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NEOSCC Board approves release of Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Products

December 18, 2013 in Products, Scenario Planning, Tool, Toolkiit, Vibrant NEO 2040

NEOSCC Board approves release of Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Products

Member organizations to now consider Vision for approval

The Board of Directors of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) yesterday voted to release the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Products and Framework documents to NEOSCC member organizations for review, consideration and potential vote of approval.  The NEOSCC Board will take a final vote on approval of the Vision at its February 25, 2014 meeting.  You can review the board meeting presentation above.

 “Over the course of the last year, NEOSCC has engaged residents, elected officials, and experts throughout our 12-county region in a rigorous scenario planning process to identify the choices we can make now to help create a Northeast Ohio that is more vibrant, resilient, and sustainable in the future,” said Hunter Morrison, NEOSCC Executive Director. “Based on input and feedback from residents and leaders, the overarching objectives of the Vibrant NEO 2040 Regional Vision seeks to pursue are:

  • Promote investment in Northeast Ohio’s established communities;
  • Protect our soil, water, air, and ecologically sensitive areas;
  • Improve our regional fiscal health;
  • Develop our regional economy with accessible employment opportunities;
  • Enhance our regional transportation network;
  • Cultivate and celebrate our local assets and places of public value;
  • Expand our parks and open-space network; and
  • Preserve and value our prime farmland as a regional economic asset.”

This fall, NEOSCC and the Vibrant NEO 2040 team presented the objectives and potential recommendations during a series of public meetings, seven subject matter caucuses and to its board. Utilizing the feedback received, nine recommendations and 41 initiatives emerged as the foundation for the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision and Framework.

“We recognize the recommendations and initiatives are not “one size fits all” solutions,” added Mr. Morrison.  “We understand that some of initiatives will not be applicable to all parts of the 12-county region. Lastly, implementation of individual initiatives will be a decision at the local level. The intent of NEOSCC in developing the Vibrant NEO 2040 regional vision and framework is that its recommendations, development standards, indicator targets, and action products be available for implementation at the Metro and local levels at the option of their respective decision makers.”

The recommendation and initiatives, derived through a comprehensive development process over the course of 2013 and driven by the preferences and values of Northeast Ohio residents, are essentially steps and tools for realizing the Vision NEO 2040 Vision.

The nine Vision NEO 2040 Recommendations, and their related Initiatives, are:

Please note that NEOSCC recognizes that the recommendations and initiatives are not “one size fits all” solutions.  We understand that some of initiatives will not be applicable to all parts of the 12-county region. Lastly, implementation of individual initiatives will be a decision at the local level.  The intent of NEOSCC in developing the Vibrant NEO 2040 regional vision and framework is that its recommendations, development standards, indicator targets, and action products be available for implementation at the Metro and local levels at the option of their respective decision makers.

1.       Focus new residential and commercial development on sites within established communities

  • Initiative 1.1: Encourage infill and redevelopment through the use of tax credits and other direct and indirect public incentives.
  • Initiative 1.2: Fix it first: continue to privilege projects that maintain the existing road network in a state of good repair, rather than building additional capacity.
  • Initiative 1.3: Improve the ability of municipalities and townships to analyze the long-term impacts of new development and better manage their own development.
  • Initiative 1.4: Continue development throughout the region in accordance with local zoning requirements and preferences, but prioritize public subsidies to projects within the region’s established communities.
  • Initiative 1.5: Require the users of new sewer extensions that serve previously unsewered areas to pay the full cost of service.
  • Initiative 1.6: Consider instituting a land value tax to replace existing improvement-based property assessment and taxation methods.

2.       Develop a robust network of regional job centers connected by multimodal transportation corridors within and between counties

  • Initiative 2.1: Strengthen regional job centers—and the corridors that connect them—by diversifying and intensifying land uses and investing in strategic local economic development within them.
  • Initiative 2.2: Use transit oriented development (TOD) to create stronger, more accessible, regional job centers.
  • Initiative 2.3: Implement a tiered approach to local parking requirements.

