Where Ohio is Sprawling and What It Means

April 2nd, 2014

Some areas in Ohio are sprawling, some are building in compact, connected ways, and the difference between the two strategies has implications for millions of Ohioans’ day-to-day lives.

Measuring Sprawl 2014, released today by national advocacy group Smart Growth America, ranks the most sprawling and most compact areas of the country. The new report evaluates development patterns in 221 major metropolitan areas and their counties based on four factors: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Each metro area received a Sprawl Index score based on these factors.*

Here is how regions in Ohio ranked:

Metropolitan Statistical Area National Rank Composite (total) score
Canton-Massillon, Ohio 93 106.99
Akron, Ohio 111 103.15
Dayton, Ohio 116 101.48
Toledo, Ohio 117 100.90
Columbus, Ohio 138 93.00
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio 153 85.62
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 166 80.75
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 175 78.08

* The four factors were combined in equal weight to calculate each area’s Sprawl Index score. The average Index is 100, meaning areas with scores above 100 tend to be more compact and connected, and areas with scores below 100 are more sprawling. Visit Smart Growth America to view the full rankings >>

The new report also examines how different development patterns relate to the quality of life in these areas—and the differences are startling. People in compact, connected areas have greater upward economic mobility than their peers in sprawling areas. That is, a child born in the bottom 20% of the income scale has a better chance of rising to the top 20% of the income scale by age 30.

People in compact, connected metro areas spend less on the combined expenses of housing and transportation. Housing costs are higher in compact, connected areas, but these higher costs are more than offset by lower transportation costs. People in compact, connected metro areas also have more transportation options. People in these areas tend to walk more, take transit more, own fewer cars and spend less time driving than their peers in sprawling areas.

Finally, people in compact, connected areas have longer, healthier, safer lives. Life expectancy is greater in compact, connected areas, and driving rates (and their associated risk of a fatal collision), body mass index, air quality and violent crime all contribute to this difference.

Outcomes like this are why Greater Ohio Policy Center is dedicated to helping Ohio’s regions develop in a more sustainable way. Helping people in Ohio live healthier, wealthier, happier lives is why we do the work we do, and smarter development is a key part of making that happen.

Read the full findings of Measuring Sprawl 2014 and see how every major metro area in the country compares when it comes to sprawl at www.smartgrowthamerica.org/measuring-sprawl.

Governing Magazine Article Cites GOPC

April 1st, 2014

Last week, GOPC was quoted in Governing Magazine on the topic of the country’s urban/rural divide and how that division is playing out in the 21st century. The article by Alan Greenblatt, titled “Rural Areas Lose People But Not Power,” details the ongoing struggle between urban and rural politics, despite shrinking populations in rural areas.

GOPC Executive Director Lavea Brachman was included in the article, saying:

“While it seems that the urban/rural divide is diminishing because of demographics—and there are certainly less purely rural districts—the ideology and the stances legislators take do reflect an urban/rural divide.”

Ohio, with its numerous urban areas and large rural expanses, exemplifies the current nature of politics in the United States.  The results of this evolution in politics are evident in our cities, which struggle to thrive after years of per capita under-investment. As Greenblatt’s article notes, cities are gaining numbers, and thus importance in regional and national economies.  GOPC’s work to advance sustainable development in Ohio is intended to strengthen our cities, which can work to enhance and expand the state’s overall economy.

Lavea Brachman Featured on NPR

March 3rd, 2014

This past Friday, Greater Ohio’s Executive Director Lavea Brachman was featured on the WXXI Rochester NPR station’s “Innovation Trail” program on the topic of her recent report, “Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities.” Lavea co-authored the report with Alan Mallach for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

“As cities lose extensive populations, public sector capacity gets lost to address these problems, but that’s not impossible to turn around, and that kind of vision is critical. We talk a lot in that report about strategic incrementalism, which is forging a shared vision about a city’s future as a starting point for change. And it is about coming to some common understanding about where to target resources.  And it is about being incremental and strategic. You have to make change, starting perhaps with downtowns as the source and then looking at these emerging neighborhoods.

