Changin’ up the city – a questionnaire

Submitted by Susan Miller on Tue, 08/26/2008 - 10:17.

Yesterday after I posted the bit on permeable alley paving, I sent the link off to Terry Schwarz, senior planner at the CUDC.

Here's our correspondence.

Susan: "Are we doing this in NEO? paving what we need to pave - sustainably Please offer examples.  Terry – good to read the beet farming idea out there in some press recently."

 

Terry: "The beet farming idea is a real ice-breaker. Thanks for suggesting it. I did a preliminary assessment of the idea of using vacant properties to accomplish a variety of different objectives (attached). In the end, it will probably be more cost-effective to purchase a beet-based de-icer from a commercial supplier. But people really respond to the idea that vacant land can be used to solve specific problems and when we quantify the potential outcomes, we can steer policies for vacant land reuse to the most productive areas."

 

Susan: "Tee hee… I suppose it does make sense to buy the beet de-icer from a commercial supplier. It would be cool if that commercial supplier could be here in Cleveland. Maybe beet farming won’t work in NEO, but it might. What was it David Byrne sang – “this was a Pizza Hut, now it’s all covered with daisies”?

 Thanks for this “outcomes quantifier” Would you mind if I posted it on realneo to spur conversation?"

Terry: "Sure, post away. I'd love hearing from people about their ideas because it gives me a chance to do some grade school math. Story problems, you know? If we can get people to think about problems they'd like to solve and ways that surplus land and buildings can be the answer to the equation--well, this is my idea of fun."

So here's the "outcomes quantifier" she sent along: Please reply with your brilliant ideas and expertise or forward this to someone you know who might have these answers or someone who can sic a bunch of students on these math problems. Maybe this is the "new math" we so desperately need.

CLEVELAND LAND LAB

Outcomes to be quantified

Residential demolitions

The city’s goal is to demolish 1,000 houses this year, creating approximately 110 acres of vacant land. Can these demolitions be targeted in concentrated areas for to achieve specific outcomes (i.e. development opportunities, improvements to urban ecosystems, etc.)?

 

PRODUCTIVE USES for VACANT LAND

Reduce road salt usage in Cleveland by 25% through the use of beet juice

  • How many miles of roads are in the city?
  • How much beet juice it would take to de-ice 25% of these roads in a typical winter?
  • How many beets are needed to produce this much juice?
  • How many acres of vacant land are needed to farm these beets?
  • Which vacant sites in the city are most conducive to growing beets?
  • Are we looking at numerous residential-size lots or a handful of larger beet farms?
  • How many processing facilities would be needed to turn the beets to juice and to store the juice?
  • Where are the best locations for processing and storage facilities?

 

Grow 10% of the produce consumed in Cleveland within five miles of the point of consumption

  • How much produce is consumed by residents, workers, and visitors in Cleveland each year year?
  • Which fruits and vegetables are best suited to the climate and soil conditions of this region?
  • How many acres of agricultural land would be needed to grow 10% of the produce consumed each year in Cleveland?
  • How many farms would be needed for this level of production?
  • What is the impact of local food production on the city’s carbon footprint (through reduced transportation, processing and carbon sequestration in the soil)?
  • What are the economic impacts of local food production? (jobs/businesses created, cost recovery for the city)
  •   What infrastructure and training opportunities would need to be developed to create viable urban farms? (food processing/distribution centers, water access, farm and farmers’ markets, etc.)

 

Grow 20% of the apples consumed by Cleveland residents within city limits

  • How many apples does a typical person eat in a year?
  • How many apples does that add up to for the population of Cleveland?
  • How many apples does a tree produce?
  • How many trees are needed to produce and how many acres, etc.

 

ENERGY GENERATION

Reduce Cleveland’s gasoline consumption by 5% through alternative fuel generation

  • How much gasoline does an average Cleveland resident use in a year?
  • How much gasoline is used by all City of Cleveland vehicles in one year?
  • How much ethanol/biofuel would be needed to meet 5% of this demand?
  • How many tons of plant material (switchgrass, corn, etc) would be needed to produce this much biofuel?
  • How many acres of land would be needed to grow this plant material?
  • Is it more feasible to grow fuel crops in a dispersed pattern on many vacant lots with small fuel production facilities, or consolidated into large agricultural plots with central fuel production facility?

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 2% through reforestation
  • What is the city’s current carbon footprint?
  • How much carbon can be sequestered by a typical tree? (What is a “typical” tree? Can we calculate sequestration on an annual basis per tree, or over the entire life cycle of a tree?)
  • How many trees would need to be planted to reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 2%? Over what time period?
  • How many acres of land would be needed to grow these trees?
  • Where would these acres of trees do the most good from a community standpoint?

