Oh Clintonville… The Queen of NIMBYism

Clintonville has long been making news for its near hysterical opposition to any change whatsoever. The fight over the North Broadway turn lane has become something of legend, and the neighborhood freak outs over everything from the Indianola Avenue road diet to the Olympic Pool saga have become nearly standard procedure.
This week, Clintonville’s notorious NIMBYism once again popped its ugly head in the news, this time about Columbus’ plan to install rain gardens in the neighborhood.

The story is a classic.

First, let’s look at some of the backstory to this outrage. All the way back in 2005, Columbus submitted a plan to the Ohio EPA called the Wet Weather Management Plan. The gist of the plan was the actions the city would take to reduce sewage overflows into rivers and streams during heavy rains, as well as reducing pollution runoff. For years, heavy rains would cause sewers to back up into the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, as well as causing pollution runoff from streets, parking lots and other surfaces. At times, this pollution would cause very unpleasant odors throughout the Downtown area, as well as along the rivers themselves. Coinciding with the city’s desire to create a more inviting riverfront (which it would later do with the Scioto Mile and Scioto Greenways projects), it had to create infrastructure to solve the pollution issues.
One of the biggest ways this was accomplished was by drilling a 5.4 mile tunnel under Downtown that would fully prevent all of the sewage overflows. Begun in 2007, the project took 8 years and $371 million to complete. You can read a bit more about that project here: http://www.dispatch.com/article/20150912/NEWS/309129781
In 2015, when the overflow problem was solved, the city came up with an updated plan called Blueprint Columbus. This plan continued to address runoff problems, specifically with the creation of a network of rain gardens throughout the city. If you’re unaware, rain gardens are basically special, landscaped ditches that function as water filters. They block runoff and help prevent flooding, and would potentially save the city millions of dollars in the long run. Check out the Blueprint Columbus plan here: https://www.columbus.gov/utilities/projects/blueprint/ There’s a ton of information there, including the locations of many of the proposed rain gardens… which brings us back to Clintonville. In 2016, Clintonville found out it would be hosting as many as 500 rain gardens in the initial pilot rollout that will eventually include 17 areas of the city: http://www.dispatch.com/article/20160110/NEWS/301109834
Almost immediately, the complaints began to pour in. At meetings during the summer of 2015, residents had already begun the fear-mongering outrage. It wasn’t until this year, however, that Clintonville really began to earn that long-standing reputation. Construction of the rain gardens began over the summer, and they not only were built in the grassy easements in front of houses, but some were built right into the street, removing parking spaces and creating zones where traffic would be forced to slow down. Residents were apoplectic.

Keep in mind, these are some examples of a typical rain garden:

Not so bad, right? And if they help clean the water, reduce flooding costs and beautify the neighborhood, what’s the problem? Plenty, according to Clintonville residents.

In the Dispatch article, residents called them everything from “unsightly” to “toxic dumps”, while another article, http://www.thisweeknews.com/news/20171016/over-my-dead-body-rain-garden-rage-continues called them an outrageous example of big government overreach, as well as a potential danger to toddlers.

My favorite comment, however, was this one:
“That’s a real problem, that this is an experiment,” he said. “If they want to do an experiment, do it somewhere else — not on these homes. I am seriously considering moving.”

If that isn’t the epitome of irrational NIMBYism, I don’t know what is. Ironically, should that resident move, he’d have absolutely no trouble selling it. Clintonville is an urban neighborhood in a growing, desirable city. Given the record low housing inventory for sale in the area, he’d probably get top dollar for it.

As for why Clintonville is so irrationally opposed to any and all change? Perhaps because it has long been an insular community. Demographics there have been one of the steadiest in the county, let alone the city. It is among the least diverse and has one of the highest median ages of neighborhood populations in the city by far, even including suburbs. Things simply don’t change there, and many seem to vehemently want it to stay that way. However, change is always inevitable. Perhaps Clintonville should save its energy for *actual* nefarious practices, not imagined ones.

The Midwest Beat the South in Regional Domestic Migration in 2016

For years, if not decades, we’ve been hearing a familiar tale- that anyone and everyone is moving from the Midwest and Northeast to the South and West. This trend began during and after the collapse of Northern manufacturing, and as higher cost of living began to make the lower-cost South more attractive in particular. However, a lot of the South’s growth over the years- indeed a majority- never had anything to do with region-to-region migration. Instead, it was due largely to natural growth (births vs. deaths) and international migration, particularly from Central America. What received all the attention, though, was the belief that people were packing up and moving to the South from places like Ohio and other struggling Northern states. While that may have been true for a while, that is increasingly looking like it is no longer the case.

