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The U.S. EPA's national Toxics Release Inventory reported that disposal or other releases of toxic chemicals decreased by 12% from 2011 to 2012. In Ohio, releases fell by 21%, from 149 million pounds in 2011 to 117 million pounds in 2012. ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel remained the largest emitters in Cuyahoga County.

Regenerating America's Legacy Cities, a policy report by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, explores the challenges to redeveloping America's older industrial cities. It examines 18 selected cities, including Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown. It urges the cities to avoid 'silver bullet' ideas and advocates for a framework they call 'strategic incrementalism'.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count report showed that poverty remains an issue for Ohio's children. In 2011, 24% of Ohio children lived in poverty, up from 19% in 2005.

Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Asian Americans were the country's fastest-growing ethnic group in 2012. The estimates also showed that for the first time, more white Americans are dying than being born, and that the nation is poised to become a minority majority country by 2050, sooner than predicted. Asian Americans were also the fastest-growing ethnic group in Ohio.

In its second annual ParkScore index, the Trust for Public Land rated the park systems of the nation's 50 largest cities. It gave the City of Cleveland a score of 50/100, the 25th-highest ranking. The top-ranked cities were Minneapolis and New York. Fresno and Louisville received the lowest scores. Cleveland was not included in last year's rankings.

The U.S. Census Bureau published its annual population estimates for incorporated places, covering the period between July 2011 and July 2012. The data showed that the nation's large cities grew faster than their suburbs for the second consecutive year and experienced accelerated growth rates. The figures also showed that the fastest-growing large cities were in the South and West.

All of Ohio's major cities, with the exception of Columbus, lost population between 2011 and 2012. Cleveland's estimated population fell from 392,694 to 390,928, a 0.4% decrease. Figures for all Cuyahoga County communities are available.

In their new book, Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, co-authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube "paint a new picture of poverty in America as well as the best ways to combat it." The book explores the reasons behind the growth of suburban poverty in the United States and offers examples of promising policy models to address the issue. Their research presents profiles of metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland (PDF), and they highlight the challenges facing the City of Lakewood. Meanwhile, the Urban Institute posted a mapping tool that displays changes in poverty and race in metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2010.

ArtPlace America awarded $15.2 million in grants to 54 projects in the U.S., including $375,000 to support the UrbanUpcycle program in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. The new program uses an arts-based approach to creative placemaking, and is part of an effort to emphasize upcycling as a community reinvestment strategy. The Collinwood Rising project received an ArtPlace grant last year.

Update: updates are available at ArtPlace and at the Upcycle St. Clair blog.

Building upon its earlier Dashboard of Economic Indicators, the Fund for Our Economic Future issued its What Matters to Metros report, an analysis of 115 metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2011. It's intended to "help community leaders identify factors that are associated with economic growth in mid-sized U.S. metropolitan areas in a post-recession economy," and noted that "growth is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for America's mid-sized metros." Deborah Hoover of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation said that "the data clearly indicates that it is not enough for our economic strategies to focus merely on job creation."

In the annual State of the Air report from the American Lung Association, Cuyahoga County again received an F for its ozone levels, and its grade for 24-hour particulate levels improved to a C. The report ranked the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area as having the nation's 20th-highest levels of year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year's 14th-place ranking. The area experienced a spike in the number of poor air quality days in 2012, but both the region and the country generally have seen increases in air quality.

The first annual report of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, commonly known as SC2, says that its "teams are helping each pilot city to think more creatively about how programs could better work together to help achieve local goals, and they are learning lessons and testing new approaches that have national applicability." Cleveland is one of seven cities participating in the program. HUD also selected a consortium to operate the SC2 National Resource Network.

The latest report on job sprawl by Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution said that the recession "helped drive a slight uptick in urban core job share in more than half of the nation's largest metro areas between 2007 and 2010." However, job sprawl was more pronounced in the five-county Greater Cleveland area (PDF) from 2000 to 2010. Of the nation's 100 largest metro areas, Greater Cleveland had the 19th-highest share of jobs located in outer-ring communities.

GreenCityBlueLake's Marc Lefkowitz examined the hurdles that the City of Cleveland is facing when implementing its complete streets ordinance, many from the Ohio Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, the City is continuing to develop its complete and green streets typology and design manual, intended to assist with the ordinance's implementation. Smart Growth America recently named its best complete streets policies of 2012, and gave Cleveland's ordinance a grade of C.

