COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After three weekends of increased security and a mandated curfew for mobile food vendors, among other measures, Columbus city officials will begin to wind down some Short North weekend safety efforts starting Friday night.
In mid-May, leaders sought to curb violence after consecutive weekends of 2 a.m. shootings in the entertainment and nightlife district. Ten people were injured by gunfire — including in a shootout with police — on May 6 during back-to-back shootings on High Street, and on May 14, 21-year-old Arthur Pickens was fatally shot.
Less than a month later, the rollback follows “three consecutive weekends of relative calm,” Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said. It also comes directly after at least two weekends defined by big events, including Memorial Day and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which brought hundreds of city mayors to Columbus.
What this weekend will look like
Council voted Monday to overturn an ordinance that required street vendors to shut down at midnight.
That rule was never meant to be long term, Hardin said. But to serve hot dogs, gyros, and other sidewalk delicacies, mobile street vendors will now have to register through streetfoodfinder.com at a location OK’d by the city ahead of when they want to serve.
As of Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Mayor Andrew Ginther could not say whether brick-and-mortar restaurants and bars would still be asked to close voluntarily at midnight — although during the first weekend of suggested restrictions, more than half a dozen bars told NBC4 they would not shut their doors early.
Columbus Public Safety Director Kate McSweeney-Pishotti told council on Monday that the city’s measure “generally worked.”
“Our goal was to reduce the number of areas where intoxicated people congregated after bars close,” McSweeney-Pishotti said, adding that, “Our work isn’t over, it’s just begun.”
A higher-than-normal number of police officers will still be patrolling the Short North on Friday and Saturday nights, but that presence will be diminished from the last three weekends, a spokesperson for the Columbus Division of Police said Thursday.
Parking will still be limited along High Street, however. Over the last three weekends, drivers could not leave their cars on the main thoroughfare between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. throughout the bulk of the Short North — or from the intersection of High Street and Goodale Avenue to the intersection of High and Fifth Avenue.
Restrictions resulted in more than 160 parking tickets and more than 50 towed vehicles last weekend alone, according to data from both the Columbus Division of Police and the Division of Parking.
This weekend, restrictions will be shortened, running from midnight to 4 a.m. Drivers will also only be barred from parking northbound — or on the east side — of High Street, the police spokesperson said.