COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus City Council took action on late-night food vendors during Monday’s meeting.
The proposal had been discussed for months, including at three public hearings. The initial council proposal was to shut down food sales on the street at 2 a.m., the same time bars in the area must close. The idea was to curb violence by reducing the number of people hanging out in the street.
“We were seeing a large amount of violent crime correlating with the location of the food vendors late at night,” Columbus Police Lt. Joe Curmode, who runs the Short North Crime Interdiction Program, said.
Curmode said crime has risen over the years in the Short North, but he said violent crime is going down due to a heavier police presence.
He hopes with the food vendors closing sooner, people will go home after leaving the bar instead of lingering in the street.
“We had highly intoxicated people in large crowds late at night. Which is just a recipe for disaster,” Curmode said.
Current city code allows food vendors to stay open until 3 a.m. and clear the sidewalk by 3:30 a.m. After a unanimous vote during Monday’s meeting, they must now close by 2:30 a.m. starting on May 1.
“We want people to feel safe wherever they are at in the city of Columbus, so absolutely, we look at public safety as a top priority,” said Columbus Councilmember Emmanuel Remy, head of the Public Safety committee.
The final compromise of 2:30 a.m. was reached after council held public hearings where street vendors pushed back, saying their revenues would be harshly compromised if they had to stop sales at 2 a.m. instead of 3 a.m., saying it’s their busiest hour of the night.
“We listened to the owners, the residents, the stakeholders, anybody that mattered and we came up with this conclusion — that meeting in the middle made sense for this year,” Remy said.
City council is keeping the door open to other options and ideas but is also not closing the door on re-evaluating the closing time for food vendors in the future after a summer of the new closing time.
“We’re looking at all components to help alleviate some of that congestion, whether it be pedestrian and/or traffic so this was just one piece of that puzzle,” Remy said.