Saturday, August 05, 2000

City rethinking vendor ban

Council may ease rules after businesses complain

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two days after voting to ban vendors and ticket scalpers from nearly all of the riverfront, three council members are ready to reconsider.

        They say the ordinances are too restrictive, undefined and were passed without input from those who will be most affected: small-business owners.

        “I am willing to call a special session to revisit the ordinances with some surgical precision,” Councilman Todd Portune said Friday. “The intent was not to re strict vending. It was an attempt to protect the public.”

        He and other council members acknowledged receiving dozens of calls from angry vendors.

        The ordinances — passed as emergency items Wednesday — broaden existing vending restrictions from the area immediately around Cinergy Field to the entire riverfront south of Third Street from Gest Street to Broadway. Vendors will be allowed behind Paul Brown Stadium on Mehring Way.

        “The area it covers is much broader than it has to be,” said Councilwoman Minette Cooper. “We can't make such hasty decisions. We should have had a larger discussion.”

        Council members Wednesday first voted against the ordinances, but changed their votes after safety officials stressed it as a safety issue — that vendors and scalpers would cause traffic problems given riverfront construction.

        Assistant Safety Director S. Gregory Baker said Friday that police officers would meet with vendors and explain the new ordinances. There will be a grace period, he said, but the ordinances will be enforced.

        Officials said they were acting at the behest of the Cincinnati Bengals in preparation for the Aug. 19 opener at the new Paul Brown Stadium. But team officials said Thursday their request was only for the area around the stadium.

        Although the ordinances don't have any time limits, council promised they were temporary, and to reconsider them at its next meeting in September.

        That isn't soon enough for Councilwoman Alicia Reece, who did not attend Wednesday's council meeting. If she had, she said, she would have voted against the ordinances.

        “I'm not in support of putting small businesses and vendors out of business,” she said. “I think it is a slap in the face to citizens.”


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