3.       Pursue the remediation, assembly, marketing, and redevelopment of abandoned properties at both the local and regional levels

  • Initiative 3.1: Develop and maintain a regional vacant industrial and commercial properties database and criteria for determining the most appropriate successive use, whether for redevelopment, green infrastructure, food production, or parks, or natural areas.
  • Initiative 3.2: Expedite permitting and remove barriers for adaptive reuse of abandoned buildings and empty lots.
  • Initiative 3.3: Expand and coordinate existing land bank efforts to acquire, assemble, manage, and dispose of vacant properties throughout the region.
  • Initiative 3.4: Identify, evaluate, and—where appropriate—pursue the reuse of vacant and abandoned industrial sites endowed with significant preexisting infrastructure that could provide unique opportunities for regional economic development. Advocate for a brownfield redevelopment fund and promote these sites through a large-scale marketing campaign.

4.       Encourage a higher frequency of mixed-use development and a range of diverse, affordable housing options

  • Initiative 4.1: Include mixed-use designations and/or planned unit overlay districts in zoning codes throughout the region.
  • Initiative 4.2: Include traditional small-lot, compact single-family and townhouse residential designations in zoning codes throughout the region.
  • Initiative 4.3: Offer financial incentives to developers that incorporate affordable housing units into their projects and implement inclusionary zoning in markets with widespread affordability gaps.
  • Initiative 4.4: Offer financial literacy and housing education programs for tenants and homeowners. Focus on areas in established communities where investments in housing are underway.

5.       Enhance and coordinate the region’s rail and bus services

  • Initiative 5.1: Invest in a regional network of bi-directional public transit connections between Northeast Ohio’s major job centers.
  • Initiative 5.2: Create a network of high-frequency express and local transit routes connecting the region’s job centers. Prioritize infill development in the corridors served by these routes. In the short and medium terms, upgrade high-performing existing bus routes and create new bus routes in designated corridors. In the long term, upgrade the highest-demand routes into commuter rail service.
  • Initiative 5.3: Coordinate the region’s transit systems for joint marketing, information technology, and fare media, including information regarding private transit resources such as university/health system shuttles, private bus services, airport transportation, etc.
  • Initiative 5.4: Evaluate the condition of all existing rail trackage and rail crossings to determine what investments would be necessary to bring substandard infrastructure up to standard for freight and passenger service.

6.       Enhance walking and cycling as transportation options to increase regional mobility and improve public health

  • Initiative 6.1: Expand the existing bicycle lane and trail system and connect it to regional transit hubs via on-and-off street facilities.
  • Initiative 6.2: Repair existing sidewalks and crosswalks and add new ones as needed wherever a fixed-route bus service is in operation.
  • Initiative 6.3: Promote “Complete Streets” through regional policy and the identification of local champions.
  • Initiative 6.4: Collaborate with school districts and local communities to further develop safe routes to school, encouraging walking and biking, and site new schools in walkable locations.

 7.       Preserve our natural areas for future generations, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and develop a regional approach to protecting air, water, and soil quality

  • Initiative 7.1: Expand and connect the existing network of parks, trails, rivers, lakes, and natural areas through continued partnerships with private land owners, land conservancies, land trusts, community members, and local governments.
  • Initiative 7.2: Support and expand green infrastructure options for flood control and general water management, both at the local level with projects like green alleys and bioswales, and at the regional level with a network of large, upstream water retention areas.
  • Initiative 7.3: Improve regional quality of life and health by focusing on the interface between natural and human systems in the areas of flood mitigation, storm water run-off, and clean beaches and the water quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams.
  • Initiative 7.4: Strengthen and expand watershed partnerships that foster communication and collaboration between upstream and downstream communities across all 15 Northeast Ohio watershed geographies.
  • Initiative 7.5: Expand collaboration between existing natural resource districts and consider the creation of new districts where appropriate.
  • Initiative 7.6: Develop and maintain a natural resources inventory of the region.

