Yesterday's article in the Cincinnati Enquirer has certainly generated a lot of discussion and I received over 80 emails as of this morning from people all across the city who realize it's time to 'stand up' to city hall so to speak on this issue. It has become apparent to me that people are angry about senseless demolitions, they are angry about the VBML process and they are angry that decisions are being made that effect them without their having any input.
What I took away was that the city really doesn't care but now may be faced with actually needing to change. I thought this comment by Mr Harris was most telling:
Cincinnati Urban Conservator Larry Harris strongly disputes Willham's allegation. He says the city's process for reviewing potentially historic properties invites comments from the public and meets HUD's standards.
"HUD has approved our process for a number of years without finding fault," he said.
My take on that is "could it be no one ever thought to complain to HUD?
We have and the city must respond to HUD on their process. They have no choice, if they do not respond they won't get their money.
I suspect their response will be that they will say that they place two line ad once a year in a paper and that's it.
I suspect Ohio Preservation will weigh in on the issue and based on what Ive heard will not think that is good enough. That they need some formal process. Especially important since the programatic agreement with the state is due in.
So the city 'may' be forced to come to the table with neighborhood groups, local preservation and come up with a process. We need to start thinking about what that process will be.
In most cities it takes one of two forms. Either a monthly meeting where the public is invited to comment on properties "Being considered" to be sent to Nuisance Hearing. Right now those decisions are made in the dark. Two by Mr Harriss's office seeking public comment via email or phone. A list of properties would be emailed to a contact list of interested parties and public comment would take place. That data is gathered and them The Urban Conservator makes a recommendation must then be approved by the Conservation board at the monthly meeting. In the event there is disagreement with that decision by local groups notice of that disagreement is then forwarded to the state and they decide.
That's the way the world works everywhere else. We need to start thinking about how we want to approach this.
NEXT? We need to push the council for a process where Capital Improvement funds have public review. We may have to use the Ohio Sunshine laws to get that changed.