Ohio’s TRAC approves reallocation of $51.8M from Cincinnati Streetcar

Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) decided to move forward Tuesday morning and reallocate $51.8 million in state-appropriated federal funds from the Cincinnati Streetcar project. The unprecedented move reverses a unanimous recommendation, by TRAC, in December to support the state’s highest-ranking transportation project based on cost-effectiveness, economic development and environmental impacts.

“We recognize that the prior TRAC recommendations overcommitted the state to more transportation projects than it could afford,” said Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio. “But I fail to understand why, other than a political agenda dominated by oil, highway and exurban interests, the highest-ranking project in the state was completely eliminated.”

In previous votes, TRAC had approved and recommended money for the modern streetcar project based on a non-political scoring criteria that gave the project 84 out of 100 points. Thus, the removal of all of the project’s funding left many feeling that politics were injected into what is meant to be a non-political process. Out of all fiscal balancing approved on Tuesday, 52 percent came from the neutering of the Cincinnati Streetcar, and more than 80 percent from the Cincinnati region.

“It is unfortunate the State has injected politics into this process,” explained Cincinnatians for Progress chairman Rob Richardson. “We have a vision for providing transportation choices and it’s a shame Governor Kasich doesn’t share that same vision.”

Civic and business leaders descended on Columbus Tuesday morning in a last ditch effort to try to preserve the $51.8 million in funding for the modern streetcar project. It was estimated that nearly 100 people showed up for the meeting with the overwhelming majority showing up in support of the Cincinnati Streetcar project. A total of three people spoke in opposition to the project (Chris Finney, Tom Luken’s daughter and Tom Luken’s neighbor). Conversely, seven people (maximum allowed) spoke in favor of the project.

Specifically, a Christ Hospital representative stated that should the Cincinnati Streetcar be built the hospital would move forward with a planned $350 million expansion. Dustin Clark from the University of Cincinnati Student Government also cited a recent poll that showed 85 percent support amongst the UC student body for the project.


Cincinnati officials and streetcar supporters gather before the meeting [LEFT]. TRAC board members weigh their controversial decision shortly before voting 6-1 to reallocate the Cincinnati Streetcar’s $51.8 million [RIGHT].

Those residents and business owners left defeated, with many feeling cheated in the process. Additionally, All Aboard Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) condemned TRAC’s vote as the “antithesis to its legal purpose, and as anti-urban in its project selection.”

“This reversal of fortune does nothing to help Ohio’s downtowns,” said Jack Shaner, deputy director of the OEC. “It will only cart jobs and economic development to the exurbs and beyond. Steel rails, by contrast, are magnets that help keep downtown urban cores vibrant by attracting investment while reducing tailpipe emissions and raising the quality of life.”

Following the meeting, Mayor Mallory told UrbanCincy that the funding process had clearly become political, and that the City would reassess its strategy. Many expect that the project will still move forward, but with a scaled-down approach that would cut out the connection to uptown in the initial phase.

“The streetcar’s economic impact has been fully vetted by nationally-renowned experts,” Qualls said, citing a new study released last week that showed the streetcar would increase access to 130,000 jobs in the region. “Once again, the facts come down in support of the streetcar.”

Meanwhile at the meeting, Councilmember Quinlivan spoke pointedly to the support of those University of Cincinnati students and other young people.

“We know there’s a new sheriff in town, but he has not performed lobotomies on the TRAC members,” stated Quinlivan. “We’re not building the streetcar for grumpy old men; we’re building it for young people who want it. This is an essential attraction tool for young professionals.”

Photographs from April 12, 2011 TRAC meeting by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.

  • http://cincinnatireadventure.com Dan

    I think cutting the connection to uptown is an epic mistake – I feel like that’s the key route for the entire system. You’re just setting it up to fail by doing that.

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    I too think that the connection to uptown is vital, but remember that the uptown connection had originally been part of Phase 1a, and not part of Phase 1. It was added in at the request of Roxanne Qualls and several other City Councilmembers the other year.

    The result of this funding loss will probably mean that the uptown connection will go back to Phase 1a, and Phase 1 will just now include the Downtown/OTR circulator as originally planned. At least our city leaders had the forsight to plan and request for more money than what was needed. Had they not done that then the Cincinnati Streetcar project would be in a real hole right now.

  • B. Wayne

    It’s just a small matter of $50 million, right? Didn’t we just shoot $500 million in missiles at lybia for no apparently reason? Surly $50 million for public transit is small fries.

  • http://tboondoggle.tumblr.com TBoondoggle

    I love how the Enquirer decided to quote Chris Finney making a fool of himself by simply calling it an “amusement park ride” (I’m very surprised he didn’t use the term “choo choo to nowhere) and failed to mention that Christ Hospital said they would EXPAND IF THE STREETCAR WAS BUILT! How is this not creating jobs or impacting the economy? Finney’s only remarks in the Enquirer were that majority of Cincinnati does not support it (Kasich doesn’t give a shit what people want, so why does Chris Finney? Just look at the opposition to SB5) and it would hurt the city with operating costs, but increased tax base and casino revenue will pay for this, and I don’t think it is TRAC’s decision as to what the city can and can not afford to operate. That is why we have city council.

    There is no reason besides politics that can explain the actions of the TRAC board.

  • Aaron

    I just don’t understand this area’s hate of all things rail. We spend nearly all transportation funds on highways, which is essentially a game of catch up. As soon as an interstate is expanded its rated poor or failing, yet alternatives like streetcars or light rail are laughed at. Even in the face of facts and statistics from other cities that have made rail successful, opponents are quick to call it a “pet project” or choo choo. I could understand if we were experimenting with a new idea but rail has been shown successful in improving transportation and saving money. The tristate is unique in that here the suburbs have more say in what goes on regionally and even in the city. Any other major metro area is the opposite.

  • http://cincinnatireadventure.com Dan

    The Enquirer leaves out any sort of pesky facts and quotes that go against their anti-urban agenda.

  • cornercase

    The fact that the streetcar was TRAC’s top rated project AND that they unanimously approved it 8-0 just 4 short months ago screams of political malpractice. TRAC needs to be disbanded or seriously reformed.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “The Enquirer leaves out any sort of pesky facts and quotes that go against their anti-urban agenda.”

    Actually, what the Enquirer most blatantly leaves out is that of the about 100 people there, FOUR were there against the streetcar. Proponents had 8 speakers (7 + Mayor Mallory), and had probably 40 or 50 more people lined up to speak should someone not wish to.

    The Enquirer paints the impression that it was a 50/50 fight. Did they go? Did they Mallory’s magnificent speech? Did they see the one opponent who stammered over some numbers he couldn’t find in his notes and said, “Sorry, I’m not used to public speaking.”

    As Rob Richardson said, the people of Cincinnati DO want this. We said so with Issue 9 in 2009, we said so in City Council and Mayoral elections, and we said so in sending over 10X more support to this meeting than the opposition.

  • Zack

    I wonder if they could get nifty and say that any sales above the current level by businesses new or existing to phase 1 are free of state sales tax, seeing as how TRAC and the governor dont see it as a viable source of jobs and investment.

    Why give them the fiscal benefit of something they do not get behind fiscally? Reinvest it back into the city.

    PS- I always wonder if the folks in Cbus realize that when they plan $$$ for Cincy, they need to realize that OH residents can move to other states who are more proactive and within commuting distance…

  • http://quimbob.blogspot.com/ Quimbob

    ^Zack
    YES, let the state put it’s money where it’s mouth is.

  • Dustin Clark

    **A minor correction, if I may. Of those polled by UC Student Government Association (SGA), 68% of students agree with the street car proposal, with 8.2% stating “neutral” and the remaining against.

    The 85% is the percentage of students that voiced they would “prefer to live in an area that offers transportation choices such as walking, biking, and public transportation (bus, streetcar, light rail, or subway, ect.)”. 6.3% neutral.**

    Either way, the survey was held at the same measure and means that all other UC Student Government polls are held. Of the respondents, significant support for transportation AND the DESIRE for transportation options was clearly illustrated. ODOT’s GoOhio plan (http://www.dot.state.oh.us/groups/goohio/NewsandDocuments/Documents/GoOhio-2011Overview.pdf) page 3 lists the understanding of this national view by young professionals that makes the “knowledge economy”. Thats the point we tried to bring home, from the position of Transportation Director for SGA, and President of Planning Student Organization. It should be noted that UC is home to over 41,000 students, and at any one time equals to more than 1 in 8 Cincinnatians!

