At the City Council meeting on Monday, January 5, 2015, Council members unanimously approved a variance to the Cleveland Heights Zoning Code for the Alcazar, which was recently purchased and is slated for renovations. Here’s my take on the vote:
Before the City Council vote, the Alcazar was ‘grandfathered’ for 62 apartments and 122 ‘lodging units’, which means that if the new owner had retained that configuration and filled the place up, it would have been eligible for 184 parking places – way more that it has at present. I don’t believe that the Alcazar has been accommodating anything like 184 residents and guests, but we were unable to determine what the occupancy has been.
In any case, the conversion by the new owner to 96 apartments reduces the potential parking demand. The Alcazar does not have 96 enclosed parking spaces; it is short by 34 enclosed parking spaces. It has long had six reserved outdoor spaces in the parking lot behind Aladdin’s and adjacent businesses, and that continues.
The new owner of the Alcazar has said he would obtain unused parking permits for the lot behind Nighttown that runs over to Euclid Heights Boulevard for Alcazar residents that will need them. He also anticipates that some residents may not want a car parking space; that is a trend, but who knows.
Having said all that, I understand the need for more parking in the Cedar Fairmount area (either that or a ‘mode shift’ to walking or bicycling, which is definitely less attractive at this time of year!). Adding parking is definitely challenging because of the expense and space limitations.
The shortage of parking at Cedar Fairmount keeps coming up. University Circle/CWRU has a circulator that comes up to Cedar Fairmount. My husband and I are big Cedar Fairmount fans. I’m sure that all of us representing the City of Cleveland Heights will keep cogitating and try to do what seems best, but there are no easy answers.
As a member of Cleveland Heights City Council and as President of the Heights Bicycle Coalition, I continue to work to make Cleveland Heights more bicycle friendly, because this contributes to sustainability and to our quality of life. I’m seeing more riders this summer, so I believe that we are engaging residents and making steady progress. Here are some highlights of what we’ve accomplished in the past year.
On October 15, 2013, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Cleveland Heights as a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC), making our city one of only eight in Ohio to earn this distinction. Others are Lakewood, Dublin, Westerville, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. Ohio has no silver, gold or platinum Bicycle Friendly Communities. The bronze level BFC award recognizes Cleveland Heights’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
The BFC program is a way for communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while providing a measuring tool to gauge their progress toward a more bicycle friendly community. There are now 291 BFCs in 48 states.
On February 15, 2012, the Shaker Farm Historic District was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I and a team of neighbors, Cleveland Heights residents and our city preservationist started working on the lengthy application process about two years ago. Jack Sulak, Marjorie Kitchell, Ken Goldberg, Bill Collins, Mark Souther, Chris Roy and Kara O’Donnell deserve credit for helping with the application. I couldn’t have done it without them.
On Sunday, March 4, at 4 p.m., I am giving an illustrated talk about the Shaker Farm Historic District, which will be approved soon on the National Register of Historic Places. This is an opportunity to learn about the history of a gorgeous and architecturally significant part of Cleveland Heights.
After two years of work by City employees, the Council and our consultant, the proposed Cleveland Heights Sustainable Zoning Code is now on the City’s Web site for residents’ consideration and input. There will be three opportunities for public input before these additions and changes to our zoning code are adopted by City Council. Here is the schedule (it’s compact, so don’t miss your chance to provide input!):
After the automatic recount on Monday, December 5, it became official: I won a seat on City Council. It was a close race – basically a three-way tie between Phyllis Evans, Jeff Coryell and me, with Dennis Wilcox firmly in first place. Phyllis came in second, and I was third – good enough to win. All candidates ran impressive races and I know they will stay actively involved in our community, because we all love and are committed to this place.
Thank you again to everyone who voted for me. Now that provisional and late absentee ballots have been counted, I am almost officially a winner. In this round of the election process, Phyllis Evans extended her lead for second place to 47 votes. I won the third City Council seat that was up for election with 64 votes more than Jeff Coryell. That 64-vote difference is close enough to trigger an automatic recount, which will take place and be announced on December 6. Results of the recount are extremely unlikely to change the overall results.
First and foremost, THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me! Though I am an unofficial winner in the November 8 election, results may not be final until December 5 or 6 if there is a recount. The Board of Elections is currently going through absentee ballots that came in after the election (27, I believe) and provisional ballots (611). Usually around 10% of provisional ballots are rejected. That still leaves a lot of votes to count, so the unofficial results of the November 8 vote could change significantly when the “official” results are announced on the Board of Elections Web site around noon on Tuesday, November 29.
Between the 2009 campaign, and this one in 2011, I have personally walked the length of every street in Cleveland Heights. I view this as a testimonial to my commitment to serving the interests of Cleveland Heights residents. I targeted the homes of frequent voters – those who voted in three or more of the past four elections – ringing their doorbells or knocking on their doors so that I could meet them and ask them what they would like me to work on, if elected. If no one came to the door, I left information about myself, then headed for the next address.
What have I learned?