BY ZACK T. MEDFORD
I opened Paddy O’Beers – get it? Patio Beers? – because I love sitting outside and sipping craft beer. I think Raleigh shares that passion, too – we have more than nine breweries in this city, as well as many new bottle shops. The website for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau has a whole page dedicated to helping visitors find them.
Last week, the assistant city manager proposed an ordinance that would revoke the patio permits of local businesses that don’t sell “enough” food. If passed, we would lose two-thirds of our seating at Paddy O’Beers and likely be forced to close our doors.
This ordinance is a mistake, and public response to the proposal has been a resounding, “No.”
I started a petition asking the City Council to reject this proposal, and it has nearly 8,000 signatures. The residents of Raleigh have made it clear: Don’t take away our patios!
Raleigh is at a crossroads. We’re no longer the sleepy Southern town we once were. We are growing into a lively, well-rounded city. It is an exciting time to live in Raleigh, especially downtown. Growing up, however, doesn’t come without growing pains.
Rapid growth means more people, and with more people you get more problems. Restaurants have longer waits. Parking is harder to find. Things can get noisy. These growing pains are natural for any city. It’s up to us, as a community, to come up with solutions to these problems in an open forum.
This ordinance will do nothing to lower the volume downtown, increase public safety or clean up the city. Instead, it will close many responsible local businesses that have never had a single complaint filed against them. Raleigh should be working with businesses like Foundation, which was featured in the magazines Our State and Garden & Gun. It shouldn’t be trying to regulate them out of business.
It is not the government’s job to pick winners and losers. Nachos and hamburgers are not going to make a business quieter or cleaner. Specific establishments that cause problems should be addressed through code violations, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
We all love our city, and we’re proud of how far we’ve come these last 10 years since Fayetteville Street was reopened. Many people took a gamble on opening businesses downtown, creating the vibrant urban center we have today. We have invested our time, financial resources and passion into making our downtown a destination. We didn’t receive any state, federal or local incentives to open our business in Raleigh.
Instead of shuttering the local businesses that have made our downtown such a success, we should be working with them to address these growing pains. Together, as a community, we can overcome any obstacle.
Zack T. Medford is the owner of Paddy O’Beers in downtown Raleigh.
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article23131995.html