    And Randy, you are correct. We have a very savvy and intelligent group of city leaders that will assure those that overwhelmingly said NO on Issue 9 in 2009, and the UC Student body shows support thru our poll. It has been rumored that City officials have already discussed the reaction of todays sad, but expected news–going back to Phase 1 and Phase 1a. Phase 1 could go from the riverfront thru Downtown and OTR and up to Findlay Market at around $100M… (which is exciting enough for real estate and businesses, and would build support for modern, clean, efficient, transportation)

  • John

    All the stats and speaking for the project wouldn’t have mattered anyways today. TRAC decided long before this meeting that they were going to remove all the funds.

    Where do streetcar proponents go from here? Litigation?

  • Marshal

    John, I think they just move ahead with the original Phase 1 to Findlay Market.

    While all of this is unfortunate, only one aspect is surprising: That this TRAC board would in essence show itself to be irrelevant. One would assume that given power, a bureaucrat would at least try to justify that power. These events have shown that TRAC is completely useless: They were either coerced to vote for the streetcar in 2010, or against it in 2011.

  • scott

    would it be too late to expand the route to include the casino if they would pitch in some additional funds?

  • Danny K.

    The scoring system was rigged under Strickland. Molotoris and Strickland changed the TRAC formula methods. If rail was involved it was given an automatic 50 points. All Kasich did was roll back the criteria to the one that has been used for many years before.

    The Brent Spence Bridge carries 230,000 vehicles a day. It is Interstate 71 and 75 through Cincy. It was built in 1963 and needs replaced. This scored less than a streetcar that might carry 6000 riders a day.

    See something wrong with the former ODOT chief’s idiots scoring method?

  • Marshal

    ^ Please don’t post bullshit on a reputable website.

    For those interested, the TRAC criteria are freely available here, and have not been changed since the Kasich administration took office.

    http://www.dot.state.oh.us/trac/Documents/TRACPoliciesandProcedures-December-9-2010-Web.pdf

  • Nate

    LOL. I just watched Jake Mecklenborg on Channel 12 Newsmakers (http://www.jakemecklenborg.com) explain how lies and disinformation helped kill the Cincinnati Subway, and now I see Danny K’s post. I guess old school politics are alive and well in the ‘nati.

  • Danny K.

    @Nate – I don’t see what you mean. I am not in politics, I am just a citizen who comments on these issues. It is irrefutable that Molitoris had to tweak the scoring criteria in order to get trains score so high. Regardless if you are for or against trains, use your common sense. Do you really think the top transportation need in the State of Ohio is a trolley between Over the Rhine and Downtown?

    I am from Columbus and although I personally like the idea of walkability and connectivity, I don’t think trains are the answer the way they are being proposed. I think you have to start with a clean slate and make a concerted effort to have everything fit together. That means, the city should be buying up these old homes that go for $5,000 and $10,000 a piece and tear down large swaths of the city, much as Detroit is being forced to do.

    THEN, what you do is hand over hundreds, if not thousands of acres of land and let developers backfill – reverse sprawl, if you will. With a clean slate, I would bet not only could you design these things so they are actually useful, AND you it would be cheaper to build on a blank piece of land than to try and wedge a train into an already tight area.

  • John Schneider

    ^ City should buy up all these homes and tear them down? Really?

  • http://quimbob.blogspot.com/ Quimbob

    Danny K (loved your stuff when I was a kid), Detroit isn’t tearing down it’s OTRs, it’s tearing down it’s Walnut Hills’.

  • Dale Brown

    Detroit is willing to burn the whole city, with the exception of one small area on Woodland, which is not the equivalent of Walnut Hills, its the equivalent of Mt. Adams.

    If they lose the uptown part its probably for the best; no one has ever drawn a connection to why this connection needs to exist, except for “if you build it, they will come.” Yes, it connects the two biggest job centers, but unless doctors and professors are moonlighting as lawyers and executives, there isn’t a reason to connect them.

    The real question in all of this is where is the city with its bond offering? Municipal bonds are tanking, and one this questionable will probably fetch a 7-10% yield, which will bump up the costs over 30 years $10-$30 million dollars, looking at a $130-160 million dollar payment over that time.

  • http://www.urban-out.com Greg Meckstroth

    Danny K – The US tried your method of ‘tear down and replace’ back in the middle of the 20th Century. It’s called the urban renewal programs of the 1950′s. It is accepted that this did not work but rather further segregated our communities and destroyed our urban fabric. Google ‘urban renewal 1950′s’ to understand why this does not work and why this is the complete opposite approach to urban planning of the 21st Century. If you still don’t buy it, enroll at Ohio State and take an urban planning class or two.

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    Several people have asked about what will happen next for streetcar, and rail transit, proponents in Cincinnati. Well, I would assume that the City will engage in some sort of litigation regarding what has happened at the statehouse. As many have said, the whole thing wreaks of unethical political behavior.

    What we as citizens can do is work hard on the next issue at hand. COAST and Tom Luken will not stop working to keep rail transit out of Cincinnati. In November you can probably rest assure that Cincinntians will, once again, be voting on whether to ban rail transit investments or not. This time it appears that COAST & Co. will attempt to ban any light rail or streetcar investment for the next decade.

    This is incredibly dangerous and ties the hands of local policy makers who may very well be dealing with $8/gallon gas (or more) by 2021. The streetcar is a critical part of Cincinnati’s comprehensive rail transit plans that will eventually include light rail and commuter rail as well. We need to start gearing up for the next fight at the ballot box and send a clear message to these guys that they lost the Issue 9 battle, and that Cincinnatians want rail transit without a sliver of a doubt.

  • Justin

    The only neighborhoods that grew in population in the past 10 years are the ones where the streetcar will go. Enough said.

  • Justin

    “Finney’s only remarks in the Enquirer were that majority of Cincinnati does not support it”

    What’s the source of Chris Finney’s information? Chris Finney?

    “it would hurt the city with operating costs, but increased tax base and casino revenue will pay for this”

    This is the golden point that so many people can’t, or just refuse, to grasp. The streetcar pays for itself INDIRECTLY through increased taxes, and this apparently boggles peoples’ minds.

  • Nate

    @Danny K – It’s your “automatic 50 points” accusation that I have a problem with. I’ve been following this project for a long time and this is the first that I’ve heard about it. Trust me, I’m sure that the Enquirer and COAST would love to publish that information. Plus, it flies in the face of the TRAC Policies document provided by Marshal above. I’m not saying that the scoring system isn’t flawed (or meaningless), but I don’t see any evidence that it was “rigged” either. Pushing that garbage, assuming it’s not true, tells me that you have a political agenda whether you’re “just a citizen” or not.

    How about a verifiable source for your accusation?

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    If the TRAC scoring system were so rigged to favor rail projects, why didn’t Ohio see a flood of new rail investments during the Strickland years?

    Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron, Youngstown, Toledo are all without any form of rail transit whatsoever. And Cleveland’s RTA is extremely small, underfunded and somewhat outdated.

    Additionally, freight rail in Ohio is totally congested and also extremely underfunded. In Cincinnati leaders have been trying to make upgrades to the Queensgate railyard for many, many years including the addition of a fourth mainline (a project which also saw its funding cut through this TRAC process).

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Here is footage of the vote. Randy and I are planning to do a follow-up post later in the week where I will have more footage from the meeting:

  • http://www.carfreebaltimore.com Mark

    This is unfortunate. Here in Baltimore, we were looking to Cincy as a model for how to build a phased downtown streetcar route which linked major city assets. Also, this “non political” decision reeks of political maneuvering.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “…no one has ever drawn a connection to why this connection needs to exist, except for ‘if you build it, they will come.’”

    Bull.

    You’re right, development and jobs are quite possibly the two most-often used arguments for building the streetcar. For better or worse. But how many times have you posted comments on UrbanCincy? And you’re saying NOT ONCE you’ve seen an argument other than development? I find that impossible to believe.

    Were you in Columbus? Did you hear/read about Mallory’s speech, aside from the crap that was written in the Enquirer? Go check it out. He talks a lot more than just “development.”

    As for the “connection” argument itself… tell the 41,000 UC students who overwhelmingly support the streetcar that no connection is needed. Ever heard of the co-op program? Ever visit some of the bars in OTR and Downtown? They’re packed with Uptown residents, young and old.

