Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval made his first State of the City address from Union Terminal on Nov. 15, unveiling new changes to zoning and gun laws.
The newly-minted mayor delivered his address just days after the release of a glowing feature from Politico Magazine. The lengthy profile positions Pureval as a young, lovable, fashionable and futuristic face for the city. Pureval's first State of the City address was less boisterous than the tailgating events Politico's author highlighted, but still had touches of the “Barack Obama Junior" factor that has launched Cincinnati's mayor into national acclaim.
After walking out to a cheering crowd and the sounds of Lizzo's "About Damn Time," Pureval unveiled a slew of new policy changes he said will "change the very face of Cincinnati."
Zoning changesPureval promised to push housing reforms that open up more access to multi-family housing by transforming zoning policies.
"Right now, Cincinnati is designed to be segregated and to concentrate poverty," Pureval said. “We have to fix that.”
The fix will “redesign the city” by scaling back zoning rules in neighborhoods where only single-family homes are allowed, allowing for more multi-family buildings. The change would also allow for more zoning for businesses to increase walkable access to goods and services.
Another zoning change Pureval discussed would lower the prioritization of cars in new developments.
“We have to change our relationship with parking so that it’s a factor in building, but not what we are building for," Pureval said.
The city is already in the process of banning new surface parking lots in the Downtown neighborhood and parts of Over-the-Rhine.
New safety measures for pedestriansDuring his speech, Pureval talked about the ongoing efforts to improve pedestrian safety, including the addition of new speed cushions, crosswalks and bump-outs in neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati. The city has secured funding for eight new miles of protected shared-use paths for walkers and cyclists, connecting multiple west side corridors to the city's center.
While discussing pedestrian safety, Pureval asked the family of Gabby Rodriguez to stand in the audience. Rodriguez, then 15 years old, was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Harrison Avenue in Sept. 2018 while trying to catch her Metro bus to school.
Protections for rentersPureval announced he will propose $1 million in spending to protect renters through a new program with Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati. The program would provide legal services and emergency aid to renters facing eviction.
He sent a message to landlords during his speech, saying the city is done with neglectful, out-of-town landlords.
“We will work hard to put an end to institutional investors,” Pureval said.
This, he said, will only be possible with more access to affordable housing, mentioning the future 62-unit “Slater Hall” apartment building coming to the West End neighborhood.
New gun lawsDuring his speech, Pureval announced two new pieces of local gun legislation currently in the works.
The first city law would prevent those with domestic violence charges from ever owning a legal firearm. The second local law would require legal gun owners to lock up their weapons safely.
“When you own a deadly weapon, you should have a legal requirement to take precautions,” Pureval said. “It’s just common sense.”
The proposed laws would only apply to city residents and could be short-lived. Earlier this month a Franklin County judge temporarily blocked a portion of a state law that prohibits Ohio cities from passing local gun restrictions.
Pureval wrapped his first State of the City speech with a message about the future.
“We will demand more of ourselves, we will reject the expectations of what our ceiling is,” Pureval said. “Our best days have yet to come.”
Pureval did not provide a concrete timeline for when Cincinnatians can expect these changes to be implemented.
Follow Madeline Fening on Twitter: @Madeline_Fening
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