Legacy of Poindexter Village Celebrated in Columbus

May 27th, 2016

By Sheldon K. Johnson, Urban Revitalization Project Specialist

On Wednesday March 18th, Greater Ohio Policy Center attended Columbus Metropolitan Club’s (CMC) event to commemorate the history and legacy of Poindexter Village. Constructed in 1939, Poindexter Village was the first public-housing project in the city of Columbus. All but two of the 35 buildings that housed 414 units were demolished by the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in 2013. The 26 acre site will be redeveloped in several phases. The first phase, a 104 unit senior apartment complex called Poindexter Place, is nearing completion. The occasion last week, though, was not about planning for the future, but celebrating and remembering the past.

Poindexter Village was named for the Rev. James M. Poindexter, a prominent leader in Columbus’ 19th century black community.  Rev. Poindexter was the pastor of Second Baptist Church from 1862-1898, became the first African-American elected to the Columbus City Council in 1880, and served on the Columbus Board of Education from 1884-1893. Poindexter Village was significant not only in name, but also for its location. Prior to the establishment of CMHA the area between Long Street and Mount Vernon Avenue was known as the Blackberry Patch. It was home to low-income African-Americans who lived in low quality housing.

Poindexter Village offered not only quality housing with modern amenities, but allowed for the creation of a community. The neighborly atmosphere of Poindexter Village was an important part of the discussion between panelists Myron Lowery, Memphis (TN) City Council Chairman, Curtis J. Moody, president and CEO at Moody Nolan, and Leslie J. Sawyer, retired civil servant. Mr. Lowery, who lived in Poindexter Village for 4 years, and Ms. Sawyer, who attended Poindexter Village Preschool while her father managed the complex, both spoke of how important community was to their childhood.

Several audience members shared memories of their time living in Poindexter Village and urged that the legacy of the complex not be forgotten. Though details of what will happen in the next phases of redevelopment weren’t discussed this event speaks to the importance of the built environment. The presence, or lack thereof, of surroundings such as buildings, greenspace, and infrastructure can have both positive and negative effects on a community. Balancing the revitalization of bricks and sticks for the future while celebrating the special culture of a specific neighborhood or city is important work that many Greater Ohio Policy Center partners are currently undertaking.

 

GOPC Legislative Update: May 2016

May 27th, 2016

By Lindsey Gardiner, Manager of Government Affairs

The following grid is designed to provide you with insight into the likelihood of passage of the legislation we are monitoring. Please note that due to the fluid nature of the legislative process, the color coding of bills is subject to change at any time. GOPC will be regularly updating the legislative update the last Thursday of every month and when major developments arise. If you have any concerns about a particular bill, please let us know.

May Leg Update

Updates on Key Bills: greater-ohio-flag

greater-ohio-flagHB 5 UPDATEThe month of May has been quite a busy one for much of the legislation GOPC has been tracking and HB 5, which proposes the Auditor of State  to establish a shared equipment service program and conduct efficiency studies, was no exception. During the first half of May, HB 5 received a fourth and fifth hearing, where the bill was amended to include clarifying changes addressing the specificity of agreements for business case studies. At the fifth hearing on May 17th, the bill received a final vote by the Committee. May 18th, the bill received final consideration by the Senate and was unanimously voted out of the chamber 30-0. Earlier this week, the House reviewed the technical changes made to the legislation and ultimately accepted the bill with a concurrence vote of 94-3. Now that HB 5 has successfully passed out of the House and the Senate, the bill is now on its way to the Governor for signature.

greater-ohio-flagHB 130 UPDATE: As you may recall from our April coverage, HB 130 received approval from the House Finance Committee and has since been waiting for referral for final consideration by the full House. On May 18th, the House unanimously passed HB 130 with a vote of 96-0. Now that the bill has successfully passed out of its originating chamber, the bill is on its way to the Senate for Committee review. GOPC will continue to monitor HB 130 and is prepared to offer support as it goes through this next phase in the legislative process.