    I heard this statistic yesterday: when the UC|Metro card deal started, Metro estimated 100,000 new rides to result from it. Instead, they got roughly a million.

    And you’re saying Uptown residents won’t use it? BS.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    By the way, as for the “tabula rasa” approach to Uptown:

    A few people have already pointed to the fallacies of such an ideological assertion. Of course, few would argue the need for development in Uptown on a micro scale. But 3 additional points should be made:

    1) Much of Uptown is already a clean slate. The abandoned and/or blighted properties should be the focus of development, not the usable historic properties still located here.

    2) While Uptown may no longer retain the neighborhood-wide historic character seen in OTR or downtown, there is much to be said for retaining the historic architecture on a building-by-building basis. Such a concept is valuable at both macro and micro scales, and a mix of modern and historic development (a la many east coast cities) could create an interesting dichotomous aesthetic.

    3) Any new development should contribute positively to the architectural dialogue. (Which unfortunately may not happen until Uptown Properties goes bankrupt.)

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    Travis Estell sent me this:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=question&id=10150158432391992&qa_ref=qts

    VOTE!!! Beat out all of COAST’s robots.

  • Danny K.

    @Greg Meckstroth – I beg to differ with your assessment. Columbus had it’s “SCAR” (“Slum Clearance and Redevelopment”) program in the 1960′s, focussing on Downtown and the Market – Mohawk District has been unqualified successes. Capitol Square has also been a success. Capitol South has been only partially a success, but only because they tried to jam a suburban mall downtown where it doesn’t belong. Now, these kinds of projects may not be successful from an urbanist’s point of view, but it is a clean area, with newish buildings that does not have the feel of decay. A suburban resident like me doesn’t feel the creeps when he is walking around in these areas.

    I think past attempts at slum clearance have failed because they were only attempted on isolated patches of land, with neighboring patches of land left in not much better shape. If the city can come in and clear, say, 1,000 acres, that would allow for some game changing development.

    Let’s face it: People move to the suburbs because they like it. They like modern new homes. They like the newness of their surroundings. An urbanist may not agree with this, but Cincinnati and Hamilton County are both losing population so the urbanists must be in the minority.

    It makes all the sense in the world at this point to do some backfill, but you have to do it on such a scale where you change the look and feel of an area.

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    @Danny K: People prefer the suburbs because those lifestyles are cheaper due to heavy subsidies across the board. People living in the suburbs often come into the city to use cultural amenities like libraries, museums and park, but do not pay any taxes for those amenities.

    At the same time, retail goods are often priced the same (if not lower) in suburban communities. How long will it be before major retailers start to markup goods sold in those locations where it costs them more to ship based on the skyrocketing cost of fuel? Right now it is cheaper to ship to an urban location, and these urban locations are paying the same (not less) than their suburban counterparts.

    It’s comical to say that people have been moving to suburban areas based solely on individual preferences. The reality is that since World War II, the United States has set up an organized system that promotes these living patterns. And any time that those systems are proposed to be changed, the now-entrenched interests of these new suburban and exurban communities cry foul, take their ball and go home.

    This is evidenced by the inability to get rid of the township form of governance in Ohio. This was never intended to be a long-term solution to governing. It was rather seen as a temporary measure to govern small, rural communities until the point that the city grew out to their limits and then annexed the township into its city limits.

  • Danny K.

    @Nate – Mayor Coleman also floated a streetcar to run along High Street in Columbus between OSU and Downtown, and it was immediately shot down for the same reasons most people oppose the Cincinnati streetcar. Cincinnati is a little more difficult to get around due to the terrain, but in the Columbus metro you can basically get anywhere you need to get within 15 to 25 minutes by car. If you look at the physical steps you have to take to get to a train (or bus) it probably takes you about 10 minutes to drive to a park and ride, plus you have to wait for a train. You could be half-way Downtown while you get on a train, which is why a train doesn’t work here.

    Mind you, I am not against trains per se. And, the best parts of Columbus are the walkable parts such as Grandview, South Arlington and Bexley. That said, what is the reason people don’t take the bus? For the most part, it’s because they don’t want to sit with a bunch of shifty looking people, and poor people. It doesn’t bother me, but that’s not how a lot of people (maybe even most) think. I don’t see how trains are going to attract a different rider. You will always have this stigma with public transportation, at least until gasoline is $10 a gallon.

    Since a lot of people commute from Newark, Delaware, Lancaster, Logan and Athens for work each day, a more practical solution for Columbus would be resurrecting the old “Inter Urban” train. If you have a 45-minute commute, that’s when it starts making sense for someone else to do the driving.

  • Danny K.

    @Randy A. Simes – “People prefer the suburbs because those lifestyles are cheaper due to heavy subsidies across the board.”

    Neither agree nor disagree. It is both cheaper for a developer to start with a blank slate of farmland AND he can assemble enough land in order to have some “critical mass” in his project. It is cheaper to lay out roads, water and sewer lines for 100 acres, than it is for 3 acres because the cost can be spread across 300 homes.

    The developer is hard-pressed to assemble large parcels and doesn’t have the same critical mass he would in the suburbs. This is where the city can use its power of eminent domain to assemble large tracts for such a purpose. When I lived in Cincy, I was impressed by the look of the buildings in Over the Rhine, but would I ever want to live there? Not a chance. I value my life.

    But let’s take Over-the-Rhine out of the equation. Would anybody really miss Price Hill, Camp Washington or Northside (although I kind of like the look there).

    There is nothing magical or special about a building. It is no different than a used car really. You build it, it gets old, it changes hands until it gets used up. I understand the architectural side of things, but that’s not what people want. They want new buildings, new homes and the amenities that go along with that. I used to live half way between an older Meijer and a newer Meijer, and half way between an older Kroger and a newer one. Guess which one I liked going to better? That’s just normal – people like new things!

    Bottom line is that you will never force people back into the city by edict. The city has to provide what people want if it wants to stem the population decline.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “For the most part, it’s because they don’t want to sit with a bunch of shifty looking people”

    What’s sad is, you’re right.

    It’s 2011, and America is still suck in a state of “I don’t want to be around people that don’t look like me.” Pathetic.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “The city has to provide what people want if it wants to stem the population decline.”

    I believe it was Quinlivan who quoted the statistic: the areas served by the streetcar have increased their populations by 28% according to the 2010 census.

    “That’s just normal – people like new things!”

    See above statistics. Most of OTR’s re-development has been rehab.

  • Danny K.

    @Zachary Schunn – If you google some of the economic studies regarding trains, what most of them say is that they do not result in new development. What happens is that development that would have happened elsewhere shifts to the train route and that gives the false perception that trains fuel economic development. An economist for the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank did a study on trains and he came up with some interesting conclusions. I happen certain quotes from that article handy for when I argue with the train people on the Columbus boards.

    Mind you, I am not necessarily taking an anti-position here. I just don’t like the idea of going backwards. We tore out train tracks a generation or two ago because they were a nuisance. I believe by putting them back, they would in time again be considered a nuisance.

    Here are the quotes. Although they are more applicable to light rail, I think the concepts apply to the streetcar project.

    ================

    “The general consensus from the academic literature and the findings presented in this report is that light rail is not a catalyst for economic development.”

    http://www.stlouisfed.org/community_development/assets/pdf/light_rail.pdf

    ================

    Job Creation

    Light-rail transit provides jobs during both construction and operation. Construction jobs are temporary and may go to contractors outside of the local area, depending upon the bidding process and job requirements. In Los Angeles, for example, transit cars came from Japan, Italy and Germany; other components—such as rails, power supplies, ticket vending machines and signaling equipment—were also produced outside of the southern California area.

    Although rail operation creates jobs in that industry, an important point is that these jobs are mostly taxpayer funded (given the large subsidies to rail transit). The salaries of rail transit workers paid for by subsidies should not count as new income to the local area—tax dollars have simply been transferred from local residents and state and national taxpayers to rail transit workers, effectively taking jobs from other industries.

    ================

    Traffic Congestion

    One idea behind adopting light-rail transit is that some automobile drivers will choose rail transit over their personal vehicles, thus alleviating traffic congestion, decreasing commute times and increasing highway safety. There is little evidence that rail transit has reduced traffic congestion. According to the 2002 Urban Mobility Report, roadway congestion in American cities both with and without light-rail transit has steadily increased since the 1980s.12 The 2002 report presents roadway congestion indices for 75 cities from 1982 to 2000.

