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Retrofitting the Suburbs to be More Sustainable

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Development Retrofitting the Suburbs to be More Sustainable

This topic contains 88 replies, has 26 voices, and was last updated by  Cbussmallbiz 4 years ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 89 total)
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  • #87633

    News
    Participant

    SUSTAINING THE SUBURBS

    by Phil McDermott 08/01/2011

    The proposition is simple, if not overwhelming. If we want sustainable cities – however you define “sustainable” – we had better put some effort into the quality of suburban life. We need to get over denigrating suburbs and sprawl. That simply ducks the issue of where and how most people spend most of their time. We need to moderate a preoccupation with promoting CBD and big centre lifestyles. Those are places that people want visit, but not necessarily where they want to live.

    READ MORE: http://www.newgeography.com/content/002365-sustaining-suburbs

    #455103

    JayR
    Member

    The problem here is assuming that we can still life wherever, and however we want, whilst facing a grim future of climate change. Do people want to live in suburbs? Yes. But we must all face the fact that in order to reduce the footprint we have on our planet, we must give up aspects of life that we “want.” This is and entire problem with consumerism and the way our lifestyle is right now, we are unwilling to give up what we want for what is right and necessary.

    There are reasons why suburbs and urban sprawl aren’t viable options for future settlement. The foremost of these is simple efficiency. When people live closer to their workplace they have to expend less energy to get there; you can centralize things like waste treatment and other utilities when people live more densely; and it makes more efficient use of the landmass. This doesn’t mean we must all live in high rise condos, but it does mean we simply cannot afford keep expanding our suburbs if we are to effectively combat the large footprint we leave on the earth.

    #455104

    gramarye
    Participant

    Some of the author’s suggestions really do speak to issues of sustainability. Others are just proposals to bring more urban amenities to suburbs, which is also a perfectly worthy goal, but doesn’t actually make suburbs more sustainable than they were before.

    “Smart growth” policies for new greenfield sites and decentralized employment that would shorten commutes would both be moves towards more sustainable suburbs. I have no problem with the former. The issue with the latter, however, is that moving a business out of the central city into one suburb necessarily moves it farther away from other suburbs on the far side of the city. If a business has extremely low turnover, that can work: employees expecting careers of a decade or more can comfortably locate in that particular suburb. However, businesses like that are the exception these days, not the rule. Moving into Dublin to work at a business in Dublin might make sense–but it becomes more problematic if your next job is in Pickerington. In addition, younger workers in higher-end occupations have shown a sufficiently strong preference for central cities that many employers who did move to the suburbs are beginning to reconsider.

    As for some of the other ideas the author floats, such as more parks and greenspaces, and building and protecting landmarks and monuments that don’t necessarily aspire to international recognition but which can foster a sense of local heritage and common points of reference for the community, may be worthwhile, but say nothing about sustainability.

    Realistically, sustainable suburbs will only be achieved through technology, and in particular developments in the energy and transportation fields (the two fields on which the suburbs trail the cities the most in terms of efficient uses of resources). Most particularly, I mean rooftop solar panels at a cost per kWh equal to or less than power from the grid (“grid parity”), and electric cars of a size and comfort level to be viable for a family.

    #455105

    News
    Participant

    Megacities: Three Ways to Fix US Suburbs from the Inside Out
    THEODORE BROWN
    May 25th, 2012

    Changing the living arrangements of tens of millions of Americans isn’t as easy as simply changing their tastes in geography. Sure, cities are getting more desirable for young, creative Americans, but how many can afford to stay in the city when they start a family and need to move out of their closet-sized studio? And can you blame the couple that wants their own patch of green without having to wake up the sound of garbage trucks and revelers at 4 AM?

    READ MORE: http://thisbigcity.net/megacities-three-ways-to-fix-us-suburbs-from-the-inside-out/

    #455106

    News
    Participant

    Get your offices into a walkable town center!
    Blog post by Geoff Dyer on 10 Aug 2012

    In the new economy, as we have sought to reattach these elements once again into walkable mixed-use environments, we have had great success in mixing retail and residences back together… but what about our centers of employment? Where are the new big industries locating in your region… and why aren’t there more? The short answer is this … If they aren’t going into your walkable town centers then they are still going into car-focused office parks. And if all you’ve got is out-of-date office parks to offer your prospective industry, then you’re missing the boat.