greater-ohio-flagHB 134 & HB 463 UPDATE: Activity for HB 134 has continued to gain momentum. Earlier this week the bill received its second and third hearing in the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. If you recall our coverage of HB 463, you will notice that both bills are very similar. In the interest of conserving time, the sponsors of HB 134 and HB 463 decided to work together in an effort to get the reformative measures passed out of the Senate before their summer break. During the second hearing of HB 134, the language in HB 463 was amended into HB 134. The change was accepted by the Committee and the following day the Committee accepted two other clarification changes to HB 134. The new and improved foreclosure bill; however, did not receive a final vote out of the Committee and therefore did not have a chance to receive final approval by the Senate. However, not all was lost for the bill as it would receive another transformative opportunity that would enable it to reach the Senate Floor that same day. HB 134 language was amended into HB 390, which is essentially a natural gas tax exemption bill and was ultimately voted out of the Full Senate late Wednesday night. The House concurred with the Senate’s changes to HB 390 and approved of the amendments made to the bill including the foreclosure language. According to Representative Dever’s office, HB 134, which contained HB 463, has essentially passed out of the Legislature, and is now expected to be sent to the Governor for Signature.

greater-ohio-flagHB 182 UPDATE: HB 182 is another bill that crossed the legislative finish line this week. During the first two weeks of May, the bill received three hearings, and was even amended to make the program more permissive for businesses and ultimately allowing them to choose if joining a Joint Economic Development District is right for them. The bill sponsor, Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) noted that the bill will also create a new market tax credit and allow and economic and community development institute (ECDI) to have a nonprofit dispensation of property taxes. Earlier this week, HB 182 was reported out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and was voted out of the Senate with a unanimous vote of 33-0. The House considered the changes made within the Senate and granted final approval with a concurrence vote of 95-0. HB 182 is now expected to be sent over to the Governor’s office to be signed into law.

greater-ohio-flagHB 303 UPDATE: On May 10th, HB 303 received a fourth hearing in the Senate Financial Institutions Committee. GOPC offered interested party testimony and numerous other organizations, including the Ohio Bankers League and the Ohio Land Title Association, submitted letters in support of the bill. Ultimately, the bill was reported out of Committee and on May 18th, the bill was given a final vote by the full Senate with a vote of 29-0. Earlier this week, the House officially agreed to the Senate’s work on HB 303 and gave a concurrence vote of 97-0. This bill, like numerous others, is anticipated to signed into law by the Governor in next few weeks.

greater-ohio-flagHB 512 UPDATE: Water system testing reform bill has been on the move as well. During the first half of May, HB 512 was reported out of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and on May 11th, it was voted out of the House by a unanimous vote of 96-0. During the weeks following, HB 512 was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where it received hearings and testimony from various state agencies and organizations, including the Ohio Environmental Protections Agency, Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program, and the Ohio Rural Water Association.  On May 25th, the bill was reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and received a final vote by the full Senate with a vote of 32-0.

New Bills & Explanation of Bill Impact on Economic Development within Ohio:

SB 333 is sponsored by Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay). This bill is similar in subject area to HB 512 as it also proposes new State policies protect Lake Erie and other drinking water sources. SB 333 is also part of the Mid-Biennial Budget Review process (MBR), which is a proposal made with the Governor’s direction. According to the Ohio EPA’s SB 333 fact sheet, the bill intends to map ways Ohio will meet its commitments under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and update the Lake Erie Commission’s existing statutes. The MBR bill is intended to offer straightforward regulatory framework to encourage better use of dredge materials, require financial assurance for privately owned water systems, and strengthen Ohio’s Certified Water Quality Professional Program. The bill also proposes requiring ongoing asset management efforts by public water systems, which would involve how local governments are managing the upkeep of their water systems. GOPC will actively monitor SB 333 as it continues through the legislative process.

For more details and information on legislation that GOPC is tracking, please visit our Previous Legislative Updates.

GOPC is Hiring: Seeking Government Affairs Manager

May 25th, 2016

GOPC seeks qualified applicants for the Government Affairs Manager position.  This posting will close June 17, 2016. Find out more about this position on our Job Opportunities page.

