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Removal of J Gumbo fence and flowers downtown

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Removal of J Gumbo fence and flowers downtown

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  • #87753
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    What is going on with J Gumbos? Elizabeth Lessner posted the following message on Facebook :

    Quote:
    Special thanks to the Columbus Department of Public Service for demanding that J. Gumbo’s remove their patio fence, flower boxes & patio umbrellas. Downtown un-revitalization?

    #455885

    Elizabeth Lessner
    Participant

    I’ll let Chad pipe up the specifics at J. Gumbo’s. I will say that Chad spent upwards of $20k on his patio and received the proper permits but continues to be harassed by the Department despite this. Also, Chad factored in flower box space into his plans sacrificing valuable seating to beautify his corner, all approved by the City.

    Essentially, the Department of Public Service is continuing to harass businesses on Gay Street on a regular basis (as they have been for many years) regarding patio umbrellas, flower boxes, etc. in the right of way, even when we are fully compliant.

    When we bring problems to the department, they won’t return phone calls or flat out deny our reports entirely. We’ve brought our concerns to media and they can’t even get a return phone call from Public Service spokeman Rick Tilton. I’m not sure why there’s a person on the City payroll who won’t reply to small business or Dispatch inquiries related to business concerns on Gay Street. Interestingly we complained a lot via Twitter earlier in the week and Reyer was out again today harassing, coincidence? Businesses used to fear the ongoing retribution but we don’t care anymore.

    Jerry Reyser from the Department is fond of coming into restaurants during peak hours (exactly noon) to threaten to revoke patio permits from permit holders that are in any perceived (real or unreal) violation of sidewalk code. Yes, flower petals invading the right of way. Real major violations here.

    Most restaurateurs are hard at work running their businesses at noon. Jerry is fond of threatening us on the spot or simply throwing down his card warning us that he’ll be back if we don’t come out to talk to him.

    Tip Top tried to apply for a patio variance and when our lawyer went to deliver it to Director Kelsey, Mr. Reyser simply told our lawyer not to bother as Kelsey will refuse any variance request. We were told it wasn’t worth our time! Great communication!

    Another business was told by the department not to bother with flower boxes on their patio because the city will oppose them. That business has since gone out of business.

    Another cafe was told that his flowers were hanging over the fence into the right of way and to fix it on the spot or Reyser would revoke his patio permit!

    The Dept claims it’s all about ADA compliance. Trust me, we are compliant 99.9% of the time, they still harass us. We like customers, we sure as heck aren’t going to not allow them access to our businesses.

    I could go on and on, you get the picture.

    The rest of the city departments are great. Building Services was having problems, the Mayor brought in Tracie Davies last year who has since turned the department around. Tracie gives businesses her personal cell phone to deal with issues. She shows up personally to solve problems on the spot. The Health Dept is run by Dr. Long who is personally visiting our businesses and soliciting our advice on how we can best work together. Small business has long history of good relations with most of our city’s department. I’ve yet to hear of a good experience between a small biz owner and Director Kelsey or anyone else at his department for that matter.

    We need a new Director and an Public Service department that uses common sense and collaboration in our emerging urban areas. Threat, harassment, denial and hostile interactions from the department aren’t going to contribute to anything good downtown.

    Right now we get threats from the department and when we do actually speak to someone from the department, they dig in their heels, deny all the problems and lie about what really happened.

    Gay Street has formed a collaborative business group in opposition to the Department. Most downtown restaurateurs work 60-80 hours per week and spend tens of thousands improving our street-scapes. We are tired of being harassed.

    #455886
    Snarf
    Snarf
    Participant

    Why are Kelsey and Reyser such petty assholes though? What do they have to gain by being such bottom feeder twats?

    #455887

    DavidF
    Participant

    lizless said:
    I’ll let Chad pipe up the specifics at J. Gumbo’s. I will say that Chad spent upwards of $20k on his patio and received the proper permits but continues to be harassed by the Department despite this.

    Essentially, the Department of Public Service is continuing to harass businesses on Gay Street on a regular basis (as they have been for many years) regarding patio umbrellas, flower boxes, etc. in the right of way, even when we are fully compliant.