In this year's County Health Rankings, Cuyahoga County again finished in the bottom third of Ohio's 88 counties, ranking 67th in health outcomes and 45th in health factors. Geauga and Medina counties were again ranked highly. Cuyahoga County health officials are working to improve health issues through the Health Improvement Partnership. Nationally, residents of the unhealthiest counties died at more than twice the rate of those in the healthiest counties. Previous rankings: 2012, 2011, and 2010.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual population estimates for counties and metropolitan areas. For the period between July 2011 and July 2012, population shifts returned to pre-recession patterns, with the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the South and West, and the slowest-growing in the Northeast and Midwest. The Cleveland metropolitan area was the slowest-growing large metropolitan area in the country, and Cuyahoga County's loss of 4,872 people was the nation's second-largest numeric population decline. However, the 0.38% drop in Cuyahoga County was its smallest annual decline in 15 years. Franklin County's 1.38% growth rate was the fastest in Ohio, and Geauga and Medina counties also gained population.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy issued the BRT Standard 2013, which was "developed to create a common definition of bus rapid transit and recognize high-quality BRT systems around the world." It certified bus rapid transit corridors as basic, bronze, silver, or gold systems. RTA's HealthLine was the highest-rated line in the United States, and the only American line to receive a silver rating.

Update: participants on WCPN's Sound of Ideas discussed the corridor's impacts.

The U.S. Census Bureau used American Community Survey data to publish commuting flow information, and reported that Cuyahoga County "has among the highest number of commuters coming from another county in the nation." The Census Bureau also noted that 80.3% of Cuyahoga County workers drove to work alone in 2011, higher than the national average of 76.4%. WNYC used the data to map average commute times, and The Washington Post mapped the commuting patterns.

A report from the Brookings Institution says that Amtrak ridership grew by 55% between 1997 and 2012, faster than other modes of travel. The report added that nearly all of the growth was on Amtrak's short-distance routes, and that its long-distance routes accounted for 15% of travelers and 43% of operating costs in 2012. Ridership in Greater Cleveland increased by 16.2%, and the two lines that serve Cleveland, the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited, also experienced ridership growth. However, both lines operated at a loss.

A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts looked at how former public school buildings are being reused in 12 cities, including Cleveland. It found that they were most commonly reused as charter schools.

via Fresh Water

In its annual Urban Mobility Report, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute reported that traffic congestion in the United States increased slightly in 2011. It said that congestion costs the average Cleveland-area commuter (PDF) $642 per year, less than in most large cities.

Streetsblog DC criticized the report, saying that the "authors still haven't made the changes that would make their congestion rankings meaningful in the real world," and Transportation for America said that the "rankings don't really say much about the lives of the people who live in those places." Slate's Matthew Yglesias noted that the most-congested cities were "all big, exciting, prosperous, dynamic cities," while Better Institutions used the report's figures to calculate the savings offered by public transportation.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies' State of Poverty 2012 report (PDF) employs graphics and case studies to illustrate the effects of poverty in Ohio. The report says that 1.8 million Ohioans live below the federal poverty line and that the number of Ohioans in poverty grew by 57.7% between 1999 and 2011.

Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland summarized changes in concentrated poverty over the last decade. The analysis indicated that concentrated poverty tended to highest in northern cities. WKSU's M.L. Schultze spoke with Dionissi Aliprantis, the report's lead researcher. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the two reports "offer a grim perspective on the toll the economic downturn has taken in Ohio."

Update: the state Office of Research also published a report on poverty in Ohio (PDF).

USA Today looked at how several historically black neighborhoods, including Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood, are recovering from the recession. The improvements include the PNC Fairfax Connection, which opened at Carnegie Avenue and East 83rd Street late last year.

Data from the U.S. EPA's 2011 Toxics Release Inventory shows that 4.09 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, an 8% increase over 2010 levels. Toxic releases into the waters of the Great Lakes Basin grew by 12%. In Ohio, releases declined from 154 million pounds to 150 million pounds, a 2.6% decrease. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the Charter Steel and ArcelorMittal facilities.

Update: The Columbus Dispatch reported on the figures.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development launched its Rental Assistance Demonstration, a "strategy to preserve tens of thousands of public and HUD-assisted housing units," by awarding grants to 68 public housing authorities. CMHA received three grants totaling $17 million for rebuilding and upgrading 383 units at its Cedar Extension, Bohn Tower, and Heritage View Homes housing projects.

