Category Archives: publicpolicy

Cleveland City Planning Commission notes 2012.02.17 – No, you May not park there !

Quote of the Meeting: “I didn’t fall off the turnip truck last night” – Coyne.

(My comments in Italics)

In attendance: Special K, Pinkney, Coyne, Bowen, Lumpkin, Cleveland, Brown.

Surprisingly, the meeting started on time.

This Week’s agenda: http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/designreview/drcagenda/2012/02172012/index.php

Here’s a couple of the highlights:

  • Dow’s rezoning plan:

Councilman Dow was sponsoring because he had recently made a comprehensive rezoning plan for the neighborhood(s) of Ward 7, (that map, courtesy of Cleveland GIS, the official GIS site of the City of Cleveland).. He wasn’t there to present it (and I forgot who did on his behalf, something I should have noted, so I’ll refer to them as ‘the rep’ here), it was supported by the city of Cleveland planning staff.

The rezoning’s Purpose was “to prevent nuisance-type retail from popping up”; the rep also said the few retail outlets that were there are ‘bad neighbors’ and ‘nuisances’ to the neighborhood.

One resident in attendance spoke up against the rezoning changes as the change to multi-family rezoning would encourage ‘riff-raff’ to the neighborhood.

Councilman Dow works with the Famicos Foundation and the St. Clair CDC in his Ward 7. (Here’s a map of Ward 7, courtesy of Cleveland GIS, the official GIS site of the City of Cleveland). Neither organization had made any statement of their position of the zoning changes to the CPC.

(My hunch is that there’s someone or something else that is supporting this.)(Why else did Dow come up with a comprehensive rezoning-plan for the neighborhood if the city already has a master zoning plan ?! He doesn’t have anywhere else to spend his time ? Was it driven by constituents ? I wonder when the city’s zoning plan was last updated)

Decision: Approval, on the condition that the CPC receives letters of support from Famicos and St. Clair CDC; and 603-11 specifically was approved on the that none of the changes conflicts with the master zoning plan. (typing from my notes, I don’t understand why only 603-11 was singled out that these zoning changes could conflict with master zoning plan).

  • New parking garage, on the southeast corner of Ontario and Carnegie. Built for Tri-C… Across from Progressive Field, the existing surface parking lot was a huge money maker for Tri-C. With the New Innerbelt taking out some of the land of the existing surface lot, they decided to make a multi-level parking garage. On the northwest Corner, the archetect interesting included a small concrete pedestrian ‘gathering space’ at street-level.(scalpers now have a new prime location ! )(I generally prefer downtown land to be use in ways besides parking. On the positive, this is a parking garage rather than a surface lot, so it will decrease the amount of additional parking needed. It increases supply of parking spaces available, giving less incentive to land owners to use land as parking lots)

Decision: Passed by City Planning Commission

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  • The proposed Parking Garage in the May Company Building

Once the bastion of downtown Cleveland department store shopping, the May Company Building on Euclid (on the south side, between East 4th and Ontario) has sat dormant to the public eye for as long as I can remember.

Days before the meeting, the proposal to turn it into a parking garage received attention by local news- (Cleveland.com) and nationally at the Atlantic Cities blog.

One historical building demolished less than a year a go for parking, would another one bite the dust ?

In a nutshell, not anytime soon.

The CPC gave the strongest criticism of any project that I’ve seen covering their meetings for the past 13 months. Commission head Tony Coyne led the criticism, noted that the owner, in Florida and locally represented by Robert Zarzycki, ZM Architects, commented that the owner gave very little consideration of this building and its use and charged it as a ‘bottom-feeder approach.’ (Where was this criticism during the Columbia Building demolition?!)

Zarzycki tried to save face by noting that parking was only proposed on floors 2-5 of the 8 floors and although the building’s windows facing Euclid would be removed, the garage’s lighting would be minimally visible from the street. (Fortunately), Coyne and ‘Special K’ Norm Krumholz, weren’t buying it; Coyne replied that ‘he wasn’t born last night.’  and Norm noted it was ‘an incredibly bad land use.’ – No traffic study had been done and the archetect hastily mentioned that apartments wouldn’t work in the building because, who wants an apartment without windows (this building has 2 other buildings on its west and east sides) ?  – Coyne astutely mentioned that a light box could be added which also was done in other downtown conversions (the Bingham, National Terminal).

Decision : Rejected

Although it was rejected, the use of parking in the May Company in the future is still possible. As of now, the building is only occupied on the 6th Floor, as a ‘tech center’ (don’t know specifically what that is) and a portion of the 1st floor to a couple restaurants and bars. The architect noted that the other floors are sparse: most of its materials have been stripped and would require a bit of reinvestment before they could be used for anything.