    ================

    The data in Table 6 allow an interesting comparison of operating and subsidy cost for the three studied modes of transportation. The private auto has the lowest operating cost per passenger mile and per vehicle mile. Of these two costs, per
    passenger mile is the most relevant comparison because motor vehicles and light-rail trains are very different vehicles, and the per vehicle measure does not account for the large difference in passenger capacity of each vehicle.21

    The automobile also has the lowest subsidy cost per passenger mile and per vehicle mile. In fact, the difference between autos and the other forms of transportation is quite large. On a per-passenger-mile basis, subsidies for the automobile are about 1 cent, whereas the subsidy for light rail and bus transportation is 39 cents and 47 cents, respectively.

    Subsidies for auto transit are more efficient than subsidies for light rail because there is a more direct link between benefits received and costs paid. In fact, most of the money going for auto transit is not a true subsidy by definition because the vast majority of people who pay gas taxes and other fees also use the nation’s highways. Thus, rather than each citizen directly paying his or her cost of highway usage each time, the government simply collects taxes from the citizenry to pay for highway costs. Government money to light rail, however, is more of a true subsidy because only a small portion of the citizenry uses light rail but the vast majority pays for it.

    ================

    Does Light Rail Affect Property Values?

    The studies listed in Table 8 reveal that the impact of light rail on property values cannot be generalized. Some areas have seen a positive effect on property values, but for those areas the effect has been modest. Although the dollar amounts may besmall (for example, a $4,900 increase on average, or a $32.20 decrease for every meter away from the station), in percentage terms the effect may be quite large given that the average house price in many of these studies is about $100,000. Other studies suggest that accessibility and distance to a light-rail station may not matter, but rather just the presence of light rail in the community has a positive impact on property values.

    The finding of negative effects on property values goes contrary to the accessibility theory. Studies have reconciled this finding with the presence of nuisance effects from light rail, such as noise and unsightly tracks. The nuisance and accessibility effects have opposing influences on property values. An overall negative influence on property values suggests the nuisance effect dominates, whereas an overall positive influence reveals that the accessibility effect dominates.27

    ================

    It is also important to realize that any economic development coming directly from light rail is subsidized economic development. Recall in the previous section of this report that nearly 70 percent of light-rail operating costs are covered by subsidies, paid for by a transfer of tax dollars from the citizenry to transit agencies. In evaluating the total economic development benefits of light rail, the tax cost to the citizenry must be subtracted from the total value of any development that may occur. The development doesn’t occur for free; millions of tax dollars are used to cover the capital and operating cost of light rail.

    Before embarking on TOD as a means for promoting economic development, city officials should address a fundamental question: Why is little or no economic development occurring in a given area? Crime, tax rates, regulations and demographics are all factors that businesses consider when deciding where to locate. Unless there is a favorable business climate in a given area, it is unlikely that businesses will choose to locate to that area on their own.

    Although light rail may help attract businesses, the total societal benefit from these businesses is less than if subsidized light rail was not used as a tool to promote growth. Community leaders who fail to address the fundamental question of why economic development is slow to occur without tax dollars and help from city government will hinder potential economic development. For a city’s economy to grow, officials must correct the root problems responsible for a lack of economic development.

    As mentioned earlier, light rail can help guide growth, but it rarely leads to sustainable growth. Other viable alternatives for sustainable economic development are to lower taxes on individuals and businesses and to eliminate unnecessary regulations and zoning laws. All of these measures reduce the cost of doing business by putting more money into the hands of residents and business owners. It is this income, unlike the subsidy to light-rail tax,that will generate positive societal wealth and that will further economic development.

    ================

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Danny K, you are a shill for a “think tank”, or some similar slimy organization. Get a life.

  • Dale Brown

    “This is the golden point that so many people can’t, or just refuse, to grasp. The streetcar pays for itself INDIRECTLY through increased taxes, and this apparently boggles peoples’ minds.” It can’t be property tax, because the city doesn’t levy it on anyone and gives out 10 year exemptions left and right. It would all have to be generated through sales and payroll tax through the forseeable future.

    “And you’re saying Uptown residents won’t use it? BS.” Oh, they’ll use it. But what good does that do? Its not like “uptown people” are the ones with the disposable income that the streetcar needs to be spent along the line, those people live far outside the downtown/uptown area.

    “People prefer the suburbs because those lifestyles are cheaper due to heavy subsidies across the board.” – Yep, crime, schools, outdoor areas, lifestyle, etc, have nothing to do with it. You are aware its much cheaper to own a home along this route than it is the suburbs, correct?

    “I believe it was Quinlivan who quoted the statistic: the areas served by the streetcar have increased their populations by 28% according to the 2010 census.” But 28% of what? 6000 to 8000 isn’t very much.

    At the end of the day, here’s the problem. The street car, to be a viable economic entity, has to either attract people from outside the 275 corridor to live, eat, and/or play along the route, or it has to get people inside the corridor to either frequent the route more and/or move down town. The first point is completely driven by industry, and the street car would have little bearing on a company moving downtown (IMO). So the cruxt of it is how do you get the suburbanites out of their “caves” and onto the streetcar? Or really, they don’t even have to get on the streetcar if they just use the commerce along the lines that could be created by the streetcar. I’m probably downtown 2-3 month for work, 4-5 month per month for eating/drinking/Findlay Market. I can’t really say that I’ve ever needed to go from point A to point B, after I’ve driven my car down there, that I needed the street car. Maybe if I’m going from a Reds game to downtown or main street, but those can be walked.

    But my point is, does the street car provide for this, or are their other alternatives (bus trolley) that can get people circulating downtown? The streetcar is only successful if it can get people to move out of the burbs and downtown, and that is a long shot at best.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    @Danny K

    I like that you’re taking all this time away from your work day to debate me on something I didn’t say… but I’ll bite.

    “What happens is that development that would have happened elsewhere shifts to the train route”

    So what you’re saying is that rail transportation doesn’t create demand, it just shifts it?

    That’s kind of like saying power plants don’t create energy. Which, you know, is exactly right (thank you Al Einstein). What power plants do is transform materials into a more usable form.

    Inner-city rail is being promoted by… cities. Why? Because they would rather see development in cities than in suburbs, because it transfers growth and adds to the tax base. This is obvious. This is one of the basic tenets of transportation principle and the fact that you’d feel the need to quote studies to “teach” it to us is laughable.

    The more complicated point is, why should the state and federal gov’t support rail lines? To give people options. 52% of people along the streetcar line do not own vehicles. No one here is advocating an end to auto transportation. But isn’t it despicable that almost all of Ohio’s transportation dollars are spent on highways when nowhere near that many people drive?

    And, you read the news. You know that the younger generation is driving less than ever before. You know that suburban areas are collapsing from overgrowth. You know that rising gas prices are enticing people to move back to inner cities. Demand for rail is growing, yet in states like Ohio is still goes ignored.

    What it comes down to is simple: upper-middle class suburbanites contribute to political campaigns; the poor and student populations that most emphatically want rail do not. If you can’t see this, you don’t understand American politics.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “But what good does that do? Its not like “uptown people” are the ones with the disposable income that the streetcar needs to be spent along the line, those people live far outside the downtown/uptown area.”

    First, research would easily disprove this. Uptown’s population is largely professors and students. The professors are commonly making $150,000+ a year, and the students–while having no income themselves–often have the benefit of “daddy’s credit card.”

    The bigger point I’ll make, though, is that by cutting out the younger generation, you’re cutting out the FUTURE generation. You know, the ones who will be living in condos downtown and making 6-figure salaries while you struggle through retirement as gas hits $10+ a gallon.

    But of course, the kids don’t matter. We’re intelligent and creative; we’ll find a way to solve the mess the older generations are leaving behind. Just don’t expect us to support you when you’re advocating increased retirement benefits.

    “But 28% of what? 6000 to 8000 isn’t very much.”

    I don’t have the exact numbers, but I’ve seen that over 20,000 people live directly on the line, and that 50,000-60,000 live in the neighborhoods that are served by it. Again, that doesn’t include many of the 41,000 students at UC, so add them in and you’re easily looking at 80,000-90,000 people.

    “The first point is completely driven by industry, and the street car would have little bearing on a company moving downtown (IMO).”

