I spend a lot of time thinking about the outsides of buildings and how they affect neighborhoods. I don't have to think too much about the insides and how they're arranged safely.
I sure do see the benefits of our rules aimed at safety and fairness (ADA access, for instance). But I wonder about what's lost. I mean, these rules often dominate the internal organization of new buildings, they often result in bland and dysfunctional spaces, they're expensive to implement, and they can be a big obstacle for low-budget tenants and for the adaptive reuse of old buildings. If these rules were in place in Columbia City's original heyday, we simply wouldn't have what we've got. The Cinema is a huge asset. On its face, it seems like we should make some big exceptions here.
But I can imagine how my opinion would shift on this — What if there were a fire in one of those new, unattended projection rooms? I imagine the exits would work just fine for all the patrons, but we might well lose the Ark Lodge. And like you say, it doesn't seem like the City has much latitude to make exceptions, now that it's on their radar.
To your second point, I think the conversation is happening, and I'm not too concerned that it hasn't picked up right here, right now. We're a small community with a range of venues for spreading the word — our Wikli pulse is midweek, we've recently rejiggered the site, and there are always more readers than writers. And maybe the wolf has been at the Cinema's door so often now that we've started to get used to it.
Paul & friends keep pulling off daring and imaginative escapes when the Cinema's demise has been all but certain. It's an ongoing drama, and I guess we can sit back & watch or jump into the action. I'm hoping to take in Toy Story with the boys this weekend.