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Sunday, April 20, 2008

NIMBY Tip of the Month (4.08)

Support the inner-city.

Have you ever wondered why more suburbanites/exurbanites aren't more supportive of inner-city redevelopment, and urban living as a whole? Many of these people move out to say cornfield Butler/Warren County and then get upset when a bunch of other people do the same thing and ruin their good thing.

At the same time these are the first people you will hear chime in with negativity about the Cincinnati Streetcar, The Banks, or anything else going on in the inner-city. I would expect these types of people to be the biggest advocates for urban living and inner-city reinvestment. I mean after all, the more people that stay in the core the less that ruin their good thing, right?

I guess it all boils down to this. The people who live in cities generally like being around lots of other people (to a certain degree), and those that live out in the exurbs are typically the opposite. So all of you residents of Mason, West Chester, Lebanon, etc need to start being inner-city advocates...it will help to get more people in the city with those of us who want them, and it will keep more people away from your pristine suburban lawn. People helping people.

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17 comments:

brischom said...

Unclerando! Very well said. I've been thinking this very same thought for a long time, and you articulated it very well! People helping people.

The downtown core has a ton of great things happening...keep spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

It's not possible to support the inner city and still think that the streetcar is a bad idea?

columbus exile said...

I agree with your overall point, that people in the suburbs should have an interest in the success of the urban core, but I think your oversimplifying why people move the the suburbs in the first place.

Supposedly better schools, safer streets, and the fact that some people unfortunately prefer to be around their own kind drive people to the suburbs more then anything else.

I make no attempt at defending these factors but if you ask a suburbanite why they moved to the sticks they won't be shy about telling you.

UncleRando said...

^Certainly there are more reasons than this that drive people to live in the suburbs. I am just highlighting one issue that tends to come up a lot. People moving out to the 'burbs and then complaining every time a new development is proposed or more people want to move out there. It just seems hypocritical to me.

Jimmy_James said...

"It's not possible to support the inner city and still think that the streetcar is a bad idea?"

It's certainly possible. It's just unusual, that's all. Most people living in the urban core believe that rail transit is glaring omission from their neighborhoods; in the case of the streetcar, a vital transportation option that was torn away decades ago, accelerating the decay of old neighborhoods that weren't designed with parking in mind for every resident of every building (not to mention visitors).

But I think Rando was referring to the negative attitude that people from beyond the inner-ring suburbs have towards ANY project in Downtown or OTR, from The Banks to Fountain Square, not the Streetcar specifically. Read The Enquirer's bulletin board (if you've never had the chance) to see evidence of this, as the negative opinions of said projects are rarely grounded in fact and the authors' neighborhoods are listed with each comment. Caution: that bulletin board is a pretty depressing place.

Hawse said...

I don't think Randy was saying that you have to support the streetcar to be an urban advocate. The idea is that it seems to be suburbanites that focus on these projects in the negative sense, and that they are usually the first ones to "chime in" negatively.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the Masonites and Lakota-ites would support other people staying in the inner city.

They just don't think that their tax dollars should be spent in that encouragement.

Of course, bring up the fact that the very roads they use to drive to their cul-de-sac abodes are supported by tax dollars and it's a different story.

On the other hand, I think it is quite possible to support the inner city and not support the streetcar. I don't see that the benefit to a small group of people outweighs the costs--actual costs and opportunity costs of what that money could be doing. To me the biggest winners in the streetcar plan are the developers who will be able to sell land or buildings at increased prices because of the promised benefit of the streetcar. I just don't see it becoming so wildly popular and benefitting tens of thousands of regular people once it's actually built.

columbus exile said...

Uncle- I agree, I agree. The stone throwing makes me nuts as well. I've never seen a place that takes as much joy running the city down as Cincy and its burbs.

Maybe its the complete lack of real neighborhoods or community, but in Columbus you don't see that. The suburbs have a 'well good for them' attitude about the urban projects and what neighborhoods we have don't kill each other for their slice of the pie.

Don't get me wrong, my harts in Cincy. I just wish I could bottle that good will and send it south. Attitude will make or break a city.

CityKin said...

Rando, I think you miss the real point about NIMBYs not wanting a suburban developemnt on the farm in their backyard. The reason is that these developements are UGLY. They are only good looking if you are inside with a view of something else.

I love beautiful development and want as much of it as possible, right next door to me in downtown Cincy, but if my neighbors wanted to build wider streets, big parking lots and fugly mcmansions, I would be up in arms too.

Jimmy_James said...

anonymous: "To me the biggest winners in the streetcar plan are the developers who will be able to sell land or buildings at increased prices because of the promised benefit of the streetcar. I just don't see it becoming so wildly popular and benefitting tens of thousands of regular people once it's actually built."

If this is true, then it implies that the streetcar will make OTR a much more desirable area to both visit and live in, hence the rise in property values. This is exactly what we are trying to accomplish; revive one of the most intact historic neighborhoods in the country. If "the haves" are going to benefit in the process, that doesn't bother me at all. The haves always benefit. I'm far more concerned with saving that neighborhood, and a big piece of that puzzel lies in making downtown/OTR more walkable, which the streetcar promises to do. Yes, you can support the inner city without supporting the streetcar initiative. But if you're looking for a way to make living in a dense urban area with limited parking more palatable, better mass transit should be on your short list.

citykin: "The reason is that these developements are UGLY. They are only good looking if you are inside with a view of something else. I love beautiful development and want as much of it as possible, right next door to me in downtown Cincy, but if my neighbors wanted to build wider streets, big parking lots and fugly mcmansions, I would be up in arms too."

I couldn't agree more on that.

UncleRando said...

Just to clarify, I was not talking specifically about either the streetcar proposal or The Banks. Those are just two high profile projects that have been targets of much debate.

