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Columbus: Population Trends

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44 minutes ago, DEPACincy said:

 

This gets annoying. Columbus is the fastest growing city and metro area in the state. It is the most diverse. It has the largest state university and is the seat of government. It has many booming and wonderful neighborhoods. It's got everything going for it. So why do Cbus people get so defensive about every little thing?

 

 

I was just making a joke. Relax. I'm not being defensive at all. I don't care what Cleveland or Cincinnati people think of Columbus. It doesn't affect me. 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, cbussoccer said:

 

I was just making a joke. Relax. I'm not being defensive at all. I don't care what Cleveland or Cincinnati people think of Columbus. It doesn't affect me. 

 

I know you were. And I'm sorry if it sounded like I was attacking you. It's just frustrating to me because I love Cbus. I think it is a great city. I love spending time there and I tell people about all the cool things going on there. I went to OU and we'd go up to Cbus sometimes and bop around and I have tons of friends from college who live there now and I visit often. But I feel like any time someone says something that could be interpreted as even slightly negative about Cbus here they get jumped on. Nobody said annexation was bad. I wish Cincinnati and Hamco would just consolidate completely.

 

EDIT: Also, I'm not intending this to sound combative. Just pointing out a perspective. I know sometimes tone is hard to convey in text.

Edited by DEPACincy

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50 minutes ago, ColDayMan said:

Perhaps, but as you know in Dayton, we also have parts of the city that were annexed greenfields that could be new growth for the city that haven't "grown" like annexed Columbus.  

That's largely a function of where land was annexed, though. If Dayton were able to annex along 75 South, 35 East, or 675 to the south/east, things would look very different from a municipal population perspective.

 

54 minutes ago, ColDayMan said:

I think the simple answer is if you have strong/above-average economic growth, you're likely going to have a growing city.  Whether it's "landlocked" like Minneapolis, Seattle, or Boston or still has room to grow with Columbus, Indianapolis, or San Antonio, it's the economy.  If the economy in, say, Cleveland were on par with, say, Austin or Raleigh, then no one in Cleveland would complain about Columbus' previous annexation.  Just like how this Daytonian isn't complaining about having empty greenfields waiting for the latest Ryan homes to be built for my city's future growth. 

I agree, and this wasn't something I or (I think) @edale were contradicting. The only dispute was with @jonoh81 citing the recent halt in annexation nullifying annexation's effect on population numbers. It's definitely still a part of the story.

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2 hours ago, jonoh81 said:

And I don't get your point about the annexed land.  Growth doesn't count if it happens on land added after a certain date?  Land added in 1960 doesn't count, but land added in 1900 does?  How does that make sense?  Before what date did the land have to be added to count? 

I would say this is exactly the stuff I'm talking about where people have arguably arbitrary rules for some places based on questionable information.

 

 

Where did I say "growth doesn't count"? What does that even mean? All land included in Columbus' boundaries obviously counts towards it population. I'm not using any arbitrary rules or anything like that.

 

- You said Columbus' growth can't be attributed to annexation because annexation has drastically slowed as population continues to rise

 

- The hole in this argument that I was trying to point out is that Columbus largely annexed undeveloped land on the periphery of its city boundaries. So even though annexation has dramatically slowed, the city is still growing as a result of prior annexations being developed. I have no doubt that a significant portion of Columbus' population growth is occurring in the older portions of the city. However it is also reaping benefits from annexation, even as new annexation has slowed or stopped. Is that clear? I don't think that's controversial in the slightest.

 

I do understand @ColDayMan's point about annexation in a vacuum not resulting in growth. If the city's economy wasn't strong and the region as a whole wasn't growing, there'd be no assurance that those annexed greenfields would be developed. Point taken, and I wasn't trying to say that Columbus is only growing because of annexations. But I don't think its honest to say that you can't attribute some of Columbus' city growth to annexation and the huge land area the city now covers. This has nothing to do with Cincinnati or Cleveland. I actually much prefer smaller city boundaries where you can make a clear distinction between the city and suburbs. I do wish Cincinnati could absorb the 'island' communites that are entirely surrounded by Cincinnati boundaries (Norwood, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place), but that is more or less to reinforce the notion of what is urban vs suburban. That distinction is blurred in a city like Columbus (or Charlotte, Jacksonville...hell even Los Angeles) due to incredibly large municipal boundaries. 

