Even before Ohio had a smoking ban, the City of Toledo passed one. The result was that many businesses spent loads of money to separate their patron areas into smoking and non-smoking, in addition to installing upgraded air filtering systems.
That money, it turns out, was wasted after Ohio passed a much more restrictive smoking ban. Now, in response to the total ban of smoking in bars and restaurants, many businesses are building outdoor patios where patrons can have service and a smoke. Of course, that presents its own problems as patrons also want to enjoy the sounds emanating from said establishments.
As District Councilwoman Wilma Brown opined, the reason taxpayers are leaving Toledo is because of the "durn noise." (Actually, they're leaving because of high taxes, high government spending, lack of job opportunities and poor schools - but that's another rant for another post.) So Toledo City Council is considering enhanced restrictions in their noise laws.
During last night's meeting, they decided to continue the measure until their next meeting, but not before adding a very anti-business amendment.
According to the amendment, the first two violations would result in a warning. Upon a third violation, the city would suspend the business’ occupancy permit for two business days. On the fourth violation, it is suspended five days; a fifth violation results in a 15-day suspension.
Yes, you read that correctly. Toledo, with the highest unemployment rate of all the urban areas in the state, wants to shut down a business and put all its employees out of work if they make too much noise!
Fortunately, not all members of council think that's a good idea. The amendment passed 7-4 with Michael Ashford, Joe McNamara, George Sarantou, and Mark Sobczak voting against the stricter penalties. Betty Shultz was absent.
What amazes me are the number of people who didn't anticipate such an issue in response to the smoking ban. The new law says you can smoke outside, but not inside. So what did people think bars and eateries were going to do? And if an establishment has an outdoor area, wouldn't it make equal sense that any entertainment would be extended to the outside venue?
The public may demand reasonable restrictions on noise, but do we really want to sanction violators by shutting down their business?
This certainly doesn't say 'welcome' to companies considering doing business here. Instead, it screams 'not business friendly' and enhances the anti-business reputation Toledo is proving it deserves.
I'll have more to say about this tonight on Eye On Toledo, so tune in!