Anonymous said...

I think the rise in property PRICES will be short term and benefit the developers who are selling property. I don't think the streetcar will be successful in the long run or increase the property VALUES any more than they are increasing currently with the current boom in developing. Things are looking up in OTR for middle class and upper middle class residents coming in. I'm not so sure that current residents who are in the lower economic strata are benefitting from the development or how a streetcar would benefit them.

There needs to be mixed income development and most of what I'm seeing is middle and high end replacing lower end. While it grants tax abatements and outright gives money to for-profit developers, City Council is actively trying to block federal grants from flowing to ReStoc, the Drop Inn Center, etc. That's an imbalance--giving local money on one hand and blocking federal money from being given on the other isn't balanced.

Jimmy_James said...

"I think the rise in property PRICES will be short term and benefit the developers who are selling property. I don't think the streetcar will be successful in the long run or increase the property VALUES any more than they are increasing currently with the current boom in developing."

You're welcome to your opinion, but data obtained from cities of similiar size indicates otherwise.


"There needs to be mixed income development and most of what I'm seeing is middle and high end replacing lower end."

I routinely see new condos around or beneath $100k available in OTR. This is middle to low. You can make an argument that more apartments are needed as opposed to condos, but I'd argue that there is more than enough rental opportunity in OTR already, and that what the neighborhood needs is more pride of ownership.

"While it grants tax abatements and outright gives money to for-profit developers, City Council is actively trying to block federal grants from flowing to ReStoc, the Drop Inn Center, etc. That's an imbalance--giving local money on one hand and blocking federal money from being given on the other isn't balanced."

While I see what you're trying to get at, I'm not familiar with the city attempting to block federal funding. I also don't agree with your examples. The Drop Inn Center has not been a good neighbor to those who live in OTR, so I'd prefer not to see their funding grow and ReStoc was a joke. I believe that ReStoc has been rolled into another agency now (can't quite recall what it is at the moment), but from my experience with them in the late 90s, ReStoc was routinely given lots of money when no one else would develop in OTR, with very little results. Continuing to give money to them would just be throwing good money after bad. I also vaguely recall some Enquirer articles alleging some fishy dealings of ReStoc's, but that could just be the typical anti-urban spin from The Enquirer.

When it comes to who City Council gives money to, I don't care if it's a non-profit agency or a private company, as long as they get results. If you don't see any return on your investment, what's the point of spending that money at all?

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected: ReStoc merged with Over the Rhine Housing Network to become Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and has rehabbed over 300 affordable apartments over the past 20 years (http://www.otrch.org/programs/housing.html)

And yes, Bortz et al. have tried to block federal grants that should have flowed to them (the latest was the Hope VI grants). In the past they have diverted entire blocks of grants to companies such as Western-Southern Life to develop condos.

As for the Drop Inn Center, I have little patience with the David and Goliath scenario in which 3CDC is posed as David against the "Goliath" of either the Drop Inn Center or Cincinnati Public Schools.

The city has tried to choke off the Drop Inn Center for almost 15 years, back to the buddy gray era. Do you remember Chris Frutkin and the OTR Chamber of Commerce pitted against the OTR COmmunity Council? And now it's "poor 3CDC" against the big bad Drop Inn Center.

And the Enquirer? Give me a break. Isn't Margaret Buchanan part of 3CDC? Hardly the objective yardstick I would care to use.

Look, all I'm saying is that there needs to be a balance. For too long it was out of whack in one direction. Now it risks tipping over in the other direction. It's a balancing act. But one that I don't think that City Council and its less-fettered arm 3CDC are interested in pursuing.

UncleRando said...

I certainly agree that it has to be a balance. OTR is special not only for the great/wonderful architecture, but for the great diversity of people who live, work, and play in the neighborhood.

For what it's worth I thought I read a while back that 3CDC was dedicated to working towards some sort of balance and actually creating some low-income units along with their more market rate units.

Jimmy_James said...

"ReStoc merged with Over the Rhine Housing Network to become Over-the-Rhine Community Housing"

That's right! I knew it was something like that, just couldn't recall. Thanks. I know almost nothing about OTRCH. Hopefully they're more efficient than ReStoc was. ReStoc and the Housing Network worked for ~15 years and there was very little change in OTR. Then 3CDC gets involved and almost immediately there's the Gateway Quarter. I respect the work that non-profits do, but when it comes to building rehabs and the revitalization of a neighborhood, private investors seem to get the job done better.


"And the Enquirer? Give me a break. Isn't Margaret Buchanan part of 3CDC? Hardly the objective yardstick I would care to use."

Exactly why I followed my comment with a caution as to the reliability and objectivity of the source. That said, there were a fair amount of articles questioning where all the money was going. I never heard a good answer. But again, it's The Enquirer, so take that with a grain of salt.


"Look, all I'm saying is that there needs to be a balance. For too long it was out of whack in one direction. Now it risks tipping over in the other direction."

I agree with that for the most part. However, OTR is far from being out of balance "in the other direction". It will take many years of success stories for the job of restoring the neighborhood to be even half done. It's definitely important to ensure that low to middle income housing is still available in the long term, but that's not even close to being threatened currently.

JFD said...

There is another NIMBY threat from the suburbs, and it's called Citylink. In an attempt to prevent, the possibility of the under served from locating in the land of urban exiles, they are still trying to force this oversized concentration camp for the poor, on the urban core. The perpetrators would like to believe the fight is over since the Supreme Court refused to here the zoning case; however that is not the case. Other options are being explored, and some are currently being acted on. This mega hindrance to urban revitalization must not be allowed; the future of our City depends on it.

BTW YES, TO STREETCARS!

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