I too was dumbfounded how Dayton losing “droves of people” was a front page headline in the Dayton Daily News, but Dayton planning director and urban visionary John Gower puts it all in perspective in his OpEd column today.
John Gower: Dayton isn’t losing ‘droves’ of people
I was dumbfounded to see the exaggerated headline, “Residents leaving Dayton in droves,” in the June 28 Dayton Daily News.
The story was about the continuing trend of population declines in the most mature local communities.
The headline essentially placed the declining population spotlight squarely on the city, while ignoring the clear fact that most of the region is feeling the exact same effects of a shifting job base and unrestrained urban sprawl. I would think describing 0.9 percent of the city’s total population as a “drove” would make even a headline writer blush.
Under that definition, if Dayton is losing people in “droves,” Oakwood, which this decade experienced a higher percentage of population loss than Dayton, must be suffering a “mass exodus.”
Let’s be clear: The declining population trend is not new, nor is it unique to the city of Dayton or this region. The Midwest, unfortunately, has plenty of examples of formerly heavy manufacturing-based communities feeling the effects of a changing economic foundation.
There are examples of population decline across our entire state, led by Cleveland, which reportedly lost 6.9 percent of its population since the beginning of the decade. This trend is not something new.
Right under John’s piece was Oakwood’s response– which also clearly states that these numbers are probably full of shit to begin with.
The reality is, the region is floundering thanks to poor land use planning, restrictive zoning and building codes that make it far easier to build on a cornfield than renovate anything, sprawl, and lack of leadership.
Once again- look at the track record of governments that have embraced uni-gov and regional planning and cooperation- and you see a big difference in growth. If this interests you- I highly recommend coming to the Grassroots Dayton steering committe meeting at Oakwoods Wright Library- Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 5:00 pm. They are trying to move the region toward a smart growth strategy and shared services and planning.