 

Managing Stormwater: GOPC Attends Great Water Cities Conference

May 16th, 2016

By Jon Honeck, GOPC Senior Policy Fellow

Introduction

On May 12, 2016, the Water Environment Federation (www.wef.org) held its “Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action” conference in Chicago, IL.  The focus of the conference was creating a holistic approach to managing stormwater in the 21st Century, and the panel discussions were organized around recommendations from WEF’s Rainfall to Results report.  Attendees included water utility water leaders and industry representatives from across the country and as far away as Australia.  GOPC’s Jon Honeck, Senior Policy Fellow, attended as part of our ongoing water and sewer infrastructure project to find new strategies to modernize Ohio’s aging infrastructure. 

Background

Stormwater management is an issue that accompanies growing urbanization. Urbanization creates thousands of acres of impervious surfaces and removes the ability of the natural landscape to absorb water when it rains.  Unfortunately, many U.S. cities in the early 20th century constructed “combined” sewer systems that mixed rain water and sewage water in the same tunnels, causing raw sewage to discharge into waterways during heavy rains.  In recent decades, EPA enforcement of the Clean Water Act has forced cities around the country, including many in Ohio, to separate their combined sewer systems and find ways to hold millions of gallons of rainwater temporarily out of the sewer system.  This is often accomplished by building deep storage tunnels, which are extremely expensive capital projects that take years to complete.  New approaches, such as using “green infrastructure” that restores that ability of the landscape to capture stormwater runoff, are now taking center stage as cities look for ways to lower costs and provide more effective solutions.

overflow

Stormwater Utilities

There is an emerging consensus among water industry experts that the field needs a new paradigm, called a “stormwater utility,” and that governmental regulatory frameworks and planning approaches need to change to support this.  Traditional municipal utilities have been organized around drinking water or sewer systems, each with their own user charges, infrastructure, and performance expectations.  Stormwater management in its own right was usually an afterthought, except insofar as it was needed for basic flood control.  A stormwater utility could take many forms, depending on the state and local regulations and needs, but the basic concept is an entity that can work on a large scale, across individual municipalities in a metro area, and even across an entire watershed, to plan and implement stormwater management. 

One of the keys to the paradigm shift is the concept of stormwater runoff as a commodity that has a price.  Districts around the country are implementing dedicated stormwater fees to create an ongoing revenue source for operation and maintenance.  Afternoon speaker Howard Neukrug (Senior Fellow at the U.S. Water Alliance) who implemented Philadelphia’s nationally renowned green infrastructure program, noted that the foundation of the city’s program was a parcel-based stormwater fee and redevelopment regulations that require capture of the first 1.5 inches of rainfall from new or renovated buildings.  Sometimes existing regulatory arrangements make it difficult for utilities to work on scale commensurate with the need.  Morning panelist Karen Sands, Director of Sustainability for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, related that MMSD has an aggressive green infrastructure program, but in order to meet its stormwater capture targets by 2035, the district would have to spend at an annual rate 18 times higher than its current level.  MMSD is now looking at other public private partnerships as a potential solution. 

In other areas of the country, federal and state regulatory frameworks create an urgent need for local governments to cooperate.  As explained by panelist L. Preston Bryant, Senior V.P. of McGuireWoods Consulting and former Secretary of the Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Virginia law treats the US EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulation for Chesapeake Bay as a joint responsibility between the state and local governments and this has spurred regional collaboration.  The state of Virginia also has a Stormwater Local Assistance Fund as part of its EPA clean water revolving loan program that will pay for up to 50% of the costs of local projects.  The state of Maryland also has a stormwater law to help protect the Chesapeake.  Prince George’s County, MD, is an example of a county that moved ahead with a stormwater fee that is being used to fund a public-private partnership that is aggressively creating green infrastructure. 

Asset Management

Asset management for both capital projects and human resources was another theme of the conference.  It is obvious that there are a variety of approaches to maintaining green infrastructure and that there is no agreement on best, or even standard, practice. David St. Pierre, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, explained that MWRD shares the initial installation costs with local governments and then maintains agreements in which the local governments are responsible for long-term maintenance.  In Baltimore, Randy Chow, Director of the Baltimore Department of Public Works explained that the department wants neighborhood organizations to play a role in maintaining green infrastructure. Korey Gray, Business Development Officer of DC Water, described how the city public works department helps to maintain green infrastructure in Washington.  

