Grandview City

All posts in the Grandview City category

City sidewalk ordinance fails, for now

Published June 6, 2019 by justicewg

Discussion start 34:20, ends 1:20:45.

Submitted for your viewing pleasure, the city council spent nearly an hour debating the ordinance brought before the council by Steve Reynolds, which would shift all responsibility for sidewalk repair and replacement to the city (as Marble Cliff has done for decades).

The simplified summary – Reynolds believes that monitoring sidewalks and shopping for companies who can do the work, then dealing with supervising the work, and possibly fighting with private companies over workmanship, is an additional headache that homeowners would be glad to turn over to the city.

Others on the council think the city should not take on an additional financial burden, and mentions were made to financial cost sharing which the city might offer (but are not laws enforced by ordinance).

No matter which side of the question you support, you have to give the council praise for taking the issue seriously, and exploring every nuance of the sidewalk issue. The discussion might get a little hot and over-dramatic at times (special award for Panzera), but it was a good discussion that served the citizens well.

Of special note – all of the council members who spoke were well acquainted with the issue, and did not ask questions that showed they were too lazy to read the documents presented (that’s a foreshadowing of a board article on the way soon).

Reynolds and Houston were in favor, the rest of the council voted no. I foresee this ordinance returning in the future, as long as Reynolds holds the position that the city taking responsibility is the best way to deal with sidewalks in Grandview Hts.

The TriV news story on the sidewalk ordinance.

Good government is not unanimous

Policy which will made Grandview a better city is not something that just is revealed to the council members from above. Politicians listen to their constituents, think about the plus and minus effects of rule changes, then present those ideas before the governing body. Some times that results in a majority vote to pass the new law, sometimes it fails. There is no problem with a council that disagrees – as long as the members respect each other, and understand that problems in the city, and the work needed to solve them, is a collaborative process, not a lock-step marching society.

The Grandview Heights school board has a very different philosophy. I has written many posts about the unanimous board, and the insulated process that excludes the parents from decisions. When you have to vote unanimously, the best way to prevent those pesky ideas from parents intruding into what you know will be a unanimous vote is to close yourself off from them.

I still, after many years in this city, don’t understand how we have evolved such different types of political bodies. It is the Grandview mystery.

Advertisements

Are AirBnB houses bringing too much disruption to Grandview Heights?

Published May 13, 2019 by justicewg

 

Five Grandview residents spoke at the May 6, 2019 city council meeting, and told about disruption, parking problems, blatant drug and alcohol use, and rude behavior from tenants at some Airbnb homes that have popped up in Grandview Heights.

22:30 Susan Kukla told about drug use (and buy transactions) happening in the street, large parties (the house is listed as allowing up to 9 renters at a time), which caused a dozen new to the area cars to use street parking, forcing homeowners to use parking in the next block. There is increased noise and garbage in the area, and incidents of items being broken that may be caused by the renters.

The problems might stem from the setup of the AirBnB on this street, it seems like the $600 a night rental would keep casual renters away, but if 9 or more people use the house, the price per person comes in lower than an average hotel room.

Craig Berlin told about party noise at 4AM, and parking issues. There may be issues with over listing a house with bedrooms in the basements that do not have egress provisions per city code.

Michael Connor talked about suspicious behavior from renters in the “party house”.

Cathy Wilson spoke about noise issues increasing. Although the house had high rental fees on weekends, the weekday rates could be as low as $45 per person for a filled house, attracting traveling utility work crews, who parked large trucks and sometimes trailers on the streets near the house.

The Mayor on Short Term rental

36:30 Mayor DeGraw gave information about a conference he had attended, at which short term rental issues, and the legislation that cities can enact to control them, was discussed. He mentioned that although AirBnB is the largest rental company, there are dozens of online companies that are similar (HomeAway, and VRBO, Booking.com). Working with one company to enforce better rental behavior will not be of much use, when there are so many companies, and house owners can freely jump between rental companies.

One solution might be to require the homes to have a host family living inside the homes that are short term rentals. Licensing all short term rental properties is another possibility.