Update: the Campus District Observer has more details.

State population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Ohio's population grew by 3,218 residents between July 2011 and July 2012, a growth rate of 0.03%. Only West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Vermont had lower growth rates. The nation's population increased by 2.3 million people, to 313.9 million, a growth rate of 0.75%. A Dayton Daily News analysis says that Ohio will likely soon see population losses.

Cuyahoga County was one of 22 communities selected by Smart Growth America for free technical assistance in 2013. The program is funded through the U.S. EPA's Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

The City of Cleveland is one of the communities participating in a year-long pilot program to evaluate the STAR Community Rating System, the "nation's first voluntary, self-reporting framework for evaluating the sustainability of U.S. communities."

At a recent City Club panel discussion, outgoing Congressman Steve LaTourette said that he favors raising the gas tax to help meet funding needs for roads and other transportation infrastructure.

In a paper, Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution presented the case for targeted urban demolition programs, saying that "large-scale demolition, thoughtfully and responsibly carried out, is a necessary step in the process of rebuilding the nation's distressed older cities." A short report (PDF) prepared for the City of Cleveland highlighted the costs of housing abandonment and demolition. Local officials used the report to advocate for increased federal support, while others questioned the report's conclusions.

Update: the Plain Dealer clarified Councilman Tony Brancatelli's position on the report.

The U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the 2011 American Community Survey. The one-year estimates feature data on more than 40 topics for all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more. The Census Bureau also published several briefs on specific topics. Between 2010 and 2011 at the national level, the number of people in poverty grew, income inequality increased, and median household incomes declined. Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution examined the patterns by metropolitan area. In Ohio, median household income decreased and poverty rates rose, remaining high in the state's largest cities. Cuyahoga County experienced a slight decrease in median household income and a slight drop in its percentage of families in poverty.

A Cleveland Botanical Garden program was one of eight projects recently certified by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, a national rating system for sustainable built landscapes. It's the first project in Ohio to receive the designation. Eleven projects have achieved certification in the initiative's two-year pilot program.

A survey conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council gauged public opinion about transportation options. The national telephone survey was supplemented by focus groups in four cities, including Cleveland. Cuyahoga County residents (PDF) said they favored greater investments in public transportation rather than building new roads.

In a recent report, the Greater New Orleans Data Center examined the City of New Orleans' progress in reducing its number of blighted properties, and compared the numbers to those of other cities, including Cleveland.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that it is freeing states to use $473 million in unspent highway earmarks. The funds were appropriated by Congress between 2003 and 2006, but remain unused. States can now use the money for other other transportation projects, and must identify plans by October 1. Ohio's share of the funding is $12.5 million.

An analysis of U.S. EPA data by the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked states by the amount of toxic emissions generated by their electric sectors. Ohio had the second-highest levels, trailing only Kentucky. All of the states bordering Ohio appeared in the list's top 10. The NRDC expects toxic emissions to decline dramatically because of new federal standards.

A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (PDF) said that while American metropolitan economies continue to improve (PDF), funding shortfalls are making the nation's transportation infrastructure less competitive. It said that in 2011, the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area's $106.6 billion gross metropolitan product was the 27th largest in the U.S., and about equal to the GDP of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, American Society of Civil Engineers President Andrew Herrmann made similar remarks at the Build Up Greater Cleveland annual meeting, telling attendees that the country needs to invest more in maintaining its infrastructure.

The sixth report in the Paying More for the American Dream series "examines systemic inequities in the mortgage market" (PDF) in seven American cities, including Cleveland. It found that African-American and Latino homebuyers were significantly more likely to receive government-backed loans than white homebuyers. The government-backed loans are typically more expensive than conventional mortgages.

A study of job accessibility by Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution found that "over three-quarters of all jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas are in neighborhoods with transit service" but added that "the typical job is accessible to only about 27 percent of its metropolitan workforce by transit in 90 minutes or less." In the five-county Greater Cleveland area (PDF), the figures were 74.7% and 26.0%, respectively, ranking 42nd and 40th.

Next American City explored how community development corporations are working to revitalize American cities, using Detroit and Cleveland as examples.

