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Old 09-21-2011, 06:44 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati near
2,507 posts, read 3,350,911 times
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As long as Avondale remains a poverty stricken violent and lawless place, revitalizing the nearby neighborhoods will remain an uphill battle. Walnut Hills, Mt. Auburn, Corryville as well as the adjacent part of Clifton have all of the ingredients of a nice mature urban uptown neighborhood, but it is difficult to secure investment and family home ownership when open air drug dealing, gun violence, and wanton disregard for peace and property is rampant just blocks away. More important than the physical distance is the transit access. Blight tends to spread along the main roads that see the highest traffic before creeping back on side streets by a mechanism mimicking development.

The way Cincinnati has developed, the nicer neighborhoods tend to be adjacent to each other with some sort of geographical boundary separating desirable areas from less desirable ones. For example, there are few direct routes to get from Evanston to Hyde Park, even though the neighborhoods share a long border. I could point out many more examples of places where the roads are engineered to deliberately restrict access from one place to another, many of them very close to my home. The inner ring neighborhoods were established long before this was an issue, so there is pretty much direct access up the Reading Road corridor, east on McMillan and north and south on Vine for all of the un-neighborly misbehavior to spread.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:45 AM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,949,834 times
Reputation: 1499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilson513 View Post
The jury is still out on 3CDC's efforts in OTR as far as "public funding" of residential development is concerned. I'm rooting for them, and, they do seem to have a way to resist political pressures which usually ruin these projects, but, for the most part, public funding of residential housing is always a screwed up mess and is ready for teardown in a single generation.
For what it's worth, I don't think we're talking about exactly the same thing, although that may not have been your intention anyway.

I was talking about government programs that provide financial incentives for what are essentially private projects. I shouldn't have used the word "substantial; it was misleading and didn't express what I really wanted to say. Not talking any kind of ongoing funding after the project's finished. Not talking about the bulk of funding for the project. Rather, modest amounts of things like tax breaks that can make the difference between numbers that almost work and numbers that don't work.

In my previous work, I saw these kinds of programs result in saving old buildings, over and over again. Without them, many more buildings are demolished, leading to vacant lots overgrown with weeds, usually, or at best more cheap*ss vinyl boxes.

Last edited by Sarah Perry; 09-21-2011 at 06:48 AM.. Reason: Clarification
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:49 AM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,949,834 times
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Originally Posted by t45209 View Post
I have to disagree with you on this. It's true that community councils do not wield any true legislative powers and that their budget allocations have been slashed. However, there are certain actions in a neighborhood where city staff require the input of the community council...zoning changes, variances, project endorsements, etc. If your community council has smart, active people, who exercise good judgement and understand how downtown works, they can get a lot of things done. I have seen this first hand. Several examples in Oakley alone:

Reuse of the old Cambridge Inn Cafeteria as the Oakley Community Center (as you may recall, the building had to physically moved a couple of hundred yards across the Hyde Park Plaza parking lot)

Blocking retail development on the west side of Paxton, paving the way for the Drexel development, which was a linchpin in Oakley's revitalization. The council had considerable influence over the design of this project.

The Oakley streetscape project would not have happened had it not been for a ton of work, and direct fundraising effort on the part of the OCC ( I know there are some wishing this project had never begun, but over the long term it is huge for Oakley).

Those community councils that are the weakest are ones that are fractured, inconsistent, and lack the respect of downtown staff. There is always the possibility of having City Council trump everyone, but a savvy community council can be a tremendous asset for guiding the development of a neighborhood. I'm wondering if Walnut Hills has the local leadership that it needs.
I can certainly believe what you say about Oakley. I'd submit that Oakley's situation isn't typical, however.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:15 AM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,949,834 times
Reputation: 1499
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Originally Posted by Chemistry_Guy View Post
As long as Avondale remains a poverty stricken violent and lawless place, revitalizing the nearby neighborhoods will remain an uphill battle. Walnut Hills, Mt. Auburn, Corryville as well as the adjacent part of Clifton have all of the ingredients of a nice mature urban uptown neighborhood, but it is difficult to secure investment and family home ownership when open air drug dealing, gun violence, and wanton disregard for peace and property is rampant just blocks away. More important than the physical distance is the transit access. Blight tends to spread along the main roads that see the highest traffic before creeping back on side streets by a mechanism mimicking development.