 

Hope this post clears stuff up.

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6 minutes ago, Robuu said:

That's largely a function of where land was annexed, though. If Dayton were able to annex along 75 South, 35 East, or 675 to the south/east, things would look very different from a municipal population perspective.

 

Eh, I don't know about that.  It might end up looking like Detroit.  If DPS were better and had a Columbus-like agreement with suburban schools, then I'd agree.  Otherwise, I'd argue Metro Dayton would be even more sprawly if Dayton annexed those areas and it certainly wouldn't look like Sawmill or Polaris.

 

10 minutes ago, Robuu said:

I agree, and this wasn't something I or (I think) @edale were contradicting. The only dispute was with @jonoh81 citing the recent halt in annexation nullifying annexation's effect on population numbers. It's definitely still a part of the story.

 

Oh, I don't disagree that annexation helped Columbus' current growth patterns.


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5 minutes ago, edale said:

I actually much prefer smaller city boundaries where you can make a clear distinction between the city and suburbs. I do wish Cincinnati could absorb the 'island' communites that are entirely surrounded by Cincinnati boundaries (Norwood, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place), but that is more or less to reinforce the notion of what is urban vs suburban. That distinction is blurred in a city like Columbus (or Charlotte, Jacksonville...hell even Los Angeles) due to incredibly large municipal boundaries. 

 

I (kinda) get your point but the only thing about that is there are rarely clear distinctions between city and suburbs.  Westwood in Cincinnati, for example, could just blend in the rest of the westside townships.  Madisonville might as well be Fairfax; Hartwell might as well be a poorer Wyoming, Pleasant Ridge blends into Silverton/Kenwood, etc.  In the case of Cleveland, the inner-ring suburbs are sometimes more "city like" than the city neighborhoods they border (Lakewood, Cleveland Heights, etc).  It's rare, aside from natural barriers, that city and suburbs have a clear line of distinction.  If Cincinnati had annexed land back when Columbus did, or even currently annexed darn near Hamilton County, it wouldn't really make a visual difference. 

 

The only true "smaller city boundary" systems that would be in that favorable distinction are English and Australian city boundaries.

 

But overall, I get your point.  I would personally prefer Ohio to just have the Big 7 core counties become the cities and get it out of the way, like China.

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3 hours ago, DEPACincy said:

 

I don't think that's what is being said at all. They are saying if growth happens in Mason or North Ridgeville those numbers don't count toward Cincy or Cleveland populations. But all the growth happening along 161 between 270 and New Albany counts toward Cbus's growth. 

 

But that's a ridiculous measure of growth.  Again, you'd have to define a specific, arbitrary date when land was added to not have that be true.  All cities annexed over their histories, so at what year does it stop counting?  If Columbus had added 200 square miles in 1910, would the growth be any different now than if the same amount was added after 1950? 

Edited by jonoh81

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2 hours ago, DarkandStormy said:

 

Sorry, what I meant to convey is that the argument requires us to believe that population growth via annexation only "counts" (whatever that means) if the land was already developed.  Let's say Lincoln Village was built up, then got annexed once the population there grew.  Then it's "ok?"

 

I'm not sure how annexing mostly empty land, then working to get it developed which leads to population increases is *worse* than annexing areas that already have neighborhoods and population.  Sure, it's a "one time" population increase but the work has already been done to get people to live there.  

 

And to jonoh's point - where is the cut off?  What about farmland that was annexed in 1850?  or 1890?

 

The argument of "the population increase in Columbus is boosted because the city annexed mostly empty land 60-70 years ago and that's now being developed today" is different than "Columbus has gotten its population increases largely because of annexation."

 

Exactly.  The argument makes no sense. 

