Category Archives: urbanplanning

Defining a neighborhood’s identity in cleveland – rough draft

(this is a rough draft)

Defining neighborhoods and discussion of Cleveland’s neighborhood names and boundaries has a discussion on led me to and gather up some of my thoughts and observations from the recent years.

[quote author=8ShadesofGray link=topic=2492.msg712498#msg712498 date=1403364432]
Time will tell whether the name Hingetown will stick Not the case in Ohio City, but I’d argue at this point, Gordon Square probably has a stronger brand than Detroit Shoreway and Asiatown a much stronger brand than the city’s official designations of the area as Goodrich-Kirtland or Payne-Sterling.

(context: Hingetown, a name for a neighborhood based on West 29th and Church Ave, where Rising Star Coffee is located).

As for Hingetown, I’m not a fan of the name itself (aesthetically, like ‘hingetown?’) but understand its functionality and Graham’s motivation for it. North of Lutheran Hospital unfortunately still has a stigma (I am not saying that it is justified) of being unsafe. Instead of strongly tying in with Ohio City, he decided to create a new name (to fight the stigma) and perhaps he thought it was OC was too geographically large and it needed a sub neighborhood (I could agree with the latter point).

A single business owner creating the neighborhood’s name isn’t the healthiest to do (did he consult any other local stakeholders? the residents, other businesses in the area?) I’ve seen the name used so far by Ohio City’s twitter and coolcleveland: that’s about it. The fact that it is very uniquely positioned: right across from the DS Bridge and leading to downtown is really the only unique characteristic that I see it distinct from the rest of Ohio City.

With regards to defining neighborhoods; geographical features are certainly an influence but it is not the only one. (They also act as borders; for example, the wide cliff between Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn). Housing stock/age, businesses, other establishments that are unique to an area are also key influences. Most importantly, the residents of these neighborhoods – what should be the largest influence to determine a neighborhood’s name, aren’t using the names or self-identify as residents of that neighborhood.

Definitely agree with you on that point. City of cleveland planning officially has ‘statistical planning areas’ (36!) that are described by the city to be functionally equivalent ‘neighborhoods’.

In the case of the City of Cleveland, their influence of defining neighborhoods is minimal.

In several cases (corlett, jefferson, goodrich-kirtland, Euclid-Green), the names appear in only city planning documents.

Others (fairfax, Cuddell) have more use and identity as a neighborhood: they’re used by the CDCs and in the names of parks/Rec Centers/Public Libraries, maybe a local business or 2. (The level that they’re used by local businesses, stakeholders, and residents vary).

Then, I’d argue there’s a 3rd tier, others on that list (mount pleasant, hough, ohio city, old brooklyn, west park, tremont, collinwood) are extremely popular, used in the name of local businesses or stakeholders (churches, local non-profits), have numerous signage in the area that identify the neighborhood, and residents identify as being from there.

Mapping Cleveland’s Proposed Ward Boundaries of 2014

Monday March 25, 2013

Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney released the proposed ward boundaries for 2014. This is just one day before he presents them to be voted on in City Council.

City of cleveland issues this map. A JPEG. Not even georeferenced.
– it has no street names, all features (including rivers and railroads) are all styled the same. Nothing more.

This has sadly been characteristic of the City of Cleveland’s approach to open data, particularly spatial data…

Cleveland’s approach to open data, particularly in this instance, isn’t acceptable. Nor does it help foster a culture where civic hacking flourishes.

Great maps and other visualizations including this great slippy map of new Districts of NYC by WNYC (led by jkeefe) that inspired me to do this, shouldn’t be exclusive to the tech cultures that we usually hear (NYC, SF, CHI, Austin, SEA, PDX, on and on) or wherever Code for America stops in for the year.

Later that afternoon, Current Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins, had received PDF maps of most of the proposed ward and posted them on his blog.
A step above from what I had before. A Shapefile would be too much to ask.

(At least Kudos to him and my current councilman, Joe cimperman, for having twitter accounts and responding to their constituents on there. )

So I began by opening up a blank layer in JOSM, loaded in the Cleveland boundary from OpenStreetMap (less things to draw that way) and began simply tracing out the boundaries over Openstreetmap tiles. I was switching windows every couple minutes, looking at the JPEG boundary, then drawing the same lines in JOSM, repeat.

Had to be a better way, was going to take a couple hours (and it did).

