Wednesday, May 14, 2008

'Not business friendly' Post #9 - convenience stores, again

I just don't understand what the members of Toledo City Council have against convenience stores. They've already passed a licensing law for these types of stores (though the effective date has been postponed due to a lawsuit filed), and now they want to cut down on the 'proliferation' of such stores.

According to today's paper,

Councilman Joe McNamara has proposed an ordinance prohibiting a convenience store from operating within 2,000 feet of another convenience store, or within 1,000 feet of a school, public library, or other places established for minors.

Establishments that do not sell tobacco or tobacco products would not be affected, Mr. McNamara said.

"In 1993, spacing requirements were added to the Toledo Municipal Code and, in 2004, it was taken out as a comprehensive rewrite of the zoning code," he said.

"We are just going back to what we originally had since there has been a proliferation of convenience stores in the central city since 2004."

Yes - you read that correctly. We've got businesses starting in the city and now that's a bad thing that must be addressed through zoning restrictions to prevent it from happening. And they think the problem is in the central city, but the law will affect all areas of the city, equally.

It seems to me that there must be a need for such stores or they wouldn't be opening. And, with gas prices the way they are, it should come as no surprise to council members that individuals might choose to walk to a neighborhood store rather than drive elsewhere.

The supporters of such regulation are using the same arguments they used to support the licensing law:

"Supporters of stricter regulations argue that convenience stores have saturated Toledo and are attracting crime, alcoholism, prostitution, drug use, and other unsavory elements.

Critics say some Toledo stores stock drug paraphernalia, such as disguised crack pipes and small plastic bags for powder drugs."

Note that it's not the behavior they're trying to stop, nor are they calling for more police officers and better enforcement of laws against prostitution, drug use or loitering. No, they're trying to drive job providers out of the city.

Just because some drug addict finds a drug-related use for a normal grocery item like small bags does not mean the seller of the small bags is stocking drug paraphernalia. I use those small bags quite often and NOT for drugs!

Council members need to stop catering to the anti-business demands of these neighborhood groups and start looking at the real problem. If crime in these areas is the problem, the solution is not to drive business owners away - it's to increase police patrols, enforcement and prosecution.

Shutting down a business will not change the behavior of the people who patronize such establishments, but it might be an easier decision for politicians because then they can say they 'did' something - even if what they 'did' doesn't solve the problem.

Toledo can't afford more anti-business decisions, and calling the city a 'business friendly city of the future' doesn't make it so.


Hooda Thunkit said...

Best thing that could happen is that the convenience store owners get fed up with this tin horn micromanagement style and quietly pack up and leave town.

Let's see how Toledo likes it when the mayor gets his way.

Let's see how Toledo copes with being inconvenienced..., permanently.

Carol said...

Toledo is not a business friendly city. Plain and simple.

The sanctimonious actions of some of these council members is reprehensible. If they are so intent on only "certain" types of businesses being acceptable to them and the nanny groups (disguised as CDCs) then those people should step up and put their money where their mouth (and narrow minded views) is.

Every time I read something like this it makes my task of packing up this house easier.

I am going to miss my dear friends here in Toledo, but I am not going to miss the "holier than thou" attitudes of our administration and the uppity behavior of these CDCs.

The CDCs are not promoting growth. They are inhibiting it and putting pressure on council to "see things their way" in order to gain control of the people they are supposed to serve. Shame on them. It's too sad for words.

Tim Higgins said...


Cities have long used zoning regulations as a way to control or eliminate businesses that don't particularly like. From adult entertainment, to liquor permits, and now to convenience stores; it sometimes appear that the way to clean up or spruce up a neighborhood is to eliminate a certain kind of business.

If they are really trying to make a difference however, I will repeat a suggestion to council and law enforcement which may be counter-intuitive or too "outside of the box" for the city to understand.

If the locus for all crime in the city of Toledo is convenience stores, then by all means keep them in business. When the criminals show up and violate the law, arrest them. It should be easy, since they will all be at these designated locations.

We should applaud convenience store owners for helping the city to set up these sting operations all over the city, and for making the reduction of crime so "convenient".

Robin said...

Is there any way that the city can ask people in the neighborhoods if they want a convenience store, before making sweeping rulings like this one?

Maggie Thurber said...

Robin - the problem isn't feedback from the neighborhood, as many of the CDCs claim to speak for the neighbors and they're leading the charge against the stores.

The issue is that current zoning rules allow commercial/retail establishments on such corners, so if a person wants to open a convenience in a properly-zoned location, there's really nothing to prevent it.

This is why they're trying to change the zoning to drive the stores - and the owners/job providers - away...

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