A full ban on these type of rental homes is possible, but enforcement is a problem. Short term rental companies don’t list the exact addresses of the homes, just general areas. The quick increase in the numbers of these homes will leave the city continually chasing down the owners and using legal threats to enforce compliance.

For now, the Mayor emphasized that owners of homes near these rental properties need to keep track of incidents involving drugs, noise, and disruptive behavior, and call the police for each illegal incident.

The big picture on short term housing

Not mentioned in this meeting is the long term effects on housing prices and availability. Grandview Heights is a prime location for short term renters looking to attend events at OSU, the convention center, and downtown. If properties are snapped up by the owners of multiple AirBnB rental homes, the general availability of housing goes down, and prices go up. That might be seen as a good result by present home owners, as the price of homes continues to spike up.

The gamble that present owners risk is if a disruptive rental property moves into the house beside your own. That can bring property values down for that section of the street. The regulation of short term housing can decrease the chances that bad rental homes will pop up in any neighborhood in the city.

Read the TVN story on the council discussion May 6th.

Grandview Community Garage Sale is Saturday, May 4

Published May 2, 2019 by justicewg

Yard sale 19

The list of households who will be hosting yards sales this Saturday has been posted by the city. The hours are 9 AM to 3 PM, please don’t early bird!

One update to the accessibility of the list is the format, in past years it was saved as a Pdf image, and was not searchable. This year’s list is still a Pdf, but is searchable for individual words. Download the file below, then open it in a Pdf reader that includes a search function.

Grandview Garage Sale May 4 2019

 

The city has posted near complete Community Planning Documents

Published March 20, 2019 by justicewg

The city of Grandview Heights has been running planning meetings to gather feedback from residents in a comprehensive city planning process that started back in April 2018. This process was intended to be a full review of all aspects of the city’s housing, commercial developments, recreational and transportation, civic spaces, and almost anything else that might become an issue the city council and administration could see for the future.

 

 

(Video from the meeting March 26, 2019)

The Draft doc

https://www.grandviewheights.org/DocumentCenter/View/3513/Comp-Plan-Template-v-031319

There was a meeting March 26th in the Middle School Commons to accept public feedback as the plans moved towards completion.

First impressions

I didn’t spend a lot of time reading the doc, but this is what jumped out.

The suggestions for residential areas are to follow the present building standards for height and density, and not approve developments that are big jumps in size (like the building already approved on First on the site of the funeral home).

Mixed residential and commercial development is also to be limited to match the existing size and number of floors. Demolition of present buildings to build larger, taller buildings is discouraged.

The present commercial areas are to be preserved inside the limits of existing development.

The only area I see allowed to build high is on the south side of Goodale, where there already are new multi-story buildings.

Municipal campus on the site of the service center

After the city service center has moved their truck barns and equipment to a new space on McKinley, the area behind the senior center is now being presented as the potential location of a large municipal campus. This area will house new Police and Fire buildings, as well as city offices. Essentially everything now located up the Grandview hill will be rebuilt in a bigger and better campus.

This included an “event/recreation” area, which will be built on the site of the senior center (and presumably the senior center will go into the municipal building). This area will be large enough the host festivals and farmer’s markets.

I don’t see this plan for a municipal campus in the Community Planning Document linked above, but the city website has the plans in the mayor’s blog.

http://www.grandviewheights.org/Blog.aspx?IID=254

Municipal Campus

More info to be posted as the documents are reviewed.

Brief comments on video of City Council Meetings in February 2019, and some suggestions

Published March 1, 2019 by justicewg

 

Video of City Council Meeting 2.4.19

50:40 Vote on the tax deal for the school and the NRI – South of Goodale ordinance.

56:00 Councilman Reynolds explains why he opposed the ord. He supports the schools and wants to see the tax burden lowered, but objects to the emergency status of the ord. The issue has been under review for a year, there is no emergency. That emergency just takes away the ability of the public to bring the issue up for a referendum. Reynolds also spoke against the development, saying that the school could have gotten a deal for new TIF money without a 450 unit apartment development that is not a good long term use of the land.

