Ohio’s cities are in bad shape. A recent economic distress study placed three of the state’s cities, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati in the top 10 most distressed in the nation, using indicators like job growth, unemployment and educational attainment as the criteria. Cleveland, for its part, topped Detroit, for the number one spot.
A new study this week found that in the Cleveland region, along with Toledo, are in the top 10 nationally on concentrated poverty. In response, Democratic Party Chair David Pepper posted the following Tweet:
Ohio needs an urban agenda, reversing five years of raiding city budgets https://t.co/etJWq0DWfW
— David Pepper (@DavidPepper) March 31, 2016
I gotta say, I don’t know how serious he was about that, or whether it was just an opportunity to slam Kasich, but the idea of Ohio having a real urban agenda is something that excites me a lot. It’s hard to believe, urban leaders haven’t coalesced around some sort of urban platform in the past. All of its major cities except Columbus have been in some state of decline for decades. But in the past when I’ve inquired about this, I’ve come up empty. Ohio lawmakers spend so much time squabbling about abortion, they haven’t had time to come up with a comprehensive strategy to help Ohio’s cities from sliding further and further into the “most miserable” rankings de jour.
I think we should try to hold Pepper and at least our urban Democrat electeds to it.
I’m going to tick off some of my quick choices for best state policy improvements:
- A fix-it-first policy for ODOT. Stop widening highways to save suburban commuters a few seconds and let’s fix what we’ve already built. While we’re at it, some real transit investment would be nice. It’d also be great if ODOT could figure out how to build roads in cities that won’t undermine the whole development potential and safety of the area.
- Eliminate tax subsidies for companies that sprawl from cities to suburbs. This creates no actual value and undermines access to opportunity for vulnerable groups. Prioritize incentives for transit-accessible development.
- Enable regional land use planning, so shrinking metros like Cleveland especially can try to get a handle on sprawl. This will save money on unnecessary infrastructure and also demolition.
- Boost funding for brownfield remediation.
- Preservation and potentially expansion of historic and low-income tax credits.
What do you think a real urban strategy for the state of Ohio would look like? Do me a favor and Tweet them at David Pepper, or your elected rep!