruckus up front. When they got to the checkout, she immediately grabbed her cell phone and called 911- one of the other employees went to help the cashier who was having her hair yanked by the crack addict. That employee grabbed the crackhead and threw her to the floor- and detained her. While waiting for the police to come (the video shows it took almost 10 minutes to respond to an assault in progress) they let the crack addict back up- and she grabbed the manager’s hair- and started pulling her through the gap between the security device and the wall. More fighting broke out.
Nothing ended up stolen, and the addict is in custody. The assistant manager was fired Monday, and the manager today. This is not an April Fool’s joke.
Family Dollar has a horrible record of labor relations. Salaried managers often end up working 70+ hours a week to make a “budget” that purposely doesn’t include enough hours to properly staff a store. Shrinkage of inventory is counted against margins and managers are held accountable, despite the store not providing tools to combat shrinkage like security guards, or double doors with the ability to lock a thief in.
If anyone is looking for a hard-working, honest, employee with retail experience, please contact me and I will put you in touch with a very special woman who has 2 kids and a disabled baby daddy at home to support. I’d love for her to work for Costco or Aldi/Trader Joe’s- but with the hours she has at Family Dollar she never has time to apply.
I’ve contacted an attorney to represent her in this case. There is no reason that crack addicts should cause anyone to lose their job.

Dayton to get WNBA team, BREAKING NEWS

Indiana Fever logo

The future Dayton Fever?

In a strange series of events, I learned last night that the University of Dayton is going to be a minority owner in a the Indiana Fever, which will be leaving Indianapolis and will play at UD Arena. UD’s investment will be the addition of air conditioning and a new parking garage, with first-floor retail space just West of the arena. Simon Properties will manage the garage and retail, and construction, in exchange for a dollar a year lease on the land. A similar tax abatement on the property as what GE aviation got will be fast-tracked through city hall.

The reason for the move? The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which was just passed in Indiana last week and the UD Women’s program recent run in the NCAA Tournament, coupled with the crowds of the first Four tournament.

While the Fever have been routinely drawing an average of 8,000 to 9,000 fans in Indy- since Bankers Life Fieldhouse holds 18,165, they felt a move to the more right sized University of Dayton arena (capacity 13,435) would increase the value of the ticket and provide a better game time fan experience- there being nothing worse than a half-empty arena.

In another potentially huge win for Dayton, there has also been talk of the NCAA moving its corporate HQ to Dayton according to high level sources, although the offices may be at Austin Landing.

There has been no indication that the Fever will change its name, but there is the possibility that both current UD Stars Andrea Hoover and Ally Malott are potential draft choices giving current UD fans like this writer the potential to continue following these two amazing talents as they go pro- in the same arena that they played their college career.

University of Dayton President Dan Curran has shown a willingness to enter UD into other business deals like the purchase of the Dayton Marriott, which was a key part of luring the WNBA team to Dayton. University of Dayton housing will also be provided to team players, since the WNBA season mostly coincides with the reduced summer student population- it’s described as a win-win for the university. The Fever will rely heavily on UD students in the Exercise Science program, and also partner with Wright State with its athletic training program. UD marketing majors will also have opportunities in the Fever marketing department.

UD has had the air conditioning plans in the works for several years, the system will be  geothermal, and cost estimates ran between $7 and $10 million.

Herb Simon, majority owner of the Fever, was impressed with the attendance at the First Four games over the last few years, realizing that Dayton fans will come out to watch teams that have no-connection to Dayton, although he too, was surprised when Dayton got to play on its home court.

The move will be for the 2016 season, with tickets to go on sale on April First 2016.

Our grandstanding prosecutor, Mat Heck, and the reach of UD Men’s Basketball

In another case of “it’s who you know” in Montgomery County, isn’t it somehow odd that 2 petty thieves don’t end up in jail- and have to wait for a speedy trial just like everyone else- because they were members of the UD Men’s basketball team?

Any other black male, caught breaking into UD dorm rooms and stealing stuff, who was positively identified, would have been in jail the next day, and already done with his sentence.

But, not Robinson and Scott- they get to “go home” or to some other school- and pretend like nothing happened for 3 months, until the UD season is over, to avoid distraction from “the run” that the team was on.