But public policy is a double-edged sword… so, for instance, if you’re dealing with a housing crisis, which many of these cities are, it’s more likely you’ll be able to shorten or expedite the foreclosure so these properties get back on the market or make some changes on how banks handle abandonment…, and while these seem like small changes they are the kinds of changes that can really make a difference in a neighborhood. So we may not be able to see huge subsidies or public investments going to new infrastructure quite yet.”

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Piqua Recognized as Top 10 National Leader in Creating Complete Streets

February 18th, 2014

Greater Ohio congratulates the City of Piqua, Ohio on receiving national recognition for developing complete streets. According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of national non-profit Smart Growth America (SGA), the complete streets policy that Piqua passed last year ranked 9th in the country, out of more than 80 cities, states, and regions that passed similar policies in 2013. SGA says this makes Piqua “a national leader in making streets safer and more convenient for everyone who uses them.”

Complete streets policies “encourage planners and engineers to design and build streets that are safe and convenient for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income or ethnicity, and no matter how they travel,” according to SGA.

SGA’s rankings are “intended to celebrate the communities that have done exceptional work in crafting comprehensive policy language over the past year.” The evaluators determine scores based on 10 technical elements of an ideal Complete Streets policy. The communities with the top-scoring policies of 2013 are:

1.         Littleton, MA

2.         Peru, IN

3.         Fort Lauderdale, FL

4.         Auburn, ME (tie)

4.         Lewiston, ME (tie)

6.         Baltimore County, MD

7.         Portsmouth, NH

8.         Muscatine, IA

9.          Piqua, OH

10.        Oakland, CA

11.        Hayward, CA (tie)

11.        Livermore, CA (tie)

11.        Massachusetts Department of Transportation (tie)

14.        Cedar Falls, IA (tie)

14.        Waterloo, IA (tie)

More information about the winning policies and evaluation criteria, and what Piqua scored, is available here.

Nationwide, a total of 610 jurisdictions in 48 states have Complete Streets policies in place.

How Demolition Helps to Stabilize Communities

February 14th, 2014

Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute recently released a new study that analyzes the economic impact of residential demolition in the Cleveland area between 2009 and 2013. The report’s findings estimate a net benefit of $1.40 for every dollar invested in demolition activity, with larger benefits in high and moderately functioning markets and little to no benefit in weak markets. It also shows that mortgage foreclosure rates decreased in neighborhoods—across all income levels—where demolition activity took place.

This study demonstrates the value of demolition as part of a comprehensive strategy to stabilize our communities that struggle with property vacancy. It provides information that can help guide demolition activity to make the most efficient use of limited resources. This study is very timely in light of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s release last week of an additional $3.8 million in demolition funding awards under the Moving Ohio Forward program.

The study was written by Nigel Griswold, Benjamin Calnin, Michael Schramm, Luc Anselin, and Paul Boehnlein, with support from Thriving Communities Institute, the Cleveland City Council, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, and land banks throughout Ohio.

GOPC’s 2013 Accomplishments

January 22nd, 2014

Throughout 2013, we championed revitalization and sustainable growth across Ohio. We are proud of all we have accomplished.

To fill you in on what’s been going on at GOPC’s office and throughout the state in the past year, we have taken stock of some of our major 2013 accomplishments:

2013 BY THE NUMBERS

5 groundbreaking reports published on the economic benefits of smart development

27 expert quotes in newspapers and other media sources in Ohio and beyond

30 presentations, including 2 overseas

300 participants at our Revitalizing Vacant Properties Conference

4,000 supporters and growing

 

To see the complete list of our 2013 Accomplishments, click here.

 

Placemaking in Legacy Cities

January 17th, 2014

Our friends at Center for Community Progress released a report today, entitled Placemaking in Legacy Cities: Opportunities and Good Practices. The report uses case studies to explore placemaking in four different settings: downtowns, anchor districts, neighborhoods and corridors/trails.