    That’s the problem: opinion. The fact that many companies HAVE committed to moving and/or expanding should the streetcar be built should be enough to counter that opinion.

    “The streetcar is only successful if it can get people to move out of the burbs and downtown, and that is a long shot at best.”

    I think the circulatory effect (park-and-ride) will be huge. But, as many have pointed out in other discussions, a suburb-to-downtown rail network would be even more effective in bringing people downtown. So if you’re advocating another “MetroMoves”-like system, I think most of us would agree to it.

  • John Yung

    When the Federal Government starts giving away 90 to 10% matching grants (See Interstate Highway System) for rail projects, we’ll talk about “subsidies.”

  • Danny K.

    @Jake – It’s amazing that you think someone who disagrees with you automatically has to be a shill. I am just trying to add some common sense to this discussion. Money is a finite resource. Furthermore, it takes precious minutes of your life to earn money, so when money is sqandered, that means you are squandering precious minutes of your life.

  • Marshal

    Danny K,

    Even a layman wouldn’t claim that some of Columbus, Ohio’s greatest urban success stories involve bulldozing old neighborhoods.

    Your arguments are just circular and self-referential. “Time is money, so squandering money is squandering time” is not a policy statement. On anything.

    Re-posting a case study of Saint Louis is a nice effort, but one case study is meaningless outside of a larger data set. In reality, the ONLY groups publishing large-scale reports that criticize well-planned transit investments are from direct petroleum allies like Wendell Cox.

    Finally, as for the claim that “economic development around transit is really just stealing the development from somewhere else” is irrelevant. In this case, competition IS economic development.

  • Danny K.

    @Marshall – Ever been to the Market-Mohawk District? No, it’s not an exemplar of urban life, but it is a nice, clean modern area full of low-rise 1970′s-ish office buildings, apartments, Grant Hospital, the Carnegie Library and Franklin University. It is a complete improvement over the slums it replaced and it is for the most part built out. The only thing “old” remaining in Market-Mohawk are a few historic churches. Likewise, with Capitol Square.

    Now, if you expect me to say this rivals something you would see in Seattle or Austin or Portland, or is it some great architectural statement to point to, or is it some great example of urban living, I would say, “No.” But if you are asking is it a solid reuse of land and did it improve the Downtown landscape, the answer is absolutely and it has held up very well. In fact, the Market-Mohawk redevelopment has held up a lot better than the suburban commercial and office strips of the era which are on the decline.

    Point being, not everybody wants to live in a 100-year old house. In fact, most people don’t. Yes, leave the most significant examples up for the coolness factor (especially if there is brick construction), but tear the rest of it down and rebuild!

    That is the ONLY way you will stem the decline of the cities and Detroit is about to prove this to all of you!!!

  • Haynes Goddard

    I did a careful peer review of the Cartelazo and Garrett piece shortly after it was published, and further had an extensive and intensive exchange with Garrett on the background piece he wrote on the topic (not published that I am aware of). On the basis of that, I wrote the following (excerpted from a longer letter)to the President of the St. Louis at the time, William Poole.

    “. . .I am surprised and disappointed to find that the Bank has published “Light Rail, Heavy Subsidy”, a report that I find analytically deficient and its conclusions unfounded. First, it is clear that transportation is not one of authors’ areas of expertise and that they have limited knowledge of the economic literature in the area. Second, it is clear that they did not seek help from recognized economists who do write in the area. For anyone reasonably conversant with the relevant literature, it is very clear that the authors are not well informed on the issues, and this became even clearer in the exchange I had with Tom Garrett.

    “Particularly disturbing is that the Bank has put its imprimatur on an inadequately researched piece work that undermines the efforts of several professional and independent economists around the country to place the debate surrounding transit investments on a firm analytical foundation. When I pointed out shortcomings in Tom Garrett’s draft report to him, he accused me of bias. Frankly, I would expect the Bank to be the last place to find such an weak analysis (excepting the hedonic analysis, which I find nicely nuanced, clearly an area in which he has some expertise). After our exchange, Dr. Garrett apparently did react to a few of my comments as I note a few changes in the final report as compared to the draft.

    “We have come to expect a high standard for analysis from the Fed Banks, which regrettably was not met in these publications. Rather than move forward the quality of the public debate on these issues, these reports have set it back, and I have been told that the anti-transit ideologues in your region are gloating that they got the Bank to publish this report. It appears that the Bank staff has left itself open to manipulation in this instance because it failed to consult expert economists, given that the authors were writing outside of their areas of expertise. In short, these two reports are a public disservice, not only to your region, but nationwide as well. This report and the background report“Light-Rail Transit in America” reflect badly on the Bank and diminish its reputation and I find this deplorable.

    “I understand that what appears in this publication is not written for professional economists, but because it is not technical does not mean that such reports need not adhere to high standards. Nor should the length restrictions be a factor in its quality, except that if one cannot do justice to the issues in 1300 words, then this was not the proper outlet.

    “In fact, had either of these been a paper turned in for a class assignment, it would have been sent back for a major rewrite, and without that it would have earned an F. This was much less than careful work and was not ready for distribution. My reasons for this view will become clear to you as you read the exchange between Dr. Garrett and me. The references in the exchange to Cincinnati are to a large and carefully done benefit-cost analysis of a possible transit investment in this region that I sent initially to the authors.”

    In short, the Cartelazo and Garrett piece was shoddy and unprofessional. It is clear that their libertarian biases got in the way of clear and careful thinking. That work should not be cited at all in the continuing debate on rail transit.

    My experience with these biased and intellectually dishonest libertarians led me to write this piece, which fits the Cartelazo and Garrett article: http://www.cfte.org/news/New%20Clothes%20of%20Libertarian%20Critics.pdf

  • Marshal

    Danny K. – A bunch of preservationists created the German Village Commission in 1960 to protect it from the very urban renewal that made Market-Mohawk. Today German Village is one of the most cherished neighborhoods in Ohio.

    OK, I’m done. I can’t keep responding and validating your apparently sincere, but completely invalid ideas.

  • Zachary Schunn

    “A bunch of preservationists created the German Village Commission in 1960 to protect it from the very urban renewal that made Market-Mohawk. Today German Village is one of the most cherished neighborhoods in Ohio.”

    Hmm… kind of like OTR is becoming in Cincinnati? ;)

    But then again, demolishing historic neighborhoods can do a lot for urban areas, right? I mean, just look at the Lower Manhattan Expressway… oh wait, never mind.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    >It’s amazing that you think someone who disagrees with you automatically has to be a shill.

    This is the precise comeback of a shill.

    > I am just trying to add some common sense to this discussion.

    Right, someone’s paying you to hit up websites like this.

  • Danny K.

    @Marshall – “OK, I’m done. I can’t keep responding and validating your apparently sincere, but completely invalid ideas.

    Invalid? You could say I dabble in the real estate biz. I understand the value and charm of places like German Village, and there is a place for those kinds of developments in the real estate market. However, German Village is not the kind of housing the majority of folks want to live in.

    I know this is a Cincinnati board, but over the last 30 years the Columbus metro has gained over 600,000 residents (most, it seems, are from Dayton, Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo and Pittsburgh). At 600,000 residents, we have basically added the population of Montgomery County. With that kind of influx of people, if there was a demand for urban living in older homes, more of Columbus’ center city neighborhoods would have been rehabilitated. Fact is, most people would rather live in a nice, new, care-free, practically maintenance free home. That is why the population has sprawled out to Delaware, Licking and Fairfield Counties.

    Fighting what the market wants is like trying to swim upstream. The market wants new stuff. If you want to encourage an urban revival, then you have to give the market what it wants – NEW HOUSING!

    And again, when you start from a clean slate, you can PLAN all kinds of things into developments … things like choo choos, bike trails, running paths, walkable streets, high quality building materials, etc. Just take a look at what Dublin has done if you want to look at a well-executed model.

    @Jake Mecklenborg – Right, someone’s paying you to hit up websites like this.

    FYI: I am gainfully employed in another endeavor. I only wish someone would pay me for my gems of wisdom. How’s that tin foil hat fitting you?

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    Just out of curiosity, how did we go from talking about the streetcar to market economics in the Columbus suburbs?

    If the topic is going to get this far off track, I’m done too.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Danny K, postwar suburbs are the product of massive government subsidies, not the free market, and anyone who contends that they are has either not made the effort to educate themselves or repeats the myths because they are paid to do so.