(Side Question: What You use to draw geometries that you’ll later process in your maps/visualizations/analysis ? )

Behold: The georeferencing tool in qgis, which would let you load an image as a layer. This, I thought would be a shortcut. I could create the polygons of the wards by tracing right over the boundaries in the image, without hauving to switch windows.

The biggest problem was that I didn’t know the projection of the JPEG.
Unfortunately, these tutorials assume that your image is georeferenced.

To georeference in qgis, you should know what the projection of your original image is in before you start. If you don’t know, you’ll have to do some guessing and trial and error. I made a few guesses of the most popular projections (4326, 3857) and then tried several ohio ones. An hour or 2 later, none of the projections worked out.

So, I scrapped that idea, I began to draw the ways again in josm.
From there, I did my usual workflow which with I’m most comfortable into tilemill;

use osm2pgsql to convert my .osm file of boundaries (which were in the form of relations, specifically multipolygons) to load into a postgis enabled database.

(I’ve been meaning to become more comfortable with geoJSON and I would have tried to save my file in josm as json but I read there’s a bug in the json export of josm that doesn’t export relations correcty, I didn’t bother to verify this yet)

Next, I used Mapbox’s (which consists of data from OpenStreetmap) technique to create a custom map that I can use as my reference base layer.

Style my layer of proposed ward boundaries in Tilemill….

Then in mapbox.js, I simply put the two layers together. voila, as shown in my map at:

Still more to do with this:

– finish up the documentation

– Tweak the colors
– Add in the census tracts so when a user hovers over an area, they can see the population of a particular place.
– add the existing boundaries too would be nice (as a separate layer for the online map)
– convert the 2014 ward boundaries (currently as a .osm) to a shapefile so others can use it.
Right now, it is available as an .osm in my github repo…

Follow this along in its github repo.

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:

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


  • 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- ( 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….

Downtown Cleveland Parking Map

Upon hearing about the (ill-fated) proposed parking garage for the May Company building a couple weeks ago, I wanted to highlight the existing amount of parking that already exists downtown.

So, here’s a map of Downtown Cleveland’s parking,
here’s a map of Downtown Cleveland parking broken down by garage, underground, and surface, hosted by mapbox. The map design is based on osm-bright and the source is available on my github page.

(Update: There are still a handful of lots that are exclusively for some downtown apartment complexes – particularly on West 9th, that are unmapped at the moment).

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.

the cleveland bike rack is open!

The Cleveland bike Rack, to take a shower and secure your bicycle finally opened a couple weeks ago (it was initially scheduled to be opened in the Spring).

I am slightly disappointed that the space only has parking for 50 bikes but if they need more space in the future, then the station was at least a success.

However, I am frustrated that the current economics of downtown Cleveland parking. Although downtown parking is relatively cheap (and my low budget likes that a lot), its low costs dissuades other sources of transportation (bike, RTA – the rapid or bus).
It’s $5 per day to park your bike indoors (the $25 monthly pass is a great deal and is a higher incentive to use).

Although The bike rack offers showers and changing areas, that prices isn’t very competitive as there are lots right now in downtown Cleveland (including one covered parking garage across the street on Huron, just east of east6th – ) that charge as low as $3.50 (the early bird, before 9am) for a car.

I’m interested to learn more about the economics of parking lots here in downtown Cleveland.

Progress Indicator for the Cleveland Neighborhood Map

First off, a group Naplab, in Indy have made a great neighborhood map. Aaron Renn of the Urbanophile has an interview with the creators here. I hope to talk to them soon to kick around a few ideas with the Cleveland Neighborhood map and discuss our projects.

The Cleveland Neighborhood map has a background layer of roads, rivers, streams, and railways from Openstreetmap (OSM). However, this background layer of data from OSM was mostly based from the 2007 US Census Data. As I worked on the Cleveland neighborhood map, I noticed quite a few instances where the data (the roads no longer existed, were incorrectly named, or new roads have since been created, and didn’t mark any streets as one ways) was wrong.
Through the past few months, I have traveled around the city to verify the data in Openstreetmap and made many corrections. (This is also quite addictive too!)

July 18, 2011 edit: see the code map for more information

The green roads have been verified or corrected (as of June 16th)
red have not been verified. Also thanks to someonecallAlejandro (CWRU campus), badandy23 and anyone else in the OSM community who had contributed.

I plan on rolling out an updated version of the Cleveland Neighborhood Map in the next week or so, hopefully adding Glenville and Shaker Square.

(For me, back to rebuilding my sister’s garage!)

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

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.

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.