Three-minute thinking

The argument about how many liquor licenses should be permitted in the Oregon district continues to kill off the district’s potential to be the entertainment district it could be.

Unfortunately, 30-year-old thinking is still being applied. The limits were put in place because a small group of residents were allowed to speak for the whole city. The reasoning behind it was formed before there were any nice restaurants in the district- and dive bars like Fred & Sylvia’s were back inside the neighborhood.

They fought Pacchia, they fought Thai 9, they even fought a little vegetarian restaurant called “What you eat” that wanted to serve organic wine and beer (that license ended up becoming the Blue Moon’s). Lore says that Max and Erma’s, who had a reputation for going into old funky neighborhoods in Columbus, threw up their hands in frustration and gave up on the district after dealing with these rules.

The restriction has done nothing for the neighborhood- but it has made the 17 permits worth a lot more than they should be. Permits that should be $1,200 have gone for $30K and more. In the meantime- space has gone empty. But, this story has been told before on this site- too many times.

What is more important is that we examine the city commission- and the positions that the commissioners are taking. The youngsters- Whaley and Joseph are supposedly open to discussing revisions according to the Dayton Daily. But in a second story (thanks DDN for bite sized crapola)- Williams and Lovelace aren’t ready to talk and Leitzell is playing safe- refusing to put the third vote to either side:

Mayor Gary Leitzell, former president of the Southeast Dayton Priority Board, has instructed city attorney John Danish to see if the neighborhood can work with business owners to reach case-by-case agreements on liquor permit requests.

But neither he nor commissioners Joey Williams and Dean Lovelace are willing to go against the district’s policy of rejecting licenses because they believe it reflects the will of the people.

This summer, the Gonyas attended multiple Dayton City Commission meetings to lay out the case for a policy change three minutes at a time, which is the time allowed for public comments during the meeting.

via Oregon District inn pushing for liquor permit expansion.

Why is this issue being forced to three-minute discussions? This affects the entire city- and is sending a message to other developers that Dayton isn’t just very receptive to change or growth.

If you look at The Greene– Dayton’s (well technically Greene County’s) faux downtown- with residential and commercial mixed-use buildings- you will find that there are zero limits on number of liquor licenses. You’ll also find that zoning/parking restrictions requiring X number of spaces per square foot- aren’t made an issue- partially because of the balance between the uses- mixed use spreads the needs throughout the day.

Of course, if city leaders had any vision at all, they would have built a speedwalk from the Transportation Center garage to the district- or built another garage to support commerce.

What is more at issue is that the real problem isn’t the liquor licenses- but the drunk patrons who can raise hell. And while the $9 drinks at the Sidebar pack a wallop, the likelihood of their patrons peeing in the bushes of a resident at 2 a.m. isn’t the same odds as a fight in Ned Pepper’s (where a liquor control officer was actually assaulted). If the city wants to solve the residents’ issues- it’s quite simple- either charge the liquor permit holders a premium for extra police patrols for the neighborhood (which is an extra business tax that isn’t fair) or better yet- clearly post signs in the district that state than any public intoxication fines are $500 and collect from the drunks with the money going right back into the district (a new form of “economic development” the drunk TID- Tax Improvement District). It’s not illegal to serve booze, and this restraint of trade has been hurting the entire community for too long.

Yet, we have a commission that refuses to act, refuses to hold public hearings, refuses to let taxpaying business people present their case in more than three-minute intervals- with a “leader” who wants to try to do things on a “case by case” basis (translation- capriciously).

This kind of short-term, pass-the-buck, “three minute” thinking is what is killing our city. If you don’t believe it- compare the progress at The Greene, along Fairfield Road, or on 725. All of that has happened in the 30 years since the restrictions went into place- and yet, city leaders still think they have an “entertainment district.”

Next year, voters will have a chance to at least get rid of Dean Lovelace, to possibly put the third vote in place. It’s long overdue.