 

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT

Reduce the amount of stormwater runoff in the city’s sewer system by 10%

  • What is the volume of runoff produced by an acre of paved surface over the course of a year or during a typical rain event?
  • In what locations would alternative stormwater management strategies be most effective? (i.e. low areas that are prone to flooding)
  • How large would a bioremediation site need to be in order to replace a detention basin (or other engineered stormwater facility)?
  • Where is the sewer district is planning to build, expand, or replace existing infrastructure?
  • Is there sufficient vacant and available land to deploy alternative stormwater management strategies in the most strategically significant locations?

 

Remove surplus pavement and recycle 75% of the concrete and asphalt from demolition projects for reuse in city, county, and state road construction

  • How much raw material (concrete) is needed per year to support a for-profit recycling plant? 50,000 tons per year is the minimum amount; 200,000 per year is the preferred amount.
  • How much base material and how much concrete are used by the city’s public service department each year? By the county and by municipal public works departments within the County? By ODOT for projects in Northeast Ohio?
  • How much does the city (county, state) currently pay for one ton of concrete?
  • What is the service radius of a recycling plant? A ten-mile radius is ideal. Concrete is a heavy material that is costly to transport. If input or output material needs to travel more than ten miles, the return on investment becomes marginal.
  • How much land is needed for a concrete recycling plant? Approximately 10 acres.

 

REMEDIATION/PUBLIC HEALTH

Eliminate the annual summertime spike in children’s blood lead levels

  • Children’s blood lead levels rise in summer months due, in part, to airborne lead particles from the dirt on vacant sites. Planting ground cover on vacant sites can help contain the amount of lead that becomes airborne.
  • Is the lead problem prevalent city wide, or are some parts of the city more at risk than others? In what parts of the city are lead levels the highest?
  • What percentage of lead poisoning cases can be attributed to airborne lead from vacant sites?
  • Locate and map bare earth sites on a citywide basis, and identify sites that are located in or near high-density residential areas
  • What plant materials are best suited to containment of soil and lead during the summer months? Are there cost-effective plant choices that will extract lead from soil and help remediate lead pollution?

 

Meet 1% of Northeast Ohio’s required reduction in fine particulate matter through reforestation

  • Northeast Ohio is a non-attainment area for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) as determined by National Ambient Air Quality Standards established in the federal Clean Air Act. The region must be in attainment by April 2010 (with extensions to 2015 if initial control measures are not feasible).
  • 200 trees (grown on one acre of land) remove approximately 42 pounds of particulate matter per year
  • To meet standards for attainment, particulate matter cannot exceed 15 micrograms per cubic meter, averaged over a three year period.
  • Current (2006) averages for Cuyahoga County range from 13.7 to 17.2 micrograms per cubic meter
  • Need to determine what 1% of Cuyahoga County’s needed reduction is would be and how many acres of trees would be needed to achieve this reduction.
  • Need to determine if there are locations within the city where concentrated tree plantings would be most effective for reducing fine particulate matter.

 

Meet 1% of Northeast Ohio’s required reduction in ozone through reforestation

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) combine with oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in hot sunlight during summer months to form ground level ozone. Northeast Ohio is a moderate nonattainment area for 8-hour ozone. To achieve attainment, the region would have to reduce VOCs by 25% of the 2009 projections (coupled with a statewide reduction of NOx of 15%). This equates to a reduction of 65 tons per day in Northeast Ohio.

  • 200 trees (grown on one acre of land) remove approximately 0.0915 pounds of VOCs per year.
  • 1% of Northeast Ohio’s needed reduction is 1,300 pounds per day.
  • Approximately 14,000 acres of trees would be needed to achieve this outcome.

 

Buffer freeways, railways, and facilities that use hazardous materials from residential neighborhoods and commercial districts

  • Map freeways, railways, and facilities that use hazardous materials
  • Establish buffering criteria, i.e. freeways might be buffered to the depth of a residential lot, while facilities that use hazardous materials (250 such sites in Cuyahoga County) might benefit from a larger buffer to reduce public health risks in the event of an accident
  • Delineate buffer zones and identify vacant properties in these zones

 

( categories: )

Great Cleveland Land Lab Insights! Next steps!?!

As always, brilliance coming from you, Susan, and Terry and Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative - and now their Cleveland Land Lab. This is the first sign to me that some good planning is coming around our landbanked properties, so often abused and now planned for consolidation by the Cuyahoga government under investigation for mishandling of land.