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2 hours ago, Robuu said:

I think the argument is that population growth from development on annexed land is still, at least in part, "due to annexation." I think this is supported by the simple fact of it being cheaper and easier to develop on a green field than doing in-fill. It would further be supported if developer interest in the land in question was part of the impetus behind annexation (which would clearly be the case if, e.g., annexation is tied to utility expansion; demand for utilities would come from people wanting to develop the land).

 

Okay, but again, how is that any different than land added to a much younger city in the 19th or early 20th centuries? 

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54 minutes ago, edale said:

 

Where did I say "growth doesn't count"? What does that even mean? All land included in Columbus' boundaries obviously counts towards it population. I'm not using any arbitrary rules or anything like that.

 

- You said Columbus' growth can't be attributed to annexation because annexation has drastically slowed as population continues to rise

 

- The hole in this argument that I was trying to point out is that Columbus largely annexed undeveloped land on the periphery of its city boundaries. So even though annexation has dramatically slowed, the city is still growing as a result of prior annexations being developed. I have no doubt that a significant portion of Columbus' population growth is occurring in the older portions of the city. However it is also reaping benefits from annexation, even as new annexation has slowed or stopped. Is that clear? I don't think that's controversial in the slightest.

 

I do understand @ColDayMan's point about annexation in a vacuum not resulting in growth. If the city's economy wasn't strong and the region as a whole wasn't growing, there'd be no assurance that those annexed greenfields would be developed. Point taken, and I wasn't trying to say that Columbus is only growing because of annexations. But I don't think its honest to say that you can't attribute some of Columbus' city growth to annexation and the huge land area the city now covers. This has nothing to do with Cincinnati or Cleveland. I actually much prefer smaller city boundaries where you can make a clear distinction between the city and suburbs. I do wish Cincinnati could absorb the 'island' communites that are entirely surrounded by Cincinnati boundaries (Norwood, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place), but that is more or less to reinforce the notion of what is urban vs suburban. That distinction is blurred in a city like Columbus (or Charlotte, Jacksonville...hell even Los Angeles) due to incredibly large municipal boundaries. 

 

Hope this post clears stuff up.

 

Why even mention that the annexation contributes to growth if you weren't trying to quantify the value of that growth?  It's running dangerously close to calling it "fake growth", something I have definitely heard about Columbus in this context.  Yes, Columbus has larger boundaries than either Cleveland or Cincinnati, but it would still be growing even if it was still at its 1950 boundaries.  The whole debate just seems weird to me and trying to add a value judgement to where that growth is occurring.  I would think the much better debate is the type of growth rather than where it happens- sprawl vs dense mixed-use, for example.  Dublin's Bridge Park is quality urban development, but it's also in a fringe suburb.  I just think the argument is much more complex than location of growth or what was on the land previously. 

 

And for the record, my point about annexation was not that no growth was occurring on land that had been annexed decades ago, but that the growth is not occurring specifically due to more land being added that already has a population base, which was true for the period 1950-1980, a lean time for cities nationally.   To me, that's a pretty big distinction.  I don't know, maybe we're all just talking past one another.

 

 

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Remember in back then it was not just annexation, but rather annexation for water. I don't know if that clarifies anything for the people who didn't know.

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1 minute ago, GCrites80s said:

Remember in back then it was not just annexation, but rather annexation for water. I don't know if that clarifies anything for the people who didn't know.

 

The annexation-for-water scheme came about for 2 main reasons.  The first was that Columbus was having water supply problems in the 1950s.  There were times when parts of the city didn't have water or had very low water pressure.  Sensenbrenner grew up in Hilltop, and that was one of the areas that regularly had those water problems.  When he became mayor, he had to consider ways of paying for new water infrastructure without worsening already strained supply problems.  Any suburbs that wanted to use Columbus water, therefore, had to be annexed into the city so that the city could tap into the tax base.  The second reason is more obvious- they knew that the suburbs were becoming popular, and they were worried that the city would eventually be completely surrounded with a shrinking tax base, a problem that has hurt countless older cities ever since.  The annexation policy also ensured that the city could still grow outward, taking advantage of suburbanization trends.  I generally don't like Sensenbrenner for many reasons.  He had little understanding of urban issues and was a heavy promoter of urban renewal and bulldozing neighborhoods for highways, but on this, he was smart.