The U.S. Census Bureau published population estimates for the nation's incorporated cities and towns. The data covers changes between April 2010 and July 2011. For the first time since the 1920s, population grew faster in the nation's large cities than in their suburbs, with central cities growing at an average of 1.1% and their suburbs at 0.9%, Both the City of Cleveland and its suburbs lost population, with the City shrinking more quickly. Cleveland's population fell from 396,815 to an estimated 393,806, a decrease of 3,009.

Update: population estimates for all Cuyahoga County communities are available.

In its annual Testing the Waters report, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked water quality at Ohio beaches as the second-lowest of the 30 states with coastlines. Villa Angela and Euclid Beach were included in the report's list of "repeat offenders" for having contamination problems in each of the past five years. Most Great Lakes states scored poorly. The NRDC released the report at the Great Lakes Science Center to recognize the area's investments in green infrastructure. Previous reports: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005.

Update: Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Executive Director Julius Ciaccia wrote about his agency's efforts to improve the situation.

In the fourth round of the federal TIGER program, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a total of nearly $500 million to 47 transportation projects. Although local officials applied for funding, construction of the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland was not selected for funding.

In its annual National Traffic Scorecard, Inrix reported that traffic congestion decreased by 30% last year in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Seventy of the metro areas experienced decreases in congestion. It ranked the Greater Cleveland area as having the nation's 62nd-highest level of congestion, with significantly less congestion than a year ago.

Liveable streets and alternative transportation advocate Mark Gorton spoke at the City Club. He said that Cleveland leaders could easily and inexpensively make the City more friendly to bicyclists and walkers, and that overemphasizing the movement of cars is harmful to cities. The City Club posted video of his talk and the panel discussion that followed.

Update: audio of the forum (MP3, 84.2 MB) is also available.

HBO recently aired The Weight of the Nation, a four-part documentary on obesity in the United States, and made the series available online. It highlighted the 24-year disparity in life expectancy between Hough and Lyndhurst. A panel discussed the issues at the Great Lakes Science Center, and the City of Cleveland held its first Healthy Cleveland Summit. Earlier this year, the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods issued a set of three data briefs that describe health trends in Cleveland neighborhoods. A Plain Dealer editorial urged coordinated regional action to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA designated an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area under 2008 federal ozone standards. The area must meet the new limits within three years. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA to declare (PDF) that six Greater Cleveland counties meet 2006 federal fine particulate standards. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on May 21.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about the proposed fine particulate redesignation.

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report again gave Cuyahoga County an F for its ozone levels, while the county's grade for particulate pollution improved to a D. Air quality in the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area continued to improve, but was ranked as having the nation's 14th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Nationwide, cities reported the lowest levels of air pollution in the 13-year history of the report.

A USA Today investigative report examined lead levels in areas near hundreds of former lead factories and smelters across the United States, including several in Cleveland. The newspaper conducted soil testing and documented inaction by federal and state regulators. The sites identified in Cleveland were Tyroler Metals on Sweeney Avenue, Metals Refining Co. on Madison, Atlas Metal on East 75th Street, H&L Metal on East 79th Street, Lockport Lead on Bessemer Avenue, and Mowery Metal on Kinsman Avenue.

Cuyahoga County's scores improved slightly in the third annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Among Ohio's 88 counties, Cuyahoga County was 65th in heath outcomes and 53rd in health factors. Geauga County and Medina County were among the top-ranked counties in the state. The report also supplied data on nationwide trends.

The U.S. Census Bureau's release of metropolitan area and county population estimates showed a trend of population growth in core counties and decreases in exurban counties. Cuyahoga County's estimated population fell from 1,278,000 in July 2010 to 1,270,294 in July 2011. It was one of only two counties with a population greater than 1 million people to register a decrease. Of Ohio's six large urban counties, only Franklin and Montgomery counties showed growth. The Census Bureau also released Census 2010 Summary File 2 data for Ohio. It includes detailed population and housing data by race and ethnicity.

On World Water Day, Environment America released a report titled Wasting Our Waterways 2012. It used Toxics Release Inventory data to identify the states and waterways with the most industrial pollution, and said industrial facilities released 9,184,661 pounds of toxic materials into Ohio waterways in 2010.