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18 Responses

  1. truddick November 15, 2010 / 9:15 am
    How will the police determine who’s drunk–random breathalizers for pedestrians?
    Related issue: why does the city block Wayne Avenue several times yearly so that Dublin Pub patrons can cross at will (St. Patrick’s, Halloween, and what other alcohol-fueled celebrations that I’m forgetting.)?  If you want to discourage drunk/disorderly, why not expect people to be able to see and obey a walk signal–rather than cutting off a vital artery?  If there’s a fire or a heat attack at the Cannery, do the residents there deserve to have first responders detoured so that one business (the one, if I recall, that got an exemption from the “rule of 17” can appear more accessible?
    Why can’t we get back to the notion that streets are for transportation–and should be designed to carry traffic in the most time- and fuel-efficient manner possible–rather than thinking that streets are a means to clog traffic (wrongly concluding that if cars have to go slow, people will want to stop and shop) or that streets, especially main thoroughfares, are places to close off for drunken revelry?
  2. jstults November 15, 2010 / 11:22 am

    Lore says that Max and Erma’s, who had a reputation for going into old funky neighborhoods…

    I think Dayton’s Organization Town approach is endearing: the funkiness shall happen in these city blocks between such and so hours, however said funk shall not exceed 17 Smedley Total Funk Units at any given time.  While being Funky, citizens are encouraged to get Creative, Involved or just Midwest in order to optimize the synergistic effect of being terribly trendy and nearly bohemian during their off-hours.  Of course, being an Organization Man, I don’t really care about drunken revelry, as long as it’s not happening in front of my house while I’m trying to sleep…

  3. Jason Madewell November 15, 2010 / 12:27 pm
    Bars are BORING- we’re taking it back, throwing our own private parties & you’re all invited. The OD can’t tell ME how to party.
  4. djw November 15, 2010 / 1:41 pm

    Related issue: why does the city block Wayne Avenue several times yearly so that Dublin Pub patrons can cross at will (St. Patrick’s, Halloween, and what other alcohol-fueled celebrations that I’m forgetting.)?

    This seems like a reasonable public safety measure/accomodation of a community festival to me. The streets are owned by all of us, drivers and revellers alike. The drivers get pretty much all of them all the time, except for a very, very small handful of tiny exceptions. I think driving around the block a few hours a couple of times a year isn’t really that big of a deal. I guess maybe it’s because I come from a city that shuts down roads for a variety of special events (that often include–wait for it–alcohol consumption!) and the traffic issues are quite a bit worse. Obviously, roads are primarily for car drivers and secondarily for transit users and bikers, but at the end of the day no one group necessarily has a monopoly on their use 100% of the time.

    Interesting background, David, thanks.

  5. Gary Leitzell November 15, 2010 / 5:41 pm
    David,
    There is such a thing as an “Agreed Order” which is a modified liquor license that has to be initiated by the city law department. It is en-forcible by the City as well.The residents of Oregon have no protection if a license is sold to an irresponsible owner which is why they cling to the saturation ruling. If all additional liquor licenses were “Agreed Orders” (also called cooperative agreements) and written in such a way that would prevent the license from transferring if the business were sold and the nature of the business were changed it would give the residents some protection. If you would go online to the City web site and watch the commission meeting, you would see that this is exactly what I suggested as a solution to this issue in the Oregon district. Shame on you for believing what the DDN puts in print. I’ll bet the other commissioners would be satisfied if “Agreed Orders” were utilized more often.
    It was not until the last hearing in Columbus regarding the Inn Porto Vino case that this option was even known about. A member of the Liquor Control Board mentioned it and the residents opposed to the permit told me about it and indicated that such agreed orders would be welcomed as a tool to resolve this issue. You seem to know a lot about the goings on in the Oregon District. Why didn’t you suggest an “Agreed Order”? Unless like me you didn’t know about it until someone suggested it.
  6. David Esrati November 15, 2010 / 8:46 pm

    @Gary- nice of the Liquor Control Board to be such good, open, honest folks- they have been running a racket for years- forcing business people to pay their former members who are lawyers- big bucks to represent them.

    Case in point- “What you eat” spent about $9K in legal fees to do what now- we suddenly find out there was an end run option. Also- as to what constitutes an “irresponsible owner” is a pretty capricious term. We can’t even enforce a smoking ban in Ohio- how can we decide who is a good or bad operator?

    The reality is- selling liquor shouldn’t be regulated any differently than selling vinegar. The only crimes are those committed by irresponsible people who drink and drive- or make idiots of themselves.

    Why must City Hall and the residents lord over liquor? What’s next- regulation on how many ad agencies can be in the district- or miniature painters?

    And if you have the answer- why isn’t Porto Vino already taken care of?

