The decision by Cafe Hon owner Denise Whiting to take down a sculpture of a pink flamingo that had been on the side of her building rather than pay a fee to the city for a minor use permit sparked varied, and passionate, reactions from readers of The Sun editorial board's blog, baltimoresun.com/secondopinion.
I am really, really sad to see the Cafe Hon flamingo go, but I kind of agree with the fact that she really should have had to pay the minor privilege tax. $800 is a lot, but she saved $5,600 over the last seven years that she didn't have to pay the fee, and it's part of the price of doing business. I agree that she should have maybe been given some more time to come up with the money, and the city should have worked with her for the positive PR, but ultimately, there's really no way around the fact that if you start making exceptions to rules, it just makes the next exception harder to say no to, and all of a sudden you have obliterated any chance of enforcing the rule.
Hmmm, I guess maybe the next thing will be for inspectors to give out citations for holiday decorations? After all, decorations will also take up public space, especially when they string lights across the street. It's a sad, sad way of trying to fix the budget problems in Baltimore.
Just another example of, as much as we all say we love this city, it just takes a few things to tick us off and then we give up. Well done, Cafe Hon, in giving up.
Are you people serious?!?! What is the public right of way? Can anyone exercise discretion anymore?
Just remember, with all of the laws and regulations out there, we are all guilty of something and subject to whatever penalties some nameless inspector/official feels like levying against us.
Got to side with the city here. Everybody knows that part of the cost of doing business involves paying pointless fees to the government for the privilege of continuing to do no harm. After all, the law is the law - no matter how pointless, inane, or stupid it is, people should respect it and follow it to the letter. Hopefully, the city will be able to recover the $5,600 that this small business owner has stolen from them over the last seven years by avoiding paying this fee.
I can't get vinyl replacement windows for my front street-facing windows because I live in a historical district. If I can't get vinyl windows, then a huge freaking flamingo should not receive a special exemption, sorry. Hopefully in the future, though, inspectors will be more interested in houses with 20 people in them instead of vinyl windows or pink flamingos. But no special exceptions should be made, if the regular Baltimorean has to follow the letter of the law.
I'm sad to see the flamingo go, but I think the law does have a reasonable purpose. If businesses are allowed to put up gigantic signs/artwork/etc. without getting approval, the city could start to look like Vegas or Times Square.
What was shocking to me in this story is the fact that the cafe owners put up the gigantic flamingo without ever even thinking about a permit being needed. That's a "duh" situation to me.