Discussion and other ordinances on the same SOG issue continues until 1:15:20.

1:20:45 Ord on City replacement and repair of sidewalks. More on the cost and logistics. Tabled until April 1. Note that Panzara voted no on the table of the ord. (he has spoken against the issue in the past).

Council Meeting 2.19.19

Molly (something, couldn’t hear her last name) spoke for more than 17 minutes about the issues she and her neighbors had with the new paid parking in Grandview Yard.

One more example for the difference between Grandview city council and the school board – I have never seen a parent speak before the board at this length, and never seen them answer questions like the council (my experience was that the board refused to answer questions).

Suggestions for improving video during council meetings

I’ll be sending this list to the council members, but maybe these suggestions could help you if you are trying to video a meeting and post it on YT.

Things dropped on the table create a loud “thunk” on the sound recording, sometimes making it hard to hear what is being said in the meetings. Some sort of sound isolation for the mics could be installed, but for now, just being aware and attempting to set your things down quietly could go a long way to improving the sound of video recording.

I know that the council chamber is small, and the city desperately needs a better, larger room. For now, lifting the camera up higher so all the council members can be seen, and people walking out don’t block the view, can improve the video.

Members of the public who have signed up to speak should be seated in the front row, so they don’t waste 20 seconds walking from the back of the room to the mic.

YouTube specific suggestion – there should be a listing of the topics and ordinances placed in the description box below the video title, along with the time stamp of the place in the YT video. Simply typing the numbers (such as 12:38) will create a hot link to the time in the YT video. This will allow members of the public to immediately jump to the section of the video that interests them, instead of being forced to scroll through a long meeting video looking for the content they need.

I understand there may be technical reasons to cut portions of the council meeting video out of the final posted video. Cutting section of a meeting out should only be done if it is really important, and a reason for the cut should be added to the description of the video. Cuts in the video record can seem as though there was attempts to censor content of the video, or remove words said by the council members or the public. Censorship in this case is a correct use of the word, because it was a governmental body that is altering a recording of a public meeting.

The board might not tear down the middle school commons?

This link is to the Grandview City Council Meeting of 3.4.19 so it belongs to a March summary, but one issue discussed is important news.

At 17:48 Council Pres. Kearns gives a report as the liason with the school board, and says that the board is looking at plans to keep the middle school commons and gym, at least during the rest of the middle school construction. The next community meeting will be March 27 at 7PM.

Once again, the school board has nothing on the school website that indicates this change to the construction plans (the Finance committee recommendation, approved by the board, was to tear down the commons at the start of construction and force middle school kids to walk to the HS for lunch).

 

Watching Grandview Heights in 2018

Published January 1, 2019 by justicewg

Time to re-cap the best stories posted on the blog. In no particular order:

Board highballs the facility bid, admits finance committee is running the school

The school board’s push to build a new middle school was the top issue for the school system, and the tactics used by the board were the topic of many posts. This July story documented the highball bid used by the board to push for more money for construction. It also points out the board board had no defense from the charge that the finance committee was a policy deciding group that should have been open under the Ohio Open Meeting laws.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/board-highballs-the-facility-bid-admits-finance-committee-is-running-the-school/

The Goodale Green Space Ballot Initiative

A group created a petition to change the Green Space rules on Goodale, after a disagreement over the city decision to allow a large new home on Goodale Ave. Ms Oster provided me with a long list of reasons the group had come together to make this initiative, as well as the petition that was signed by almost 400 Grandview residents. The citizen initiative placed on the ballot by the group failed to stop the house from being allowed to proceed.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/the-goodale-green-space-ballot-initiative/

Video of the May 29, 2018 finance committee report

A listing of highlights from a video taken at the school. School administrators shouted down questioners. The superintendent danced around questions about the meeting notes and closed door policy for the committee, but failed to answer questions, showing a lack of integrity. Committee members shrugged their shoulders when asked what the effect of the levy might have on lower income residents.