Several of the afternoon panelists presented visions of both optimism and pessimism about the future adaptability of water utilities in general.  On an optimistic note, Marcus Quigley, CEO and Founder of Opti, a data analysis firm, noted that rapid advances in the field of sensor technology were making it possible to have real time monitoring and control of individual assets, leading to the potential for huge gains in efficiencies from existing infrastructure.  On a more pessimistic note, William Stowe, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works discussed his organization’s decision to file suite against upstream quasi-governmental water management organizations for allowing agricultural runoff (excessive nitrates) to pollute the Des Moines River.  In his view, as long as industrial agriculture remains outside of the EPA stormwater and pollution control framework, agricultural areas in the Midwest will have to invest heavily in equipment to clean excessive nitrates from their drinking water, leading to excessive financial burdens on urban residents.

The conference made it clear that stormwater management is a dynamic, emerging field in which information-sharing across geographies and across professional boundaries is essential.   There is a real desire for innovation and experimentation as local utilities try different approaches.  The need for creativity will become even more important as the 21st Century matures and the effects of climate change are felt more acutely. 

15 Years of Preservation and Revitalization in Ohio

May 10th, 2016

By Alison Goebel, GOPC Deputy Director

Earlier this month, the Greater Ohio Policy Center joined more than 100 conservation, environmental, and urban advocates to celebrate the numerous successes of the Clean Ohio Fund.  Since 2000, the Clean Ohio Fund has restored, protected, and connected Ohio’s natural and urban places by preserving open space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities.

All 88 Ohio counties have received funding and benefited from the Clean Ohio Fund.  The Fund has:

  • Cleaned up nearly 400 abandoned, contaminated sites.
  • Preserved over 26,000 acres of natural areas.
  • Protected over 39,748 acres of family farms.
  • Created over 216 miles of multi-purpose, recreational trails.

photo 1

As Greater Ohio Policy Center demonstrated in its 2013 study, the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund which supported brownfield remediation, leveraged $4.67 in private dollars for every dollar invested by the state.  More broadly, the entire Clean Ohio Program has leveraged additional investments to create a total economic impact of approximately $2.6 billion in public and private investments to date.

Governor Taft, whose administration initiated the ballot issue that created the Clean Ohio Fund, congratulated advocates and communities on the ongoing successes of the program.  Former EPA Director, Chris Jones, and Kate Bartter, environmental policy advisor to Governor Taft, discussed the history of the ballot initiative and the thoughtful process that created this impactful program.  House Minority Leader, Rep. Fred Strahorn, and Rep. Tim Derickson, a long time champion for Clean Ohio, described the impact of the program in their districts and around the state and the importance of the programs’ continuation.

The strong bi-partisan, multi-sector support for the Clean Ohio Fund, and clear economic benefits of the program confirms the value and importance of this program to Ohio’s economic development and quality of life strategies.

photo 3

 

GOPC Legislative Update: April 2016

May 9th, 2016

By Lindsey Gardiner, Manager of Government Affairs

The following grid is designed to provide you with insight into the likelihood of passage of the legislation we are monitoring. Please note that due to the fluid nature of the legislative process, the color coding of bills is subject to change at any time. GOPC will be regularly updating the legislative update the last Thursday of every month and when major developments arise. If you have any concerns about a particular bill, please let us know.

April Leg. Update (2)

Bills Available Online at www.legislature.ohio.gov

Updates on Key Bills:

greater-ohio-flagHB 130 UPDATE: On April 12th, HB 130 received another hearing in the House Finance Committee. HB 130, which proposes to create the DataOhio Board, specify requirements for posting public records online, require the Auditor of State to adopt rules regarding a uniform accounting system for public offices, and establish an online catalog to establish the Local Government Information Exchange Grant Program, was amended by Representative Mike Duffey to remove an appropriation. There were numerous proponents, who offered testimony on behalf of the bill including The Ohio Newspaper Association, and The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Written proponent testimony was submitted by the office of Auditor Dave Yost, the Ohio Society of CPAs, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Ohio Municipal League, and various local government officials. On April 20th, GOPC submitted written testimony as an interested party for HB 130 and the bill was subsequently passed by the Committee. The next step for this bill in the legislation process is for the bill to be referred to the Speaker’s office, where he will decide when or if the bill will receive a vote on by the House.