 8.       Support sustainable agriculture and the local food system in Northeast Ohio

  • Initiative 8.1: Support the expansion of community supported agriculture (CSAs), farmer cooperatives, farm-to-school programs, and other existing mechanisms that support sustainable agriculture and enhance food access.
  • Initiative 8.2: Partner with individual landowners, the food processing industry, and local organizations to protect agriculturally valuable land for future generations.
  • Initiative 8.3: Review and amend local ordinances to allow for small- and moderate-scale urban farming on occupied and vacant parcels that are environmentally safe for growing food.
  • Initiative 8.4: Support the work of local food initiatives to share best practices and identify policies of regional significance.

 9.       Increase collaboration among the region’s government agencies to expand information sharing and find more cost-effective means of providing essential services

  • Initiative 9.1: Study privatization and public-private partnerships as means to fund critical infrastructure projects that cannot be funded solely through public dollars.
  • Initiative 9.2: Utilize joint procurement strategies and the sharing of facilities, staff, and other resources wherever possible to save money on the provision of public services.
  • Initiative 9.3: Identify one or more organizations that will host and maintain the technical resources created by NEOSCC so that they will remain current, accurate, and available for future regional visioning and planning.
  • Initiative 9.4: Align MPO/COG/ODOT transportation model inputs and continue to collaborate, share information, and align policy objectives across the multiple regional planning agencies of Northeast Ohio.
  • Initiative 9.5: Foster greater engagement between MPOs/COGs and organizations/initiatives that address natural resources, parks, sewer, public health, housing, education, private business investment, and economic development.
  • Initiative 9.6: Sustain the momentum of NEOSCC by continuing to convene stakeholders to identify and address regional issues and to advance the region’s collaborative capacity.

In addition to the Vision, the Board also reviewed and approved the Action products, developed by NEOSCC to encourage, equip, and support Northeast Ohioans to learn, share, create, and act together to build a more vibrant future this year.  The Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision and these products are meant to inspire and guide decision-making at the MPO, COG, and local level to ensure that land use, transportation, and environmental considerations are simultaneously addressed by their processes

The Action Product are:

  1.  Dashboard: a visualization tool that communicates a set of indicators and metrics, against which progress toward the Vibrant NEO 2040 vision will be measured.
  2. Tool Kit & Best Practices: implementation tools and techniques to realize the regional preferred vision developed through Vibrant NEO 2040.
  3. Policy Recommendations: a framework for analyzing the effects existing policies have on the region and determining what may be needed to create desired change.
  4. Pilots: emerging best practices that show promise in moving the region towards the Vibrant NEO 2040 preferred vision.

The Action Products are aligned with final Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision themes, recommendations & initiatives. The Dashboard & Policy Recommendations are higher-level and aligned with recommendations.  The Tools, Best Practices & Pilots are aligned by initiative.

Thriving Communities Institute: From Vacancy to Vitality

March 19, 2013 in ACT, Conditions and Trends, economic development, Housing, News, Toolkiit

In 2011, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy launched an effort to combat the devastating impact of abandonment and disinvestment on Northeast Ohio’s core cities. Entitled the “Thriving Communities Institute,” the initiative targeted the reduction of vacant residential properties, primarily through demolition. These properties, according to Institute Director Jim Rokakis, reduce property values in our neighborhoods. Studies show that one vacant property on a street will significantlyreduce the value of adjacent homes. Soon, due to loss of value, foreclosures and “bank walk-aways,” the nearby homes become vacant as the disease spreads. Soon the entire neighborhood is dead and diseased, having been destroyed by this contagious and toxic process. Then the adjacent areas are infected and the disease spreads further … predictably, relentlessly, and with devastating consequences.

The impact of disinvestment in the urban core also has negative implications for the region’s natural environment. Depressed urban markets drive potential residents further away from the center and into suburban and exurban communities. The demand for housing and retail services away from the core increases development pressure on previously undeveloped open spaces and agricultural lands. The abandoned housing left behind prevents reuse of urban properties for urban gardens, parks, and greenways. Residential vacancies cause unnecessary consumption of “greenfield” land for development while prohibiting the repurposing of unoccupied land for environmental remediation; it is a two-edged sword.