Read the language in the DDn article:

Two former University of Dayton basketball players accused of felony burglaries on campus in December will soon return to the area to face charges, their attorneys said Wednesday.

The Montgomery County prosecutor’s office on Tuesday issued nationwide arrest warrants for Jalen T. Robinson and Devin H. Scott. Robinson, 21, is currently enrolled at the University of South Carolina Aiken, according to the school’s sports information department. Scott, 20, is in Georgia, and has been researching schools, his attorney said.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. approved three charges against Robinson and seven against Scott with more possible, according to a press release issued Tuesday….

A supervising deputy for the U.S. Marshals confirmed that the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (SO-FAST) and Dayton police were working to bring in Scott and Robinson.

“They are not typical fugitives who went on the run after they became aware that they are wanted,” Supervising Deputy Jeremy Rose said. “I believe in the near future they will turn themselves in.”

Jewson admonished Heck’s office for the press release, which stated that surveillance video from Dec. 14, 2014, positively identified Anderson and Scott and that the investigation is ongoing.

“None of that information has been presented to me and, frankly, I think it’s inappropriate for the prosecutor to attempt to try this case in the media and — basically regurgitate all the facts that they have that haven’t been disclosed to the defense — and put those out into mainstream media through Facebook and other outlets,” Jewson said, adding that such video hasn’t been tested for authenticity or admissibility. “It’s basically rumors at this point.”

via Lawyer: Ex-UD players to return.

And, at the same time, the coach who brought these misfits to Dayton, is getting a contract extension and probably a raise.

What’s even more troubling, is that Devon Scott, had already been in trouble for domestic abuse. Found guilty, and handed a suspended 30-day sentence. See Aug. 25th WHIO article:

University of Dayton basketball player Devon Scott won’t serve any jail time after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct against the mother of his son.

Though he didn’t appear in Dayton Municipal Court with his attorney, Scott was sentenced Monday by Judge Deirdre Logan to 40 hours of community service to be completed by Nov. 30, a suspended 30-day sentence, a $250 fine with half of that suspended, and court costs.

Scott also must show proof of completing a domestic violence program and will be on non-reporting probation for one year in which he has no new offenses.

via UD’s Devon Scott takes plea in April assault case | Dayton, OH | www.whio.com.

Normally, when a black male has a suspended sentence, and is caught in the commission of another crime, he goes to jail, directly to jail, he does not pass go, he does not collect $200. But, again, we’re dealing with UD, which gets a different set of rules for its riots, and especially for its  beloved basketball team.

I was aware of the thefts before the news broke because I live within 5 miles of campus and enjoy the anonymous social app Yik Yak as a way of taking a mental break from the serious. Everyone on campus knew the two 6’7″ bball stars had done it, because, well, they are hard to miss and well known. I didn’t want to break the news- because I don’t consider reading Yik Yak a reliable news source- nor, do I think that petty theft is worthy of my blog. But, this ranks as front page breaking news in local media. Sad to say, thieving from students somehow is worse than domestic abuse, and being able to play basketball provides you privileged treatment by the courts here in Dayton.

The University has taken great effort in trying to change student behavior, stressing “#community” and a positive ethos- with their “Green dot” program. They teach their community members (staff, faculty, students) that there are “red dots”- acts of hate, violence, disrespect- and that in order to reduce these types of occurrences, everyone needs to be tuned into “Green dot” behavior- helping each other out, respect, integrity.

From last night- a yak said “watched a clearly drunk girl stumbling home alone and got nervous when a guy approached her. I watched as he called mom’s limo for her and waited with her until they came. I fucking love this school. – posted around 3am. 63 upvotes, and a comment “green dot”

Shared UD yik yak about green dot behavior

Shared UD yik yak about green dot behavior

The fact that our prosecutor seems to enforce different standards of prosecution in Montgomery County is a red dot to me. Do lawyers and their families who break the law get different treatment here? How about politicians? If only half the stories I’ve heard about some of the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” in the past are true, the answer is yes- but the mainstream media are in bed with the royalty and afraid to cover it. When names are missing from police reports- and it only says “an Oakwood resident” my “friends and family” radar always goes off.