greater-ohio-flagHB 134 UPDATE: Activity for HB 134 has been picking up since its referral to the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee in early December. The bill, which proposes to establish summary actions to foreclose mortgages on vacant and abandoned residential properties received its first hearing April 13th. Co-sponsors of the bill, Representatives Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) offered testimony on behalf of the bill. Various members of the Committee voiced their concerns for property owners within the legislation. Final comments by the Committee members and co-sponsors included continuing an open dialogue to address better protection for property owners with regards to the inspection process contained within the bill.  So far HB 134 has received one hearing in the Senate; however, we anticipate the bill may be able to gain more traction with the continuing efforts to improve the legislation.

greater-ohio-flagHB 182 UPDATE: HB 182 continues to move smoothly through the legislative process. HB 182 proposes to allow local governments to establish Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDDS) for development purposes. On April 27th, the bill received its first hearing within the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill sponsor, Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), offered sponsor testimony and reported to the Committee that he is working with various stakeholders with the hopes of coming up with a final version that everyone can agree on in the near future.

greater-ohio-flagHB 233 UPDATE: HB 233, which proposes to authorize municipal corporations to create downtown redevelopment districts (DRDs) and innovation districts for the purposes of promoting the rehabilitation of historic buildings and encourage economic development, had several witnesses attend committee to offer support. Proponents of HB 233 included The Cincinnati Museum Center and the Ohio Environmental Council. Members of the Committee accepted two amendments without objection. One, from Chairman Peterson, would extend the charitable use tax exemption to children’s, science, history, and natural history museums open to the general public, and the second, from Sen. Eklund, which provided clarifying language for bonding purposes. HB 233 was voted out of the Senate on April 13th, and the House unanimously granted final approval of the bill on April 20th. The final step in the legislative process for HB 233 is for the Governor to sign the bill into law. (HB 233 was signed into law by Governor Kasich May, 6 2016.)

greater-ohio-flagHB 303 UPDATE: Throughout April HB 303—the DOLLAR Deed Program– received three hearings within the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, and is expected to have a fourth hearing in early May. Due to this increased activity, GOPC has moved this bill from the yellow column to the green, which indicates faster movement and increased likelihood of passage. The bill sponsor, Representative Jonathan Dever (R- Cincinnati), offered testimony that explained what the bill proposed and added that Ohio would be “on the cutting edge” since no other states have yet implemented anything like it. The second hearing was designated for proponents to present their perspectives and included the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and the Ohio Credit Union League. The third hearing was held on April 26th, which provided opposing parties to bring forward their concerns with the bill; however, there were none. GOPC anticipates HB 303 will receive a fourth hearing by mid-May where GOPC and other stakeholders will be given the opportunity to offer Interested Party testimony.

greater-ohio-flagHB 418 UPDATE: Last month, HB 418 received two hearings within the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee. Representative John Barnes (D- Cleveland) offered sponsor testimony and explained that his bill would help protect senior citizens, who have lived in their homes for at least 20 years, from seizure of their property if they have delinquent property taxes. One member of the Committee stated he was concerned about the potential abuse of this new policy and mentioned that safeguards should be put in place to remedy the flaw. The following week, Representative Barnes offered an amendment to HB 418, which would prohibit tax foreclosures on senior-owned homesteads if delinquent taxes, assessments, charges, penalties and interest on the property do not exceed $5,000. The amendment also requires dismissal of foreclosure proceedings against a senior-owned homestead (presumably with a tax debt greater than $5,000) if the tax bill on the homestead increased for two or more years, during which the delinquency occurred, and the property owner’s financial circumstances likely contributed to the their inability to pay the taxes due. The committee approved of the amendments to HB 418 and the sponsor is continuing to work with members to produce a bill that everyone can agree upon.

greater-ohio-flagHB 463 UPDATE: HB 463 received a total of four hearings throughout the month of April within the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee, and was ultimately reported out of Committee on April 27th.  During this period various stakeholders came together to cite their support for the bill including Professor Jeff Ferriell of Capital University Law School, the Ohio Bankers League, the Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association, and attorney Tony Fiore of Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter. HB 463 received a third hearing, which provided Interested Party members the opportunity to testify. Among the three interested parties were the Ohio Judicial Conference, the City of South Euclid and Greater Ohio Policy Center. Greater Ohio’s testimony offered commentary about the positive aspects of the legislation, but also brought forward concerns regarding the Ohio Uniform Commercial Code changes involving mortgages and notes that have been lost. Witnesses that offered proponent testimony on behalf of HB 463 included former Attorney General Marc Dann, the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Recorders Association, the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office, and the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association.