The most interesting part was when Kukuria talked about the only disagreement the group had between each other, over renovations for the Stevenson building. Apparently some wanted to do the $6 million in renovations that were recommended, while the final report suggested the school be given minor repairs. The conclusion from this report suggest the committee wants Stevenson to be allowed to deteriorate, so that it can be next up on the demolition list.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/video-of-the-may-29-2018-finance-committee/

City might take responsibility for repairing sidewalks

Councilman Reynolds proposed the city might take over the repair of sidewalks, and answered some questions. As far as I know this issue is still up in the air in committee.

(Edit) A TVN story covered the sidewalk repair proposal, still in committee and under study to find an accurate cost to the city.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/city-might-take-responsibility-for-repairing-sidewalks/

City of Grandview Heights – Comprehensive Community Planning process

The city of Grandview Heights started a comprehensive community planning process, much wider in scope than previous planning groups. Commercial development, residential development, neighborhoods, pedestrian safety and walk-ability, city finance – the whole gamut of issues the city council must plan for are up for public discussion. The process will continue into 2019.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/city-of-grandview-heights-community-planning-process/

Winner of the tallest snowman in the city competition

8 ft tall snowman

If the city holds another snowman competition, and if it ever snows again in Grandview, I defy anyone to beat my championship level snowman building.

https://watchinggrandview.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/winner-of-the-tallest-snowman-in-the-city-snowman-competition/

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2017

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2016

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2015

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2014

After the school levy, money is not the issue – but construction zone issues will cause conflict

Published December 7, 2018 by justicewg

The board passed the levy on Nov 6, 2018, they have the $55 million bond they wanted to update the facilities in the schools. The issue that is important now is completing the work on the schools with the minimum possible disruption of the education of the kids who are going to be in schools just a few feet away from major construction zones, and may be required to waste time on long walks to the HS for the cafeteria and gym. That means getting the parents to agree with the construction plans, when they know their children will be negatively impacted.

I’m not seeing a lot of effort put out by the board to work with these parents. If the board takes the position that “disruption is something your will just have to deal with” and doesn’t work with parents to make the best plans for the minimum disruption, there will be some very angry parents – for good reasons.

No consensus

If the board had overwhelmingly passed the levy, they would have (poor) backing for saying “we have a mandate, now stop complaining and let us figure construction out by ourselves”. That mandate is missing.

The vote was 48% no, 52% yes. Compare that to Worthington, which passed a bond, on the same day, with a 70% yes vote. If we give Worthington’s school board a letter “A”, Grandview’s board deserves a “D”. Not only is there no consensus, the formation of three separate groups that opposed the $55 million bond were a first in Grandview, and indicate the board did a poor job in the facility planning process. Many parents felt the facility process was not fair or open enough.

Not enough board acknowledgment of community divide

No matter which side you were on, you probably had strong feelings about the issue #6 vote. The results of the election settled the question of how much money the board will have to improve the schools, what it didn’t do was heal the rift in the community.

I sent an email to all the board members, and the administration, asking them what actions the board will be taking to help mend a divided community. Except for one board member, the answer was silence.

I asked the board and administration if they understood the objections the anti-levy groups had to the facility process, because the first step in healing is understanding what the problem is. I got this answer from Mr Culp:

“You would need to reach out to the opposition groups to garner their perspectives …” – Andy Culp

This from the person who repeats the “3600 varying touchpoints” line over and over. If you have no idea what the opposition to #6 groups thought, then maybe the problem is that all those touchpoints were just you expressing your opinion Mr Culp, and you were ignoring the replies.

What happens now

We are now a month after the vote, and I’m not finding much info from the board or administration on what happens now. I read a number of “patting ourselves on the back” stories in the news, and on the school website, but the specifics are lacking. I see nothing about groups or meetings being planed to present specific actions in working on the schools, and gain feedback from the parents who will have their kid’s education disrupted by the construction. The board had months to make plans after the FAC recommendations were presented to the board, but they seemed to be focused only on the vote, not on anything they needed to do afterward.

