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Columbus City Records Show Few Gay Street Complaints

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, café operators complained Columbus code enforcement officers were over-zealous - hassling 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.