Monthly Archives: February 2012

Form-based codes–a picture of the future

Citizens should attend some part of Roxanne Quall’s form-based code charrette process April 28-May 2 (click here for more details).  This charrette will help transform our city building codes from highly technical quagmires into ideal pictures of what we want the city and our neighborhoods to look like.  The old codes were difficult to navigate and often lead to development out of character with the surrounding neighborhood.  Form-based codes will make development easier, as the code will help new development look like the surrounding neighborhood (the “form” around the development).
At this charrette, citizens will get to paint the picture (the form) that we want see across the entire city.  Roxanne is heavily promoting this process, and many civic leaders will likely attend.  The only question is whether enough “regular” people will come so that the “form” we paint truly reflects the broader community.  This concern might be addressed as the process moves forward, and each neighborhood gets to paint its own picture for what they want their neighborhood to look like–and what the form-based building code would help developers create.  Hopefully this process will help engage residents in community building work who aren’t usually interested in solving problems like poverty, crime, etc.–it all depends on how the city frames the conversation and markets it to average citizens.
Of course, a new building code doesn’t actually create new development–it just makes that development easier and more in character with the current neighborhood.  One of the real opportunities, then, is marketing the completed form-based codes as lifestyle opportunities.  If people know how a given neighborhood wants to evolve, they might be interested in living there to help make it happen.  Again, this will require a level of commitment to grass-roots marketing and engagement that the city doesn’t usually take on (something that has limited the impact of the comprehensive planning process).
But regardless of future possibilities, everything starts with these city-wide charrettes.  Roxanne is on the right track and form-based codes will be a huge help to improving our neighborhoods.  So please participate in any way if you can.

CCR continues to build young leaders, teaches two UC DAAP planning classes

Young leaders are critical to our future, and CCR is doing its part to teach a new model of community leadership based on the facilitation of collective insight rather than promotion of political answers.
In January, CCR taught two Department of Planning classes at UC.  The first focused on the principles and techniques of community-based leadership facilitation.  The second discussed the role of citizens in setting municipal budgets.  The students (long with Prof. Marisa Zapata and Prof. Beth Honadle) all found the material essential learning for anyone wanting citizens to take the lead in transforming our collective future.
If you would like CCR to help you or other leaders learn these or other leadership skills, please contact CCR director Jeffrey Stec at

Citizens define community policing strategies

The CCR annual meeting was designed to inform Cheif Craig’s community policing efforts by having small groups of citizens and police officer answer the following question:  How can citizens partner with CPD to co-create public safety?  Here is what 65 people and eight officers came up with…

  • Police should use:
    • Smaller neighborhood units (block-level rather than just district-level);
    • Informal networks (not just community councils and presidents of civic organizations);
    • Fun and social interactions (not just formal strategy sessions);
    • Increased walking patrols
    • Continuity with neighborhood officers, including the mentoring of younger officers in community relationship building.
  • Citizens need to:
    • Mobilize themselves in smaller units through informal networks and social interaction;
    • Better know their neighbors;
    • Take care of their own “door-step”;
    • Reach out to the police to:
      • Mentor new officers and teach them the neighborhood;
      • Learn about policing practices;
      • Engage different people in different ways (especially young people, renters).

This information was forwarded to Chief Craig and his community policing team.  CCR will continue to work with CPD to maximize the effectiveness of community policing, which can only be achieved if citizens have a voice in defining its structure and implementation.    If you are interested in helping with CCR’s effort to bring deeper citizen engagement to CPD, please email CCR’s director Jeffrey Stec at


CCR helps build relationship between cab drivers, police

CCR has been working with Cincinnati police on community engagement efforts.  In addition to advising Chief Craig (along with other civic leaders) on the formation of a Citizens-Police Advisory Board, CCR facilitated a forum for cab drivers to discuss their concerns and build a more productive relationship with the Cincinnati police.


For example, the ordinance change that allows people to hail and exit cabs outside of cab stands has created tension between police and cab drivers over the interpretation of the “without blocking traffic” requirement.  CCR’s facilitation created a positive atmosphere even while cab drivers aired their frustrations.  In the end, cab drivers felt heard, police began building a new relationship with cab drivers, and the big issues were identified for further discussion.  CCR will continue to work with police on issues that can benefit from increased public participation.