Now that the bill has been voted affirmatively out of Committee, GOPC anticipates HB 463 will make its final steps out of the House by the end of May.

New Bills & Explanation of Bill Impact on Economic Development within Ohio:

greater-ohio-flagHB 512 is sponsored by State Representative Tim Ginter (R-Salem). This bill proposes to establish requirements governing lead and copper testing for community and non-transient non-community water systems, to make appropriations to the Facilities Construction Commission for purposes of providing grants for lead fixture replacement in eligible schools, and revise the laws governing the Water Pollution Control Loan and Drinking Water Assistance Funds. Greater Ohio has been leading the charge on studying Ohio’s Water/Sewer infrastructure needs, and although HB 512 isn’t directly related to Ohio’s gray infrastructure needs, the bill is still of interest as water contamination and water infrastructure are interrelated. GOPC will continue to monitor HB 512 as it moves through the legislative process.

For more details and information on legislation that GOPC is tracking, please visit our Previous Legislative Updates.

 

Event Upcoming on Community and Economic Revitalization in Legacy Cities

May 9th, 2016

On May 20th, 2016, GOPC Executive Director Lavea Brachman will be speaking at an event in Chicago, titled Spurring Community and Economic Revitalization in Legacy Cities and Weak Market Communities. If you are in the Chicago area during this time, consider attending this informative event. Details are below; help spread the word!

 

Delta Legacy Cities Discussion

 

Water Resilient Cities Conference Offers Innovative Solutions to Water Infrastructure

May 5th, 2016

By Jon Honeck, Senior Policy Fellow, and Colleen Durfee, Research Intern

Greater Ohio Policy center recently attended Cleveland State University’s Water Resilient Cities conference. From April 21st to the 22nd professionals, practitioners, community development organizations, and academics gathered to discuss the current state of water infrastructure in the Great Lakes region. The innovations, needs, consequences, and potential growth of Great Lakes cities depend heavily on water infrastructure, its maintenance, modernization, and adaptation to more variable climate patterns. How do we protect our natural water bodies when faced with the desire for economic and community growth? The conversation between the themes of regional growth, natural resource protection, and looming effects of climate change is one of paramount importance when considering the future of the Great Lakes region.

The Water Innovation Keynote address was delivered by Hillary Brown, a Fellow at the American Institute of Architects and Professor at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at CUNY.  Dr. Brown showed numerous examples of cities around the world are creating innovative solutions to water infrastructure needs while lowering the carbon footprint of a treatment facility or sometimes parts of a city.  Some of the most innovative practices include on-site reuse of wastewater and stormwater in large buildings and mixed use districts.  These areas are taken “off the grid” in terms of their water use and save energy through decentralized treatment systems that do not have to move water long distances.  Other examples showed treatment facilities finding ways to maximize opportunities for co-generating energy:

  • In Japan, a water utility placed acres of solar panels in its adjacent reservoir, generating electricity for the facility but also lowering evaporation from the reservoir.  The water also helps to cool the solar panels.
  • In Lille, France, a utility is recovering biogas from wastewater and other organic waste to produce biogas for the municipal bus system.
  • In Oakland, CA, a utility has constructed a biodigestion facility that generates electricity from sewage;
  • In Vancouver, Canada, heat from wastewater is being used to heat a residential district.
  • In Mankato, MN, treated wastewater is being used for cooling a traditional power plant.

In order to fully promote these types of opportunities, Dr. Brown advocates for the inclusion of specific clean energy principles in the award formulas of state infrastructure banks or state drinking water or wastewater revolving funds.  These principles include: supporting mixed land use, mitigating CO2 production, incorporating green infrastructure, integrating social and energy benefits, and including climate adaptation measures.