According to Director Jim Rokakis, Thriving Communities Institute is already lending its hand to transform vacant and unproductive properties into new opportunities to attract economic growth, to bring green space to the region’s cities, and to support safe, beautiful neighborhoods. In working with community leaders in Northeast Ohio, the Institute has learned that urban revitalization is a process, one with many steps supported by great partnerships. Thriving Communities is helping secure vacant, unhealthy properties by establishing and supporting county land banks throughout the region. County land banks provide counties with much-needed ability to quickly acquire foreclosed and vacant property. These land banks can safely hold a distressed property, clean its title, and prepare it for a better day. The goal is to secure vacant properties – which would otherwise attract crime, lower neighboring home values, and incur public services costs – so that they can be put to better use in the future.

Additional information about the Thriving Communities Institute is available through their website: http://thrivingcommunitiesinstitute.org/. This site includes opportunities to provide support, become better engaged, and share stories or photographs. Questions about the Institute may be directed to either Jim Rokakis (jrokakis@wrlandconservancy.org) or Robin Thomas (rthomas@wrlandconservancy.org).

What Can I Do Today?

How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact?

March 5, 2013 in Communications, Engagement, News, Toolkiit

The Knight Foundation has launched a campaign to improve interaction between citizens and governments.  The Knight News Challenge is an opportunity to accelerate promising ideas and trends. Their  definition of “open government” is broad, and ranges from small projects within existing structures to ambitious attempts to create entirely new ones.

In many ways it’s easier than it’s ever been to learn about and interact with the institutions and communities around us. But there’s a long way to go. How can we make the places we live more awesome through data and technology? How can we make public information more relevant and useful?

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas.

For more information, visit the project website.

Climate Action Plan for the City of Cleveland

February 7, 2013 in News, Sustainability, Toolkiit

SustainableCleveland2019
The City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is currently leading a community process to develop a Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP is crucial to implementing Mayor Jackson’s vision of making Cleveland more sustainable and addresses both the City’s internal operations as well as the broader community. The CAP will not only reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, but it will also acknowledge and plan for changes in climate that may affect all Clevelanders. The CAP is targeted for completion by July.

The CAP is not a project in isolation, but will instead build upon many other related initiatives and achievements. These include the Sustainable Communities 2019 Action and Resources Guide released in 2010 at the 2nd Annual Sustainability Summit. The Office of Sustainability has implemented a two-pronged approach to the CAP: “top-down” and “bottom-up.” The top down component identifies what is feasible and affordable from a technology standpoint. The bottom up component includes issues and energy use and management issues most relevant to Cleveland’s critical stakeholders: residents and business-owners.

As part of the climate action planning process, the Office of Sustainability has convened community stakeholders to form a Climate Action Advisory Committee (CAAC) to provide input, ideas, and feedback for the final plan. The CAAC will include various stakeholder groups to ensure the CAP addresses various community perspectives through a serious of workshops. The first workshop of the CAAC was held on October 9, 2012 and focused on overview of the climate action planning process, preliminary GHG inventory, and a brainstorm session for goals and strategies. The second workshop is scheduled for March 5, 2013, and focus on preliminary strategies that emerge from the CAAC committee meetings held in late January and early February. The committee meetings will organize around topics such as: energy efficiency and green building; waste; transportation (non-freight); land use, forestry, storm water, and flood management; advanced and renewable energy; and climate change adaptation. Cross-cutting topics will also be addressed: community engagement and education; financing; incentives and policy; economic and community development; existing best practices and case studies.

Additional information about Cleveland’s Climate Action Plan and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is available at www.sustainablecleveland.org/about/climate-action-plan/. Questions and comments may also be addressed to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability at Sustainability@city.cleveland.oh.us or the Sustainable Cleveland Center at SCC@city.cleveland.oh.us.

You can also engage in an on-line discussion about the plan at The Civic Commons.

