Grandview City

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Candidates for Mayor set positions on scooters

Published August 16, 2019 by justicewg

Quad scootersToo bad we can’t chose the winner of the mayoral race by staging a scooter race, I’m sure that we would all have more fun and maybe do no worse in choosing the correct person for the office.

I asked each candidate to give their positions on the issue of scooter rental (“sharing” in the lingo of the scooter companies, I fail to understand how the word share is accurately applied to the financial deal to use their scooters). The issue of rental scooters is of low importance for the future of the city, but the process that each candidate uses to explore and involve the residents of our town in plans for transportation is instructive.

Steve Reynolds was the first to respond, his reply follows:

I am not ready for an all-out ban of scooters. In the right context, they can be useful. In fact, conventional transit providers — including COTA — are specifically incorporating scooters as a “first-mile/last-mile” option within their strategic planning decisions.

That being said, I would not be in favor of staging them in typical residential settings. There simply is not room for them on most residential sidewalks and right-of-ways.

We need to get input from citizens in Grandview Heights to find out how many residents actually use, or would use, scooters as an alternative to other means of transportation. If, for example, we discovered that folks in Grandview Yard find them to be of value in getting around, there are a variety of places where staging them might be appropriate. We really need to have the discussion and spent some time weighing the benefits and risks.

As for riding them on the sidewalk, I am in favor of strict enforcement of prohibiting it. It simply is not safe for pedestrians.

Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or comments.

Thanks,
Steve Reynolds

A few days later I receive this email from Greta Kearns:

It is evident from your personal experience and anecdotes from Grandview residents that more enforcement and education are needed to improve safety. As a member of Grandview Heights City Council, I have heard complaints about reckless operation and scooters blocking rights-of-way and detracting from the character of the neighborhoods.

Because scooters play a role as “last-mile” transportation, they can pair well with public transportation and reduce auto traffic and parking headaches. When operated on the roads as legally required, scooters pose relatively low risk to others in the community. The shared mobility model is particularly popular in a high-amenity location such as Grandview Heights, which has many younger residents, and is compact and convenient to downtown and Ohio State. Like COTA and CoGo, scooters offer benefits such as low cost, convenience, and reductions in automobile traffic, parking and congestion.

Nevertheless, I believe scooters should be operated more safely than they are now, which can be accomplished through a combination of contractual, regulatory, and enforcement efforts, including community education on safe operation and regulations regarding where scooters can be parked.

Grandview Heights has an opportunity to formalize transportation and mobility policy when we implement our Comprehensive Plan beginning next year. Specifically, the plan recommends developing a city policy regarding scooters, including designating clear parking areas for scooters in high traffic areas. Contractual arrangements with the rental companies would also give us more control over scooter operation. One of the challenges is planning for the future as transportation models evolve. Last year there were two rental companies, this year there are apparently four, and next year may bring different operators and technologies entirely.

Mayor DeGraw has established a Transportation Advisory Group with community representation. Scooters are on the group’s radar, and recommendations are likely to emerge that are complementary to the Community Plan. If elected Mayor in November, you can expect Grandview Heights to act on the scooter issue next year.

It remains to be seen whether scooters will be a permanent part of the landscape, but many millennials embrace a lifestyle free of car ownership. You can see scooters parked in front of popular establishments on weekends, which takes cars off the road and frees up parking spaces.

Thank you for contacting me on this matter. I look forward to continuing to address Grandview Heights’ transportation policies, including scooters and other shared mobility models.

Greta Kearns

Thinking about the candidate replies

There is much similarity in the replies as far as viewpoints of the safety of the devices. Both candidates are against use of the scooters on sidewalks, but think that there may be some future way to incorporate them into “first-mile/last-mile” options.

“When operated as legally required” is the major sticking point for the scooters, they are scary to use with traffic on the street, so they are very often used on the sidewalk. The laws are clear on the state and local level – no scooters on the sidewalk. I have read that some people think there could be technological solutions that don’t allow the use on the sidewalk, but I think the Jetson flying cars will be here before scooters that can’t run people down on sidewalks are built.

Both wanted to see input from residents of the city on the use of scooters. If we go by the word of Mayor DeGraw, he had no emails that asked for the inclusion of staging areas for scooters in the city. The Comprehensive Plan (a committee that looked at many issues in Grandview) may have commented on the devices, but I assume there will be a more specific comment period before new rules for scooters are implemented.