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37 minutes ago, jonoh81 said:

 

Why even mention that the annexation contributes to growth if you weren't trying to quantify the value of that growth?  It's running dangerously close to calling it "fake growth", something I have definitely heard about Columbus in this context.    The whole debate just seems weird to me and trying to add a value judgement to where that growth is occurring.

 

Who is trying to quantify the value of growth?! Honestly, this seems more and more like your insecurities prompting this discussion than anything else.

 

How did we get here:

  • Columbus annexes tons of undeveloped land around the traditional '1950' boundaries.
  • Columbus slows annexation dramatically in recent years
  • Previously annexed city-owned land develops and fills in over the years
  • Columbus' population continues to grow
  • @jonoh81 Annexation has mostly stopped! Obviously population growth has nothing to do with annexation!
  • Me: well, that land that was annexed previously is just now being developed, so it's effect on population is still being felt, even while the core of Columbus continues to grow, too.
  • @jonoh81 Stop quantifying our growth!! It's not fake growth!!
  • Me: wtf...

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1 hour ago, ColDayMan said:

 

I (kinda) get your point but the only thing about that is there are rarely clear distinctions between city and suburbs.  Westwood in Cincinnati, for example, could just blend in the rest of the westside townships.  Madisonville might as well be Fairfax; Hartwell might as well be a poorer Wyoming, Pleasant Ridge blends into Silverton/Kenwood, etc.  In the case of Cleveland, the inner-ring suburbs are sometimes more "city like" than the city neighborhoods they border (Lakewood, Cleveland Heights, etc).  It's rare, aside from natural barriers, that city and suburbs have a clear line of distinction.  If Cincinnati had annexed land back when Columbus did, or even currently annexed darn near Hamilton County, it wouldn't really make a visual difference. 

 

The only true "smaller city boundary" systems that would be in that favorable distinction are English and Australian city boundaries.

 

But overall, I get your point.  I would personally prefer Ohio to just have the Big 7 core counties become the cities and get it out of the way, like China.

 

Of course it's very rare that there is a 100% clear distinction between city and suburbs. There are older, more urban suburbs that could pass as urban neighborhoods, and there are more suburban neighborhoods in the city. For the most part, though, the city boundaries in a place like Cincinnati contain housing that is older and denser than its surrounding communities. There aren't whole neighborhoods that were built in the last 40 years in the city of Cincinnati. Perhaps there are some isolated streets or redeveloped areas like the suburban shit around the old Cincinnati Gardens, but those are the obvious exceptions. When exurban neighborhoods like this and this are counted as the City of Columbus, it dilutes the meaning of being in the city. These places are literally at the edge of metro Columbus, but are counted in the city population. It kind of makes a mockery of what most people think of as being 'the city'.

 

The other end of the spectrum is a place like San Francisco or maybe St. Louis (or potentially Cleveland) that have such small municipal boundaries that it excludes a big chunk of what would otherwise be thought of as city neighborhoods due to age of development and density. There is truly not a good method for comparing cities. I think the best method is probably urban area, as it ignores the often arbitrary political boundaries, and instead just looks at contiguous development over a certain threshold. Just my opinion.

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To be fair with that near-Canal Winchester example for Columbus, even New York City has areas like that along the fringe.  Hell, every city in Ohio does, even some closer to downtown.  Even with urban area, which I agree is probably the best measure of a "city," that can get fuzzy.  Again, I'd say just make all the core counties of Ohio the "cities" and be done with it.  Kentucky did it with two of their largest cities and both seem economically/population growing.

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2 hours ago, edale said:

 

Who is trying to quantify the value of growth?! Honestly, this seems more and more like your insecurities prompting this discussion than anything else.