    When we bring problems to the department, they won’t return phone calls or flat out deny our reports entirely. We’ve brought our concerns to media and they can’t even get a return phone call from Public Service spokeman Rick Tilton. I’m not sure why there’s a person on the City payroll who won’t reply to small business or Dispatch inquiries related to business concerns on Gay Street. Interestingly we complained a lot via Twitter earlier in the week and Reyer was out again today harassing, coincidence? Businesses used to fear the ongoing retribution but we don’t care anymore.

    Jerry Reyser from the Department is fond of coming into restaurants during peak hours (exactly noon) to threaten to revoke patio permits from permit holders that are in any perceived (real or unreal) violation of sidewalk code. Yes, flower petals invading the right of way. Real major violations here.

    Most restaurateurs are hard at work running their businesses at noon. Jerry is fond of threatening us on the spot or simply throwing down his card warning us that he’ll be back if we don’t come out to talk to him.

    Tip Top tried to apply for a patio variance and when our lawyer went to deliver it to Director Kelsey, Mr. Reyser simply told our lawyer not to bother as Kelsey will refuse any variance request. We were told it wasn’t worth our time! Great communication!

    Another business was told by the department not to bother with flower boxes on their patio because the city will oppose them. That business has since gone out of business.

    Another cafe was told that his flowers were hanging over the fence into the right of way and to fix it on the spot or Reyser would revoke his patio permit!

    I could go on and on, you get the picture.

    The rest of the city departments are great. Building Services was having problems, the Mayor brought in Tracie Davies last year who has since turned the department around. Tracie gives businesses her personal cell phone to deal with issues. She shows up personally to solve problems on the spot. The Health Dept is run by Dr. Long who is personally visiting our businesses and soliciting our advice on how we can best work together. Small business has long history of good relations with most of our city’s department. I’ve yet to hear of a good experience between a small biz owner and Director Kelsey or anyone else at his department for that matter.

    We need a new Director and an Public Service department that uses common sense and collaboration in our emerging urban areas.

    Right now we get threats from the department and when we do actually speak to someone from the department, they dig in their heels, deny all the problems and lie about what really happened.

    Gay Street has formed a collaborative business group in opposition to the Department. Most downtown restaurateurs work 60-80 hours per week and spend tens of thousands improving our street-scapes. We are tired of being harassed.

    Good to hear. Let the rest of us know what we can do to support you guys.

    #455888

    Elizabeth Lessner
    Participant

    Snarf said:
    Why are Kelsey and Reyser such petty assholes though? What do they have to gain by being such bottom feeder twats?

    We’ve experienced poor relations with both of them since we’ve been open downtown. Due Amici claims that they’ve weathered it as long as they’ve been open as well (about 7 years). Five new businesses regret ever moving downtown due to the department’s treatment, two of which recently closed. The others wish they’d have opened up anywhere else.

    I should add that the Department has these ongoing blow outs with small biz every year or so (last time was the parking meters). The other departments have no problem working proactively with us. You never hear of major blow outs between biz and the Health Dept or Building Services happening every year or two. Just Public Service.

    #455889
    Snarf
    Snarf
    Participant

    I still don’t understand why they’re such dicks? I feel like I’m missing something obvious or something.

    #455890
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    As a government employee, I find the city’s behavior disgraceful. Their goal should be to establish policy and to assist the public in complying with the policy. In this case, the policy does not appear to be clear and the bureaucrats do not seem to be assisting in compliance.

    #455891

    cbus11
    Member

    Snarf said:
    I still don’t understand why they’re such dicks? I feel like I’m missing something obvious or something.

    Agreed. What is his motivation to go this much out of his way to persecute downtown business?

    #455892
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    The policy should be sensible, it should be known, and it should be predictable. How can anyone comply with a policy otherwise? If they want X amount of sidewalk open, then they should be clear.

    #455893

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Is there a lot of selective enforcement?

    I don’t understand how the Jimmy John’s on Front street gets away with blocking nearly the entire sidewalk with their outdoor seating while other businesses seem to be constantly harrassed.

