Monday, April 5, 2010

Transit-oriented zoning to be before Cincinnati council by September

Transit-oriented development (TOD) districts could be part of Cincinnati's zoning code as soon as September, after a motion to explore them was adopted last week.

Cincinnati City Councilmember Roxanne Qualls introduced the motion, which directs the Department of City Planning to draft zoning language that would promote the development mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly areas around accessible and convenient transit stations.

This serves to encourage increased building densities; increased transit ridership, walking and bicycling; stronger neighborhoods with more human interaction and a higher degree of safety; and reduced auto dependency.

In a media release on Friday, Qualls said that the City already has a number of initiatives underway to enhance the sustainability, livability, and economic potential of its neighborhoods, including the streetcar, comprehensive plan, form-based codes, 3C Corridor passenger rail, bicycle plan, and complete streets policy.

"As the city moves forward and seeks funding for the streetcar and other initiatives to make our neighborhoods more livable and reduce our carbon footprint, our zoning code should reflect our readiness to implement transit oriented development," she said.

Qualls also said that the Obama Administration has begun a new Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, providing funding, on a competitive basis, for local projects that improve access to affordable housing, create more transportation options, lower transportation costs, and protect the environment.

Cities such as Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Columbus, Denver, Minneapolis, Portland, Sacramento and Seattle already have TOD legislation, putting them ahead of Cincinnati when it comes to chasing federal dollars.

"We are competing with hundreds of regions across the country for limited funds, and need to show that we're ready to develop vibrant, high-density, mixed-use areas designed for pedestrians, bicyclists and high quality public transportation," Qualls said. "By putting tools like TOD zoning in place as we seek funding for these projects, the city can demonstrate we have the commitment and capacity to move forward."

Councilmembers Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel voted against the motion.

Image credit: From the report "GAO-09-871 Affordable Housing in Transit-Oriented Development: Key Practices Could Enhance Recent Collaboration Efforts Between DOT-FTA and HUD", courtesy of Reconnecting America.

Previous reading on BC:
Cincinnati to apply for federal transportation grants (4/1/10)
Streetcar tentatively awarded $15M, other projects recommended (3/22/10)
Cincinnati plan moves into next phase with 'Great City' survey (11/10/09)
Qualls motion asks for Complete Streets strategy (8/10/09)
Cincinnati form-based code initiative moves forward (2/5/09)