CLEVELAND - Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone is calling for an assessment of Cleveland's permit pricing after NewsChannel5 reported that the "Captain America" crews paid $20 to shut down parts of the Detroit Shoreway for two weeks.
"With the rising cost of gas, we have to look at what we're charging, what our permitting fee is and is it equitable and is it a proper return on investment," said Zone. His Ward 15 includes the Shoreway and the Gordon Square Arts District.
Documents obtained by NewsChannel5 showed that the production company behind "Captain America: The Winter Solider" paid the city a $20 permit fee for full use of the Shoreway from East 9th Street to Lake Avenue for the first two weeks of June. The company also paid $20 to close other major thoroughfares like East 9th Street between Euclid and Erie Court for one day and Huron Road between Ontario Street and Prospect Avenue for four days.
The city said $20 is the standard permit fee unless the road has meters on it. If meters are involved, the city increases the fee to compensate for lost parking revenue.
"If the movie industry approached the city and the mayor's office came to me to ask about shutting down the Shoreway for multiple days, even weeks, I'd really scrutinize the plan," Zone said. "I'd want to be involved in the conversation early on as opposed to the tail end, like I was this time."
Zone added that he would likely be against charging $20 in the future to rent out the Shoreway.
"That's really disrespectful," said Jeffrey Dix, referring to the minimal Shoreway permit fee. Dix is the general manager of Luxe restaurant in Gordon Square near the Shoreway.
Dix added that his business lost thousands of dollars during the two-week traffic tie-up, and he admits he's frustrated about the measly charge.
"$20?" said Jackie Bebenroth, owner of Spice Kitchen & Bar in Gordon Square. "Oh my gosh."
Although the movie didn't affect Bebenroth's bottom line, the shutdown didn't do her business any favors like she had hoped.
"We thought we would achieve more of an uptick in business with the many people in town, but we didn't seem to see any of that," Bebenroth said.
Both Bebenroth and Dix said what hurt the most was happy hour. Both said they expected commuters to take advantage of their specials while waiting out the traffic.
"A lot of people were frustrated and just wanted to get home," Dix said.
Zone said he understands the frustration, but he encouraged commuters and residents to take a look at the bigger picture and be patient.
"The ripple effect of what that movie means to our local economy is huge," he said. "Revenue that is generated in sales tax, in income tax, those dollars come directly back to the county and the city. And we use those dollars and leverage those dollars to make improvements into our infrastructure."