What Can I Do Today

 

 

 

Community Solutions Launches Common Ground Newsletter

February 1, 2013 in Communications, Engagement, News, Toolkiit

From Executive Director John Begala:

2013 is the Centennial of The Center for Community Solutions and as part of our preparation for the next century, we are updating and adding to our decision support publications and events. What do I mean by decision support? Simply a term describing how CCS’s work informs executives and professionals in government, non-profits, and business as they make decisions. At this moment, you are reading our newly updated and reformatted newsletter, Common Ground. We are pleased to add Common Ground to our myriad decision support publications available through membership or online at www.CommunitySolutions.com. The name Common Ground reflects our longstanding commitment to collaboration –especially in the policy arena. As you know, the many challenges that continue to confront American society are subject to a rising tide of partisanship and ill will. We aim to play a role in moderating the tone of this public discourse by relentlessly focusing our research and analyses on shared goals and opportunities. Call us “radical moderates” – we think this approach serves us all in the long run. Hence the new title, replacing our long-standing Planning & Action. Please share your thoughts with us either by directly contacting the authors in Common Ground or by writing me at jbegala@CommunitySolutions.com.”

To view this month’s newsletter, please visit here.

New Online Resource Provides Data for Northeast Ohio

January 9, 2013 in Conditions and Trends, News, Tool, Toolkiit

A unique partnership between three leading institutions has released a new tool that provides data on conditions in Northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Data Collaborative, formed in early 2012, announced the availability of NEO CANDO 2010+. This interactive online data portal provides information about demographic, socioeconomic, and other data that help define and promote understanding of the human landscape of Northeast Ohio. Access NEO CANDO 2010+ at http://neocando.case.edu/index.shtml.

Claudia Coulton, co-director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, explained, “The development of the original NEO CANDO put our region ahead of other parts of the country. This update includes the latest data, has new features, and operates faster, keeping Northeast Ohio at the forefront.”

  

Features of NEO CANDO 2010+

  • Free and publicly accessible resource
  • Easily downloadable demographic and socioeconomic data
  • On-demand mapping based on a Google Maps platform
  • Revised geographies that reflect changes since the 2000 Census
  • Data from the 2010 Census for the entire 17-county Northeast Ohio region including by county, municipality, and some neighborhoods
  • Customizable reports allowing user to select certain indicators or geographies
  • Ability for future expansion to more data sources, such as birth and death records, property information, and health indicators

 

To read the full story at Planetizen, click here.

To learn more about the initiative at the Center for Community Solutions, click here.

What Can I Do Today?

A Victory for Collaboration

December 17, 2012 in News, Toolkiit

EfficientGovNetwork Awarded $100,000 Grant from the Local Government Innovation Fund

About the EfficientGovNetwork 
The Efficient Government Network is a group of Northeast Ohio stakeholders, primarily from political subdivisions who convene, connect and share ideas and best practices for local government collaboration. Created in the fall of 2010, the Network grew out of the EfficientGovNow contest (supported by the Fund for Our Economic Future and Advance Northeast Ohio). This competition gave birth to innovative ideas – and action – that targeted collaboration and efficiency.

About the Award

The grant, formally submitted by the Sourcing Office on behalf of the EGNet, will be used to turn the informal network into a sustainable organization that will facilitate and promote the acceleration of shared services and government collaboration in Northeast Ohio. More than a dozen partners from the private and public sectors, including the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, were involved in the grant application.

You can read more about the grant in EfficientGovNetwork’s newsletter, here!

What Can I Do Today?

 

iNaturalist: Explore, Learn and Record

December 10, 2012 in ACT, Communications, Environment, Toolkiit

A black-capped chickadee, recorded on iNaturalist near Blake Road in Guilford Township (Medina County) on Sunday, December 2, 2012.

“iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world.”

iNaturalist (http://www.inaturalist.org/) is a smartphone and web-based data gathering program designed to provide an ecological learning and teaching platform for amateur and professional naturalists alike. The world is full of naturalists and many hikers, hunters, birders, and beachcombers record their observations of the environment around them. If the record of observations is comprehensive enough, it may be possible for scientists and land managers to monitor changes in biodiversity, and allow anyone to use the comprehensive record of life to learn more about nature. A comprehensive record of nature is the primary purpose of iNaturalist.

