Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that he and the city’s finance and legal has settled a legal dispute with Chicago Parking Meters (CPM) that will provide for free parking in Chicago neighborhoods on Sundays and the introduction of a pay-by-cell option. The legal dispute originated over closed, added parking spaces or changes to periods of stay, hours of operation or parking rates and an estimated $1 billion in future charges over the life of the contract that would no longer be owed. Free Sunday parking is an issue many downtown Cincinnati businesses outside of The Banks have been arguing against, especially during Sundays with sporting events as they claim they can’t open their doors due to the lack of available metered parking. More from Streetsblog:
The proposed changes seem to be a good thing for the city overall, but the introduction of free Sunday parking is somewhat problematic. While I don’t have a problem with churchgoing seniors getting a break at the expense of people out on the town at night, free daytime parking in neighborhood retail districts could have unintended negative consequences.
On-street parking works best when its cost reflects the demand for spaces. When meter prices are steep in high-demand areas, it discourages people from parking in the same spot for long periods, which increases the chance that there will be open spots for short-term parking. When parking is free, it encourages visitors to park for longer periods, and it tempts employees to drive instead of walking, biking or taking transit to work. Their cars might occupy spaces all day, eliminating spots for potential customers.
Over the past decade Cincinnati has actively been working to dismantle the once extensive elevated skywalk system in its downtown. Other cities throughout the country such as Baltimore have followed Cincinnati’s lead however a recent report coming out of Cleveland spotlights the recent debate over two projects that would add more skywalks in their downtown. Read more at the Atlantic Cities:
For the most part, it didn’t work, and now cities such as Baltimore and Cincinnati are tearing down the skywalks they once built with such fanfare, in an effort to return pedestrian life and vitality to the street. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the owners of the year-old Horseshoe Casino downtown are planning to build a brand-new skywalk, and the county government is looking to refurbish another one just a few blocks away. For many of the young people moving to Cleveland in search of a 21st-century urban experience – pedestrian-friendly, with lots of people out and about – it seems like a step backward in time.
In cooperation with developer Fifield Companies, Sarver and his firm have fleshed out a masterplan that calls for 10 million square feet of new office space in the West Loop in 10 years. The plan also calls for a 10-to-15-acre park covering the trench of the Kennedy Expressway, which forms a barrier between the West Loop and downtown. Alan Schachtman, executive vice president of Fifield, called this hypothetical green a Millennium Park for the West Loop.
Last month Cincinnati City Council approved changes to the city’s Mobile Food Vending Program, which oversees food truck operators choosing to take advantage of mobile food vending zones throughout the city.
According to city officials, two new mobile food vending zones will be added in Over-the-Rhine. The changes were approved 8-1 by city council, with Councilmember Christopher Smitherman (I) casting the lone opposition vote.
The first is at Washington Park and will accommodate up to three food trucks at any given time. This location, officials say, will be open to mobile food vendors from 6am to 3pm, and will be open during evening hours based on agreements between the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) and those vendors who are in the program.
The second Over-the-Rhine location will be at Twelfth and Clay Streets, and is the result of much negotiation with nearby restaurants that had been wary of a mobile food vending zone near their establishments. This location will accommodate up to two food trucks at a time, and unlike the Washington Park zone, will allow vendors to operate between 6pm and 3:30am.
The new Over-the-Rhine mobile food vending zones add to the other six locations in place throughout the city. According to Councilmember Laure Quinlivan (D), who first proposed legislation to create the mobile food vending program in 2010, those who would like to see mobile food vending zones established elsewhere throughout the city can contact her office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City officials say that all of the following official mobile food vending zones are open seven days a week, and are available to operators with mobile food vending licenses on a first come, first serve basis.