The Midwest, especially, has been derided as the region no one wants to live in. Despite its growing population approaching 66 million people, the common refrain was that its colder winters, flailing economies and questionable demographic future meant that it was simply a region being left behind by the booming Southern states.

Recently, the US Census released estimates for 2015-2016 geographic mobility, and they tell a very different story altogether.

First, let’s look at the total domestic migration moving to the Midwest from other regions.
South to Midwest: +309,000
West to Midwest: +72,000
Northeast to Midwest: +61,000
Total to Midwest: +442,000

And then compare that to the total that the Midwest sends to other regions.
Midwest to South: -254,000
Midwest to West: -224,000
Midwest to Northeast: -34,000
Total from Midwest: -512,000

Net difference by region.
Midwest vs. South: +55,000
Midwest vs. West: -152,000
Midwest vs. Northeast: +27,000
Total Net: -70,000

So while the Midwest is seeing and overall net domestic migration loss, it is entirely to the Western states.

This could just be an off year, as almost all recent years showed losses to the South, but then again, maybe not. The South has been in a boom for several decades now, and in that time, the region still lags the other 3 in almost every quality of life metric used. All booms end eventually, and the South’s 2 biggest perceived advantages, low cost of living and business-friendly climate, have been gradually eroding over time. As Census surveys show, people don’t actually move for a change in weather, so it’s the economic factors that are going to make the biggest impacts long-term. The Midwest now has many cities and several states that are doing well economically, including Columbus, and perhaps they are becoming more attractive than they have in many years. Time will tell, but last year, the narrative of an unattractive Midwest vs. South was at least temporarily shelved.

In Franklin County, Young Adults Prefer Density

I’ve seen several articles across the internet lately questioning the idea that young professionals and Millennials really prefer urban areas or not. I decided to see how this played out in Franklin County overall. I first looked at the total population aged 20-34 in the year 2000 and the year 2015 by Census Tract.
Here were the maps for those years.

After looking at the numbers for both years, I came up with this map for how that age group had changed in the 2000-2015 period.

Unfortunately, some tracts, particularly in the eastern suburban areas, did not exist in 2000, and so I was not able to figure out the change for them during the period. The rest of the map, however, shows that the strongest growth in this age group was not only inside 270, but closest to Downtown and central corridors along Broad and High Streets.
These maps don’t tell us about the relationship between those changes and the population density of the census tracts. So I went further and broke the tracts into increments of density to see where the strongest growth was occurring.

With a few exceptions, there appears to be a correlation between average 20-34 aged population growth and the density of the census tracts it occurs in. This suggests that this age group, at least in Franklin County, prefers areas with moderate to high density, which typically translates to urban living.

Before and After April 2017

I haven’t done a Before and After installment for a while. This time around, I chose to not focus on any single neighborhood.

First up is a photo of the construction of the Columbus Interurban Terminal, looking northwest from 3rd. The photo was taken on October 5, 1911, about 3 months before the building opened. The interurban system was relatively short-lived in the city, and the terminal closed after only 26 years in 1938. The building survived as a grocery store through the mid-1960s before the building was demolished in 1967 as part of the construction of the Greyhound Bus Terminal across the street. The actual location of the building was not on the Greyhound site, but was used as an overflow parking lot. It remained a parking lot until the mid-1980s, when it became part of the City Centre Mall site. Today, plans are for the site to become the location for the 12-story, Two25 mixed-use project.

Here is the same place in September 2016.

And the near future.

The second historic photo is of the #57 streetcar on Kelton Avenue just south of the Oak Street intersection. The photo, which looks north, was taken on June 30, 1915 and includes 3 separate visible buildings as well. The house on the left actually survived until 1977, when it and the rest of the east half of the block was demolished. The building visible on the right is the surviving streetcar barn. Today, it is in bad shape, and while many would like to see it renovated and saved, time seems to be running out. The other surviving building, barely visible in the 1915 photo, is the tenement building on the northwest corner of Oak and Kelton.

And in November 2015.

Third in this list is a photo of the demolition of the old Franklin County Jail, once located at 36 E. Fulton Street in Downtown. Built in 1889, the structure survived until the fall of 1971, when the building, which by then had become outdated for its intended purpose, was torn down to make way for- what else- a parking garage. The parking garage remains to the present day. Columbus leaders at the time should’ve been flogged for such short-sighted thinking, something that was repeated over and over and over again during that era. Today, such a very cool, gothic building would’ve made an excellent candidate for mixed-use conversion.

And in August 2016.