 

How did we get here:

  • Columbus annexes tons of undeveloped land around the traditional '1950' boundaries.
  • Columbus slows annexation dramatically in recent years
  • Previously annexed city-owned land develops and fills in over the years
  • Columbus' population continues to grow
  • @jonoh81 Annexation has mostly stopped! Obviously population growth has nothing to do with annexation!
  • Me: well, that land that was annexed previously is just now being developed, so it's effect on population is still being felt, even while the core of Columbus continues to grow, too.
  • @jonoh81 Stop quantifying our growth!! It's not fake growth!!
  • Me: wtf...

Lol ok.  I explained exactly what I meant when I said annexation is not responsible for the growth and you decide to ignore that and make it weirdly personal for some reason.  Whatever. It’s a dumb argument and I’m out.  

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totally agree with colday, make the big urban counties in ohio the cities and be done with it. or just make 88 cities in ohio for all the counties. its not like they are that big area-wise they cant be well covered by a single government. this is freaking 2019 and a world economy, not the 1800s, the need is to be lean and efficient. also, the money saved from getting rid of all the little cle/cinci fiefdoms would be incredible, not to mention the red tape for businesses. of course, the devil is in the details about it, ha, but i bet overall voters could be persuaded to support something like that. it would be really forward thinking of the state to be able to pull it off, but its a worthwhile and doable goal.

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41 minutes ago, mrnyc said:

the money saved from getting rid of all the little cle/cinci fiefdoms would be incredible

 

No it wouldn't.  Per Ohio law, counties and villages/cities (Ohio has no "towns") have virtually zero overlap.  They have virtually zero overlap with their respective school districts.  

 

There is basically no money to be saved.  

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34 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

No it wouldn't.  Per Ohio law, counties and villages/cities (Ohio has no "towns") have virtually zero overlap.  They have virtually zero overlap with their respective school districts.  

 

There is basically no money to be saved.  

 

There is absolutely money to be saved. Economies of scale. A government that provided services to all of Hamilton County could do so much more efficiently than 50 different little governments covering different (sometimes tiny) areas. That was the whole impetus of the consolidations in Kentucky and Indiana.

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Police & Fire are any area's two biggest expenses, by a longshot.  Everything is peanuts by comparison.  And if you combine city police with county sheriffs there is no check & balance between the two.  

 

Let's say a city/county merger saves 100 "administrators".  Well, the Cincinnati Police Department + Hamilton County Sheriff's Dept fluctuate in size by upwards of 500 staff over a 10 year period, and nobody notices.  No tax increase, no tax reduction.  

 

What's more, most property tax in Ohio goes to school districts, not cities or counties.  Most sales tax goes to Ohio, not counties.  So it's not as if property taxes and sales taxes can each be slashed by 50%.  

 

Ohio already has low taxes as compared to high-tax states like California (state income and capital gains taxes of up to 12% -- far beyond Ohio's top bracket, including municipal earnings taxes), and they're absolutely smoking us.  Ooh that pesky Beverly Hills is right there in the middle of LA.  If only they could consolidate!!! 

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There are potential cost savings from the mergers of two adjacent cities or villages (Cincinnati absorbing Norwood or St. Bernard, for example) — having to run one fire department instead of two, one zoning department instead of two, etc. But there is not that much cost savings with a city-county merger since they don't have a lot of overlapping functions.

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This probably won't be a popular position here, but one argument against city/county mergers across the state would be the dilution of African American political power. In Cleveland in Cincinnati, which both have black populations exceeding 40% of the city, there is considerable black political power in those communities. Hamilton County, by contrast, is only like 25% black, so the voting block would be much less pronounced. Something to think about at least.

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1 hour ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

Let's say a city/county merger saves 100 "administrators".  Well, the Cincinnati Police Department + Hamilton County Sheriff's Dept fluctuate in size by upwards of 500 staff over a 10 year period, and nobody notices.  No tax increase, no tax reduction.  

 

What's more, most property tax in Ohio goes to school districts, not cities or counties.  Most sales tax goes to Ohio, not counties.  So it's not as if property taxes and sales taxes can each be slashed by 50%.  

