council

All posts tagged council

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.

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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.

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.

City council on the Grandview Crossing development, NRI deal, sidewalks

Published December 5, 2018 by justicewg

Video of the December 3, 2018 council meeting.

Grandview Crossing development

Starts at 16:10 on the YT video. Current plans are for 50K sq ft of office space, 250 senior housing units, 50K sq ft retail, and a hotel with up to 200 rooms.

Of interest – discussion on the “emergency” designation of the legislation. The effect of the emergency label is to make the legislation go into effect faster, cutting out the possibility of residents who object to the legislation making a public referendum on the law before it goes into effect. It was explained that the developer wants the fast passage because of timing issues with funding, Reynolds explained how emergency legislation can cause problems that resulted in the Goodale Green Space issue.

NRI development

At 31:30, legislation on the NRI development south of Goodale. Council noted that SOG is not a good name but it is all they have at this point. Later they discuss the NRI plans for a hotel with up to 120 rooms, 460 apartments (an increase), and 40K commercial space.

35:05 The amendment to the NRI deal that give the school more money. This is a new 30 year TIF, it is explained that the 2009 TIF is 10 years old and NRI wants a full 30 years.

Council member Reynolds again questions why the NRI deal with the schools has to be tied to the SOG development. NRI is a major company that has no profitability issues, they can give the school a better deal without ties to SOG if they wanted. As both Reynolds and Panzera warned in previous meetings, the attitude of “the school board wants this deal, so we let them call the shots” is stove-piping the legislation for the advantage of NRI, not allowing time for full examination and comments from the community.

Sidewalks repair

At 56:40 on the video. Evaluation of the cost to the city taking over the repair and replacement of all sidewalks is discussed. Panzera is opposed, but proposes a grant program to give incentive to residents to replace their sidewalks. Discussion on the liability for the city. Reynolds says incentives still forces residents to deal with negotiation and supervision of concrete repair companies.

Council president Kearns later moved the discussion of the sidewalk legislation to the Facility committee, where the chair is in opposition, so if you want to see the city take over sidewalks, contact the council members.

 

Short and hot council meeting

Published October 15, 2018 by justicewg

https://youtu.be/OLn9jf13emE?t=56s

A very unusual council meeting happened tonight, most are long and boring, this one was the opposite.

Two observations:

Changing the meeting notes of a BZA meeting – or any meeting – so that they support the illusion that a politician (or city official) wants to project, and not the objective facts as they happened at the meeting, is a very serious thing. I don’t have access to the documents that were presented at this council meeting, so I can’t comment on the validity of Ms Oster’s complaint. I do know what it feels like to see meeting notes falsified, and I don’t like it. I will support any investigation the council makes into the matter.

Second, once again we get to see city attorney Khouzam rend her garments, and weep about how she is so offended that someone would have the impertinence to “question her integrity”. When someone has to give us sermons about their integrity over and over, you begin to wonder why. Something about a lady doth protest? The exit is right in front of you Ms Khouzam, if it is too hot in that chamber.

City might take responsibility for repairing sidewalks

Published October 9, 2018 by justicewg

Sidewalk no on 6The city requires all homeowners to maintain the sidewalk between your house and the street, and if you get the “green X of shame”, you will soon be receiving a letter that tells you to fix it, or the city will repair it and send you a bill. The city of Marble Cliff maintains all sidewalks by themselves, and doesn’t require homeowner repairs. Grandview Heights city council is looking at following our neighbor to the west and might start taking responsibility for sidewalk repair into a part of the city service provisions.

Sidewalks belong to you

The history of sidewalks begins in the dense housing of major metropolitan areas. Most houses were set near the street, and the sidewalk was considered a part of the porch of your home. You made the sidewalk as a courtesy for those walking by, but it wasn’t a requirement. At some point it was noted that sidewalks were vital for keeping walkers out of the street and away from traffic, and cities started requiring the construction and maintenance of sidewalks (but ownership of that strip of land was still kept by the private owner).

Letter from the city

Although we know that the tax assessment from the city is an ever growing expense, we can budget for that twice yearly bill. The notice from the city that requires sidewalk replacement is an unplanned shock to most, the thousands of dollars needed to do a complete replacement can throw budgets out of whack, and inspire epic rants on the unfairness of “the goberment tellin’ me what to do”. You have no recourse when it is time to do the repair (unless the city decides a tree caused the issue *).

In order to forestall the anger and pleading that some homeowners are sure to make over a sidewalk repair, many cities have started to fold the sidewalks into the general services of street construction and maintenance. Cities can schedule sidewalks fixed by a contractor as a bulk job, usually cheaper that an individual owners can negotiate. It also helps keep the city safe for those with mobility issues, if a wheelchair user can’t use a sidewalk because of a high lip between slabs, they use the street instead, and increase the risk of accidents.

Email from Reynolds Read the rest of this entry →

Councilman is opposed to appeal of Green Space ordinance

Published August 27, 2018 by justicewg

UPDATE!  Secretary Husted broke the Board of Elections’ tie vote in favor of putting the Proposed Ordinance on the November 2018 ballot. If you want to read a post that practically has the winning lawyer doing a victory dance in front of the city administration, read the post on the Join Grandview website.

What happens next is up to the city, but they really need to understand that the time for legal fighting is over. They can organize opposition to the vote, but can’t spend any city money.

 

I try to stay neutral in political issues in Grandview, unless it appears there is a clear reason to side with some position in a local dispute. I’ve looked at all the arguments over the Green Space initiative, and I have to agree with them at least on the process – they have done everything by the book. They should have their ordinance on the ballot. Read the reasoning for allowing the voters to decide the issue in this post on their website

https://joingrandview.com/2018/08/22/the-trouble-with-the-citys-protest-of-the-proposed-ordinance/

I emailed the Mayor and all of the council members with my opinion on the Green Space ordinance appeal, and at this point have one response, from Steve Reynolds. My email is after the jump, first the email from Reynolds.

Thanks for your feedback.  I can’t express an opinion as to the initiative itself.  I also cannot speak for my fellow Councilmembers; however, I can say I am disappointed that tax dollars are being spent to “protect” residents from voting on the matter.  The legal maneuvering is not an action that has been voted on by Council.  It is being brought forth by the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the other attorneys who were hired to wage this battle. – SReynolds@grandviewheights.org

I’m a little unclear on Reynold’s claim that he can’t express an opinion on the initiative, Ohio law says the city should not be spending money to oppose the ordinance, but they still have the right to express their opinion. I guess if you count using the city email system to answer questions as spending money, that makes sense, but in a technical and not practical way.

His opposition to the Mayor spending city money on further appeals is the correct function for a council member, the Mayor holds administrative control of city funds, but the council is the final arbiter over the use of those public funds. I think if the city council had a majority belief that the city should stop spending money on appeals, and voted to direct the Mayor to let the vote be held in November, the Mayor will have to stop all court actions.

Let all the council members, and the Mayor, know what you think about the Green Space Ordinance.

Council@grandviewheights.org, rdegraw@grandviewheights.org

(Update) Council president Kearns is backing the Mayor.

What is so bad about the Elmwood house?

The reason that the Green Space initiative was inspired was because the locals wanted to keep the area looking the same as it has for many years. As I understand the dispute, it wasn’t so much that the Elmwood property was split, but that the house the owner wanted to build was so out of place in the area. An important aid in making that decision was the renderings of the plans for the house (or would have been if they were presented to the BZA).

Those renderings are now up on the Join Grandview website. Check them out and make your own judgement on the proposed home.

Read the rest of this entry →