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5 public meetings will discuss changes to Cincinnati's zoning code. Here's how you can take part

Mount Adams
Zach Vessels
Mount Adams

Cincinnati officials are gearing up to propose major changes to zoning and Monday is the first of five public meetings to hear from residents about what that land use reform should look like.

Council Member Reggie Harris says the meetings will be highly interactive to help residents think like city planners.

"It's designed to help people plan their own communities and understand the constraints of zoning codes and also the freedom that sometimes zoning codes can provide," Harris said. "So prepare to be highly engaged, to play games, and all of it is really driving that understanding of how we structure our communities for growth."

The city put out a survey late last year for residents to talk about how they want their neighborhoods to grow, and it got over a thousand responses. These five meetings, plus a session at the Neighborhood Summit in March, will help officials draft an ordinance to change zoning code.

"Many people have talked about the proposal and the ordinance as if somebody has written it," Harris said. "And it's not [written] — we are really doing lots of engagement and getting lots of feedback."

Harris says the first version of an ordinance will be ready for feedback in April or May. His office is planning another Housing Summit as a way to engage with the specific proposal.

'Redesigning the city'

Although Harris and Mayor Aftab Pureval are not releasing details about their plan, they've hinted at what's likely to be included.

One piece involves how many housing units are permitted on a single lot. A majority of the city's residential areas are limited to single-family homes, and even multi-family zones limit the number of units depending on several factors.

An effort to change these density rules in multi-family zones drew intense opposition from some communities and council members last year, and ultimately it died in committee. Harris supported that ordinance but says the new effort will be more comprehensive and involve more community engagement.

Mayor Pureval talked about the need to "redesign the city" in his first State of the City address last year.

"Because right now, Cincinnati is designed to be segregated and to concentrate poverty. And in order to grow equitably, we have to fix that," Pureval said. "A key part of doing this will be allowing and encouraging more types of housing options – multi-family units, row houses and townhomes – near our commerce centers and transit corridors."

Pureval said the city is designed to be car-centric, and needs to be people-centric instead. That likely means reducing or eliminating requirements to build a certain number of off-street parking spaces for housing and commercial developments.

'Connected Communities' meetings

Note: these meeting times and locations are subject to change. Please reference the city's website for the most up-to-date information.

These five meetings will have the same content. You can register for one at

Monday, January 30 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Hirsch Recreation Center
3630 Reading Road

Tuesday, February 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Price Hill Recreation Center
959 Hawthorn Ave

Tuesday, February 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Pleasant Ridge Recreation Center
5915 Ridge Ave

Thursday, February 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Virtual via Zoom

Wednesday, March 1 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Lincoln Recreation Center
1027 Linn Street

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.