I copied this from the school website:

Here is the general timeline for the overall project:
Phase I – The Edison Commons will be demolished, and the new 4-8 school will be built between GHHS and EI/LMS. (18-24 months)
Phase II – High School students will be moved into the newly built 4-8 and GHHS will be comprehensively renovated. (15-18 months)
Phase III – High School students will be moved back into the renovated high school. EI/LMS students will be moved into the new 4-8 building.

The annex and the existing EI/LMS will be demolished at the conclusion of Phase III.
RLS improvements (safety/security and ADA accessibility) will be completed during the summer of 2021 and 2022.

Missing from any school plans on the website – listening to parents, and working with them to build a plan that minimizes educational disruption.

The Commons destruction was not presented in any public facility meeting

There was a lot of objection to the plan to demolish the middle school commons and gym expressed by the no on #6 groups. That part on the school was the last major build, completed in 1996, and the bond is just now being paid off. If there was any part of the school facilities that deserved to be kept and integrated into the new building, that section deserved being saved. There will be millions of dollars wasted by tearing it down.

Even worse is the plans the board has presented to replace the facilities in the commons – the middle school children will be required to walk past a dangerous construction site, and use the HS facilities. This back and forth might need to happen multiple times per day – for two or more years.

When the new middle school is completed, the HS students move in to the new building while construction is happening at the HS. So the new cafeteria and gym will still be shared with the middle school for another two years.

This plan to demolish the commons was never presented in any of the plans that were presented to the facility meetings that were open to the public. It is entirely an idea that was brought up by the hand picked, closed Finance committee. And yet everything I read on the school website makes this seem like it was a result of open meetings.

We didn’t vote to destroy the commons

I checked carefully through the wording of the levy we voted for – nothing in there about tearing down the middle school commons. I looked in the material the “Yes on #6” committee sent to every home in Grandview – nothing in there about plans for work on the schools. In fact, the pamphlet that was sent out said this:

“NOTHING IS FINALIZED. There are still many steps to the process, but we do know is that the members of the FAC and the Grandview Heiths schools are working to explore every opportunity to reduce costs while while providing the needed updates …” – from the Yes on #6 committee

Given the history of the board and school administration, I think we are about to hear the words “the plan to tear down the middle school commons is a done deal, because we voted for it” – even though there is not a word about the commons in the voting language or pre-vote publicity.

This is what Culp said at facility meeting #7

We have to go back to community facility meeting #7 to hear what Mr Culp though should be done after the levy passes.

 

“Even after the bond is passed, there needs to be iterative collaborative community engagement that is transparent about the process, and community members will need a voice in and say in what ‘s being done, even then, it needs to be exceedingly transparent.” – Andy Culp, from the school video, community meeting #7.

As we know, the first part of the video, where Culp promised that the Finance committee would be open, with meeting notes, he was either lying, or was overruled by the school board. He has never explained why the FAC was closed, even when the public asked 8 times during the FAC results meeting.

We have no reason to believe the second part of this video, where Culp promised open meetings after the levy passed. When a person’s integrity has been shown to have failed, you don’t easily believe them again.

We are waiting for the board to offer the community engagement that was promised.

A request for your experiences after the school vote

Have you experienced negative comments from school administrators or staff because you were vocal in your opposition to the school levy? Were there actions taken that you feel were retaliatory because you had a no on #6 sign on your lawn? Please send me your experiences, there is a comment form in the “About” section (tab at the top of the home page header).

Email from Culp 12-21-18

We will be scheduling a community meeting in the coming weeks once we have confirmed a date.  Our goals for the meeting will be to provide attendees with an overview of the facility project and design process; the projected timeline for the construction and renovation of our schools; and to share how residents will have an opportunity to be involved in the process.

If there were any real process in motion to ask parents for their opinion and only take action after they approved, the school would not be sending an email like this. I’m not seeing the “opportunity to be involved” becoming more than an after the fact explanation of the board’s actions.