Planning Director Brown said he wasn’t against it, although he said he wasn’t sure if the Planning Commission even has jurisdiction of over the use of the building (Me: If this is true, The fact that the CPC doesn’t have this power strikes me with only resigned surprise….), but jurisdiction over the windows and a traffic study that would need to be performed… Special K disagreed with him.

Chairman Coyne noted that if housing were a substantial part of the building in the future, he could see a floor or 2 being devoted to parking….

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Cleveland Planning commission Meeting Roundup – Dec. 16, 2011

The shortest Planning Commission meeting that I’ve been to [out of the dozen or so] Ended by 10:30am.

Attendance: Krumholz, Coyne [Chair], Pickney, Cleveland [9:20a], Bowens [9:50]

Very minor ; here’s a very quick recap, and I’ll flesh it out later today or tomorrow.

– CWRU’s Planning Director said that they’re considering renovating a portion of the Temple on E. 105th for a performing arts center…

– Pending demolition for 2 buildings on Broadway. One of the buildings, former Goodman’s Furniture, has some nice architectural elements on the outside. Its owner, the city of Cleveland, is going to find out how much it will cost to salvage those elements (and find someone to take them, because they claim not to have the storage space for them). One hasty quote [for removing them] that the city received was $10k; But they’re going to get firmer quotes, and this will come back [as far as I remember] to the Commish in at the next meeting.
My guess is that if it’s anything over $10k or if they don’t have anyone interested in the elements, they’ll demolish it. The overall time frame on this building is relatively fast, city hopes to have this demo’d in 6-8 weeks. [address is somewhere in my notes, these buildings are right next to Holy Family Church, near the intersection of Harvard and Broadway].

– The zoning changes along Hough Avenue on the agenda were tabled [at the last minute] at the request of whoever initiated the zoning changes. They will be brought again before the commish in January.

Updates to Cleveland’s off-street parking requirements

April 15th’s city planning commission meeting was relatively eventful. Standing room only !

Proposed changes to laws requiring off-street parking for bars, restaurants, taverns, and night clubs in the City of Cleveland were approved by the City Planning Commission on April 15th.

Off-street Parking Space Requirements for bars, taverns, restaurants, and cafeterias:

One space for each employee +
one space for each 100 square feet of floor area devoted to patron use or one for each four seats based on maximum seating capacity, whichever is greater, including floor area and seating located on outdoor dining patios on private property.

Sidewalks are considered public property, thus, any patios on sidewalks are not included in the parking requirement space requirements.

For Nightclubs:

One space for each employee +

(parking area equal to three times the gross floor area) or
one parking space for each 4 seats based on maximum seating capacity, whichever is greater (including floor area and seating located on outdoor patios on private property.

These recommendations will be sent to City Council where it will be later deliberated. It’s still early in the process,
as Tony Coyne (City Planning Commission chair) eloquently put it: “it’s the start of the sausage making process”

Current requirements for nightclubs (which were classified as ‘dance halls’ under the code] does not specify any parking for employees. Current requirements for bars and restaurants do not include any additional parking for outdoor patios on private property
———————————————-

My initial reaction[s]:

I haven’t decided whether to be in favor of it but I’m learning towards no. There is still a minimum amount of land that will need to be taken up by parking. This mandated parking decreases the density of buildings and businesses that makes public transportation, walking, and bicycling as more viable options. The existing off-street parking requirements can be found on Findlaw, Section 4.

Existing code and the revised code include one spot for each employee although there will be very few situations when every employee will be working at the same time.

Fortunately, the location for the mandated parking isn’t specified. This allows the parking to be behind the buildings or in a parking garage, instead of in front of the buildings which would separate the buildings from the sidewalk and the street.

I’d love to hear transportation planners weigh in with their insights.

SC2019 Summit – observations and tidbits [Part 1]

Here are some tidbits and observations as a participant at the SC2019, Sustainable Cleveland Summit.

I’ll try to get some more out on here soon.

I’ve been to many of these types of these events. Often, they’re called summits, conferences, seminars, or training camps. They are all 1-3 days long and discuss a social ill or goal in mind, and while you’re at the event, you’re often excited about the issue and are eager to take action. However, after the event is over, organizers and participants fail to capture the created momentum and implement it into actions.

As I walked into the summit on Wednesday morning, I felt optimistic about this one than I have felt for others. Although some of the working groups established at the first summit in 2009 fell apart, a few of them, including Green Building, Local Food, Alternative Transportation, have not, and are getting things done.

So, here goes some notes:

– This summit was said to be more business-friendly, a colleague at my table told me. There were more presentations by businesses than I had expected, by Sherwin-Williams and Ford, amongst others, demonstrating how practicing sustainable business practices led to reduced costs or increased revenues [although a certain paint company forgot to mention during their presentation of sustainable business practices throughout their history when they stopped using lead in their products, haha].