The way Cincinnati has developed, the nicer neighborhoods tend to be adjacent to each other with some sort of geographical boundary separating desirable areas from less desirable ones. For example, there are few direct routes to get from Evanston to Hyde Park, even though the neighborhoods share a long border. I could point out many more examples of places where the roads are engineered to deliberately restrict access from one place to another, many of them very close to my home. The inner ring neighborhoods were established long before this was an issue, so there is pretty much direct access up the Reading Road corridor, east on McMillan and north and south on Vine for all of the un-neighborly misbehavior to spread.
Since I can't give additional "reputation," I'm just going to say Amen.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati
3,335 posts, read 5,725,886 times
Reputation: 2058
i'm starting to feel like we are way too easy to troll
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
477 posts, read 529,700 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chemistry_Guy View Post
As long as Avondale remains a poverty stricken violent and lawless place, revitalizing the nearby neighborhoods will remain an uphill battle. Walnut Hills, Mt. Auburn, Corryville as well as the adjacent part of Clifton have all of the ingredients of a nice mature urban uptown neighborhood, but it is difficult to secure investment and family home ownership when open air drug dealing, gun violence, and wanton disregard for peace and property is rampant just blocks away. More important than the physical distance is the transit access. Blight tends to spread along the main roads that see the highest traffic before creeping back on side streets by a mechanism mimicking development.

The way Cincinnati has developed, the nicer neighborhoods tend to be adjacent to each other with some sort of geographical boundary separating desirable areas from less desirable ones. For example, there are few direct routes to get from Evanston to Hyde Park, even though the neighborhoods share a long border. I could point out many more examples of places where the roads are engineered to deliberately restrict access from one place to another, many of them very close to my home. The inner ring neighborhoods were established long before this was an issue, so there is pretty much direct access up the Reading Road corridor, east on McMillan and north and south on Vine for all of the un-neighborly misbehavior to spread.
I don't think its Avondale that's stopping development, its strictly the bad reputation of one very high density low income apartment building, the Alms which is poorly managed and a den of crime. Walnut hills also borders Mt. Adams so there should be some spillover, but this is extremely limited. A good chunk of East Walnut hills is good as is the O'Brienville part of Evanston (the rest of Evanston needs work though). Not only that but Walnut Hills is separated from Corryville by the expressway which more often than not in cities is a pretty big barrier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah Perry
The community councils basically have zero money and next to zero influence. I view them as kind of a joke to help keep community activists occupied by having meetings, discussing things, and spinning their wheels endlessly over the same problem issues.

This is absolutely not a slam on the people who're involved in the councils. I know they want to help their communities and are willing to invest big amounts of personal time to try to accomplish good things. That's commendable. But I think by and large they're just getting played.
I have to disagree with you on this. It's true that community councils do not wield any true legislative powers and that their budget allocations have been slashed. However, there are certain actions in a neighborhood where city staff require the input of the community council...zoning changes, variances, project endorsements, etc. If your community council has smart, active people, who exercise good judgement and understand how downtown works, they can get a lot of things done. I have seen this first hand. Several examples in Oakley alone:

Reuse of the old Cambridge Inn Cafeteria as the Oakley Community Center (as you may recall, the building had to physically moved a couple of hundred yards across the Hyde Park Plaza parking lot)

Blocking retail development on the west side of Paxton, paving the way for the Drexel development, which was a linchpin in Oakley's revitalization. The council had considerable influence over the design of this project.

The Oakley streetscape project would not have happened had it not been for a ton of work, and direct fundraising effort on the part of the OCC ( I know there are some wishing this project had never begun, but over the long term it is huge for Oakley).

Those community councils that are the weakest are ones that are fractured, inconsistent, and lack the respect of downtown staff. There is always the possibility of having City Council trump everyone, but a savvy community council can be a tremendous asset for guiding the development of a neighborhood. I'm wondering if Walnut Hills has the local leadership that it needs.
The community councils are a terrible system that is a result of a terrible revolution in council the Charterites devised in the 1920s. Cincinnati's city council should be elected not on an "at large" basis, but instead as representatives of different wards, that way there is a direct tie between the council and the neighborhoods. As a result a huge chunk of the West End was pulverized, and the community councils pretty much were devised when the small area that remains of the West End was saved (read this book for a good history even if its thesis is a completely different topic - Amazon.com: Contested Ground: Collective Action and the Urban Neighborhood (9780801499050): John Emmeus Davis: Books) As it stands now the council is often ignorant of the neighborhoods and the community councils often time don't act in the best interest of the city as a whole (ask restorationconsultant about what the S. Fairmont council is doing with the lick run project for instance).

Also, the community councils have far more political clout than you realize. Take for instance this case in Corryville, I pushed the preservationist community in Cincinnati to fight against the demolition of these houses (http://cdn.urbancincy.com/wp-content...reetScape2.jpg), and trust me nice houses like these in Corryville has been pulverized and replaced by poorly designed infill so many times in the first decade of the early 2000s its not funny. The community council for years has been owned by real estate development interests and not the actual community itself. Community be damned, the only interest they care about is lining the pockets of the developers.