    READ MORE: http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/geoff-dyer/18765/get-your-offices-walkable-town-center

    #455107

    News
    Participant

    Inner-ring suburbs talk about sharing resources
    By KEVIN CORVO
    ThisWeek Community News
    Wednesday October 24, 2012 11:29 AM

    Capital University hosted mayors, city managers, finance directors and other officials from about 20 Ohio cities Friday, Oct. 19, with a goal of listening to each others’ ideas about government efficiency and resource sharing.

    The Ohio First Suburbs Alternative Revenue Summit stemmed from a task force the city of Bexley convened earlier this year to explore alternative revenue streams within the city.

    Among the local elected officials who attended the summit were: Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard, Whitehall Auditor Dan Miller, Grandview Heights Development Director Patrik Bowman, Worthington Assistant City Manager Robyn Stewart, Worthington Finance Director Molly Roberts, Upper Arlington Commercial and Economic Manager Bob Lamb, Upper Arlington City Councilwoman Debbie Johnson, and numerous elected and appointed Bexley officials.

    READ MORE: http://www.thisweeknews.com/content/stories/bexley/news/2012/10/23/inner-ring-suburbs-talk-about-sharing-resources.html

    #455108

    NEOBuckeye
    Participant

    I wondered when talk of government consolidation would finally become audible in Central Ohio. It’s been on the table in NE, NW and SW Ohio for years, though it hasn’t gotten very much further than this in these places so far.

    With declining tax revenues and reduced support from state and federal governments, a wave of significant municipal governmental consolidation is going to soon become unavoidable throughout the country, and particularly so here in the Midwest where so many small governments and special districts exist. So far, most consolidation efforts have been easy and superficial stuff like sharing law directors or a firetruck or two, but that’s all beating around the bush kinda stuff that doesn’t ruffle too many feathers.

    Cleveland might be the closest of all Ohio cities to a full-on city county merger with the new county charter government in place. On paper, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to dissolve all municipalities within Cuyahoga County into the county government, which would essentially then become the new Cleveland government. Akron/Summit County, which also has a charter system in place, could do something similar.

    I’m not quite sure what municipal consolidation would look like here in Columbus. Franklin County seems in many respects an afterthought after years of aggressive annexation by Columbus that has resulted in the city limits spilling over into two additional counties. Dublin and Westerville have similarly annexed to grow beyond their home county. This begs the question as to how relevant counties, and for that matter, townships, even still are in the 21st century world. Apparently not very much.

    Thinking out loud here, I could maybe see Grandview Heights, Upper Arlington and Marble Cliff merging into one municipal entity on the west side of town. No such possibility for Bexley and Whitehall, however, since they are separated by Columbus. But even a “New Arlington” would still be landlocked, and whatever savings it might earn from consolidating administration of safety services, etc. wouldn’t amount to much more than a drop in the bucket.

    Maybe a full-on Columbus takeover is inevitable.

    #455109

    Pickerington_Kyle
    Participant

    I think strong transportation can create a better connection between downtown and the burbs. Having a light rail system that connect Dublin/Grove city/Reynoldsburgh, etc… to downtown would create growth along the stops and better form of transportation to work/shop/eat/entertainment. I hate to bring up trains in every discussion, but I think realistically having a light rail or even a street car would be nothing but good for the city. I would gladly accept a tax increase, even though many would oppose. Thats just my two cents…

    #455110

    bucki12
    Member

    I would be really happy if they put a street car on High St or Summit. That said, I think it would take too long to get to the burb’s on it to make it a practical solution for this issue.

    #455111
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    NEOBuckeye said:
    With declining tax revenues and reduced support from state and federal governments, a wave of significant municipal governmental consolidation is going to soon become unavoidable throughout the country…

    It’s interesting that you picked out Grandview Heights, Bexley and Upper Arlington as your examples of where consolidation might make sense, as all three of those communities have been attempting to stave off population declines and dwindling tax bases with new denser/urban development.

    I spoke with Grandview Mayor Ray DeGraw about this back in May, and it sounds like they’re banking on Grandview Yard really boosting the city’s economic engine:

    Grandview Heights Makes Plans for The Future

    Quote from Mayor DeGraw:

    I will say that the City of Grandview struggles because of money. Every time we get a little ahead, we get knocked back. We’ve come through some tough periods, but this community has always supported the city and the schools. I think that’s one thing that encourages investment. 2005 was a pivotal year for the city, as we passed the income tax and the school levy. We pretty much approved the money that’s needed to keep up the quality of the lifestyle here, and I think that in turn attracts people. It’s definitely a positive factor with housing values, because they’ve gone up almost 9% in Grandview while everybody else’s values went down.