    My position on this ridiculous restraint of trade has been well documented- glad you’ve finally taken a stand- after wasting a year of Porto Vino’s business opportunities and cost them a fortune. Maybe you’ll volunteer to take his losses out of your paychecks?

  7. Civil Servants Are People, Too November 15, 2010 / 9:20 pm
    Anyone who thinks the podium is the best way to engage city leaders doesn’t understand how things work, no matter what town you’re in.    The podium is all about publicity, and Mr. E knows that better than anyone.  

    The best way to deal with your city is to communicate early and often.   This will help solve or avoid most problems before they happen.   Most of the common issues with opening a business can be discovered and addressed if you ask.

    Did this business ask for a license before or after they started losing money?   Why did they invest if they did not have a license in hand?  

    PS.  Comparing the Greed, I mean the Greene to OD is a ridiculous false choice.    Try Yellow Springs or historic Centerville, and maybe you can have a point.

  8. truddick November 15, 2010 / 10:00 pm
    DJW:
    I ask again: if the Cannery catches fire (which WILL happen eventually) or someone there has a time-sensitive medical emergency and must get to MVH–then do you want emergency vehicles to be able to go straight up Wayne Avenue, or do you want them to lose precious minutes taking a detour up Keowee?
    For me, the question of blocking Wayne Avenue is a no-brainer.  People ought to be capable of crossing on a walk signal.  If they’re getting too drunk (or they’re too selfish) to take a minute to do that, then Dayton is hypocritically promoting public intoxication.
    I don’t mind if they block off a residential street–or for that matter, 5th between Jefferson and Wayne.  But blocking a major thoroughfare diminishes public safety–and it’s environmentally irresponsible.
  9. djw November 15, 2010 / 10:18 pm
    Seems to me it would be just as quick to get there via Main. That might take 1-2 more minutes than the Wayne route with normal traffic and lights, but in terms of miles its the same distance–possible less, and ambulences aren’t subject to normal traffice and lights.

    But even if you’re right about the extra time, this is a complicated question, with a lot of probabilities to work out. Does blocking off Wayne Street, thus decreasing the chance of a pedestrian-car incident during a night of enhanced (and, yes, drunken) foot traffic, warrant possibly adding a very small (but potentially significant) amount of time in a potential emergency response to a crisis in the Webster station area, such as a fire at the Cannery? To answer this, you’d need data on pedestrian-car incidents, the likelihood of such a fire (you seem to be implying the Cannery is a particularly substantial risk for a fire; not sure what your inside info is there), the likelihood of injuries of the sort than an extra 90 seconds or so in the ambulence could prove decisive, etc. This isn’t the sort of calculation we can just eyeball the right answer.

    And, maybe the city of Dayton is just guessing and not applying sophisticated public health statistical analysis–that would not surprise me. But if they are trying to figure this out, I hope they’re doing in a way that focuses on harm reduction, and not fussing about what streets “should” be for, or worry about hypocritical messages regarding intoxication. I want them to focus on harm reduction and probabilities, and not get caught up in the kind of secondary issues (such as moralistim and “messages” about intoxication) that seem to motivate your thinking here.

  10. Jeff Dziwulski November 16, 2010 / 10:52 am
    On the road a lot over the past two months, and I’ve seen other places’ version of the Oregon.  Two that come to mind are Chippewa Street (the “Chip Strip”) in Buffalo and Armory Square in Syracuse.   Both of these illustrate the benefits & pitfalls of a concentration of nightlife.   Both are part of the downtowns (not off to the side of downtown in a residential area, like 5th) and both generate a lot of foot traffic and loud weekend nightime crowds. 

    While a lot of fun in their own way (and spinning off retail things in Syracuse) this isn’t what would be appropriate to the Oregon District as one can see how it would intrude on the quality-of-life in the residential area. 

    I think Gary Leitzells’ ‘case by case’ approach is the common sense approach, in that one wouldn’t want a bunch of “Ned Pepper/Newcoms” type places, but maybe more a mix of venues, like a brew-pub and another Blind Bobs and maybe a restaurant that sells alchohol. 

    If this was in an area like Webster Station, which was mostly loft buildings and light industry, or downtown proper (for example, Jefferson Street and W 3rd), unlimited licenses to foster an edge-of-downtown entertainment district might work.  But there is a balancing act needed in the Oregon due to it being partly a residential area.

