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.

http://stagenc.build.dispatch.com/news/20171016/some-residents-dont-like-them-but-columbus-says-rain-gardens-are-working
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.

Tract Profile #2- Tract 2, 210 and 220

Tract #2 was formed on the North Side in 1930 and included parts of Clintonville and Northmoor. It contains the rest of Clintonville that Tracts 1, 110 and 120 didn’t include, including the downtown area.

Like #1, Tract #2 grew early on in its history, and was split in two tracts in 1960. Unlike #1, Tract #2 contained an older area already highly populated.

**The rankings for the statistics below are based on the 156 tracts within the Columbus city boundaries in 2010.

Population of Tract #2, #210 and #220 Combined
1930: 5,682
1940: 6,308
1950: 7,615
1960: 9,359
1970: 9,208
1980: 7,664
1990: 7,246
2000: 6,924
2010: 6,662

Tract Population Rank
210: 83rd
220: 45th

Total and % Change By Decade
1940: +626 +11.02%
1950: +1,307 +20.72%
1960: +1,744 +22.9%
1970: -151 -1.61%
1980: -1,544 -16.77%
1990: -418 -5.45%
2000: -322 -4.44%
2010: -262 -3.78%

Population Density
1960: 6,637.6
1970: 6,530.5
1980: 5,435.5
1990: 5,139.0
2000: 4,910.6
2010: 4,698.2

Population Density Rank
210: 91st
220: 84th

Housing 2010
Area Occupied Units: 96.8%
Vacant Units: 3.2%
Average Year Built: 1944
Housing Units built before 1959: 91.4%
Housing Units built 1960 and Later: 8.6%
Median Rent: $586
Median Home Price: $227,300

Demographics for Area

White
2010: 6,309 94.7%
2000: 6,652 96.1%
1990: 7,142 98.6%
Black
2010: 84 1.3%
2000: 58 0.8%
1990: 34 0.5%
Asian
2010: 87 1.3%
2000: 87 1.3%
1990: 57 0.8%
Hispanic
2010: 118 1.8%
2000: 62 0.9%
1990: 58 0.8%
Other
2010: 182 2.7%
2000: 127 1.8%
1990: 13 0.2%

White Population Tract Ranking
210: 4th
220: 3rd
Black Population Tract Ranking
210: 153rd
220: 156th
Asian Population Tract Ranking
210: 100th
220: 80th
Hispanic Population Tract Ranking
210: 141st
220: 144th

The population of tracts 210 and 220 is clearly very White and the diversity of this area ranks as one of Columbus’ worst.

Breakdown of First Reported Ancestry
German: 39.73%
Irish: 20.38%
English: 16.43%
Italian: 7.70%
Scottish: 4.99%
French: 4.60%
American: 4.36%
Polish: 4.31%
Welsch: 3.24%
Scotch-Irish: 2.84%
Swedish: 2.42%
Dutch: 2.19%
Norwegian: 1.69%
Hungarian: 1.61%
Swiss: 1.46%
Russian: 0.85%
Czech: 0.67%
Arab: 0.51%
Ukrainian: 0.44%
Danish: 0.26%
Greek: 0.14%
Portuguese: 0.14%
Sub-Saharan: 0.0%

Ancestry of Asian Population
Chinese: 32.39%
Japanese: 12.62%
Other: 10.91%
Filipino: 10.80%
Indian: 10.54%
Korean: 8.58%
Vietnamese: 5.6%

Native Born: 97.5%
Foreign Born: 2.5%
English Spoken at Home: 92.0%
Spanish Spoken at Home: 4.0%
Other Languages Spoken at Home: 4.0%

Gender and Age
Under 5: 6.2%
5 to 9: 4.9%
10 to 14: 4.5%
15 to 19: 4.1%
20 to 24: 3.2%
25 to 34: 14.5%
35 to 44: 15.1%
45 to 54: 17.5%
55 to 64: 18.4%
65 to 74: 6.9%
75 and Over: 4.7%

Median Male Age: 42.2
Median Female Age: 44.4
Median Age: 43.3

Tract Median Age Rank
210: 42.8 143rd
220: 43.8 147th

Income and Poverty
Per-Capita Income: $42,104
Median Individual Income: $45,623.50
Median Household Income: $85,909

Population in Poverty: 5.8%
Families in Poverty: 2.2%

Educational Attainment
Less than High School: 2.1%
High School Graduate: 7.9%
Some College: 16.3%
Bachelor’s Degree: 44.8%
Masters/Doctorate/Professional: 29.1%

Tract Average Education Index and Rank
210: 15.96 8th
220: 16.18 3rd

School Enrollment Preference
Public Schools: 60.4%
Private Schools: 39.6%

Commuting Patterns

Average Commute Time: 17.7 Minutes

Tract Commute Rank
210: 16.9 Minutes 136th
220: 18.4 Minutes 118th

Drove Alone to Work: 82.0%
Carpooled to Work: 6.5%
Take Public Transit to Work: 2.4%
Walk to Work: 1.6%
Other: 3.2%
Work from Home: 4.6%

Tract Profile #1- Tract 1, 110 and 120

I didn’t get a chance to post this last week, but here is the first in the tract profile series. It’s just about everything anyone wanted to know about an area based on its tracts.

