Put on your thinking caps: Population density decrease + land expansion = disaster

MVRPC has its “regional land use planning initiative” in full planning force. However it’s kinda like fixing the fence after the cows left the pasture.

The Kettering Oakwood Times has a really long (by DDN standards) article by Paul Collins about the changes the region has gone through and how we ended up in this mess. The numbers make it really clear: slight rise in population, spread over 1.5x the space, with a huge shift to commercial real estate and an infrastructure cost that’s skyrocketed. A lot of his info is from the director of planning at MVRPC, Martin H. Kim.

Take a look at the numbers:

…in 1970, Dayton’s urban population was 606,549 and the total amount of urbanized area was 185.9 square miles.

The total population density in that urbanized area was 3,263 population per square mile. In 2000, Dayton’s urban population was 723,955 and the total amount of urbanized area was 327.6 square miles.

The total population density in that urbanized area was 2,209 population per square mile, which represented a 1,054 decline from the year 1970. Kim explained that this decline has led to a disproportion between the region’s population and land usage.

“We are using more and more land per capita,” Kim said. “The population grew, but the rate of growth was lower than the physical expansion of the urban area. In other words, the land consumption per capita increased between 1970 and 2000.”

Kim stated that, if these urbanization trends hold sway, Dayton’s population density in 2030 will only amount to 1,291 population per square mile. Simultaneously, urbanized area will have grown to 531.1 square miles. According to Kim, commercial development will probably constitute a sizable portion of this larger urban area, as is evidenced by the 150 percent increase in commercial land use between 1970 and 2000. Thus, projected land use, particularly commercial development, will exceed the needs of the population.

According to Kim, Dayton’s demographic decline means a thinner tax base for larger areas. In turn, this thinner tax base will affect the quality of life and economic prosperity of the Dayton region. The effects include: Higher infrastructure and service delivery costs. Longer commutes. Less open space and farmland. Longer police, EMT, and fire runs. Spending more money on gas….

Land development has not been tied to population changes. Between 1970 and 2000, population in the region remained relatively stable while total developed land in the region increased by 44.6 percent.

“Geographically, development has been uneven and development has been shifting among land use types,” Kim said.

Indeed, land use has shifted within the region considerably between 1975 and 2000. Residential land use increased 36.3 percent. Industrial land use increased 22 percent. And, of course, commercial land use increased 148.1 percent. Meanwhile, agricultural/open space land use declined 9.3 percent.

via Population decline predicted in region.

If you think about it- we’re spending millions to eliminate interchanges downtown, where we have a 33%+ commercial vacancy rate, and spending millions more to build an interchange to what were cornfields at Austin Pike. The problem cited by businesses is that they don’t want to pay for parking for employees in those empty towers- so instead, they build asphalt fields around low, new, boring buildings and pat themselves on the back.

Thankfully, Mayor Leitzell seems to be the only one thinking about this – suggesting we provide free bus service in Montgomery County. It would be a competitive advantage- considering Greene and Warren County have no real public transit- and, it would decrease the cost of living in Dayton further. Owning a car is your second highest household expense after housing. Had we done this 25 year ago- maybe Downtown wouldn’t be on life support now. After all- aren’t we paying for RTA already with the .5% sales tax? Shouldn’t we get something for our money?

This is today’s topic for the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show- watch and enjoy:

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21 Responses

  1. Jeff of Louisville March 13, 2010 / 4:23 pm
    “the region is in the process of a demographic and economic shift.” The symptoms of this shift include:An aging population and a decrease in the size of households.A shift in the region from a production-based economy to a service-based economy.The stagnation of household incomes.An increase in the number of households who pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing-related costs.
    … this from the study.  The change in houshold size and the decline in incomes is a long-term trend.  Kim didn’t say this but based on some demographic projections I’ve done deaths will start to exceed births sometime before 2020 for Montgomery County.  But the birthrate will eventually decline too, since the young adults who usually are the ones forming families and having kids are also leaving, being the single largest age cohort to out-migrate.   The household number or rate of household formation is the important one when looking at issues of sprawl since its one household (of whatever character or size) = one housing unit.  Unless we are talking about group quarters (dormintories, nursing homes, etc).

    MVRPC did a similar effort in the 1970s.  In fact it used some of the same terminology for the alternative growth scenarios.   You can find the results in the library, local history section. The result was called “managed growth”.  You can see how that worked out.  MVRPC can plan all they want, but they don’t have the legal authority to execute their plan. The statuory authority for land use zoning rests with local government, not regional entities like MVRPC. So what gets zoned and permitted is whats’ “good’ for each local government, each township and city and village, and they all are trying to maximize their tax revenue.
    So, this planning effort is providing some fascinating data at the regional scale, but the actual plan won’t be executable unless it’s adopted by the localities via their local zoning ordnances.