Seemingly, only the pawns, lowly basketball players, are fair game for the media to mock, and the prosecutor to play games with in public.

This is just another example of why I believe if the Justice Department came into Dayton, we’d fail the Ferguson test.

Deadline to contest tax valuations is Tue 31 March, 2015

If you think your tax bill is wonky- you have a few days left to file objection. So many people have problems with this year’s appraisals, the county decided to run ads and hold instructional sessions on how to file.
I have to file because my two identical cottages are listed as different sizes- and both as 2 bedrooms when in fact they are only 1 bedroom. I also have to file since my house jumped in value- while my quality of life has decreased substantially (something they will pretend to not understand).

However, the web-meisters at the County Auditor haven’t figured out how to update their site properly and make it easy to appeal:

How do I appeal the value of my property?

You can file an appeal with the Auditor’s office Board of Revision. You can request the application be mailed to you by calling 937-496-6856. The application must be filed between January 2 and March 31. All complaints filed with the Board of Revision are investigated and formal hearings may be held to solicit testimony. It is the responsibility of the property owner to justify the complaint. The Board of Revision has the authority to increase or decrease property valuation.

via Montgomery County, Ohio – Questions & Answers.

Go online to call? And to have the forms mailed to you? Really?

Of course not. Go here: http://www.mc-bor.org/ where you get choices- file online, or print and mail. Of course, they want you to pay a “professional appraiser” to argue your case- you know the ones like the sheriff’s sister, who don’t really have to have any real qualifications behind them? Or a real appraiser? You know the ones who did so well that the entire real’ estate market crashed almost destroying the economy?

With my two cottages- it should be easy- different values for each, despite identical size, and both listed as 2 bedroom when in fact they are one bedroom. The house which jumped in value, despite violations for paint etc. will be a little more difficult.

They have a presentation PDF to walk you through the process here: http://www.mc-bor.org/BOARD_OF_REVISION_OUTREACH_2.pdf

However, I don’t trust the county site- so I’ve got a copy on my server just in case: BOARD OF REVISION INSTRUCTIONS PDF

The requirements for finding “comps” as justification of real estate value should have gone out the window right after the market crashed. As should penalties for fixing up and improving property. Setting value by what someone else paid is as illogical as rating teachers by students grades, but that’s another argument.

A simple formula based on square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, type of construction, maintenance costs (wood frame being higher than brick for instance due to paint costs), garage, yard, and age of structure, with a discount figured for length of ownership (long-term tax paying customers get rewarded for committing to their community- and for not causing costs of deed transfer etc.) Taxes should rise for utilization of emergency services due to crime- too many police calls- and taxes go up. There is no reason for the fluctuations, or arguments over base value- nor is it any of the government’s business if I choose to have a $50K kitchen with designer appliances- vs. a  basic kitchen. We pay a sales tax when we buy a stove- not into perpetuity because it’s nicer than my neighbors.

None of the discussion on tax rates will help you with your appeal- but, maybe if we all got smart, we’d vote to change the way taxes are levied and appraised and get rid of this racket.

 

Fire ratings for renovation

In my last post about the City and inspectional services I mentioned the insane requirements forced on rehabs for fire rating separations and costs of sprinklers. It’s something I’ve had to hear about from people working in the city for years. My friend Bill Rain sent me something he’d written long ago, looking at ways to work some compromise into the system, so I’m sharing it here with you:

With any legislation, you need to predict what groups will be for or against. From our discussions, it sounds like your meetings with fire marshals’ have been positive. My experience has been that the fire unions and any groups representing fireman and inspectors tend to support any code changes that they view as “protective to firefighters”. The same for the AIA (American Institute of Architects) as they like complexity in the building code to support their members. Groups in favor will be builders, developers, ICMA (Mayors and Mangers), etc. As we discussed, I would structure legislation to effect buildings of a certain size (number of stories, height, square footage) as this will garner more support with small to large cities as they both have the same problem, what to do with small multi-story buildings.
Our discussion earlier was around the requirements for 2 hour fire rating. If you take a step back and look at what requires existing building owners to add 2 hour rated walls, this is usually triggered by a “change of use”. I have never liked the concept of change of use as it only looks at the last use. I have bought historic buildings that had residential on upper floors but was abandoned and when we wanted to bring residential back, was told by the chief building official that the building use is commercial and that mixed-use will be a change of use and triggers updated code compliance. As we discussed, 2 hour rating is not the issue if only drywall is required (less expensive). The bigger issue is 2 hour rating with full suppression (sprinklers). Current building code pushes sprinklers for everything. The problem is that most existing buildings don’t have the water infrastructure to support sprinklers. There is the economic feasibility from a cost prospective. These cost include new water service and tap fee (usually minimum 3 inch and a new, more expensive meter and billing rate), splitting the service for both fire and domestic, 2 new back flow preventers, the physical cost to install the sprinklers (anywhere from $1.5-$3 per sqft) and disruption to the existing ceiling and cost to repair.
My recommendation would be a new section to the building code that gives chief building officials flexibility to deal with these EXISTING buildings (new construction is different). The job of the chief building official is to protect human life. I have used the phrase “is someone going to die if we don’t do XXXX”. If the answer is no, then they should have flexibility. The biggest cause of fires in older building is faulty electric and fire started by vacancy. If you want to make a building safe, make them feasible that someone will use it. The new section of code should require 2 hour DRYWALL separated uses and primary egress, new electrical service or existing that has a UL rated panel and MC, romex or vinyl clad interior wire and 2 means of egress. Egress is a big issue. There are multiple issues here. Old stairs usually don’t meet modern rise and run requirements. If space allows, new WOOD stairs should be allowed to be built to meet the primary egress requirements. If space does not allow, the chief building official should have flexibility to look at the new upstairs use. If the use is owner occupied residential space then there should be a contractual way to shift liability to the owner/user. Primary Egress should be treated different if it is commercial and will have clients coming to the space. This does not get into ADA requirements but there should be relief if it is for owner occupied, non-commercial use. For second means of egress, stairs are not always feasible in many buildings. The code should allow for the use of fire escapes or fire ladders.
These changes should allow for many small buildings in downtown areas to be reused. I know your time line is tight so wanted to get some ideas into your hands.

The key thing to think about is are we protecting people or property with these regulations? And, if we’re talking about fire safety- an empty building is always a bigger risk of fire than an occupied one. Let’s focus on keeping and maintaining the stock and making it at least as safe as when it was built- instead of putting unreal expectations. By requiring modern electric service, up-to-code gas lines and mechanical systems, you are decreasing the risk of fire much more than by having empty buildings waiting for an arson. Never mind the fact that occupied buildings generate tax income, whereas vacant ones just create tax burdens overtime.

Practical solutions to protect our community are up to us. If there was one place where we should be evoking home rule- it’s to protect our downtown historic buildings before too many more succumb to the wrecking ball.

Dayton’s Inspectional Services called out by the DBJ

The Dayton Business Journal has a cover story about Dayton’s woefully inept Building Inspection department- something that’s been inept for a long time. Olivia Barrow talks to several small independent start-ups that ran face first into the wall of BS that Dayton likes to throw at every project that doesn’t come with political payola.

From the DBJ article-

Michael Cromartie, chief building inspector, wants to see Dayton thrive as much as anyone. But working with his 1999 computer system and a skeleton crew bound to enforce state building codes to the letter, he has a natural tendency to prefer businesses with money.

“If they’re undercapitalized, that’s always a challenge,” he said. “We have walked some people through every step of the process. But can I do that with everybody? No.”

Cromartie said while he can’t design a project for a business, he still wants to meet with prospective business owners as early as possible — before they even sign a lease or buy a building….

Somewhere inside the mammoth tome of regulations that is the Ohio Building Code, there’s a chapter created for existing buildings that violate today’s safety and accessibility standards — Article 34. It’s often cited as a way for entrepreneurs to save money building out a space in one of downtown’s charming, but code-delinquent historic buildings.

But Juhl never even had the chance to get his building evaluated through Article 34.

“The city won’t even look at that chapter unless you build a case around it,” he said. “It would have been a pain in the butt. So instead we brought a 130-year-old building up to 2011 code.”

