614NOW

OP: Crime won’t cease if rampant gentrification doesn’t

Mayor Ginther wants to knuckle down on crime. With a startling uptick in homicides highlighting one of the more robust years for criminal activity in recent memory, Ginther has to turn things around, or he’ll spend the remainder of his term bobbing around the local political waters like a wounded porpoise, being feasted upon by hungry barracudas.

Everybody seems mystified by the increase in criminal activity, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the city’s covert endorsement of rampant gentrification has created pockets of extreme poverty. While people in areas favored by abatement-aided development enjoy robust micro economies, access to services, jobs, and a desirable lifestyle, those in the neglected areas are seeing an increase in blight, vacated properties, and crime.

The Administration’s development strategy is like a doctor treating a patient by providing increased care to the healthy parts of the body, while ignoring cancer.

Eventually that cancer is going to spread, and that’s precisely what’s happening with crime in Columbus.  More streetlights and police aren’t enough. The city needs to start supporting its weakest neighborhoods with some tax abatement TLC.

Why are people getting tax breaks on million dollar condos, when middle class people living in Linden or in the long-forsaken Hilltop neighborhoods could use some help? Encourage people to buy homes, and start small businesses in those neighborhoods with much more reasonable abatements, while those living in million dollar condos start paying what they owe.

We keep hearing talk about how the city wants to invest in these areas, but we haven’t seen any action. Meanwhile, developers in the Short North are still getting incentives from the city.

The Short North is so desirable right now, developers would probably pay a luxury tax to build there, cutting them multi-million dollar tax breaks is a crime against the taxpayers of this city.

Meanwhile, the city is sitting on a large tract of land on North Wheatland Avenue. Rather than use tax abatements to encourage a developer to build something that would bring jobs to the area, the city is scheming with an organization that specializes in building cheap housing with federal grants. WODA has already constructed an unappealing apartment for senior citizens on the far north end of this tract, and now wants to build a similar, shoddy structure for low income residents.  This would only further increase the level of poverty on the west side, which would make the area even less desirable to potential business owners who would be inclined to lease property in the retail corridor on West Broad.

If Mayor Ginther is serious about wanting to crack down on crime, he will revisit the city’s development strategy and find a way to balance growth with economic diversity.

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Woodcraft of Columbus Since 1928

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