  2. David Esrati March 13, 2010 / 7:53 pm

    @Jeff-thanks for pulling the additional info from the study.

    You nailed the major problem- that the MVRPC has no power- and that regional “cooperation” is really just given lip service. Global warming may be the only hope we have- as Miami and NYC all end up under water- and all of a sudden, we start looking good :-)

  3. Drexel Dave Sparks March 14, 2010 / 12:26 pm
    This information will be greeted in the usual way that information nobody likes is: ignored.
  4. Jeff of Louisville March 14, 2010 / 4:50 pm
    heh, yeah, you can tell how many posts are here vs the other topics.
  5. Drexel Dave Sparks March 14, 2010 / 4:55 pm
    People consume news based upon their own presupposition of reality. In other words, they consume news in order to re-reinforce already held beliefs, not to illuminate themselves with new information of ways of thinking.
  6. Ice Bandit March 14, 2010 / 5:54 pm
    Thankfully, Mayor Leitzell seems to be the only one thinking about this – suggesting we provide free bus service in Montgomery County….Had we done this 25 year ago- maybe Downtown wouldn’t be on life support now.(David Esrati)
    David, it’s still March, way too early for April Fools jokes. For many of us will tell ya’ that the reason downtown is doing a flat-line complete with buzzer sound is because it did have free bus service 25 years ago. Remember when the school board, in its’ infinite wisdom, decided that handing out bus passes to school kids was a good idea? And do you recall how the city fought a prolonged battle with the aforementioned young scholars because they decided downtown was the place to be long after the final school buzzer sounded. Congregating on every street corner, making out in front of every place of business, and brawling every place else, it didn’t take long for downtown to resemble a giant teen club without adult supervision. At the time, downtown’s biggest supporters were the older adults who had always patronized downtown merchants, but a couple of seasons in the sandbox sure reversed that loyalty. Complaints by downtown business fell on deaf ears, and soon the inevitable happened; good-bye Rikes, adios Beermans, sayonara Arcade. No David, free bus service was tried once before, and the results were devastating….
  7. Gene March 14, 2010 / 6:48 pm
    Free bus service to DT will not do any good, but at least the thinking is committed to make DT better. I think leasing the spaces out is key, but how does one convice owners to lower rent to get space filled? How does one convice people and start-up businesses and existing businesses to relocate to the wonderful and clean (and I am serious on that) DT? Those are the only questions that need to be asked and therefore answered in regards to DT and business. What other question really matter?

    Affordable apartments is also important. Try to convice Suzy and Bobby to live DT for cheap (or cheaper) than living in the likes of Kettering or C-Ville or Beavercreek. $750 for a two bedroom townhouse in Kettering? Then DT Dayton needs the same type of place for $600. Money talks, everthing else walks.

    And we need to start stating that “DT Dayton is safe” rather than “DT Dayton is pretty safe.” Big differnce, and it may be a lie, but it is just a little white lie. NO place is 100% safe, such is life.


  8. Drexel Dave Sparks March 14, 2010 / 9:13 pm
    Remove the tax incentive to keep a place closed and claim market value loss on the space, and the rents will return to market value. Should be able to open up a store in DT at the CURRENT REAL value for about $100 a month for a 1000 sq ft area. It’s about that worthy now with the abysmal foot traffic present. At that REAL rate, it makes no sense not to open something up for LOTS of entrepreneurs (lots less risk with small startup costs, and try to draw people downtown with their part of this larger lilliputian chain. 10 years down the road when there is a more thriving and occupied area, the rents go up to match the value of the area. And the city is making more in tax revenues.
    But somewhere, somebody in this chain is going to have to bite a bullet – making the cost of commercial real estate REAL again. And until that happens, nothing’s going to happen.
  9. Jeff of Louisville March 15, 2010 / 6:50 pm
    Indeed, land use has shifted within the region considerably between 1975 and 2000. Residential land use increased 36.3 percent. Industrial land use increased 22 percent. And, of course, commercial land use increased 148.1 percent. Meanwhile, agricultural/open space land use declined 9.3 percent.

    This is an interesting number.  If ag/open space declined so little vs the consumption of the other uses one wonders what was up.  One thing that maybe was up was the rezoning of land from to commercial/industrial from residential.   Also, during the 1970s & 1980s, one saw removal of residential in Dayton city and its shift to industrial.  Example is that area east of the Front Street buildings,  north of 3rd; residential area removed for an idustrial park via urban renwal.   This was a trend in the city that extended from the 1960s. 