While I understand “many millennials embrace a lifestyle” that would like to include scooters in it, I don’t want the rest of us to become forced to leap out of the way while walking on the sidewalks. I only read one candidate that asks for “strict enforcement of prohibiting” them on sidewalks. We all get plenty of education when we learn to drive a car, being pulled over and ticketed is how we internalize the laws. All rental scooters have rules printed on them that educates the drivers to stay off the sidewalk, you can see how well that works.

(Previous post on DeGraw’s position on scooters)

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Rental scooter companies want in Grandview, and Mayor Degraw is holding the line

Published August 7, 2019 by justicewg
Quad scooters

All rental scooters have written instructions that include “Must wear a helmet” and “no riding on the sidewalk”. These rules are universally ignored.

Since the first appearance of the rental electric scooters in 2018, three new companies have come to Columbus this year. None of them have signed negotiations to allow them to be “staged” inside Grandview Heights – they can’t start the day from drop locations here. There is nothing that can stop the scooters from being left on our sidewalks after the completion of a ride, and in the last couple months the scooter have shown up randomly in Grandview. I wondered – are the companies trying a stealth move to include our city in the operational area?

My personal opinion is that the scooters are toys that don’t fit into the transportation options well. I had a couple of incidents where I was forced to step aside off the sidewalk as groups whizzed by. Their response when I reminded them the scooters are not legal on the sidewalk (at both state and local level) was to ignore me.

I asked Mayor Degraw about the negotiations he made with the rental scooter companies, and the actions the city will take if the devices are sneaked into operation here. I was surprised that the Mayor had made the decision on his own, after receiving some complaints about the scooters, and no positive messages. There will be no rental scooters in Grandview.

I’ve been approached by 3 of 4 scooter companies, you mentioned, (I expect the fourth one to contact me) to sign agreements to allow them to stage and operate inside our community. I decided not to negotiate. Because when they originally started they just came in and place to scooters on sidewalks and reduced the area where a pedestrian can walk or blocked/impacted the handicap ramps. I think that having four of them now would even make the situation worse. In fact two of them even offered to pay to come in but giving us a share of the revenue.

I do not see enough benefit to the community that outweighs the impact on our sidewalks and safety to our residents.

The companies have learned not to stage scooters in our community, because if they do, we pick them up and lock them in the service garage. We do release them after a couple days. This has work quite well.

I’ve considered negotiating agreements for designating areas where they can be staged but have had no pressure from the community to allow them, contrary most of the feedback is to not allow them and most of that activity was last summer. You were actually the first inquiry I’ve had this summer concerning this issue. Most of the community appears to be happy or just accepts the current situation.

The ones you see around town are being driven in by residents or visitors to our city. There’s no magic blue line where Grandview starts and Columbus ends. We allow this. The riders drop them off in the companies pick them up within a couple of days. By not allowing staging we do limit the scooters in the community. There are also more and more personal scooters around town that are not part of any company.

We do allow scooters and bikes to ride on the multipurpose paths in the community. They are designed for that purpose and marked with Signage. This may be part of the confusion of some sidewalks being allowed to have scooters and bikes on them.

I will take the blame for the police department not aggressively enforcing the riding of bikes and scooters on the sidewalk. We all know that is going on, It is not a priority we have identified. They do watch for aggressive and unsafe operations as they do with driving a vehicle on the street. Technically an adult can’t ride on the sidewalk with their bicycle. Yet a father or mother riding with their kids slowly down a sidewalk is not going to draw the attention of the police. The scooter riding 15 mph in a crowd of pedestrians will. I know the police have stopped people and told him to get off the sidewalk. I know this because I’ve gotten phone calls.

I would encourage if you see something dangerous where someone could get hurt, by all means call the police.
Mayor Ray DeGraw

Dangerous devices that will be dumped on our cities

China and Grandview

Left, dumped rental bikes in China. Right, scooters in front of Grandview Yard Giant Eagle – soon to be in a dump pile?

A small history lesson on unregulated transport in China.

A few years ago, companies in China began to use the “dockless rental model” to place bikes on the streets of Chinese cities. Because investment is always cheap, soon many companies joined in the business. The sidewalks became littered with unused bikes, and as residents got tired of seeing all those bikes cluttering the sidewalks, they began to throw them into piles. The bike rental companies went bankrupt, and the cities were left with finding solutions to the piles of discarded bikes.

We don’t have piles of discarded rental scooters yet, but as the market shakes out, it could happen here. The added danger is that the scooter have lithium batteries that can catch on fire when mistreated.

Imagine piles of burning scooters.

The scooter downside list

This is the short list of reasons that dockless rental scooters are not a good transportation option.

