The Ohio Land Bank Conference

September 15th, 2014

By Nicholas J. Blaine, Project Coordinator

Last week, on September 11, I attended the Thriving Communities Institute’s 4th annual Ohio Land Bank Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The event brought together experts in the field to discuss best practices and share successes from Ohio’s 22 land banks. As a new staffer for GOPC, I saw the event as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the role of land banks in building a sustainable Ohio.

TCI-14-conf

The morning began with remarks from Jim Rokakis, Vice President of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Institute. The conference covered a wide range of topics, from the basics of vacant property management to how hemp can be used to promote sustainable growth. Read the rest of this entry »

The 2014 Candidate’s Forum

August 25th, 2014

By Alison Goebel, Associate Director

OARC-CandidatesForum2014-Panel_cropped

The lunchtime panel at the 2014 Candidate’s Forum discussed transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and regionalism. Pictured from left: Teresa Lynch, Judge-Executive Gary Moore, Simon Kennedy, Beth Osborne, and William Murdock.

On August 22, 2014, the Greater Ohio Policy Center co-hosted the 2014 Candidates’ Forum, sponsored by the Ohio Association of Regional Councils. Focused on transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and regionalism, the forum included remarks and a question-and-answer session with each Gubernatorial campaign and an excellent lunchtime conversation with national panelists.

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Sharen Nuehardt, spoke in the morning, emphasizing the commitment she and Candidate Fitzgerald have to support local communities’ investments in transportation and infrastructure.

At lunch, the Forum brought together Simon Kennedy, associate partner at McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm; Teresa Lynch, principal of MassEconomics, a firm that assists communities in executing regional economic development strategies; Judge-Executive Gary Moore, president of the National Association of Regional Councils, the professional voice for regional planning organizations; and Beth Osborne, vice president at Transportation for America, a research and advocacy organization focused on advancing transportation reforms.

The panelists all emphasized the need to rethink community-making as a critical component for attracting and retaining jobs, businesses, and talent. Updated digital and physical infrastructure, connectivity among modes of transportation, and a strategic focus on what a region does best economically, were themes raised by the panelists. Some time was also spent on the role of congress in preventing strong economic development planning—without a multi-year transportation budget, local governments are unable and unwilling to make the resource-intensive investments that prepare a region for long term economic success and sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

Transforming Legacy Cities for the Next Economy

July 15th, 2014

On July 4th, GOPC Executive Director Lavea Brachman presented to La Fabrique de la Cité’s international conference, “Tools for Optimizing the City,” in Lisbon, Portugal.

Her presentation, titled “Transforming Legacy Cities for the Next Economy,” can be viewed right here:

Click the image above to be redirected to the video.

Click the image above to be redirected to the video.

Her slides from the presentation are available here:

In her presentation, Lavea cites several critical next strategies that can be used to transform legacy cities for the next economy, including:
  • Use economic growth to increase community and resident well-being
  • Build stronger local governance and partnerships
  • Increase the ties between cities and their regions
  • Make change happen through strategic incrementalism
  • Consider a special paradigm for smaller/medium-sized cities

For more information about Lavea’s trip to Portugal and what she learned while she was there, click here to read her blog post, “Presenting & Learning Tools for Optimizing Cities in Portugal.”

GOPC Co-hosts Roundtable on Regenerating Legacy Cities

May 21st, 2014

Mayors from post-industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest have convened at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy today in Boston to begin a two-day workshop in strategies for revitalization.

The chief executives in attendance are Toledo, Ohio, Mayor Michael Collins; Gary, Ind., Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Syracuse, New York Mayor Stephanie Miner; Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto (who was featured in a recent article on innovative practices in cities in The American Prospect); Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley; and Huntington, West Va. Mayor Steve Williams.

The Roundtable on Regenerating Legacy Cities, organized by the Lincoln Institute, the Center for Community Progress, and the Greater Ohio Policy Center, also includes public and private sector practitioners, foundation leaders, and scholars. Alan Mallach, a leading authority on Legacy Cities, will be joined by Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, and Lavea Brachman, executive director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center. Brachman and Mallach were co-authors of the Lincoln Institute Policy Focus report Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities, which recommends the approach of “strategic incrementalism” for cities wrestling with job and population loss.

The Roundtable is set to be an open, pragmatic conversation about strategies to foster sustained revitalization of our nation’s older industrial cities. The dialogue centers on three central themes: fostering neighborhood change and revitalization; building effective community and anchor institution partnerships; and building effective regional strategies for economic development. Participants will learn from experts and each other, and return home with new ideas, strategies and insights.

The conference began on the evening of May 20 with a presentation by Xavier De Souza Briggs, Vice President of Economic Opportunity and Assets, at the Ford Foundation. The next day begins with a workshop led by Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis, and currently director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Providing high-quality education and research, the Lincoln Institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy. Lincoln Institute on Twitter: @landpolicy Hashtag #LegacyCities

GOPC’s Executive Director, Lavea Brachman, and Associate Director, Alison Goebel, will both be presenting and are providing live coverage of the event on our @GreaterOhio Twitter account.

The Release of the Guidebook for Redeveloping Commercial Vacant Properties in Legacy Cities

May 6th, 2014

In the wake of the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the long-term abandonment of older industrial cities and their regions, communities and neighborhoods have been increasingly burdened with vacant and abandoned properties. Organizations and municipalities are now more systematically addressing vacant residential properties. However, for years there was very little guidance for the redevelopment of commercial vacant properties, which are equally prevalent — especially throughout older industrial regions.

Commercial and residential vacancy at the county level for legacy cities. Data collected on the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013. Data source: US Postal Service. Data aggregates vacant and no-stat addresses.

 

Today, Greater Ohio Policy Center is releasing its new guidebook, Redeveloping Commercial Vacant Properties in Legacy Cities: A Guidebook to Linking Property Reuse and Economic Revitalization, which is the first of its kind to offer a comprehensive set of tools and strategies for redeveloping commercial vacant properties and business districts in legacy cities.

The guidebook, developed in partnership with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and with support from the Center for Community Progress, is designed as a “How To” manual for local leaders, identifying practices and policies that take advantage of the link between available commercial properties and needed economic re-growth strategies in legacy cities.

The tools and strategies provided can be used by local leaders and practitioners no matter where they are in the process of commercial property redevelopment, from data gathering and planning to real estate acquisition and redevelopment, and from tenant attraction and support to business district management.

The guidebook includes the following tools:

  • Guidance on planning & partnering for commercial revitalization
  • Methods for analyzing the market
  • Advice on matching market types & strategies for commercial revitalization
  • Legal tools for reclaiming commercial vacant properties
  • Funding sources for overcoming financial gaps
  • Menu of property reuse options
  • Ways to attract & retain business tenants
  • Methods and models for managing a commercial district
  • Strategies for building markets in legacy cities

While the tools, strategies, and policy recommendations within the guidebook are particularly relevant for legacy cities and their communities, they are also applicable to all cities and regions that seek to reuse commercial vacant properties with the purpose of enhancing community stability and economic development.

Click here for more information and to download the guidebook.

 

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.