    I assume the commercial number includes office use.  If so this number will represent the decentralization of office use from downtown.  The trend started in the 1960s with Financial South and the office park south of Hills & Dales, but really kicked-in during the 1970s in a big way, and accelerated in the 1980s & 1990s.

    Another thing to think about is the income tax/property tax as an incentive to zone industrial/commercial, using this type of development as a renvue stream (from the people who work in these developments) to subsidize local govt, since it makes more money than generic subidivisions and apatment complexes.    I believe this is or was Franklin’s strategy, to rely on an industrial workforce (who may not live in Franklin) to subsidize Franklin governmentt.   One can also see this thinking in Centervilles attempts to annex into Sugarcreek Township, to snag potential revenue sources. 

    So perhaps the incentive for local government is to zone more land commercial/office/industrial.  This may account for the explosion in this land use in the Dayton region.

    None of this has much to say to Dayton city.  I think they finally gave up on the place and are planning to start tearing it down and not replace it.  The next issue is how to recycle suburban space, like the Salem Avenue strip, maybe others.

  10. Greg Hunter March 16, 2010 / 10:47 am
    Thanks Jeffery!  It is interesting to study the effects of the USA’s nationwide policy on a City with Declining Population.  Nothing Good, but plenty of excuses.  One may or may not like Mr. Kunstler, but he writes some great stuff!

    This disintegrating nation is woefully distracted by Web 2.0, iPads, Avatar movies, Facebook, and the idiot celebrity spectacles of TV, not to mention the disasters of job loss, foreclosure, medical extortion, bankruptcy, corporate loot-ocracy, and the squandered moments of politics. We know we have to go somewhere.  We know that something like history is leaving us behind. We have no idea how to get to a new place. And we’re spending most of our mental energy gaping into the rear-view mirror, which is the last place to look for your destination.
    The confusion is apt to get a lot worse before it gets better. I’m not saying this to be ornery but because I believe it is true, and it will benefit us to know the odds we’re up against. The confusion is going to generate a lot of ideas that are inconsistent with reality — especially involving the seductive nostrums of technocracy. Our redemption will be found closer to the ground in the things we do by hand. But we don’t know that yet, and we’re going to try everything except looking there before we find out.


  11. Jeff of Louisville May 12, 2010 / 5:45 pm
    Well, at least they remain in the area, which is the best news here.  

    Somewhat related:

    Brookings has released their big demographic/economic review of the top 100 metro areas in the US….peformance in various categories…from 2000-20008.  “State of Metropolitan America”   The following is a link to their page with various interactive things, but the full report is available via .pdf.    The Dayton metro area appears in the bottom 10 of a number of categories..

    ….the study paints a picture of dying, declining area that is both aging and losing its younger people and is unattractive to immigrants and is seeing a decline in household income.   Nothing we don’t already know, but the text occasionally calls out Dayton by name as an exemplar of certain trends…even though it has plenty of company in Ohio (Columbus is, apparently the best performer of the “three C”s while Akron is the best of the second string Ohio metros…


  12. jstults May 12, 2010 / 7:36 pm
    Jeff of Louisville:

    Example is that area east of the Front Street buildings,  north of 3rd; residential area removed for an idustrial park via urban renwal.

    That’s interesting, do you have any more details on that?  That’s where the hackerspace guys are looking to locate initially (those cheap ‘artists lofts’ in an old warehouse).

  13. Greg Hunter May 13, 2010 / 9:24 am
    Jeffery, thanks again for the link.  I put ‘Dayton’ in the search category and found this article about Ohio Metros response.

    Even a cursory visit to Europe’s older industrial cities – Bilbao, Spain; Torino, Italy; Manchester or Sheffield, England – reveals the market-shaping, investment-generating impact of restoring the core. These cities endured the same economic shocks as American cities. But they responded not by distending their regions with sprawl-inducing subsidies, but by targeting their resources toward the reclamation of industrial land and historic buildings in the center. They prepared their places, in short, for the innovative economy of the future.

    This cannot be done in Dayton because the money and stupidity are married together in the form of government control in the hands on developers.

    I downloaded the pdf and most of the decline was associated with the loss of jobs associated with auto manufacturing, which would be expected; however, it is interesting to note that while Dayton should be in a good position to understand why manufacturing declined in Dayton, it has not done it nor does it have a clue about what to do about it.  My two cents, lack of quality in engineering and manufacturing combined with love of gas hogging vehicles.  Data point – Honda Marysville is building Hybrid and Dayton is building negative equity in every industry it ever had.

    Well thank goodness we have a Representative as stupid as Tony Hall to help us out.  Tony’s love of Monsanto has helped ruin cultures and biospheres all over the world, while the next hack Mikey will have the World bristling with Missiles.  Both were clueless about what is good for Daytonians but not the pockets of their respective owners.  Here is Mikey boys amendments.