The report features a case study on the revitalization and expansion of Washington Park in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Like the neighborhood as a whole, Washington Park was plagued by physical deterioration and crime problems a decade ago. Now, however, it has become one of the centerpieces of OTR’s renaissance and a link connecting OTR with the rest of Downtown Cincinnati.

Based on their analysis of Washington Park and OTR, the report’s authors highlight several lessons for other communities:

  • Developing Strong Partnerships: The Washington Park project was possible thanks to strong relationships between the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), the city government, and corporate and philanthropic supporters. Strong relationships must also be maintained with area residents of varying income levels.
  • Managing Great Public Places: Good event programming and marketing of those events is important to keep attracting visitors, both from Cincinnati and beyond.  Washington Park has showcased musical performances, movie viewings, a kickball league, and flea markets. Some concerts in 2012 drew between 6,000 and 8,000 attendees. The park also features amenities like a dog park and children’s playground, which attract steady, day-to-day groups of visitors.
  • Celebrating a Unique Community Character: The design of both the renovated and new parts of the park included partners with the skills and knowledge to create a space that complements OTR’s historic architecture.

We believe the Washington Park revitalization represents a national model for great urban placemaking.

Addressing the Legacy of Property Neglect

December 6th, 2013

Throughout November, the Columbus Dispatch has been publishing a series of articles on the “Legacy of Neglect” of vacant and abandoned properties throughout Columbus. This article series has revealed some of the serious challenges related to dealing with slumlords that are perpetuating the vacant and abandoned property problem in Ohio.

Greater Ohio is mentioned in the article “Landlords cloaked from citations, prosecution” for our work with a group of financial institutions and other organizations to investigate possible practical and policy fixes around the state. Together, we need to stem the vacant property crisis to restore prosperity to Ohio.

The Second Annual Economic Development 411

November 15th, 2013

The Second Annual Economic Development 411 (ED411) is designed to showcase best practices in economic development for elected officials, community leaders and business leaders in the Columbus Region.

“You are part of the reason why the Columbus Region is realizing an economic development surge and being recognized as a leader in job growth. ED411 will allow you to learn how we can work together to maintain our dynamic and growing economy.”

Friday, December 6
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The Ohio Union at Ohio State University
$25 per person, includes continental breakfast and lunch

Last year’s event sold out. To ensure your space, please register here.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

The event will feature two acclaimed speakers:

Bruce Katz
, founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution
and
Mark Lautman, founding director of Community Economics Lab and author of When the Boomers Bail.

ED411 will also include four breakout sessions:

  • Workforce and Talent
  • Site Preparedness
  • Economic Incentives
  • Regional Case Studies

Local and national experts will share their insights and advice on how best to move our communities forward.

For more information, including details on event parking, please visit columbusregion.com/ED411.

This program has been created by our friends at the Mid-Ohio Development Exchange, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Columbus 2020.

EPA Releases New Toolkit for Greener Residential Demolition

October 4th, 2013

EPA Region 5—serving Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin—just released a new toolkit for cities, counties and land banks undertaking large-scale residential demolitions. The report, “On the Road to Reuse: Residential Demolition Bid Specification Development Tool,” includes valuable information on:

  • Environmental issues associated with residential demolitions, from pre-planning to demolition to site rehabilitation (e.g., hazardous materials abatement, fill material selection and placement, material recycling or deconstruction).
  • Specific practices that can be incorporated into the demolition contracting process to achieve better environmental outcomes.
  • Existing regulations and best management practices concerning residential demolitions.
  • Bid specification language that instructs contractors on the technical requirements of greener demolition projects.

The purpose of this toolkit is to assist cities, counties, land banks and other entities with the inclusion of greener practices in the demolition bid specification used during the contracting process. The use of environmentally beneficial demolition will result in better site conditions and will better prepare vacant lots for future reuse.

 

For more details on reclaiming vacant properties, make sure to check out our upcoming conference:

“Revitalizing Ohio’s Vacant Properties: Tools & Policies to Transform Communities”

October 22-23, 2013
The Westin Columbus
310 S. High Street
Columbus, Ohio, 43215