  • Haynes Goddard

    “Fighting what the market wants is like trying to swim upstream.”

    One has to be very careful in reciting “what the market wants” as this statement ignores the impacts of infrastructural investments in highways. A recent estimate of the impact of urban expressways indicates the central city would be 26% larger than they are had the expressways not been built.

    See:

    DID HIGHWAYS CAUSE SUBURBANIZATION?

    NATHANIEL BAUM-SNOW

    Between 1950 and 1990, the aggregate population of central cities in the
    United States declined by 17 percent despite population growth of 72 percent in
    metropolitan areas as a whole. This paper assesses the extent to which the
    construction of new limited access highways has contributed to central city population
    decline. Using planned portions of the interstate highway system as a
    source of exogenous variation, empirical estimates indicate that one new highway
    passing through a central city reduces its population by about 18 percent. Estimates
    imply that aggregate central city population would have grown by about 8 percent had the interstate highway system not been built.

    See The Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 2007 or http://www.econ.brown.edu/fac/nathaniel_baum-snow/hwy-sub.pdf for the pre-publication draft.

  • Zack

    @ DannyK: If you truly believe Detroit is the prime example of how to deal with old infrastructure, then you clearly dont understand detroits story. Which would infer other concepts you may not understand.

    Your CBus numbers are nice. But all they’ve done is show that people DO want to live in urban areas. The fact that Mohawk is quickly growing doesnt support grandview, or German Village, or Victorian Village, which all grew on their own. There’s no way of proving either way that people would not have moved, or god forbid renovate an old home.

    Dont know why im posting. When you compared a building to a car i knew what we were in for.

  • Mark D

    Danny K – I don’t have the time in my day to address all or your comments, but I absolutely have to address your comments regarding the demolition of “1000 acres.” You say that people want “NEW HOUSING”, but have you ever even been in any of the redeveloped homes in OTR? You are from CBUS so I am going to have to saw I doubt it. Take a look at the below websites that feature some of the “old, ugly, and undesirable” redevelopment you speak of. It’s much nicer than the generic veneers and vinyl siding you find on a home in Mason or West Chester, and the buildings on these sites are mostly 130 years old or more. Furthermore, you mention to tear everything down and save a few ornate buildings “especially if there is brick construction.” Again I have to ask the question have you ever even been to Cincinnati? OTR has over 900 historic Italianate style buildings and is on the National Register of Historic Places the majority of which are brick. The rehabilitation of these properties and preservation of the history of Cincinnati is vital to the vibrancy of Cincinnati. I implore you to take a look at the photos on the sites listed below. Maybe even visit OTR sometime. The issue here is not what people want, it’s what people know. Ignorance has placed a stigma on OTR that has been hard to overcome. Every day I have people tell me how dangerous OTR is and how it is a run-down cesspool. Yet every time I am able to get these people to come down and check out the neighborhood they quickly change their tune. So before you spew off ignorant comments like “Let’s demo an entire neighborhood” you should first gain an understanding of exactly what it is that you’re stating (no offense intended).

    http://www.gatewayquarter.com/
    http://www.3cdc.org/
    http://www.urbansitesproperty.com/

  • Nate

    @Danny K – I didn’t ask you for your thoughts on urban transit and revitalization. I asked you for a verifiable source for your “automatic 50 points” accusation. If you can’t, then I can only assume it’s propaganda.

    Please don’t respond to me with anything other than a source for your accusation. Thanks.

  • Marshal

    ^ He lied. The correct information has already been posted. I would not keep baiting him, it’s already filling the page up with unrelated conversation.

  • Danny K.

    @Mark D – There is no question there is a market for older homes, all I am saying is that is a niche. Most people who can afford it, want a newer or newish home. Furthermore, not all old homes have masonry construction or nice architectural features. In fact, most older homes are crap, just as most newer homes are. I am not saying that redeveloping older homes does not have merit, what I am saying is that that market is a niche, will always be one simply because rehabbing is expensive and time consuming. If you want to spend $300,000 rehabbing a house in OTR, by all means do so, but most people don’t have the means or the desire to do that. Most people would rather spend the $150,000-$200,000 on a newer, energy efficient home without all the headaches.

    @Zack – @ DannyK: If you truly believe Detroit is the prime example of how to deal with old infrastructure, then you clearly dont understand detroits story. Which would infer other concepts you may not understand.

    Thank you for the condescending remark, but I completely understand why Detroit is downsizing, which is because they have infrastructure in place to serve twice the population they are serving much as GM has closed factories. If you had any vision, you would understand that this also provides a blank canvas to redevelop the city and bring development inward once again. Detroit, like many cities, still has some nice neighborhoods. It is not all the demilitarized zone. Do you honestly think Detroit is just going to sit on all this land so you libs can plant your urban farms?

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    @Danny K: While tense, Korea’s demilitarized zone is actually quite beautiful and serene. It has natural wildlife and vegetation over a beautiful landscape. Have you ever been there, or have you ever been to Detroit? The demilitarized zone in Korea is significantly nicer than parts of your beloved clearcut Detroit.

  • Danny K.

    @Zachary – “Just out of curiosity, how did we go from talking about the streetcar to market economics in the Columbus suburbs?”

    The point is … Columbus also looked at getting a free train, but never was able to generate public support in a city and county far more liberal than yours. This begs the question as to why did they get rid of trains in the first place? Because they were awful and dingy, because women used to break their heels on the tracks while crossing streets, because their routes were inflexible and because they used to impede traffic. Thats’ why buses became more popular. (I know everybody likes conspiracy theories about how GM was pulling the strings, but GM sold only 45,000 busses of their 1950′s-1960′s model. Hard to believe they would buy up all that infrastructure just to make 45,000 of something.) Furthermore, trying to wedge these things into already existing communities is what makes them so expensive.

    If you were able to start with a blank slate, these things could be designed so that the blend in better with things. And if you are starting from a blank slate, it is realtively cheaper to lay track, along with bike lanes and all sorts of other amenities that would make developments walkable.

  • Danny K.

    @Randy – The demilitarized zone in Korea is significantly nicer than parts of your beloved clearcut Detroit.

    Well, well, the libs all have their claws out today. Point is still that if people so loved urban living, Cincinnati AND Hamilton County wouldn’t be losing population. (What are you guys now? One-half or one-third of the population you were at in 1880?) Now you can blame subsidized roads, conspiracy theories or whatever other phenomenon you want to blame, but the fact is that if people didn’t like the suburbs they wouldn’t move there.

    That is why we have a discipline known as “marketing” and those who excel at marketing figure out what the market wants to provide, and they sell it to them. And if you’re smart, you can make a lot of money in the process. You libs always seem to have a mentality that government can force people to like something by edict.

    Bottom line is that if you want to get people to move back to the city, then you have to give them something they like (not what you urbanists like, but what they like). That means you have to give them the same kind of amenities they get in the ‘burbs, or primarily new neighborhoods and schools, and being around people who don’t menace their kids. That is what mandates starting from a blank slate.

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    @Danny K: There are no conspiracy theories here, just facts. But to play into your free market discussion. Land values are actually increasing in cities across the nation even as they lose population.

    The reason for this is that when these older cities were built people lived much differently than they do today. So in Over-the-Rhine, for example, it once housed some 50,000 people. In a building that houses 10 people fully occupied today at one point housed as many as 30. Consumers are driving the market to provide larger houses and more amenities (walkin closets, large kitchens, big bathrooms, etc). So the baseline for cities is a huge population that will never be at those levels again due to changes in market demands. Suburbs, meanwhile, do not have that baseline. When you build single-family homes on a cornfield it is pure 100% population growth. But when Over-the-Rhine sees a building renovated and house new people, it’s actually a population loss when compared to the baseline.