When the city council went to meet regarding an upzoning of the area which would pave the way for demolitions, they ultimately decided to go ahead as it was what the community council supported. This is in spite of the fact that they received many letters of complaint against this demolition, that the blighted status these buildings were given were dubious and that these buildings were part of a historic registry the city put together and thus should not be demolished. I even remember one of the council members being blown away at how nice the buildings looked. Laurie Qunlivian even stated right to one of the UC students involved that anyone who cares about their community should be involved in their council. That is the power of the community councils and IMO is an f-d up system that should be completely overhauled for the betterment of the city. The Comm councils have no accountability and inconsistent rules as to how to join and the council members will bow to their demands even if their demands are not good for the city as a whole.

Last edited by neilworms2; 09-21-2011 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
165 posts, read 331,272 times
Reputation: 147
Quote:
Originally Posted by progmac View Post
i'm starting to feel like we are way too easy to troll
Probably so, Progmac, but at least some good discussions have come out of the OP's posting. As time passes, the problems of these struggling neighborhoods will have to be dealt with in the least costly manner. (if you agree with my theory that public funding for projects will be sharply diminished in the coming years) A consensus will have to be reached as to what method or combination of methods can be used to revitalize struggling neighborhoods. Everyone seems to be tiptoeing around the common denominator of low income people living in these marginal neighborhoods. (leaving race out of this argument, please) Suppose you could entice and give every low income resident a nice place to live in the suburbs? Then you would have block after block of old homes and commercial buildings empty with most needing maintenance and clean up. Would it be cheaper then to just bring in a bulldozer team and clear-cut the entire neighborhood? Maybe, but before you take that stand, consider that it is already underway in many of these neighborhoods albeit one house or building at a time instead of all at once. Over time, (and I know you've seen many examples, Progmac) you're left with a large swath of vacant weed-strewn blocks (demolition greenspace) with maybe an isolated house standing all alone like some ancient relic of the past. Forget the wishful idea that if you clear cut it, the builders will come. Big, "master planned" true urban renewal projects involving building a whole new neighborhood and commercial infrastucture to serve it from scratch are very scarce these days. So here you have a large area of land mostly city owned, where millions were spent on demolitions and the city still has to maintain the properties and prevent them from becoming illegal trash dumps. Very costly to taxpayers with almost no return for the city's investment. And since no one longer lives on these vacant lots the tax revenue stream has gone from a modest amount to zero.

A better argument could be made as to how the current low income residents can be made part of the solution. Unemployment is rampant in these areas and the availability of cheap rentals create pockets of concentrated poverty and correspondingly high crime. Admittedly, its hard to rehabilitate an individual whose only "work" experience has been dealing drugs and dealing with the justice system. But even among the hard core is often a wish to "do the right thing" and find a legitimate alternative to the harsh realities of street or gang life. No one is offering them a hand up instead of a handout.

More money is being spent on demolitions than on finding paths to help take low income folks out of poverty. And using demolitions to "solve" the problem of crime and poverty is a very cruel illusion-once a neighborhood implodes from neglect and disinvestment, the "demographic" problem withdraws and moves over to another location where the process of decline brought on by concentrated poverty begins anew. I'd argue that those local unemployed residents who are stable enough and healthy enough for training could be taught to "rehab" their own neighborhood and get paid to do it instead of using that public money to tear everything down. Action has to be taken to get at the root of the problem instead of treating the symptoms as demolitions do. It does not require a Phd to pick up trash, landscape and clean up lots, grab a hammer and put on a new roof, pick up a paint brush and brush on paint. And with some training and good supervision, many of these "bad" kids can be taught the rudiments of rehabilitation construction and where warranted, the rehabilitation and sensitive preservation of historic homes and buildings. (anyone ever heard of the old CCC program in the Depression era?) A sense of pride develops where residents feel they played a direct role in revitalizing their neighborhood. Formerly vacant homes and buildings then attract buyers, lessees, and renters. This is not speculation but a proven fact where it has been tried. If I had to pick a neighborhood where I think this could work well it would be in parts of Evanston or Walnut Hills. Avondale is a tough nut to crack but if such a program were successful in one neighborhood chances are others would want to try it.
Remember, "blight" is man-made and the solutions to it must involve the people who created it. Just my 2 pennies worth from someone who has lived in a formerly blighted inner-city neighborhood for 22 years and watched it turn around because some people cared.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,358,349 times
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Vintrest... You make some very good points. Why not encourage, even require, some of the benefactors of the public housing to participate in elevating the neighborhood, painting out the graffiti, tending to the parks, etc. People who have a sweat equity in their surroundings tend to be more respectful and also demanding of it.