– Andrew Watterson announced that there will be recycling containers along the sidewalk in downtown by the end of 2011.

– A Piece of Cleveland, a deconstruction company, (owned by fellow Kalamazoo College alum), mentioned there’s a huge market for furniture made out of constructed materials. This market is for affluent clients and businesses (some of his cited clients include the Restaurants Fahrenheit and Touch). I hope for the market to eventually expand to most building but that will require for deconstruction prices to go down. For the prices to go down, there has to be cheaper ways to deconstruct or or other new materials would have to increase their prices.

– There are at least 8 cities who have adopted zero waste policies (including San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, San Jose, and others ones that have new environmental policies). I wonder if those cities have reached their zero waste goals yet and whether these policies includes businesses in the city.

– One major kudos to the organizers: they invited several [probably about 10-20] high school students to participate.

I only spoke to one of them for about 30 seconds, a young man from John Marshall HS, who asked me and the rest of us during a very chaotic small group brainstorming session if any of us would be interested to speak at his school about careers in green industries. Until then, I had not thought about the value of having teenagers at the summit. Not just for the summit’s sake, but for their own sake. As I was in the discussion, trying to make sense of all of the thoughts and confusion going on in our brainstorming group, I remembered that I would have been in that guy’s shoes.

I remembered about a few older adults in my life that provided advice and guidance and mostly importantly, their own experiences and career path were models for me to follow, Without them, I probably would not have known about the opportunities and perspectives that I have come to known and experienced. As an adolescent, I heard about these types [after the fact, they were already over] of conferences, events, and opportunities, and sometimes wondered how to access or learn about those opportunities [and looking back, although there were some I didn’t have, I know that I’m fortunate to have the opportunity and access to some experiences and events: ones that a Cleveland Public high School Student probably doesn’t have].

I regret not talking to them more at the summit, hearing their ideas and thoughts about the summit. I gave him my email address and I hope he contacts me. I’m sorry I forgot to ask for his contact information.

Some other quotes:

“The best plan that we have is the one that we do.” Frank Jackson

Cleveland’s New Trash Rules

Ultimately, is this a smart move for the city ?
Yes, they are finally bringing back curbside recycling (after axing it in 2004 due to budget cuts).

The commentary on the article from cleveland.com is depressing and very pessimistic, highlighting commenters’ distrust of the city government to effectively manage this operation and distrust of RFID technology.

However, RFID is not mentioned in the legislation, posted in The City Record, the city council’s record of events), specifically the August 25, 2010 edition, [PDF] [begins on pg. 1377, which is also pg. 84 of the PDF] . The legislation also does not mention whether RFID will be implemented in the future. The legislation passed unanimously by City Council on August 20.

The council also passed legislation on the limits on the amount of trash you can dispose each week, based on volume. I’m an advocate for this model but it should be based on weight since Cleveland is charged by the landfills by the weight of the trash and not the volume.
On the whole, it is a step in the right direction.

See also this article for an another prospective on how RFID would change the way people take out their trash.

Questions on Cleveland’s new food truck program

While food trucks are growing in popularity (well, the number of the them and the amount of press they receive) in other American cities (like LA and midwestern cities like Milwaukee [warning: poor web design alert], there’s only notable one food truck in Cleveland so far, Dim and Dem Sum.

Cleveland’s city council wants to add more by beginning a program to offer loans to prospective food truck operators. The city of Cleveland’s RFP (request for proposals) is here

Having more food options in the city is great, although the program’s description and RFP is extremely vague, which concerns me on a couple points including:

“the applicant will not operate their cart in association with a national food chain.” What constitutes a national food chain ? I would presume burger king wouldn’t qualify for the program [which is for the best] but does this mean that a company from Columbus or Pittsburgh cannot also have one in Cleveland ?

And more importantly, the RFP does not state whether all food trucks that want to open in Cleveland must apply to this specific program and follow the specific guidelines (that are listed in the RFP) . Since Dim and dem sum has been operating for a few months already, I would hope the city is allowing any food truck to open in the city, as long as they have the correct permits.

Lastly,
This program, as far as I have read, just offers loans [with a stipulation that the cart’s exterior will be designed by CPA (Cleveland Public Art)] and puts the food trucks at 4 different locations around the city [adelbert and euclid, public square, the harbor/voinovich park @ e9th, 14th and euclid]. pg. 2 says the trucks are allowed to rotate, but are they allowed to go anywhere else !? If the trucks are restricted to only those 4 locations, it would eliminate one of the key characteristics of food trucks, actually being mobile.

If you know of any other food trucks, please let me know in the comments.