Finally, this next photo isn’t really historic. It was taken a mere 15 years ago in February, 2002, looking northwest from the corner of N. High Street and 10th Avenue. At the time, this area had been made up of low-rise historic buildings that had long held bars for OSU students. All these buildings in the photo, and many more, were demolished not long after the photo was taken in order to make room for the South Campus Gateway, now more or less just called the Gateway. Similar large-scale demolitions are taking place to the north and south as the entirety of the High Street corridor around Campus is transformed. Whether that is good or bad depends on who you ask. What can be agreed upon, however, is that the corridor will be almost unrecognizable in the end.

And in October, 2016.

Franklin County Gentrification Trends 1990-2015

**Note: This was originally posted on March 8, 2016. However, the data went to 2014 rather than 2015 and I actually posted it without adding all the maps and other information intended.

I saw this post (http://www.citylab.com/housing/2016/03/mapping-the-resegregation-of-diverse-neighborhoods-in-4-us-cities/472086/) the other day about changing neighborhood demographics in certain cities, particularly when it comes to racial segregation and gentrification. Surprisingly, of all the maps and posts I’ve done on demographics, I hadn’t thought to do one like this. Well, now I have.

A bit of an explanation is needed for the color coding:
-For those categories marked “Steady”, the demographic listed has been the majority throughout the period, with little to no change of other demographics.
-For those mixed categories of one decline and one rise, it means that the majority demographic has declined at least 5 percentage points, while a secondary demographic has risen at least 5 percentage points.
-For the category of recent or steady integration, there are at least 2 demographics at 10% or more of the total population, as well as a 3rd demographic reaching at least 5% of the population.

A few things that stand out to me: The eastern half of the county is in much greater flux than the western half, and integration is respectable county-wide. These neighborhoods of demographic equilibrium are largely the result of increasing Hispanic and Asian populations, particularly on the Northeast and West Sides, as well as the Whitehall area. In the center core, almost all of the High Street corridor has remained Steady White, suggesting that other demographics have, so far, been unable to tap into the building boom along and adjacent to this corridor. One other thing I notice is that there are FAR more tracts with a growing black population than there are with a growing White population, suggesting that perhaps the idea of Whites moving into neighborhoods and displacing residents is not quite as big of an issue as some might believe.

Here are the integrated tracts by year, based the above criteria, and their racial breakdown.

Top 10 Tracts with the Highest White Population

1. 7205: 99.6%
2. 98: 99.1%
3. 7207: 98.9%
4. 120, 9240: 98.8%
5. 7201, 7203, 80: 98.7%
6. 7922, 9440, 9752: 98.6%
7. 9751, 10601: 98.5%
8. 110, 8141, 8821, 9711, 9740: 98.4%
9. 9450, 9800: 98.3%
10. 6230, 7210: 98.2%
1. 65: 98.7%
2. 6810: 97.4%
3. 6822, 9712: 97.0%
4. 98: 96.0%
5. 6721, 6950: 95.9%
6. 220: 95.8%
7. 9497: 95.6%
8. 66: 95.5%
9. 6330: 94.8%
10. 7394: 94.7%

Breakdown of # of Tracts by % of White Population
95% or Higher: 80
90%-94.9%: 73
80%-89.9%: 64
70%-79.9%: 10
60%-69.9%: 11
50%-59.9%: 6
Total Majority White Tracts: 244
40%-49.9%: 7
30%-39.9%: 9
20%-29.9%: 5
10%-19.9%: 9
0.1%-9.9%: 9
0%: 0
Total Minority White Tracts: 39
95% or Higher: 11
90%-94.9%: 35
80%-89.9%: 62
70%-79.9%: 52
60%-69.9%: 30
50%-59.9%: 19
Total Majority White Tracts: 209
40%-49.9%: 11
30%-39.9%: 17
20%-29.9%: 25
10%-19.9%: 15
0.1%-9.9%: 6
0%: 0
Total Minority White Tracts: 74

Top 10 Tracts with the Highest Black Population
1. 730: 94.2%
2. 5420: 93.4%
3. 15, 28: 92.3%
4. 36: 91.8%
5. 5410: 91.4%
6. 7551: 91.1%
7. 7512: 90.9%
8. 23: 89.0%
9. 2520: 87.4%
10. 29: 87.2%
1. 7512: 88.1%
2. 9337: 87.7%
3. 730: 84.9%
4. 7511: 83.6%
5. 23: 82.2%
6. 15: 81.9%
7. 55: 81.4%
8. 5420, 9332: 81.0%
9. 29: 80.9%
10. 8813: 79.1%

