Commercial Horse Carriages Can Stay, Cincinnati City Council Says

Council member Chris Seelbach said the carriages present a safety issue — for people and animals — plus the inevitable horse manure they create is concerning.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelbach addresses council on Nov. 10, 2021. - Image: facebook.com/cityofcincy
Image: facebook.com/cityofcincy
Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelbach addresses council on Nov. 10, 2021.

Commercial horse-drawn carriages will continue to operate in Cincinnati as they presently do, despite issues with the manure business owners say the animals leave.

On Nov. 10, Cincinnati City Council voted against changes to a city ordinance that would ban any horse-drawn carriage from operating in Cincinnati, with exceptions for events like weddings or parades or for the Amish community.  The current ordinance allows the carriages to operate as long as such a business obtains a special license every year.

Chris Seelbach, who will leave the council at the end of this year, had proposed the changes.

During the discussion period before Wednesday's vote, Seelbach said that concern for the horses and for the issues they cause to humans has been discussed for at least seven years. In previous discussions, council members had pointed out that carriage business owners did not have enough time to enact changes, which could negatively affect their livelihoods.

"In 2019, there was a petition on change.org that garnered almost 90,000 signatures asking us to do this. The one company that operates in Cincinnati is well aware that we've been considering doing this for a long time," Seelbach said.

Jim Tomaszewski, the chairman of the city's animal task force, echoed Seelbach's comments about how long horse-drawn carriages had been discussed.

"This issue's been talked about as long as I've been coming down to City Hall, and that's been about 15 years. You all have had constituents emailing you about these concerns for a very long time. It's a bit disingenuous and frankly a little contrived at this point to say that this (carriage) industry was not put on notice that there were concerns in the city about the practices that they engage in," Tomaszewski told the council. "We've seen other industries that use animals proactively — on their own initiative — decide that the business and economic concerns of the community that they operated in no longer want them."

Seelbach said that taking the carriage horses off the streets and bringing them to welcoming spaces like farms remedies safety issues for both the animals and for humans. 

"The experts tell us, veterinarians tell us, that horses do not belong for 12 to 14 hours on pavement and urban streets and traffic," Seelbach said. "Second, it's a safety issue. Just several years ago, in the course of 24 hours, two horse-drawn carriages were involved in car accidents, and in one of them, the person operating the horse-drawn carriage broke her legs, parts of her face."

Seelbach also said that small businesses were aggravated by the horse manure that tends to build up along carriage routes, calling it a health concern. The council member added that developer 3CDC has joined in requesting that carriages stop operating.

"There are almost 25 statewide bans (on horse-drawn carriages)," Seelbach told the council.

The ordinance failed 5-4. Read the proposed ordinance language below.

ORDINANCE, dated 10/28/2021, submitted by Councilmember Seelbach, from Andrew Garth, City Solicitor, MODIFYING the provisions of Chapter 407, “Public Vehicles,” Chapter 408, “Drivers’ Licenses for Public Vehicles,” Chapter 510, “Assemblages and Parades,” Chapter 765, “ Special Events,” and Chapter 850, “Advertising of Tobacco Products” of the Cincinnati Municipal Code by AMENDING Section 407-1-P1, “ Public Vehicle,” Section 407-3, “License Fees for Public Vehicles,” Section 407-5, “Application for License,” Section 407-30, “Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Insurance,” Section 407-35, “Insignia,” Section 407-55, “Rates of Fare for Limousines, Pedicabs, Tour Vehicles, Low Speed Vehicles, and Animal-Drawn Carriages,” Section 407-69, “Rates To Be Filed With Director,” Section 407-71, “Rate Card or Rate Information to be Reviewable by Passengers,” Section 407-83, “Illegal Use of Hotel or Bus Zones,” Section 407-107, “Equipment Requirements,” Section 407-117-A, “Animal-Drawn Carriage and Pedicab Stands,” Section 407-125, “Rules and Regulations,” Section 408, “Driver’s License for Public Vehicles,” Section 408-1, “Application and Digital Identification Permit,” Section 408-3, “Driver’s License Fee,” Section 408-5, “Examination of Applicant,” Section 408-7, “Issuance or Denial of License,” Section 408-25, “Smoking Prohibited,” Section 408-45, “Rules and Regulations,” Section 510-3, “Special Parades Requiring Permits,” Section 765-11, “Required Terms and Conditions,” and Section 850-1-P3, “Public Vehicle”; ORDAINING new Section 407-12, “Animal-Drawn Carriages,”; and REPEALING in their entirety Section 407-137, “Litter Control for Animal-Drawn Carriages,” Section 407-139, “Dimensions for Animal-Drawn Carriages,” and Section 407-143, “Veterinarian’s Certificate Required,” to prohibit the use of animal-drawn carriages for commercial purposes.

Watch Wednesday's Cincinnati City Council meeting on Facebook.


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