    #455894

    Elizabeth Lessner
    Participant

    hugh59 said:
    As a government employee, I find the city’s behavior disgraceful. Their goal should be to establish policy and to assist the public in complying with the policy. In this case, the policy does not appear to be clear and the bureaucrats do not seem to be assisting in compliance.

    Small businesses are overseen by roughly a half dozen city agencies on a regular basis (fire, health dept, building services, etc) and our relations with these agencies are for the most part, really great and overseen by effective, engaged Directors eager to solve our problems or concerns. I am particularly impressed by Director Long and everyone at Columbus Public Health as well as new Director Davies at Building Services.

    JonMyers said:
    Is there a lot of selective enforcement?

    I don’t understand how the Jimmy John’s on Front street gets away with blocking nearly the entire sidewalk with their outdoor seating while other businesses seem to be constantly harrassed.

    Yep, absolutely selective enforcement. We’re learning that the squeaky wheels are getting harassed. Coincidence?

    #455895

    Analogue Kid
    Participant

    JonMyers said:
    Is there a lot of selective enforcement?

    I don’t understand how the Jimmy John’s on Front street gets away with blocking nearly the entire sidewalk with their outdoor seating while other businesses seem to be constantly harrassed.

    But Jimmy John’s isn’t all beautified with flowerboxes and is a chain, so they get a free pass.

    I too work in the public sector and this kind of asshattery makes me cringe. You don’t just walk into a place and start yelling when something is wrong. You politely bring it to their attention in an official manner (a certified letter is best) and then help them come up with a way to come into compliance with the relevant statute.

    Clearly there is nothing happening that represents an imminent threat to health and safety, so there is absolutely no call for suggesting that a business should be shut down. With that in mind, I might call the police next time there is trouble and ask that the offending official be removed from the premises. At the very least it will make them think twice about bullying.

    #455896

    Elizabeth Lessner
    Participant

    Analogue Kid said:
    But Jimmy John’s isn’t all beautified with flowerboxes and is a chain, so they get a free pass.

    I too work in the public sector and this kind of asshattery makes me cringe. You don’t just walk into a place and start yelling when something is wrong. You politely bring it to their attention in an official manner (a certified letter is best) and then help them come up with a way to come into compliance with the relevant statute.

    Clearly there is nothing happening that represents an imminent threat to health and safety, so there is absolutely no call for suggesting that a business should be shut down. With that in mind, I might call the police next time there is trouble and ask that the offending official be removed from the premises. At the very least it will make them think twice about bullying.

    I love that idea. Again, most of our interactions with just about every other agency at the City has been good, sometimes even outstanding. It’s just this one department that continues to be a continuing exercise in incompetence and bad relations for the City.

    If we treated our customers the way Public Service treats it’s customers, we wouldn’t have any more customers.

    #455897
    hugh59
    hugh59
    Participant

    lizless said:
    If we treated our customers the way Public Service treats it’s customers, we wouldn’t have any more customers.

    Sadly, it is very hard to fire a civil servant (unless they have pissed off their supervisor or the HR department). You have noted that may of the officials you deal with are professional and helpful. It is sad that there are some who are not. Perhaps the fools think that they are not doing their job unless they issue a certain number of citations or take a certain number of enforcement actions. Other times, different divisions in the government have different ideas on how the rules are to be applied and the public ends up caught in the middle.

    #455898
    Jason Powell
    Jason Powell
    Participant

    They are probably unhappy surburbanites who are jealous because they don’t have such cool and unique places to hang out. j/k. Anyways, this is a disgrace. I actually can’t believe that from all of the hard work that has been put into bringing businesses downtown that this type of harassment even exists. Did this department slip under the radar or something. Everybody needs to get together and speak with the powers that be and get these guys fired. There’s no sense in it. They should be kissing the business owner’s butts for even taking the chance and moving downtown in a horrible economy and unproven market. Come to think of it, just about every city code needs rewritten for the 21st century to encourage more sustainable, walkable and small business friendly development. Unbelievable.

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