  • Mark D

    Danny K – I will revert back to my prior post because it is quite apparent that you didn’t even take the time to visit the sites I provided you. You speak of a neighborhood call it “crap.” Have you ever been? You state “not all old homes have masonry construction or nice architectural features. In fact, most older homes are crap, just as most newer homes are.” I can assure you I have been through more homes in OTR than I can count, and I would venture to say over 95% of those homes were with quality masonry construction and with ornate architectural detail. The buildings in the neighborhood are nearly all built of stone and possess gorgeous cornices, mansard roofs, and other ornate details that would be too expensive and time consuming to produce today. Your argument regarding a rebuilt home costing more than a new one only reinforces other bloggers arguments that suburban America has been living under subsidies for decades because the home owners aren’t paying for the infrastructure they demand. God willing, when the tax reform is proposed by the “Gang of Six” in May it will make one small step towards disbanding these subsidies by ridding this country of many tax deductions that reinforce sprawl include the tax deduction on home purchases. I could go on for hours about how flawed your arguments are because they go against virtually every value including best practices utilized by urban developers, cultural values that define our societies including historical preservation, recycle and reuse, etc. The only validity I will grant you is that you are right that some people like “newer homes.” Although I want to point out that you’re completely ignorant to the fact that most of the examples I provided in my prior post would pass any haughty burbanites standards because they look brand new. However, architects were able to salvage many ornate details while restoring the properties to brand new condition. Basically your entire argument has come down to semantics. If a building is 150 years old, but it is in better working condition now than it was the day it was built is it new or old? In order to make bold comments like the one you are so blindly asserting I think you need a few things.
    1. You need to know the area much better than you are demonstrating on this blog.
    2. You need to have a better understanding of the profession you are critiquing (urban development, urban renewal, and economics).
    3. You need to understand the importance of cultural preservation.
    I go ahead and elaborate and wrap this post up. In regards to one, you obviously don’t have a clue what the area you are speaking of looks like because you keep stating things that are most definitely not applicable to the area in question (your comments regarding the materials and architectural details of the buildings in question). In regards to two, if you studied urban development, urban renewal, and economics you would understand that your proposal is completely and unquestionably asinine. The ornate buildings you want to demo are invaluable to our city and if revamped will attract far more residents and visitors, and in turn create far more economic stimulation than demoing downtown and building a Mason look-a-like. This step requires far more detail to explain, but this will best be saved for my dissertation. Finally, you show a complete lack of understanding in regards to the heritage of this community. OTR is on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, I know a lot of places are, but how many of them have one tenth the number of historic buildings OTR does? In Cincinnati many buildings that were of German orientation were demo’d because of an anti-German movement post-war. Now people ache to have those buildings back. If our society continues to operate with their heads up their asses as you have demanded we will have nothing left to boast of any culture. Have you ever been to Europe? I can assure the architecture they have over there attracts millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, as I stated in my prior post many people in our community don’t know what they have in OTR because of negative sentiment created by poor media coverage (The Enquirer) and word of mouth. Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until I show it to them.” In regards to these people who only like “new homes” and think OTR is scary, 3CDC and many others are rebuilding our community under that precedent and eventually these people will come around. The streetcar is a tool to provide incentive to people who move down.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Danny K, you are a shill. How do I know? Because I have studied this topic (rail transit in the United States) for the entire history of the internet, going back to 1996, and I see giveaway “arguments” in your post. The thing about women breaking their heals in streetcar tracks is one of the classics. Get a life, dude.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    Quit feeding this guy; he is just bored and looking for someone to argue with. Made it rather clear at about post 2. That’s why he changed the conversation to something irrelevant to the topic… he keeps searching for a new bone to pick.

    Just look at some of the (very few) numbers he’s cited; it’s obvious he has no clue about anything outside the “perfect city” that is Columbus, OH.

    $300,000 to renovate a house in OTR? Even if you understand the construction industry (which I doubt you do), it’s clear you don’t understand OTR. First, most of the structures in OTR are multi-family, meaning–as Randy noted–they house much more people (although still less than they used to). There are very few “houses” in OTR–they are mostly apartments and condos. Second, even if you were to renovate a single-family home (which there are more of in West End), there is no way in hell it would cost $300,000. That’s $150-$200/sf, which is more than a lot of commercial construction gets built at these days.

    Now, I will concede one point: sadly there are structures beyond repair. This is called “blight.” They become condemned and torn down, and something usable gets built in their place. This has actually been occurring in OTR.

    But wipe out America’s largest historic neighborhood for some 1970′s brutalist crap? Seriously?

    Email me at zacharyschunn@gmail.com. I’ll give you a tour of OTR. I can show you some of the housing down here, old and new, we can tour the galleries and shops, and get a beer at one of the several new bars that have opened up. Heck we can even get a gyro a Tina’s. I promise you won’t get shot.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    On a more positive and serious note:

    A few people have said it, and I agree: enroll in some classes and better educate yourself on the topic if you’re interested in it. Ohio State has some great CRP courses. Maybe also take a market economics course or two, since you seem interested in that, and most definitely some construction and development related courses.

    Oh, and while I’m at it, pick up a copy of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

  • Danny K.

    Kiddies, kiddies, you are taking this all so personal.

    Now let’s address the issues as they have been raised as to my experience in the real estate business. I have been involved in real estate since I was approximately 18 years old. And as to my experience in the construction industry, although I don’t do it for a living, I once was an integral part of a group (the developer, if you will) that put a building together that won a couple of Builders Exchange awards for craftsmanship. I also lived in Cincinnati during a two year stretch and own and/or manage property in the area and take a natural interest. So I know enough about what I am talking about.

    Likewise, I have seen Columbus proper start the process of what I believe is decline. That is why I suggested to the city that they start buying up places for the purpose of creating backfill development. The places you mention like German Village and the Short North in Columbus are mostly $300,000 and up. The cracker box homes may be cute for some people, but most aren’t interested.

    Any other questions?

  • Mark D

    Zach you were right, I will bite. It’s like talking to a brick wall. Maybe if I put all this info in a pop-up book or something…?

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    @Mark D

    I know, right? Suddenly a little experience in the real estate industry in Columbus makes someone feel like he knows better than 50 years of urban planning theory.

    Really, though, I lost interest when talk of $300,000 single-family homes in OTR began, lol. I guess OTR is easy to confuse on a map with Hyde Park or the north edge of Clifton. ;)

  • Mark D

    Yea my brother is working on one by Wash Park right now and the final estimate is $239 including purchase price from 3CDC and he has expensive taste. The home has a gorgeous mansard roof, original staircase, outside courtyard, etc. I guess it won’t compare to the “new” townhome out by PKI though……

  • Danny K.

    @ Zachary Schunn – You choo choo cultists are the ones are the ones who it is talking like a brick wall. Laugh all you want, but I will stack up my financial statement over your urban theories any day of the week. P.S. I own property in the Cincinnati area.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    @Mark D:

    Yeah, that’s about the most expensive I’ve heard. There are a few penthouses that are outrageous, but most of the condos in the Gateway Quarter are running $150,000-$200,000 that I’ve seen… which is of course final selling price. Rehab costs per unit can’t be anywhere near that.

    For most of the single-families (which are in West End, not OTR, anyway), buying one for $25,000-$50,000 and putting another $50,000 into it I would think would be a reasonable assumption.

    My amateur knowledge is, though, that most of the OTR properties remain rentals, not condos or single-fam’s.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “You choo choo cultists are the ones are the ones who it is talking like a brick wall. Laugh all you want, but I will stack up my financial statement over your urban theories any day of the week. P.S. I own property in the Cincinnati area.”

    You just went from being uncredible to nasty.

    The “choo choo cultists” voted 56-44 to approve the streetcar in Cincinnati in 2009.

    You’re the one who wanted to talk urban theory. I would be willing to talk real estate finance if you want, but… again… I think you lost all credibility talking about $300,000 single-family homes in OTR.

    So where in Cincinnati is your property… Mason? West Chester? Chillicothe?

  • Danny K.

    Zachary, I’m not going to disclose my financial statement here so let’s get back to the issue at hand. I will say, they are nothing of any architectural significance, but they work.

    The reason I mentioned Columbus in the first place is because there has been an influx of 600,000 people in the Columbus metro area over the last 30 years. This is just a guess on my part, but one-half or more of those people are economic refugees from Cleveland, Mansfield, Toledo, Youngstown, Akron, Pittsburgh and Dayton, with a smathering of people from Cincinnati. The other reason I mention Columbus as opposed to Cincinnati is because it has a greater diversity of people who have moved in from other cities and they are all great urban cities as you people define them.

    Now, if urban living is as great as you say, and if it’s as popular as you say, why are all these people moving to Delaware, Licking and Fairfield County? Why aren’t they lining up to buy up all the homes in Linden, Milo-Grogan, Steelton, Hungarian Village and Driving Park (inner city areas)? These people come from urban cities, move here and go directly to the suburbs!!!

