Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not 'business friendly' post #14 - noise restrictions

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!


Timothy W Higgins said...


As you point out so clearly, Toledo is not a business friendly environment (unless perhaps you are a "green" business). Continued examples of incremental government regulation and intrusion will see more businesses depart and new ones less likely to to come. Councilwoman Wilma Brown's comment simply highlights how out of touch our local leaders are with the situation.

As this proceeds, we can expect additional unintended consequences (or maybe intentioned). Increasing restriction on "smoking patios" will have additional impact on already suffering bar and restaurant owners. Shutting down these operations as part of the punishment process will have an impact on tax revenues. (You don't pay taxes on money you don't make while shut down.) National franchises for either type of establishment will go elsewhere rather than deal with this nonsense.

On the other hand, additional restrictions on the evil practice of smoking will advance other agendas...

Cynical Counsel said...

Opportunity Lost - Business Friendly.

Earlier this week I attended the Ohio Trucking Association state convention here in Toledo. This convention brings together some of the most powerful business interests in the state and nation. Officers from global companies such as Cummins Engine Co. and Chevron International were present. Representatives from the largest trucking companies in Ohio and the nation were in attendance, along with small operations and single owner-operators. There were also lawyers and other service industry representatives such as insurance agents present.

Mayor Finkbeiner was scheduled to open the convention. A chance to address the collective group of powerful businessmen and women who are key to any growth of Toledo's, Lucas County's and Ohio's business community. But, at the start of the convention, it was expressed to the audience that organizers were uncertain if the Mayor was coming, so they started without him.

He showed up late, about 30 minutes late. Carty breezed into the room, read and presented a plaque showing a "proclamation" of how important the OTA was with a bunch of "whereas" language, gave lip service to the InterModal Project, and left.

See my full rant at TAHL blog.

But as usual the City and its captain continue to work against business and toward large government regulation. I could talk all day about the "unintended" (meaning OOOOOPS) consequences of the smoking ban.


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