    #455112

    James
    Participant

    Walker said:
    It’s interesting that you picked out Grandview Heights, Bexley and Upper Arlington as your examples of where consolidation might make sense, as all three of those communities have been attempting to stave off population declines and dwindling tax bases with new denser/urban development.

    I spoke with Grandview Mayor Ray DeGraw about this back in May, and it sounds like they’re banking on Grandview Yard really boosting the city’s economic engine:

    Grandview Heights Makes Plans for The Future

    Quote from Mayor DeGraw:

    I have a hard time imagining Grandview suffering from population decline. In addition to it being probably the most popular ‘suburb’ in the area there seems to have been more apartment construction in the past few years. I’d also imagine the population is on average younger than UA & Bexley with more families forming and growing. Just my guess – I’m too lazy to dig up actual numbers.

    I’d be surprised of Grandview or UA would go so far as merging with each other let alone becoming part of Columbus. They seem to have pretty strong municipal identities. OTOH, i would have expected them to share more services but I think Grandview just rejected an offer from UA for some sharing earlier this year.

    #455113

    dubdave00
    Participant

    Consolidation would be a near-impossible sell to the suburban public, at least in the near future.

    Local political opportunists would use it to say that current civic leaders “can’t get the job done”. Fear-mongers would probably elevate it into an ideological argument instead of a fiscal and rational one.

    In addition, there are enough cultural divides between the suburbs that would create a lot of resistance at first.

    I could be wrong but I imagine you would have to go through decades-long stages of denial and then anger, followed by an even larger fiscal crisis, before you get to compromise and acceptance of municipal consolidation.

    #455114

    NEOBuckeye
    Participant

    Walker said:
    It’s interesting that you picked out Grandview Heights, Bexley and Upper Arlington as your examples of where consolidation might make sense, as all three of those communities have been attempting to stave off population declines and dwindling tax bases with new denser/urban development.

    I spoke with Grandview Mayor Ray DeGraw about this back in May, and it sounds like they’re banking on Grandview Yard really boosting the city’s economic engine:

    Grandview Heights Makes Plans for The Future

    Quote from Mayor DeGraw:

    I will say that the City of Grandview struggles because of money. Every time we get a little ahead, we get knocked back. We’ve come through some tough periods, but this community has always supported the city and the schools. I think that’s one thing that encourages investment. 2005 was a pivotal year for the city, as we passed the income tax and the school levy. We pretty much approved the money that’s needed to keep up the quality of the lifestyle here, and I think that in turn attracts people. It’s definitely a positive factor with housing values, because they’ve gone up almost 9% in Grandview while everybody else’s values went down.

    I think Grandview Yard may help Grandview Heights somewhat over the short term with municipal tax revenues, but longer term I am less certain of its benefit, and whether it will actually be enough to help GH remain solvent. The move away from density in the later stages of Grandview Yard’s development in favor of more suburbanesque, single use type buildings concerns me most here. The new Giant Eagle on 3rd for instance could quickly become a white elephant if Giant Eagle for whatever reason decides to close the store or otherwise goes belly up, something that does occur with large store chains from time to time.

    #455115

    NEOBuckeye
    Participant

    dubdave00 said:
    Consolidation would be a near-impossible sell to the suburban public, at least in the near future.

    Local political opportunists would use it to say that current civic leaders “can’t get the job done”. Fear-mongers would probably elevate it into an ideological argument instead of a fiscal and rational one.

    In addition, there are enough cultural divides between the suburbs that would create a lot of resistance at first.

    I could be wrong but I imagine you would have to go through decades-long stages of denial and then anger, followed by an even larger fiscal crisis, before you get to compromise and acceptance of municipal consolidation.

    The fiscal crisis is about here, the “cliff” in the federal budget that hits on January 1, 2013. Cities and suburbs alike are going to be hammered by it, and there is’t going to be much more time and space for denial and anger over things we should have done decades ago but couldn’t bring ourselves to do for whatever reason.

    #455116

    cbus11
    Member

    The loss of the Big Bear Warehouse tax revenue was a big hit to Grandview, the Yard will help replace that over time.

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