I look forward to learning much more about the Cleveland Land Lab (which needs to GET ONLINE!) and progress with all these initiatives. If you may share more about the origins of the list you provided... was there an ideation process...

On the list, I'll be working on the three following "story problems", if anyone is interested to join me in the solving. Is there a way each individual problem is being solved... e.g. team meetings? Should we just do it here on REALNEO?

Grow 10% of the produce consumed in Cleveland within five miles of the point of consumption

  • How much produce is consumed by residents, workers, and visitors in Cleveland each year year?
  • Which fruits and vegetables are best suited to the climate and soil conditions of this region?
  • How many acres of agricultural land would be needed to grow 10% of the produce consumed each year in Cleveland?
  • How many farms would be needed for this level of production?
  • What is the impact of local food production on the city’s carbon footprint (through reduced transportation, processing and carbon sequestration in the soil)?
  • What are the economic impacts of local food production? (jobs/businesses created, cost recovery for the city)
  •   What infrastructure and training opportunities would need to be developed to create viable urban farms? (food processing/distribution centers, water access, farm and farmers’ markets, etc.)

Grow 20% of the apples consumed by Cleveland residents within city limits

  • How many apples does a typical person eat in a year?
  • How many apples does that add up to for the population of Cleveland?
  • How many apples does a tree produce?
  • How many trees are needed to produce and how many acres, etc.

Eliminate the annual summertime spike in children’s blood lead levels

  • Children’s blood lead levels rise in summer months due, in part, to airborne lead particles from the dirt on vacant sites. Planting ground cover on vacant sites can help contain the amount of lead that becomes airborne.
  • Is the lead problem prevalent city wide, or are some parts of the city more at risk than others? In what parts of the city are lead levels the highest?
  • What percentage of lead poisoning cases can be attributed to airborne lead from vacant sites?
  • Locate and map bare earth sites on a citywide basis, and identify sites that are located in or near high-density residential areas
  • What plant materials are best suited to containment of soil and lead during the summer months? Are there cost-effective plant choices that will extract lead from soil and help remediate lead pollution?

Disrupt IT

1,000 houses; beets me

That's quite a goal--about 8-10% of the surplus created by tax abatement--something like 12,000 tax-abated units have spawned 12,000 vacant units that used to, and perhaps still do, pay taxes. Real genius, there.

 

Where are the economics behind all these demolitions, before we get all wrapped up in beets?

 

We've lost three in our neighborhood that should never have been torn down, but all three went for politically expedient reasons: Two on Denison, one of which was to pave the way for the ne'er-do-well NRP and the other of which was to do away with the problem landlord, along with a useable Queen Anne, and the other on Riverside, adjacent to the property of a Cummins campaign supporter whose gas station property needs to gain more attachable property to sell for a really good price.

 

Who is paying for these demolitions? How much? Specifically, what are the economics of the three I mentioned. We have asked; nobody is forthcoming.

CARE grant

 

$3 Million in Environmental Community Grants to be Awarded
 
 
( Washington ,  D.C. - Dec. 17, 2008) The  U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency is making nearly $3 million available in 2009 to reduce pollution
at the local level through the Community Action for a Renewed
Environment (CARE) program. CARE is a community-based program that
builds partnerships to help the public understand and reduce toxic risks
from numerous sources.
 
EPA will award CARE cooperative agreements in two levels. Level I awards
range from $75,000 to $100,000 and will help establish community-based
partnerships to develop local environmental priorities. Level II awards,
ranging from $150,000 to $300,000 each, will support communities that
have established broad-based partnerships, have identified the priority
toxic risks in the community, and are prepared to measure results,
implement risk-reduction activities and become self-sustaining.
 
In 2008, $2.5 million was made available to 18 communities through the
CARE program. Examples of projects include addressing land- and
air-pollution issues in  Somerville ,  Mass. ; reducing toxics and promoting
green alternatives in  Portland ,  Ore. ; dealing with ground and surface
water contamination on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Ethete,
Wyo.; controlling storm water run-off in  St. John ,  Virgin Islands ; and
reducing disparities in asthma and blood-lead levels in  Baltimore ,  Md.
Since 2005, the grants have reached 64 communities in 32 states and
territories.
 
Applications for the CARE grants are due March 16, 2009. Eligible
applicants include county and local governments, tribes, non-profit
organizations and universities. EPA will conduct three conference calls,
Feb. 3, 24, and 27 for prospective applicants to ask questions about the
application process.
 
Additional information about the CARE program: http://www.epa.gov/care