12th/Clay Streets (6pm to 3:30am)
Court Street Market (6am -3pm)
Fountain Square/North Vine Street (6pm-3:30am)
Fountain Square/North Fifth Street (6am to 3:30am)
Fountain Square/South Fifth Street (6am to 3:30am)
Purple People Bridge (6am to 3:30am)
University Hospital (6am to 3:30am)
Washington Park zone (6am to 3pm)
“If you have additional mobile food vending zones you’d like to see created, please contact me to learn how to get it done,” Quinlivan stated. “The bottom line is that you need to get support for the new zone from nearby property owners.”
Food truck operators interested in getting a mobile food vending license will not see their annual fees change from the current $600 for a six-month license or $1,000 for a full year. But, according to city officials, they will now apply through the Cincinnati Health Department in an effort to streamline the application and licensing process since the health department also must issue a health license for the food trucks.
Other approved changes include the elimination of the non-refundable $25 application fee, and structural changes for the mobile food vendor zone at the foot of the Purple People Bridge to allow for more consistent space availability for food truck operators.
Due to the court-issued restraining order on the City of Cincinnati, the changes could not take effect immediately, and will finally go into effect this Friday, May 17 following the required 30-day waiting period.
To celebrate, the Cincinnati Food Truck Association, Quinlivan and community leaders will gather at Washington Park this Friday at 11:30am to celebrate the new food truck zones.
“I’m excited our program has created jobs and livened up city streets,” Quinlivan stated. “I’m told we now have 28 mobile food trucks in Cincinnati and we hope all of them participate in our program.”
The original budget proposal from Dohoney included $25.8 million from an upfront payment included in the parking lease and modernization plan, which would have also included $3 million in annual payments thereafter. This proposal was approved 5-4 by City Council, but was put on hold by a local court until opponents were able to file petitions and get the proposal put on this November’s ballot for public vote.
“Though a legal victory is being vigorously pursued, the ultimate resolution is not assured in time to affect what must be in place by June 1 to take effect July 1, 2013,” Dohoney explained. “Should a final legal victory be realized after July 1, the Administration would presume to move expeditiously to reverse some of the impacts of the cuts contained within the recommended budget.”
Cincinnati’s mounted patrol would be cut entirely if City Council passes the recommended budget. Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.
The end result of these cuts includes the elimination of 66 police officers, 71 fire fighters, 64 city employees, and the elimination of 60 vacant positions. The recommended budget will also eliminate funding for the following items:
In addition to the elimination of these programs, no funding is budgeted for either 2014 or 2015 as a result of limited General Fund resources.
Furloughs for City Management staff will also take place, and the City of Cincinnati would also use a larger amount of projected casino revenues to balance this budget, even though Dohoney has recommended against that in the past due to the unpredictability of these funds.
“While balancing a budget deficit with mostly cuts is not preferred, the timing of the new fiscal year coupled with the timing of the litigation over the parking deal makes it the only real option with a number this large,” Dohoney stated in a prepared release. “Our goal is going to be to recall staff as soon as possible and provide the best customer service we can deliver for the citizens in the meantime.”
A number of other measures are taken in the recommended budget to help close the budget gap, but the large amount of savings is realized through personnel layoffs. Dohoney has also recommended that the property tax millage increase from 5.7 mills to its maximum allowed 6.1 mills to raise an additional $1.3 million annually.
To help engage the public in this budget process, Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls (C) has scheduled three public hearings. The first will take place at the Duke Energy Convention Center on Thursday, May 16 at 6:30pm, the second will occur on Monday, May 20 at 6:30pm at the College Hill Recreation Center, and the final meeting will take place at the Madisonville Recreation Center on Wednesday, May 22 at 6:30pm.
“My priority for the FY 2014 city operating budget is to make sure that all Cincinnati’s neighborhoods are safe and that we continue to attack blight that breeds crime,” Qualls stated. “As chair of the Budget and Finance Committee I will work to further reduce the number of layoffs for police, fire and health department personnel, to ensure that we keep all our neighborhoods safe and clean.”