    Again, I’m not knocking urban communities, but it is a niche and nothing more than a niche. You can’t force people to move back to the city, you have to entice them there. And the way you entice them there is by giving them what they want: NEW HOUSING.

  • Danny K.

    @Zachary – Suddenly a little experience in the real estate industry in Columbus makes someone feel like he knows better than 50 years of urban planning theory.

    Typical liberal canard: Never mind what your powers of obeservation tell you, what your brain tells you and what your experience tells you, check your brain at the door and defer to the “experts”.

    Let’s look at the track record of these “experts” with their theories:

    -Ohio Lottery? Liberals said it was going to pay for the schools.
    -Liberals pushing casinos … turning out to be another disaster.
    -The “new” Ice Age
    -The “population explosion”
    -World famine
    -Global warming
    -The Food Pyramid, force feeding corn and carbs for the last 30 years and then wondering why there is so much obeseity.(Anybody from a farm background knows that’s the diet for fattening up cattle).
    -Emptying out the insane asylums (there was no homeless problem before that).
    -Welfare reform (claimed there would be starving people in the streets).
    -Home loans to people who cant afford them… ie CRA Community revinvestment act.
    -Breakfast club..otherwise knows as free breakfast for kids you pooped out but are too big of a waste to pay for and raise yourself.
    -Immigration – thanks for bringing in all the Somalis and the Mexicans, libs.
    -Education – much better and cost effective results when we focussed on the three R’s.
    -Government unions – conservatives told you this was a bad idea.
    -Screwed up the government schools with busing and social engineering.
    -Screwed up the nuclear family by forcing acceptance of basturd babies and other behaviors that deviate from the norm.
    -Screwed up housing by dumping society’s dregs in working class neighborhoods (Section 8) creating new slums in their wake.

    Care to discuss your track record, liberals?

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    Again, you completely disregard what I said and revert back to pointless topics.

    Every time someone here challenges something you say, you change the topic to something irrelevant. Again, no one here gives a flying [****] about real estate markets in Columbus. This is a Cincinnati board.

    I have no clue you are, but given that you’ve only offered vague suggestions I’m beginning to wonder if you’re not just some 14-yr-old copy-pasting stuff off Google.

    Anyways, I warned others not to feed your incessant need to argue, and yet I’ve fallen back into the trap, and for that I am disgusted with myself.

    Good night, and good luck. Do us all a favor, and actually learn a few things about what you are talking about before you come back. Namely, Cincinnati, public transportation, urban planning policy, and construction methods and costs.

    PS: Just for the record, I am a fiscal conservative. A conservative who likes trains. I am also for removing tax subsidies for suburbs and getting the government out of the housing industry (FHA, VA, Fannie/Freddie Mac, etc.). Just for the record…

  • big bags of dogmatic douche

    @streetcar supporters on this site: I’m unsure if you have moved from denial to anger yet but can we please skip the bargaining and depression stages and go straight to acceptance. I really don’t want to read stories on here about skinny jeans going unwashed for weeks or that the depression is so bad that some have resorted to the hunting and gathering of meat again. The streetcar project is in some sort of persistent vegetative state. Polishing such a turd is unhealthy. It’s time to pull the plug and move on.

    For what it’s worth, I used to be a supporter of the streetcar but the arrogance and ego of some involved made me rethink my stance. Take the time to look behind the curtain to find out who is pulling the strings and understand what they have to gain. You might just change your mind too.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    >I used to be a supporter of the streetcar

    No, you’ve always been a shill. You are simply demonstrating another classic shill tactic.

    >Take the time to look behind the curtain to find out who is pulling the strings and understand what they have to gain.

    For 3-4 years now The Enquirer’s attack on this project has been relentless, but they have found nothing. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the corruption of ODOT was on full display, but Barry Horstman couldn’t figure out what was going on.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    Don’t egg him on. These creeps are just looking for attention.

  • Juan De Bonia

    what the hell is a “shill”?

  • big bags of dogmatic douche

    @Jake: If you have health insurance, specifically mental, seek help as you are imagining things.

  • Ian Webster

    @ Jake M.: Look man, you’ve called two people (at least, couldn’t find it anywhere else) “shills”. And it appears that you did this simply because they are against the streetcar? Look, if you guys want only pro-streetcar people commenting on articles related to the matter, then why don’t you put some banner up indicating such? You can’t come back when someone opposes it, with, in my opinion, moderately articulate posts, and call them “shills”. That’s bullshit and you know it. Heck, I live in OTR, I support it, but I don’t live in some fantasy world where I think everyone is for it. I met a girl at Northside Tavern, who lives with her parents still (just graduated from college), in New Richmond (ugh….). She is against the streetcar, and also said she’d never step foot in OTR, because of “all of the shootings I’ve heard about”. Well guess what? She’s a lost cause, and that’s ok with me. Fuck her.

    I’ve seen this with Randy as well, as far as insulting anti-streetcar people is concerned. Look, I respect your opinions, I think you put good stuff on here, but for fuck’s sake, if someone opposes it, regardless of HOW they oppose, just go with it and debate back. Resorting to name calling in an argument just dilutes your ability, or perceived ability, to argue the matter.

    @ Zachary: “These creeps are just looking for attention.”

    Huh, that’s interesting…sooooo…what do you call it when certain moderators of this website (who I will not name), and their friends who comment on here, are shown in pictures front and center at some goddamn march, both holding up a banner that says “Support the Streetcar”? No, that’s not “looking for attention”? Given that my last name is Webster, I suggest you read my family’s book, it has lots of definitions of words you may not know the meaning of.

    OTR supporters, and the posers, really piss me off sometimes. I myself am one, but here’s where we differ: You guys act all “open-minded”, open to debate, open to other lifestyles, etc. etc. et-fucking-cetera. But in all honesty, a lot of the time you show your true selfs. You are just like those people in the burbs that you criticize for being close-minded. You’re just like them, but in a different way. You are Cincinnati (as seen from this outsider).

  • Joe

    Below is a link to an article that shows aerial maps showing growth patterns around streetcars and light rail in various cities such as Tampa, Houston, Charlotte, etc. Although the maps show some correlations between growth and transit, I do not think the correlations are anywhere as strong as Cincinnati Streetcar supporters and this website portray them to be. Actually as discussed by others it is possible that streetcars may just redirect growth that was already going to occur and that there is minimal true net gain for the city (for example “cash for clunkers” and the new home owner tax credits just rearranged spending habits and did not create additional demand). Also it is hard to isolate other factors that may cause growth such as major institutions, corporate headquarters, and etc. The “but for” rule needs to be considered when looking at the impacts of the streetcar and that the urban core in cities across the country has been experiencing an revival in the last decade or so and many of these cities do not have streetcars.

    http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-apr-does-fixed-transit-really-spur-economic-development

    Also I’m really disapointed at the tone of this conservation and calling people that you disagree with “shills” really shows a lack of class on your part. Its too bad the reporting on this website could not objectively discuss the literature that calls into question the investment in streetcars opposed to bus rapid transit which is more cost effective and can be expanded relatively easily (example Curitiba, Brazil).

    Lastly, if the streetcar does not go to CUF in the first phase it should be scrapped. If the system is just in the CBD and OTR it will be a great case study of what not to do and I predict will not last more that a couple of years until it is abandoned just like the Cincinnati Subway.

  • http://zacharyschunn.blogspot.com Zachary Schunn

    “Huh, that’s interesting…sooooo…what do you call it when certain moderators of this website (who I will not name), and their friends who comment on here, are shown in pictures front and center at some **** march, both holding up a banner that says “Support the Streetcar”? No, that’s not “looking for attention”?”

    In a definitive sense of the word “attention,” yes, I agree with you. They are hoping people see their support, and even that others will join in.

    “Attention” was admittedly probably not the proper term to use. The reason I became more frustrated than I meant to be was that it became very clear that, instead of undertaking an intelligent debate, a few of the commenters here were more interested in releasing anger. How the conversation moved from streetcars to Columbus to how evil “liberals” are (despite the fact that nothing here begs streetcar supporters being called “liberals”), I still am unsure.

    “Resorting to name calling in an argument just dilutes your ability, or perceived ability, to argue the matter.”

    Agreed. Something it seems all of us need to work on. (That and using cleaner language.)

  • Juan De Bonia

    @ Ian…I was actually thinking the same thing. Great observation. Starting to sound like grade school recess on here.