Article 34 has been used successfully on several projects in Dayton — including Square One Salon & Spa, Warped Wing Brewing Co. and The Barrel House — but those projects were well-funded or advised by experienced architects or business owners.

“It’s virtually impossible for a business owner to use Chapter 34 (without an architect),” said Brock Taylor, development specialist for the city.

The regulation allows a building to be evaluated on a point system that includes trade-offs and substitutions between some of the most expensive elements of bringing a building up to code.

That includes leaving out a sprinkler system in favor of a cheaper alarm system, or reducing the intended occupancy in order to avoid other costly regulations.

But ultimately, even an Article 34 review process can end up being a waste of time, Cromartie said.

“Sometimes you do the investigation and realize it’s not even going to save you any money,” he said.

That chapter of the code becomes another factor that slants the playing field toward well-capitalized, investor-backed ventures….

A technological upgrade is also in order, but it won’t come online until January of 2016.

“The city is investing over $1 million in replacing its obsolete permitting software,” Cromartie said.

And the city is also creating a new staff position that could provide some of the relief business owners are looking for.

via COVER STORY: ?Business friendly? A skeleton crew at the city struggles to help first-time business owners – Dayton Business Journal.

Michael Cromartie has picked up some knowledge from his years on the job- or should I say his reign of terror. His claim as one of the Monarchy of Montgomery County is being married to former Mayor James H. McGee’s daughter, former judge Francis McGee.

I ran into the same BS over 27 years ago when I bought a building ready for the wrecking ball. Not only were there issues with the historic district code, there were zoning issues and then the building inspection issues. When you have a building that someone is willing to invest 30x the purchase price- it would have been nice for a little common sense, but that wasn’t the case. Despite having 4 exit doors with windows in them- and huge storefront windows- the geniuses insisted that we needed the lighted “Exit” signs over a door. You know the ones required by code for hallways in multistory buildings- that have a bunch of solid- similar doors- where there is no way of telling which one leads out.
I came to believe that the building code as enforced by Dayton was the antidote to Darwin (i.e.- protecting morons from extinction).

I’m pretty sure a firefighter is going to argue with me on another point- the one requiring sprinklers. I’m placing a bet that sprinklers malfunction and do more damage than actually work and put out fires- but, Dayton seems hell bent on keeping the sprinkler installers in business. I find it amazing that most of Europe where buildings are over 600 years old- survived without sprinklers.

I know many contractors that refuse to work in Dayton due to the incredible amount of BS that this department manages to spew. I was told that my existing roof- in the back of my house with true 2×6, 14′ rafters on a slight pitch were undersized- and needed to go- despite being original- and decked with 5/4″ planks. I told the inspector to pound salt. That wasn’t what he was there to inspect. On my cottages they tried to claim that faced insulation, that was stapled and seams taped wasn’t a proper vapor barrier- and that we had to remove the facing- and use plastic instead. Except that you couldn’t buy unfaced insulation anywhere. Yet another fail.

If you wonder why houses get torn down instead of rehabbed in Dayton- it’s because to do them legally is too much hassle, and to do them illegally isn’t worth the headaches- plus, the demolition companies pay to get our commission elected.

The reality is that the Ohio building code isn’t written for rehab. It’s written by the construction lobby with one goal in mind- build new instead of rehab. When enforced by megalomaniacs like Cromartie, the public isn’t any safer, and our old buildings fall victim to unreasonable requirements. Is a two-hour fire rating between floors of a 100-year-old building that’s built with old growth timber really going to make a difference compared to having working alarms? Are sprinklers in every unit of a residential conversion really more important than fire extinguishers? When it comes to ADA- does every unit in a residential rental building have to meet ADA requirements or just a majority?

Instead of  “investing” a million in new permitting software, why don’t we just shut down the entire department and let the county do it? In the name of regionalism and setting an example of cooperation like we did with 911?

I’m sure it would do more to hasten renovation and investment back in the city than letting King Cromartie continue his reign of terror on “under-capitalized”  entrepreneurs (i.e.- no money to pay them off).

Big brother stopped watching you yesterday

Traffic cam

UPDATE

March 23, 5PM A Lucas county judge ruled in favor of Home rule, and the City will continue using the cameras and ticketing until this winds through the courts.