On Friday, April 19, UrbanCincy partnered with the Niehoff Urban Studio and hosted an event that showcased student work and included expert analysis and discussion of urban mobility issues in Cincinnati.
Approximately 100 people showed up to the collaborative studio space in Corryville to view the student work, and learn more about the challenges facing Cincinnati today and in the future.
Metropolis & Mobility: Bus Rapid Transit and Bikeway Planning focused on five proposed bus rapid transit and three bikeway corridors throughout Cincinnati. Engineering and planning students were paired together in groups to examine the issues and propose implementation strategies for those potential projects.
Students examining bus rapid transit focused on the Reading Road, Downtown, Hamilton Avenue, Vine Street, and Montgomery Road corridors. The students studying bikeway planning, meanwhile, examined the Wasson Way and Western Riverfront Trail and Mill Creek Greenway.
Those who attended the event were also able to vote on their favorite project, which will then be profiled right here on UrbanCincy.com in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please enjoy the video put together on the Metropolis & Mobility event by our contributing videographer Andrew Stahlke.
Last month the American Planning Association (APA) held its annual conference for planning professionals. The 2013 conference was held in Chicago and organizers made efforts to showcase planning efforts of The Second City.
The educational sessions at the conference are made up of presentations by planning officials across the country. A few of the sessions were hosted by Cincinnati Planning officials who highlighted some of Cincinnati’s recent planning successes.
Cincinnati and Hamilton County received a national award from the APA for the implementation of the Central Riverfront Master Plan and The Banks. Photograph by Randy Simes for UrbanCincy.
The plan was approved by the city in October 2012 and is the first long-term comprehensive planning vision of the city since 1980. The seminar also highlighted Cincinnati’s rich planning heritage as the city carries the noteworthy distinction of drafting the first ever city-wide comprehensive plan in the 1925 Master Plan. That plan, along with the 1907 Kessler Parks Plan, envisioned a walkable cityscape with an extensive parks system.
However, after World War II, the city drafted the 1948 Comprehensive Plan which proposed several highways and urban renewal projects. The 1948 plan was successfully implemented but instead of the promised revitalization of the city, the highway system and slum clearance policies supported by the plan drove the city’s population to the suburbs.
“The highway was unfortunately a successful implementation,” explained Gregory Dale from McBride Dale Clarion Associates, “Sixty years later we’re still trying to repair the damage.”
Presenters also highlighted how the Cincinnati’s Planning Department overcame the problems of being dissolved in 2002 and reconstituted in 2007.
“In some ways I think maybe if we had not been eliminated as a departments, maybe there would not be that strength today, maybe it wouldn’t have woken people up to see the importance of planning,” recalled Cincinnati Senior Planner Katherine Keough-Jurs.
She went on to say that she noticed the involvement and passion of participants in the new comprehensive plan was a positive sign that citizens were concerned about the future direction of the city. The citizen participation in the new plan highlighted residents desire for creating and reinvigorating walkable neighborhoods and commercial centers.
“The plan is unapologetically urban,” Keough-Jurs told session attendees,”In many ways our new comprehensive plan returns to the vision of the 1925 plan.”
At the conference the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received an Excellence in Planning award from the APA for the implementation of the Central Riverfront Master Plan. That plan, which was first developed in the late 1990′s when the stadiums and Fort Washington Way were proposed for reconstruction envisioned a new mixed-use riverfront neighborhood called The Banks.
In 2011 the first phase of the mixed-use neighborhood opened to the public and the second phase is slated to begin construction this year.
The planning department’s most recent project, the adoption of the final draft of the form-based code is on City Council’s Livable Communities Committee Agenda today for their 1pm meeting.
The code was approved by the city’s Planning Commission on March 7. Once the code wins approval from the committee it will go on to the full council for a vote. The city’s planning department is looking to meet with the four demonstration neighborhoods – Walnut Hills, Westwood, Madisonville, College Hill – in the coming months to move forward with changes in the zoning map to implement the form-based code.