I read earlier today concerning complaints about some states which are now requiring drug testing in order to receive welfare, everything from unconstitutional to racist. If a business can require drug testing prior to hiring an employee, why cannot recipients of public money be required to do the same? Our value system seems to be a little out of whack.
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Old 09-22-2011, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
165 posts, read 331,272 times
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Originally Posted by kjbrill View Post
Vintrest... You make some very good points. Why not encourage, even require, some of the benefactors of the public housing to participate in elevating the neighborhood, painting out the graffiti, tending to the parks, etc. People who have a sweat equity in their surroundings tend to be more respectful and also demanding of it.

I read earlier today concerning complaints about some states which are now requiring drug testing in order to receive welfare, everything from unconstitutional to racist. If a business can require drug testing prior to hiring an employee, why cannot recipients of public money be required to do the same? Our value system seems to be a little out of whack.

You make some very good points of your own, Kjbrill. Accountability is something that has been lacking for a long time in our country, especially in the public sector. No one seemed to care about that much during our past periods of prosperity but in austere times like we have now, (did you happen to read the dismal economic forecast from the Fed. Reserve about economic sluggishness predicted for years to come?-Wall Street sure did) the focus has to be on how to get more done with less. My argument is if entrenched poverty is ignored it will NOT go away. Almost 50 years after LBJ's "Great Society" and so-called "War to end Poverty" we are no better now in dealing with the issues than we were then. We have to provide a means and an incentive for those living in poverty to climb out of it. As a society, we can now longer afford to throw public money at those living in poverty and then sweeping the social problems under the proverbial carpet. Maybe it has to do with perceptions, if residents could be put to work cleaning up and repairing their neighborhood (taking away the need for more policing, constant code enforcement attention, hearings, and ultimately taxpayer funded demolitions) they would not only get paid for doing so but could speak of their neighborhood with pride, (as you said, having a personal stake in the neighborhood or less formally, "have some skin in the game") instead of depressingly referring to it as living in a "ghetto" or slum. As I said, blight is man-made and the solutions have to include those who made it.

These times of austerity are good in one way: they compell us to recognize that our traditional, grounded in abundance, throwaway society needs to change to meet our new realities; it needs to become more efficient, frugal/less wasteful, and see if those things we've carelessly discarded in the past (such as old neglected and impoverished neighborhoods) can be feasibly rehabilitated or shuttered factory buildings adopted for other purposes. The bloated national debt is proof enough that the freewheeling days of throwing tax-payer money around to solve every societal problem are coming to a rapid close. New, more cost effective and innovative approaches are called for including dealing with the growing problems of poverty. I read somewhere that it costs the taxpayer over $70,000 a year on average to incarcerate a prisoner. Full college tuition is substantially less than that in some places! If social welfare programs must be cut, (and inevitably they will) alternatives have to be made available to allow the poor to survive, if not thrive-otherwise, look for crime rates to escalate or violent social unrest to become widespread. That's why I believe getting residents involved in improving their own neighborhoods (even if they are merely renters with a rent subsidy) is timely and should be tried in Cincinnati. Price Hill Will is doing something along those lines already in the PH neighborhood with a limited budget. I hope there are people willing to try innovative strategies to maximize the benefit of limited public funds-because doing nothing as economic times get tougher is a very unwise option, IMO.
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Old 09-22-2011, 01:17 PM
 
2,886 posts, read 3,949,834 times
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Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
.. I hope there are people willing to try innovative strategies to maximize the benefit of limited public funds-because doing nothing as economic times get tougher is a very unwise option, IMO.
I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you wrote. Unfortunately, we seem to now have a loud, vocal minority in this country who are so embittered and enraged--to some extent justifiably--over the decades of ineffectiveness and waste in government assistance to the poor that they don't want the less fortunate to have even one thin dime more in terms of any kind of help. Not even when it would eventually benefit those same people in terms of concrete dollar savings down the road.

And it's hard to know what to think. I was watching a news story the other night about a teacher's aide in Clermont County who has taken over informal school nurse duties. She said kids come in saying their stomach hurts and it turns out that's because they've been sent to school hungry. So we taxpayers pay for their breakfasts and lunches. Yeah, the thought of a hungry child turns my own stomach. But at the same time, I realize in some of those homes, that morning a baby mama has rolled over in bed after a big night with the latest baby daddy and yelled at the kid to quit bothering her and just go to school, they'll give you breakfast if you tell them your stomach hurts.

What the h*ll is the solution???
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