IMG_2232

In the third panel session, Professor Richard Norton from the University of Michigan demonstrated the variability and vulnerability due to climate change and development patterns on Lake Michigan’s shores. He made an interesting point that like the world’s oceans, the Great Lakes will change water levels due to climate change. However, these changes have a very different timeline than those of saltwater coastlines and therefore are more difficult to track. There is no daily tide on lakeshores as there is on our salt-water coasts. The Great Lakes ebb and flow at a variability of several meters over the course of a decade, not several hours. This variability is fairly normal. It’s the severity of the high and low levels that are anticipated due the accumulated effects of drier summers and wetter, warmer, winters over long periods of time. For example, between 1980 and 2000, Lake Michigan gained over 200 feet of beach frontage. Many property owners see this as a gain in real estate but each municipality on lakeshores has different zoning ordinances and city codes regarding lakeshore development practices.

Dr. Norton showed an example of a property owner’s development decision that highlights the vulnerability of lake shore development and the conflicts that sometimes manifest between private property owners and city zoning officials and planners. It is difficult to dissuade someone from developing on their property when for the past several years they had access to hundreds of feet of lakeshore frontage. Dr. Norton showed satellite images of Lake Michigan’s shoreline from the 1930s, 1960s, and 2000s. They varied by hundreds of feet of beach frontage – about two meters change in lake depth. The property owner decided to build a multimillion-dollar home closer to the shoreline but against the city’s guidance. Years later, the shoreline rose and nearly ran right up against the outside walls of the home. The homeowner asked for permission to build a sea wall to protect his home against the rising water and the city denied it. Eventually, the home was lifted from its foundation and moved further back from the shoreline to avoid flooding. If the water level continued to rise as it very well might, the home would be almost completely under water. The take away from Dr. Norton’s presentation is that lakeshore coasts and their communities need to understand the variability and timeline of water levels for great lakes. Development along lake shorelines is very different from that of saltwater coastal areas and in the coming decades of higher variability, lakeshores will be even more vulnerable to severe rises and falls in the water lines.

GOPC is in the midst of a multi-year project on Ohio’s water and sewer infrastructure.  The Phase I report, released in Fall 2015, analyzed infrastructure needs and gaps, and our recent report on “green” infrastructure describes how cities in Ohio and around the country are using innovative and less costly approaches for stormwater control. Our current work focuses on identifying best practices in infrastructure financing that can be adapted to Ohio.   Some examples of financing tools include credit enhancements or loan guarantees for cities without debt capacity, state infrastructure banks or other methods to pool financing needs, additional state investments in revolving loan funds or grant programs, incentives for regionalization and shared services among water and sewer systems, improved funding for integrated watershed management, and public-private partnerships.

 

CMC Forum Explores Urban Revitalization

May 2nd, 2016

By Alex Highley, GOPC Project Associate

Last week, Greater Ohio Policy Center attended Columbus Metropolitan Club’s panel on the way cities are working to attract and retain talent, and thrive in today’s economy. The session was moderated by OSU History Professor David Staley, who asked questions to Lee Fisher, President of CEO for Cities and Steve Schoeny of the Columbus Department of Development.

Fisher began the session by declaring that in the coming years, urbanization will be the single most important demographic change in the coming years, with many people choosing to move to cities. Today many cities struggle to provide the vehicles to fully use their talent, despite there being plenty of talent available. Attracting new talent, however, can only happen if cities have the tools for people to collaborate. Moreover, Schoeny believes that retaining talent is a big challenge for cities, as many young, educated people will look to move elsewhere. Schoeny emphasized the need to create places that connect housing with jobs, because people often choose to where to live before they decide where to work. This idea reflects GOPC’s support for place-based investment, to build off existing resources, and the idea that players should take advantage of the assets that already exist in Ohio’s cities.

CMC urban revitalization 4.20

Schoeny believes that successful cities share three common features: they are dense, active, and connected. One key ingredient to all of these is having lively public spaces, such as parks and bike paths, where people can meet each other and share ideas. Fisher echoed this sentiment, declaring that active cities have at least 10 public spaces, which ultimately improve our health. Moreover, active communities, according to Schoeny, are incumbent on robust public transportation systems by expanding choices for everyone. GOPC concurs with this assessment and has been working in recent months to boost resources for multimodal transportation options.