Tract #1 was the furthest north tract in the city boundaries at the time that tracts came about in the 1930 census. It included the areas of Clintonville, Whetstone and Beechwold, communities largely built between 1920 and 1950.

The population grew rapidly between 1930 and 1950, rising by almost 7x. By 1960, the US Census split the growing tract into two parts, #110 and #120, and they have remained through the present day.

Population of Tract #1, #110 and #120 Combined
1930: 1,252
1940: 2,618
1950: 6,944
1960: 9,456
1970: 8,850
1980: 7,374
1990: 6,902
2000: 6,645
2010: 6,506

2010 Columbus City Tract Population Ranking out of 156
110: 59th
120: 68th

Total and % Change by Decade
1940: +1,366 +109.11%
1950: +4,326 +165.24%
1960: +2,512 +36.18%
1970: -606 -6.41%
1980: -1,476 -16.68%
1990: -470 -6.37%
2000: -259 -3,75%
2010: -139 -2.09%

Population Density
2010: 3,654.0
2000: 3,733.4
1990: 3,877.7
1980: 4,142.9
1970: 4,972.2
1960: 5,312.7

2010 Columbus City Tract Rank for Density out of 156
110:
120:

So the population of this area peaked around 1960 and has declined every decade since. However, the good news is that the rate of decline has been slowing since the 1970s. Of the two tracts that currently make up the original Tract #1 boundary, one grew in population during the 2000s, so the area is seeing a gradual turnaround.

Housing 2010
Occupied Units: 95.66%
Vacant Units: 4.34%
Average Year Built: 1949
Housing Units built before 1959: 82.73%
Housing Units built 1960 and Later: 17.27%
Median Rent: $853.00
Median Home Price: $202,750.00

So definitely this area is mostly from the mid-20th century, with above average home prices and low vacancy rates.

Demographics for Area

White
2010: 6,233 95.8%
2000: 6,428 96.7%
1990: 6,823 98.9%
Black
2010: 84 1.3%
2000: 54 0.8%
1990: 26 0.4%
Asian
2010: 78 1.2%
2000: 72 1.1%
1990: 40 0.6%
Hispanic
2010: 103 1.6%
2000: 63 0.9%
1990: 27 0.4%
Other
2010: 111 1.7%
2000: 91 1.4%
1990: 13 0.2%

White Population Tract Ranking
110: 1st
120: 2nd
Black Population Tract Ranking
110: 155th
120: 154th
Asian Population Tract Ranking
110: 102nd
120: 86th
Hispanic Population Tract Ranking
110: 138th
120: 154th

The area is clearly majority White and doesn’t seem to be changing very quickly. The area contains the Whitest tracts within the city of Columbus.

Breakdown of First Reported Ancestry
German: 39.92%
Irish: 19.99%
English: 14.33%
Italian: 7.33%
French: 6.20%
Polish: 5.96%
American: 2.82%
Scottish: 2.73%
Dutch: 2.30%
Welsh: 2.22%
Hungarian: 2.10%
Swedish: 1.80%
Swiss: 1.46%
Scotch-Irish: 1.40%

Ancestry of Asian Population
Chinese: 27.19%
Indian: 26.59%
Other: 14.48%
Japanese: 12.90%
Korean: 11.31%
Filipino: 7.54%

Native Born: 96.98%
Foreign Born: 3.02%
English Spoken at Home: 96.4%
Spanish Spoken at Home: 0.96%
Other Languages Spoken at Home: 2.64%

Gender and Age
Male Population: 46.75%
Female Population: 53.25%

Age
Under 5: 5.1%
5 to 9: 4.45%
10 to 14: 4.01%
15 to 19: 3.19%
20 to 24: 2.92%
25 to 34: 15.47%
35 to 44: 16.11%
45 to 54: 15.71%
55 to 64: 16.38%
65 to 74: 8.21%
75 and Over: 8.48%

Median Male Age: 42.5
Median Female Age: 46.0
Median Age: 44.2

Tract Median Age Rank in Columbus out of 156
110: 41.6 138th
120: 46.8 153rd

The area skews much older than Columbus’s average of around 31 years old, and females make up more of the population. European ancestry dominates.

Income and Poverty
Per-Capita Income: $39,261
Median Individual Income: $43,964
Median Household Income: $71,240

Population in Poverty: 10.0%
Families in Poverty: 2.99%

Educational Attainment
Less than High School: 1.49%
High School Graduate: 14.44%
Some College: 22.09%
Bachelor’s Degree: 35.27%
Masters, Doctorate or Other Professional Degree: 19.15%

School Enrollment Preference
Public Schools: 47.38%
Private Schools: 52.62%

Overall, the Clintonville/Beechwold/Whetstone areas are mid-20th century neighborhoods that are well educated, earn more than the national average, have an older population than the Columbus average, and skew female and European. The population also values private and public education fairly equally, but private schools are the winner.