On March 1st 2015(correction, March 23rd) the city of Dayton lost one of its crutches- the use of red light and speeding cameras to extort owners of vehicles for the misdeeds of individual drivers.

The cameras, supplied by a private company, Redflex, were a “partnership” where a private company made unlimited amounts of money from this questionable impingement on personal freedoms. Had the city bought the cameras outright, like they do most pieces of law enforcement equipment, this deal may not have reeked so badly, but in the ultimate act of brilliance, your leaders chose a questionable deal. Much like private prisons, where the incentives are to keep people locked up – because more convicts mean more money, the cameras were continuously questioned for their accuracy and the timing of lights suspect as contributors to this scam.

The sad thing is, the cameras worked. Speeds dropped, accidents declined, in the areas where the cameras were in place.

The real question is why people came to drive like idiots in the city of Dayton and other places where the cameras were deployed? No one speeds in Oakwood, and Kettering still has a rap for traffic enforcement. These communities run traffic tickets as a way to show their police departments are out watching and waiting for crime to happen- versus Dayton, where all they do is chase the tail having to go out reactively  all day long.

Maybe if our leaders would spend more of that “economic development” cash they hand out like candy to their political supporters and scam artists promising jobs- and just did the job they were supposed to do- ensuring our safety, the cameras wouldn’t have been a last resort. In the 29 years I’ve lived in Dayton, I’ve watched the police department drop in staffing by at least a third. Of course, the size of our city hasn’t gotten any smaller geographically- but, we’ve also seen almost a quarter of our population vote with their feet to move to other parts of Montgomery County where they feel safer.

In all the time the cameras have been installed in Dayton, I’ve never gotten a ticket so this hasn’t affected me directly, but, I did get one in Kettering- for a supposed right turn on red at Dorothy Lane and Wilmington. The difference being- one was handed out by a cop, who said he saw me do it. And while I know so many of you are happy about the end of the cameras- in my one ticket, I would have preferred the camera- because I would have had proof that I did the crime.

Hopefully, Dayton police will learn to write tickets again, because, well- that’s their job. Don’t be surprised if you get one and costs you more, because real police work costs more than a robot cop camera. If Redflex goes out of business, I won’t be crying. They made ungodly money out of their monopoly deal on cameras. The question is, how long the city leaders will leave the cameras and signs up- even if the cameras are now impotent.

Sometimes just the idea that we’re being watched, makes us behave differently.

PechaKucha 20×20 – Dayton – Vol. 22 – Rambunctious!

Dayton Oh Pecha Kucha 22 poster by Andrew Dailey

Click on image to download full size, 11×17 pdf

If you live in Dayton and say there is nothing to do- it’s on you.
Here’s a cheap date night event that will probably overdeliver on entertainment value- based on the speakers.

Of course when an event is free (donations really keep this going)- and only held 4x a year- you should be out of excuses to attend. PK is held in over 800 cities all over the world.

I’ve told you about PK nights before- and this is no different. 20 slides, 20 seconds each- any subject. Tomorrow night- I’m in the line-up with “How to piss people off”- a subject I’m told I’m eminently qualified to speak about.

Also- my friend Bryan Suddith is sharing “Confessions of an Uber Driver.”

Connie Post who is second in command of the Dayton Daily news editorial page (yes the lower case “d” is always intentional here) and one of the best photographers I know is presenting “Designing a Positive and Blissfully Rambunctious Community Outlook” (which takes almost 20 seconds to say.)

Shelly “Glad Girl” Hulce- is presenting. She used to work for Mayor Leitzell and is well known in local music circles.

Omar Peters who is the “official face” of Dayton’s new bike share and a planner with MVRPC is presenting.

Riley Driver, the king of the Dayton Chess Club will pwn us all with his deck.

Cassie Guard is doing “Teach Her to Twirl Her Tassels and Watch Her Conquer the World!” and I’m sure there will be others just as fascinating.

Wright-Dunbar Conference Center
1100 W. 3rd St.
Dayton OH 45402

March 19, 2015
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Free, donations

via PechaKucha 20×20 – Dayton – Vol. 22 – Rambunctious!.