Thursday, August 5, 2010

Covedale Illustrates why Cincinnati "neighborhood" designations are out of touch with reality

The recent request of Covedale Neighborhood to be separated from Price Hill, illustrates why the current neighborhood designations are out of touch with the "real world'

First the city designated neighborhoods are too large. Neighborhood development occurs largely at the block level. People come in to a small area and start fixing up properties, they have a vested interest in their area and have 'identity' with it not some larger "neighborhood designation" established decades ago by the city. People who are vested in an neighborhood are not likely to be concerned about an issue 10 miles away. True even representation on Community Councils rarely occurs and its very easy to "stack' a community council with people with a particular agenda that is not the overall interest of a community or the direction that community is headed.

If you look at the city neighborhood map, it ignores things like geography, architecture, and common history. Neighborhood designations were created by city planners not the community they effect and as we are seeing today those boundaries are no longer relevant.

For Realtors it is a nightmare. You may have houses that could bring more money but because of their neighborhood designation prices are held artificially low. Ultimately that effects tax valuations and keeps tax revenues lower than they should be.

The time has come for the city to move forward and address this issue. It is an issue that should be dealt with by residents, not city planners. Residents should be able to form their own neighborhood organizations and establish their boundaries and register with the city. Disputes over boundaries could be resolved by a mediation committee.

The City of Indianapolis, for example, has over 700 registered neighborhoods and block clubs . now that might seem like a regulatory nightmare, it isn't. City planners have their own maps for "big picture' development and neighborhood groups deal with everyday issues. It works extremely well.

We need smaller targeted development rather than broad strokes, and we need to understand that smaller is better and more effective in areas like development, zoning and crime watch issues.
As with most things "change' is difficult for our city government. They need to abandon the map above and allow for the creation of neighborhood that have real meaning to the residents that live there.


Marilyn said...

For the past few days I have been exploring these pictures , these city directories , and these maps . My ancestor came to Cincinnati bet 1828 and 1829 and left for Rising Sun, IN aft 1846. His shoemaker's shop was on the south side of Front bet Stone and Wood, right down near the public landing in the 6th Ward. All the boys went into some sort of river-related work - pilots, ferrymen, fishermen.

Jeffrey Jakucyk said...

"Neighborhood designations were created by city planners not the community they effect..."

Excuse me? That's about as wrong as wrong gets. The neighborhood boundaries within the city are mostly the result of independently incorporated villages being annexed to the city proper. Westwood, Hyde Park, Madisonville, Columbia, and East Walnut Hills, among others, were all independent villages originally, with their own town halls, police departments, public works, etc., and the current boundaries of those neighborhoods roughly equate to their original corporate limits. If Cincinnati were to annex Fairfax and Mariemont, would you suggest those new neighborhood boundaries be redrawn as something other than what they've been throughout the last 90+ years?

Even neighborhoods that weren't separate municipalities of their own weren't "established decades ago by the city" like some arbitrary planning department exercise. Nearly every neighborhood was established by the mid 1910s when most annexations were completed. Outlying neighborhoods like Pleasant Ridge, West Price Hill, and College Hill grew around streetcar lines and as they filled up they were brought into the city proper. In some cases they were similar to subdivision boundaries, and until sprawl became rampant they marked the boundary between city and country.

To say the current boundaries ignore geography, architecture, and common history is patently false. Some neighborhoods like the East End are a bit convoluted, I'll grant you that, but there is recognition of the separate sub-neighborhoods in there like Fulton, Pendleton, and Turkey Bottoms. However, the neighborhoods are already exactly what you say they aren't, and if you actually looked you'd see many distinct architectural and geographic changes that mark the borders of many (but of course not all) communities. Can there be more sub-neighborhoods within existing neighborhoods? Of course, but changing those overall boundaries because you don't understand where they came from in the first place an affront to Cincinnati's rich history.

Paul Wilham said...

Jeffery, you might want to reference a book called "Cincinnati the Queen City put out by the Cicinnati Historical Society in 1983. It references the neighborhoods formation and notes that many neighborhood were formed as a result of the Community Action Commission and the Model Cities programs. All boundaries were ultimately set by the city,which approved the districts.

In fact neighborhoods and "community Corporations" were created so the city could avail itself of millions in federal funds available for neighborhood groups.

The city skims off millions in "administrative fees" every year for monies that go to Community Councils from CDBG and NSP programs from HUD.

Jeffrey Jakucyk said...

Regardless of what might have happened later, that doesn't negate history. Take a look at this map of annexations from 1940 (the modern road map and blue outline is more current, showing the few small areas added after that date).

With the exception of the central core area, the boundaries today mostly follow the original areas of annexation, more so for the neighborhoods that were originally independent municipalities.

I also think you underestimate just how much people relate to (even if they don't necessarily appreciate) the neighborhood boundaries as they exist. Because of the historical momentum behind them, even if it was somewhat artificial to begin with, trying to change it now would be just as arbitrary and contrived, if not more so.

Paul Wilham said...

When I attended the west side preservation conference one of the topics I discussed was that neighborhood are geographically too large to effectively spur redevelopment. For example the continued divisons of Price Hill,allows for more targeted development. Most people in Westwood would agree that they need more block clubs and development groups, like a Main street program, or a Harrions Ave corridor group for example.

My own neighborhood Knox Hill has no affinity for either community council ,N or S Fairmount,which have a different focus the we do. The last thing Knox Hill wants is to be considered a part of Fairmount. Frankly we are getting more done without working through a community council and without city funding. Both Councils in our area have different focus. N Fairmount is all about low income, S Fairmount is all about bulldozing everthing in sight to keep section 8 and "those people' out. Neither relate to our focus which is historic preservation and redevelopment as an diverse (economically and multicultural) neighborhood.

Neighborhood need to 'rebrand' like Incline District for example to attract redevelopment.

Many neighborhoods would operate more effectively in smaller groups. That's a plain and simple development fact.And many want too.