Electric scooters are a short distance transport that makes little sense. They are nearly impossible to use if you are carrying something heavy, like food from the store. They are too slow for traffic on the street, and so people use them on the sidewalk, where they are a danger to walkers (and illegal). They get left on the sidewalks blocking the walkers, or on private lawns. They are too dangerous because nobody uses helmets. The small wheels get lodged in street defects, and throw riders, causing many injuries. They can catch on fire, which you will not like if someone dropped them off in the bushes in front of your house.

The upside – I guess they are fun, and cheap.

The rental bikes we have here (CoGo) solve all the problems the scooters can’t solve. And they seem to limit then to just what is needed. I hope we dump rental scooters (responsibly) and go back to bicycles.

(Edit – Other people don’t like rental scooters. )

Scooter pile

The candidates for Mayor talks about rental scooters.

YouTube has closed the City channel for TOS violations

Published July 6, 2019 by justicewg

The Grandview Heights council has been posting videos of their council meetings on YouTube for more than a year. The city administration has also used the channel, posting video of planning meetings with residents, and things like the pool opening. As of July 6, 2019, the channel has been closed because of “Term of service violations”.

How to close a channel on YT

You can get a channel on YT closed with very little work. Just gather a handful of people, ask them to create their own channels, then use the YT complaint process to register a few complaints against a channel. It doesn’t need to be accurate or supportable complaints, at the start of the process you are registering with a bot, and the take down can happen with no human review.

Because it is so simple to close a channel, bad guys have been using it to extort money from some YT creators. This Verge story tells of an extortion scheme that was tried on at least two channels, money was demanded from the owners in order to keep the channel alive. Although I suspect the city was not exactly the same situation – there is no copy-writable content on the channel – the same game might have been used to threaten the city, and when they didn’t pay, another strike caused the closing.

It is also possible that there was no extortion, the people who made the strikes could be home owners who didn’t like the content of the meetings – they don’t want to hear residents speak about issues that could cost them money, so they close the channel down in some lame effort to stop the discussion from happening at all. This is not going to work, the city will not allow complaints to affect the deliberations. But because they could do it, I’m sure the people who did it feel like it was a win for them.

The city now can go through the process of appealing the strikes, and should probably win, and have all the videos returned to public viewing. The problem is that the appeals can take weeks to go through the process. And nothing will stop the people who took the channel down from trying to do it again.

YouTube has problems that are not being solved

The Verge story is from Feb. 2019, I have not heard of any action by YT to improve the process of protecting a channel from frivolous strikes. YT is harming its own property by failing to act, when enough people get tired of all the games that you run into on YT, a competitor will emerge.

The city doesn’t have to put up with YT issues, they can self host the videos. There have never been more than 30 or so downloads of each video the city has produced, they should have no problems with their own host server supplying the bandwidth.

There are also service providers who act like YT and host videos for a fee. These providers don’t make money if content has strikes, it isn’t so easy to take video content down.

I hope the city is successful in appealing the strikes against their channel and returns to posting more meeting videos. But I will understand if they say “enough of YT problems” and go somewhere else.

(Edit) The city is in the process of appealing the strikes. From what I have read, this might be resolved soon, it might take weeks. Check back for more info.

(Later) The video of the City Council Meeting July 1, 2019 has been uploaded to The Internet Archive (thanks to Chief Shaner). This was only one meeting, as of now all the rest of the city videos are unavailable as long as YouTube is reviewing the strikes. There is no way to know how long Google will take to review the city channel.

(edit) More than a month has passed since YT has closed the channel. It is impossible to know if this is because they are taking their time in the review, or if they have found a reason to affirm the closure.

City sidewalk ordinance fails, for now

Published June 6, 2019 by justicewg

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

(Edit – as of 7-6-19, the City of Grandview YT account has been shut down for a terms of service violation. This might have nothing to do with the actions of the city, it may be disgruntled city residents placing strikes because they don’t like the laws the council has passed, or is considering passing. More on this soon).

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. Homeowners have reported they can’t even get a company to do sidewalk work for small jobs.

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.

As we learned from the lack of a second to a Pride month support resolution, the always unanimous board fails to allow votes that some members strongly want, because some of them might vote no, and show their bigotry to the community.

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.

Are AirBnB houses bringing too much disruption to Grandview Heights?

Published May 13, 2019 by justicewg

 

(Edit – as of 7-6-19, the City of Grandview YT account has been shut down for a terms of service violation. This might have nothing to do with the actions of the city, it may be disgruntled city residents placing strikes because they don’t like the laws the council has passed, or is considering passing. More on this soon).

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.