    1. Adds $361.6 million to the President’s FY11 request of $9.9 billion for missile defense, bringing the subcommittee-recommended FY11 total to $10.3 billion. Additions include:
    Adds $88 million to the President’s $122 million request for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defenses (e.g. Arrow, David’s Sling), bringing the subcommittee-recommended FY 2011 total to $210 million, just above the current FY 2010 appropriation of $202.4 million;
    Adds $50 million to the President’s $99 million request for R&D on directed energy research, which takes over for the Airborne Laser procurement program that Secretary Gates cancelled last year because it had “significant affordability and technology problems, and the program’s proposed operational role is highly questionable,” as he put it;
    Adds $133.6 million for PAC-3, $65 million for AN/TPY-2 radars, and $50 million for SM-3 to the President’s request.
    2. Continuing the standards established in previous years, the bill 1) limits the availability of funds for deployment of medium- or long-range missile defense until any host country has signed and ratified the necessary agreements authorizing deployment, and 2) limits deployment until the Secretary of Defense certifies that the proposed system is operationally effective based on realistic flight testing.
    3. The bill “repeals the ban on contracting directly with a foreign government for missile defense activities, to allow for more direct collaboration with our friends and allies on missile defense.”

    Is this the type of investment we need?  There appears to be some good stuff for Mike’s New Owners BAE, (as they downsize in Dayton, thanks Raj) there is upside for Israel and Britain.

  14. Jeff of Louisville May 13, 2010 / 3:47 pm
    That’s interesting, do you have any more details on that? 

    The area I’m thinking about is directly east of the Front Street buildings, between 3rd and 1st, from Dutoit east to Webb Street,  That area was one of the very early working class neighborhoods of Dayton, dating to the 1850s.  It was subdivided by the Hydraulic Company to provide house lots for the mill workers.  This plat even had its own market square. 

    The residential part of the neighborhood was demolished in the 1970s and the area replatted (including some street closures) and built-out as a low density light industrial park.  Some of the older factories did remain, though.  The Front Street buildings and some things along 1st. 

    And one house also survived, at the intersection of Harshman and Second.  It is or was used as an office for the adjacent foundry.

    If you are asking about the Front Street buildings themselves, that was the second organized attempt at water power development  in Dayton. The first was the Cooper Hydraulic along Wyandotte Street near downtown (the current Hauer Music building is the last memory of that, and perhaps the old Buckeye Foundry, the former Foundry nightclub).  “Front Street” was the first development of the Dayton Hydraulic Company, dating to 1850 or so. DHC is still in business and holds the oldest corporate charter in Ohio. 

    The  Hydraulic Company built a canal from what is today Eastwood Park in Riverside through what is today East Dayton to the edge of that hill that the Front Street buildings are on, and leased the water power to mills to run waterwheels.  You can trace this canal today as the right-of-way through E Dayton (along Springfield Street) was later developed as sort of a linear industrial zone snaking through through residential areas.  It’s really obvious on aeriels of that part of the city.

     The tailrace was were Front Street itself is at, emptying out into Miami & Erie Canal.   The original industry @ Front Street and nearby was a paper mill, linseed oil crushers, flour mill, plow works, flax/linen mill, varnish yard, and a brewery.  They all used waterwheels of various sizes, later agumented by steam for low water periods.   The paper mill was the ancestor of the Mead Corporation, and was the old buildings north of 2nd @ Front.  Most of what you see at Front Street today is the second or third generation of industrial building (the former Mead building is the oldest standing).  The buildings more to the north, closer to the railroad, was an envelope company (built in the early part of the 20th century)

    They used water power there (running turbines as prime movers) as late as the 20th century, believe it or not.

    Given the site’s signifigance to the industrial history of Dayton it probably should be landmarked in some way, or at least aknowleged. 

  15. Jeff of Louisville May 13, 2010 / 3:53 pm
    I downloaded the pdf and most of the decline was associated with the loss of jobs associated with auto manufacturing,

    A counterexample would be Akron, which should have been another Youngstown, except with rubber.  Instead that city seems to have made a somewhat sucessfull transition away from mass production and one-industry dominance.

    What’s notable about Dayton is that it is losing the under 45 age group, and is now starting to lose childern, meaning people with famlies are leaving the metro area.  There are a lot of negative demographic feedback loops starting to lock-in here. 

  16. Jordan March 9, 2011 / 11:26 am
    @Jeffery I appreciate your knowledge of Dayton so much. Thanks for still sharing it every now and then, despite living a few extra miles south ;)

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