Young creatives crave walkable urban places. I am one of them. And believe it or not that is the major reason I moved to Cleveland. Cleveland has been blessed, by nature of its old age, with a relatively walkable built environment and even a decent transit system. But somehow Cleveland’s can’t recognize that this is its greatest asset. It continues suburbanizing the city — to a greater or lesser extent — and it embarks on a new marketing campaign to tell the world it’s not nearly as bad here as everyone thinks.
Example: If 75 young people show up at a public meeting and demand a bike lane: there — right there is part of your answer. Cleveland’s existing young people want bike lanes. But somehow, in the actual hierarchy of city priorities, 75 young people’s wishes rank far, far behind those of favored developers. Or what about when the city of Cleveland wanted to tear down a historic downtown building and replace it with a parking garage? And hundreds of young people expressed opposition? Again right there, young people who live in Cleveland were expressing their preferences very clearly: they want a dense, walkable downtown — not a car repository for suburbanites. Again, that is the moment the city had a chance to win the hearts and loyalty of young people, but again, young people’s clearly expressed preferences were outweighed by those of a favored developer.Reading this quote brings a local example to mind. A few weeks ago, a special meeting of SEMCOG was convened at the Atheneum Hotel in downtown Detroit. Scores of those educated young people showed up and pleaded with MDOT not to expand I-94 and remove all the bridges linking the area. After hearing these residents that Michigan so sorely desires comment on the deficiencies of the plan, what did our regional planning organization do? They approved the plan. Here's a little hint for our state's leadership: That's how you chase away those "educated young people."
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