Columbus City Records Show Few Gay Street Complaints

Listen to the Story

The corner of High Street and Gay Street(Photo: Lance Robotson (flickr))
The corner of High Street and Gay Street(Photo: Lance Robotson (flickr))

Last month, downtown Gay Street business owners complained to Columbus officials about “aggressive” sidewalk code enforcement between High and Third Streets. A city official told business owners code enforcement officers were driven by public complaints.

But, records obtained by WOSU show there were hardly any public complaints about sidewalk obstructions on Gay Street.

This summer, caf̩ operators complained Columbus code enforcement officers were over-zealous Рhassling them over sidewalk seating areas. on August 15th Public Service Director Mark Kelsey told business people that 99 percent of code officers visits citywide were the result of public complaints.

But, city records do not back up the statement.

A review of city hotline 3-1-1 calls for the past year and a half show that out of 993 calls, one citizen complained about damaged sidewalks on Gay Street.

In May of 2010, an unknown caller cited a trip hazard next to a coffee shop near Gay and High streets.

Public service department emails examined by WOSU show a few complaints about dumpsters, flower pots and A-frame signs in the public right of way. But, those complaints originated from code inspectors themselves or Capital Crossroads, the downtown advocacy group, closely aligned with and partially funded by the city of Columbus. Kelsey says city documents do not reflect verbal complaints though about possible code violations.

A city-formed committee is reviewing the business owners complaints.

  • Bluesatsun

    Can this story just go away? Is this what happens when the biggest self-promoter in Columbus cries loud enough?

    • Bdan

      The only people who want the story to go away are the people who created the problem in the first place. If I was, say, someone under Kelsey’s watch, I’d want it to go away too.

      But, as a concerned citizen who is keen on the revitalization of the city center, I applaud the investigation into the abuses of power routinely perpetrated by Kelsey and his staff.

  • CHL

    I support local small businesses in all of their forms. As to the “biggest self-promoter” comment–ALL of the Gay/Pearl businesses are being advocated-for by a strong woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for all of her fellow business owners. She has my complete support.

  • CJ

    Small business has played an important role in downtown revitalization. The City needs to work with them, not against them.

  • Colpanik

    Why on earth is the City harassing small businesses that have beautified downtown? Aren’t there bigger things to be worrying about besides petunias hanging in the right of way?

  • ML

    Try to imagine a vision-impaired or wheelchair-bound person trying to navigate down those cluttered and damaged Gay Street sidewalks. We should be supporting not criticizing those who are enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act.