Breakdown of # of Tracts by % of Black Population
95% or Higher: 0
90%-94.9%: 7
80%-89.9%: 10
70%-79.9%: 4
60%-69.9%: 8
50%-59.9%: 6
Total Majority Black Tracts: 35
40%-49.9%: 7
30%-39.9%: 10
20%-29.9%: 9
10%-19.9%: 32
0.1%-9.9%: 190
0%: 0
Total Minority Black Tracts: 248
95% or Higher: 0
90%-94.9%: 0
80%-89.9%: 9
70%-79.9%: 8
60%-69.9%: 28
50%-59.9%: 9
Total Majority Black Tracts: 52
40%-49.9%: 20
30%-39.9%: 17
20%-29.9%: 24
10%-19.9%: 44
0.1%-9.9%: 126
0%: 0
Total Minority Black Tracts: 231

Top 10 Tracts with the Highest Asian Population
1. 7820: 23.3%
2. 1122: 11.2%
3. 1110: 10.8%
4. 105: 9.0%
5. 1810: 8.2%
6. 6372: 7.6%
7. 6384: 7.3%
8. 1121: 7.2%
9. 6386: 6.9%
10. 6395: 6.8%
1. 7820: 34.1%
2. 7721: 26.8%
3. 6230: 26.7%
4. 1122: 21.9%
5. 7830: 17.0%
6. 1110: 16.6%
7. 105: 16.2%
8. 6395: 15.5%
9. 6372: 15.3%
10. 6386: 14.9%

Breakdown of # of Tracts by % of Asian Population
95% or Higher: 0
90%-94.9%: 0
80%-89.9%: 0
70%-79.9%: 0
60%-69.9%: 0
50%-59.9%: 0
Total Majority Asian Tracts: 0
40%-49.9%: 0
30%-39.9%: 0
20%-29.9%: 1
10%-19.9%: 2
0.1%-9.9%: 273
0%: 7
Total Minority Asian Tracts: 283
95% or Higher: 0
90%-94.9%: 0
80%-89.9%: 0
70%-79.9%: 0
60%-69.9%: 0
50%-59.9%: 0
Total Majority Asian Tracts: 0
40%-49.9%: 0
30%-39.9%: 1
20%-29.9%: 4
10%-19.9%: 17
0.1%-9.9%: 215
0%: 46
Total Minority Asian Tracts: 283

Top 10 Tracts with the Highest Hispanic Population
1. 7820: 2.9%
2. 1122, 7209: 2.5%
3. 1810, 30: 2.3%
4. 8163, 9323, 9336: 2.1%
5. 6352, 7830: 2.0%
6. 1110, 1121, 2750: 1.9%
7. 10, 32, 40, 42, 7533: 1.8%
8. 12, 17, 1901, 6353, 7041, 7199: 1.7%
9. 6, 1820, 6945, 7531, 7551, 7721, 9326, 99: 1.6%
10. 13, 2710, 6933, 7120, 7532, 8164, 8230, 8730, 103: 1.5%
1. 8230: 39.3%
2. 8164: 28.7%
3. 8163: 26.4%
4. 26: 24.2%
5. 9321: 22.7%
6. 8210: 22.6%
7. 99: 21.4%
8. 9230: 21.0%
9. 7043: 19.8%
10. 6945: 18.9%

Breakdown of # of Tracts by % of Hispanic Population
95% or Higher: 0
90%-94.9%: 0
80%-89.9%: 0
70%-79.9%: 0
60%-69.9%: 0
50%-59.9%: 0
Total Majority Hispanic Tracts: 0
40%-49.9%: 0
30%-39.9%: 0
20%-29.9%: 0
10%-19.9%: 0
0.1%-9.9%: 278
0%: 5
95% or Higher: 0
90%-94.9%: 0
80%-89.9%: 0
70%-79.9%: 0
60%-69.9%: 0
50%-59.9%: 0
Total Majority Hispanic Tracts: 0
40%-49.9%: 0
30%-39.9%: 1
20%-29.9%: 7
10%-19.9%: 33
0.1%-9.9%: 241
0%: 9

Integrated Tracts By Year
1990: 2
2015: 98

Most Integrated Tract by Year
1122: White: 76.6% Black: 9.6% Asian: 11.2% Hispanic: 2.5%
7721: White: 33.9% Black: 31.2% Asian: 26.8% Hispanic: 10.1%

All in all, the data shows that the county is much less racially stratified/segregated now than it was in 1990, and that it doesn’t appear that gentrification is really affecting many areas in terms of forcing out one racial group for another.