 

Ohio already has low taxes as compared to high-tax states like California (state income and capital gains taxes of up to 12% -- far beyond Ohio's top bracket, including municipal earnings taxes), and they're absolutely smoking us.  Ooh that pesky Beverly Hills is right there in the middle of LA.  If only they could consolidate!!! 

 

I agree taxes wouldn't change much, but I'm not concerned about taxes. It's pretty well established that people/businesses don't make taxes a big part of their decision about where to locate. I'm more concerned with quality of services. Our dollars would stretch farther if we consolidated jurisdictions. And that goes for school districts too.

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38 minutes ago, edale said:

This probably won't be a popular position here, but one argument against city/county mergers across the state would be the dilution of African American political power. In Cleveland in Cincinnati, which both have black populations exceeding 40% of the city, there is considerable black political power in those communities. Hamilton County, by contrast, is only like 25% black, so the voting block would be much less pronounced. Something to think about at least.

 

This is a very good point and one I have considered. And it is not just African American voters but urban dwellers in general that would lose political power. I think it is a very good argument against the idea, but I still think the potential positives outweigh the negatives. And I should also say I don't think a complete county/city merger is necessary to create positive results. If the inner ring suburbs were consolidated into Cincinnati I think that would make a noticeable difference. Make the wage tax lower for city residents than for non-city residents and offer the adjacent communities the chance to consolidate. See if any take you up on it. Probably not, but it would be smart.

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Consolidation of school districts at the county level is a completely different issue than city-county mergers.  But people are much, much more loyal to school districts than to municipalities.  

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12 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

Consolidation of school districts at the county level is a completely different issue than city-county mergers.  But people are much, much more loyal to school districts than to municipalities.  

 

Sure they are different issues. But they both fall under good governance. 

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you have got to be kidding me. the savings would probably be half of current expenditures given all the multiple bloated governments, councils and staff. actual services would not be reduced, but management staffing could be. also business interaction with government would be greatly simplified, with tax money going countycity-wide. same goes for countycity-wide school districts, ie., paying one superintendent those big bucks vs multiple people in the same role.

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4 minutes ago, mrnyc said:

you have got to be kidding me. the savings would probably be half of current expenditures given all the multiple bloated governments, councils and staff. 

 

They're not bloated, unless you're talking about overstaffing and overpayment of police and fire, which again, comprise the overwhelming majority of any municipal government's budget.  

 

The reason you never see anti-tax people going after police and fire is because they know slashing police & fire by half would make homes and commercial buildings uninsurable.  

 

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7 hours ago, DEPACincy said:

 

This is a very good point and one I have considered. And it is not just African American voters but urban dwellers in general that would lose political power. I think it is a very good argument against the idea, but I still think the potential positives outweigh the negatives. And I should also say I don't think a complete county/city merger is necessary to create positive results. If the inner ring suburbs were consolidated into Cincinnati I think that would make a noticeable difference. Make the wage tax lower for city residents than for non-city residents and offer the adjacent communities the chance to consolidate. See if any take you up on it. Probably not, but it would be smart.

 

In regards to the dilution of urban votes, it would make it all that much harder, for example, to get another transit system in Columbus if it was up to all of Franklin County to decide.  it would not be much different than the vote a few years back to get a zoo expansion on the Scioto Peninsula.  Suburbanites have a long history in most cities of voting against urban projects.    Columbus should maintain control over its own future as much as it can, same as all cities. 

Also consider Columbus' peer city Indianapolis.  It merged with its county back in the 1970s, I believe, and the city itself has fallen steadily behind Columbus in terms of development and population growth, even though it counts its entire county.  One of the reasons for this is because many people who had lived in suburbs around Indianapolis found, to their perceived detriment, that they were now in the city limits with city schools and city problems.  This had the long-term affect of pushing more and more of the metro growth to ring counties.  The story is not dissimilar to Nashville, which also has consolidated.  Despite all its downtown boom, the overall city/county grows very slowly compared to its ring counties.  It just seems to promote sprawl while reducing urban growth and urban power. 

Edited by jonoh81

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