According to its website, iNaturalist began as the Master’s final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Information in 2008. Nate and Ken-ichi continued working on the site, along with Sean McGregor, post-graduation. Currently, Ken-ichi Ueda maintains the site in collaboration with Scott Loarie, a climate change researcher at the Carnegie Institution.

A presentation about iNaturalist headlined the most recent meeting of the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership (LEAP) at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on November 14. Naturalist Marlo Perdicas, of Metro Parks Serving Summit County, introduced iNaturalist as an innovative tool for data sharing, citizen science, and learning. Perdicas illustrated the potential for iNaturalist as a means to vastly expand natural survey capabilities while fostering a stronger sense of community among iNaturalist users and park staff. She provided examples of how the program is currently utilized in Northeast Ohio, particularly Summit County, and also explored potential for expanded use through an energetic and interactive discussion with the audience.

What Can I Do Today?

Lots of Green in Youngstown

November 19, 2012 in 12 County Tours, Mahoning, Quality Connected Places, Toolkiit

Back in June, NEOSCC took its board meeting to Mahoning County.  As part of our 12 Counties in 12 Months Program, the NEOSCC Board had an opportunity to tour some of Youngstown’s unique assets as well as some of the redevelopment work that is occurring.

Part of the tour was led by Youngstown Neighborhood Development Council (YNDC), a multifaceted neighborhood development organization launched in 2009 in partnership with the City of Youngstown and The Raymond John Wean Foundation to catalyze strategic neighborhood reinvestment in neighborhoods throughout the city.  YNDC highlighted some of the neighborhood revitalization work during the tour.

We wanted to showcase a recent YNDC publication:  Lots of Green 2012 Impact Report.

YNDC’s Lots of Green program is a nationally-recognized, vacant land reuse strategy implemented in Youngstown neighborhoods by the YNDC and multiple partner organizations. The program engages residents and volunteers through several programs, including Iron Roots Urban Farm, Market Gardener Training, Community Gardens, Green Jobs Training, Lots of Green 2.0, People’s Garden, and Basic Land Stabilization, in reclaiming all vacant land in strategic neighborhoods, transforming the physical fabric of the neighborhood and increasing neighborhood pride and ownership.

In 2012, the YNDC developed Iron Roots Urban Farm that put 1.7 acres of vacant land back to productive use, created jobs for 7 individuals, operated a second year of the Market Gardener Training Program with 25 participants, and trained 14 young adults through the Green Jobs Training program. The organization continued to oversee 5 community gardens,and created 13 new gardens through the Lots of Green 2.0 and People’s Garden microgrant programs. In total, the YNDC implemented vacant land stabilization projects on 90 new lots (14.4 acres).

Read the entire report (pdf download).

What Can I Do Today?

Redeveloping East Liberty Neighborhood, Pittsburgh

November 14, 2012 in Engagement, Quality Connected Places, Toolkiit

As part of a grantee peer-to-peer exchange in Pittsburgh this week, we were given a tour of the East Liberty Neighborhood redevelopment project.

From the East Liberty Development Corporation’s website:

Our first community plan, A Vision for East Liberty, produced in 1999, helped guide our neighborhood’s recovery from urban renewal efforts. Recognizing the success that followed the 1999 plan, we decided to come together again to include new and old neighbors and expand and refine our vision. Through a process of community meetings, a broad range of people who live, work, shop, play, worship, and invest in East Liberty shared our love for the neighborhood, our concerns, and our dreams for its future. The guiding principles below, which emerged from these meetings, will guide residents, developers, organizers, and stakeholders through the ever-evolving process of planning and development toward our community’s goals.

Over the last 12 years, 1,400 high-rise public housing units have bee replaced by 450 new mixed-income units. The neighborhood has also attracted national retailers Home, Depot, Whole Foods and Target.

Learn more about the project:

  • Download a copy of the 1999 Community Plan, A Vision For East Liberty, or the 2010 Community Plan,Many Voices Driving Neighborhood Change.
  • The dramatic changes in East Liberty did not arise from the Community Plans alone. Planning and market research studies have informed the development progress of East Liberty and the entire East End.  Access other plans and studies