  11. David Esrati November 16, 2010 / 11:31 am

    @Jeff- There are parts of the OD that are not intruding on the residents- that could grow- Wayne Ave across from Coco’s is dying for developers- and Wayne all the way to Garden Station- could fill in with party hardy type establishments.

    I’ve suggested that the EPA be enticed to move out of the OD- and into Downtown- and that space be converted back into a Dance Hall-

    All we really need is some vision – beyond a few parking lot improvements. The Ballsey building (to the left of newcomes) has sat rotting for over 30 years- despite being the most magnificent architecture on 5th in the district.

    We don’t have time for case-by-case- nor the mechanisms in place to not do it capriciously- as you start to see in the newer post- http://esrati.com/its-all-about-protection/5881/

  12. djw November 16, 2010 / 12:08 pm
    The Ballsey building’s current vacant state pisses me off every time I walk by it. What an F-ing waste.
  13. truddick November 17, 2010 / 9:29 am
    DJW: I don’t think it’s moralistic of me to consider that discouraging high levels of public intoxication is a safety issue.  Do you think all those people walk home afterwards?  Crossing the street is not the only issue.
    No, I have no inside information about the Cannery.  I do know that its plumbing failed and put several original tenants out of business; I do know that Murphy’s Law originally was “When NOTHING can go wrong, something will.”
    If it’s your heart attack, do you want the ambulance going five blocks out of its way to get to you–and then picking its way north to Third, across to Main, and then through the maze under 35 to get you there?  Yes, they don’t have to obey traffic lights, but they do responsibly slow down to make sure cross traffic isn’t stopping.  That’s more than 2-3 minutes, and in some cases that’s the difference between life and death.
    Perhaps the best proposal is to wind down Oregon and move those businesses to Canal Street or (here’s a scary thought) west 3rd.  All I know is that the status quo is unacceptable in many ways, not just neighborhood exclusivity.
  14. David Esrati November 17, 2010 / 12:32 pm

    @Trudick and DJW- The ambulances could come from station 2 on Third at Keowee, 4 on the river- or 11 on Warren- none would go to the Cannery via 5th or Wayne.

    Ambulance drivers will go the wrong way on a one way if they need to- and even drive over sidewalks. This discussion is kinda lame- but- the real question is what kind of impact does the closing for St. Paddy’s day have on other businesses around there?

  15. djw November 17, 2010 / 3:07 pm
    This discussion is kinda lame-
     
    Guilty, as charged.
  16. truddick November 19, 2010 / 5:13 pm
    I might consider that this discussion is lame.  Particularly since only part of what I write seems to be getting read.
    David: OK, the ambulance comes from somewhere north of 5th and Wayne.  You are at the Cannery, enjoying a nice Therapy Cafe session, when your cerebral aneurism bursts (no, I have no inside info that DE has this condition; it’s a hypothetical).  What route do you want the ambulance to take to MVH–the shortest, fastest one that gives you the best odds of survival, or the one that adds several minutes to your trip so that a crowd of tipsy revelers won’t be expected to wait at a walk light for a few seconds?
    And in a time when we need to be thinking seriously about petroleum conservation, is it not worth considering that adding half-a-mile for the 5000 or so cars and trucks that travel on Wayne Avenue in a normal day will burn up 125 gallons of gas.  Doesn’t sound like much but if every city in the nation could save 250 gallons of gas a year, the effect would be spectacular.
  17. Ice Bandit November 22, 2010 / 8:52 am
    I might consider that this discussion is lame. (truddick)

    ….and it’s about to get several light-years lamer, if there is such a word, dear truddick. First to address a minor error in fact, Googlemaps lists Grandview Hospital as being the same two miles from the front door of the Therapy Cafe, dear truddick, so technically the ER at MVH isn’t the only alternative to your hypothetical suffering patron. And if the Old Bandito, who is no stranger to navigating Dayton streets, was in the situation where he had to get your aforementioned stricken reveler only to the ER at MVH, your suggested route down Wayne Avenue would not be the route taken even without drunken Saint Pattys day foot traffic. Since the ER sits at the corner of South Main and Wyoming streets, the most expeditous route would be west on East Third, to St. Clair to Patterson Blvd. to South Main. Your suggested route on Wayne Avenue would require navigating the rat maze between Brown Street and the Fairgrounds, adding critical seconds to the trip…………

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