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How can zoning in Cincinnati be more equitable? Officials want you to weigh in

Row homes in the Pendleton neighborhood of Cincinnati
Becca Costello
Row homes in the Pendleton neighborhood of Cincinnati

An online survey is your chance to tell Cincinnati officials how city zoning code should be changed.

“From Day One, our mission has been to craft policies that build connected, accessible communities,” Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a statement. “For too long, our city has been designed to segregate neighborhoods and concentrate poverty. We have to move forward, and as with all our work, empowering residents in the process is critical.”

Council Member Reggie Harris says you don’t need to understand zoning or land use terminology to take the survey.

"We have been using words to describe kind of complex things," Harris said. "A big part of this survey is going to share visual representations of both residential and commercial buildings ... and there are questions like, what would you like to see more of on your block?"

You can also weigh in on where in the city new residents should be able to live, and if off-street parking requirements for new developments should change.

Harris and Pureval are expected to announce proposed changes early next year. After the survey is complete, the city will schedule engagement sessions both in person and online, leading up to a deeper conversation at the 2023 Neighborhood Summit in March.

"We want it to be out in the conversation in as many different venues as possible," Harris said. "So that ... maybe someone that's not paying that close attention, at least has heard of [it]."

An effort to change density rules in parts of the city drew intense opposition from some communities earlier this year. Harris says he learned a lot from that experience.

"In general, people agreed that we needed land use reform," he said. "It was the particulars, it was the engagement, and it was really kind of the 'why' around land use reform and '[why] now' that we needed to work on."

Pureval teased some of the possible changes in his State of the City address last month.

"If we want to create a Cincinnati that is dense and diverse; walkable, with good public transportation; a Cincinnati that is truly a world destination for young talent, we have to redesign the city," Pureval told WVXU in November.

Pureval said that means allowing and encouraging more types of housing options — multi-family units, row houses and townhomes — near commerce centers and transit corridors. Pureval said too much of the city is zoned exclusively for single family homes.

The survey is online at this link and will close January 9 at 5 p.m.

Updated: January 4, 2023 at 10:40 AM EST
This story has been updated to reflect the extended deadline for the survey.
Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.