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.
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.