U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge and Steve LaTourette held a press conference in Cleveland on Monday, where they announced that they will sponsor a bill that would provide $4 billion to help communities demolish abandoned housing. Meanwhile, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County allocated $14 million for housing demolition. They hope to obtain matching funds from the mortgage fraud settlement. A Plain Dealer editorial supported the efforts.

While the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to commercialize highway rest areas in the two-year transportation bill it passed last week, Ohio Department of Transportation officials said they would continue to pursue the concept. ODOT will also study the idea of selling naming rights and sponsorships for Ohio highways.

Update: ODOT launched its Division of Innovative Delivery and hired Jim Riley to lead it.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that a 13-cent increase in the state gasoline tax would provide "a more robust, reliable revenue stream".

The U.S. EPA is expected to designate an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area for new federal ozone standards. The area would have three years to comply with the revised limits. The E-Check program would continue.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking and Streets Plan Collaborative recently launched the Open Streets Project. Its goal is to share information about events where streets are temporarily closed to automobile traffic, and its first publication is the Open Streets Guide (PDF, 103 MB), a collection of best practices. It identified Cleveland's Walk + Roll initiative as one of seven models used by open streets programs.

President Obama's 2013 federal budget request proposes funding levels for federal initiatives, including transportation programs, environmental protections, and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. For the Great Lakes basin, it contains $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, $110 million for sewage system improvements, and $31 million for dredging. It also would provide $658 million for NASA's Glenn Research Center.

Update: Great Lakes Echo has more details.

Ohio will receive a $335 million share of the $25 billion federal settlement with mortgage companies, and Attorney General DeWine intends to set aside $75 million to demolish abandoned properties across the state. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County hope to receive at least $12.5 million from the fund. Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, now head of the Thriving Communities Institute, is working with Representative LaTourette on legislation that would supply federal funding for additional demolitions. Rokakis advocated for the proposal in a recent Washington Post op-ed. Editorials in the Plain Dealer support both efforts, while the National League of Cities reflected on "the lessons that brought the country to this situation."

The Congress for New Urbanism included Cleveland's West Shoreway in its 2012 Freeways Without Futures report, a list of "urban freeways that have the most potential to be transformed from broken liabilities to vibrant assets that support valuable places."

In its biannual report on bicycling and walking in the United States, the Alliance for Biking & Walking examined a variety of factors, including activity levels, safety, policy issues, education, and advocacy. It looked at how states and major cities compare on those factors, and said that "many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done."

The U.S. EPA introduced its Greenhouse Gas Inventory. It provides public access to 2010 greenhouse gas emissions data from large facilities for the entire United States. Ohio's largest group of emitters were power plants, and the largest single emitter in Cuyahoga County was the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland. Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal announced that it would reopen the west side of the plant.

CMHA received a $300,000 federal planning grant to develop a plan for revitalizing the Cedar Extension public housing development in Cleveland's Central neighborhood. It was one of 13 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants awarded by HUD across the United States. Choice Neighborhoods is a signature program of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

The U.S. EPA issued its annual analysis of data from the national Toxics Release Inventory. After several years of decreases, U.S. toxic chemical releases increased by 16% from 2009 to 2010. Releases in Ohio shrank by 1.8%. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel facilities.

A new paper from Cleveland State University researchers examines conditions in four distressed suburbs of older industrial cities, including East Cleveland. It "includes discussions of lessons learned from the four cities on housing and community development, concentrated poverty, trust in government, anchor institutions, education, local government capacity, regional collaboration, and state programs."

Last week, the U.S. EPA issued the first national standards for mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants. Under the new rules, which will become effective in 2014 and 2015, operators will have to install pollution controls or shut down older coal-fired power plants. The regulations could impact several local power plants, including FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County, and Genon's Avon Lake Generating Station in Lorain County.

The U.S. Census Bureau released state population estimates that cover the period between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. They are the first estimates published since the official 2010 Census results. The 0.92% increase in U.S. population was the lowest annual growth rate since the mid-1940s. Ohio's 0.07% growth rate was among the lowest in the nation.

Researchers are the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examined changes in population densities within metropolitan areas and asked whether they correlated with productivity. They used Greater Cleveland as an example, and said that "evidence suggests that denser MSAs are more productive."

(via Rust Wire)

In the third round of its TIGER program, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $511 million to 46 projects across the country. RTA received $12.5 million for its planned new rapid transit station at Mayfield Road and East 119th Street in Little Italy. Construction of the $17.5 million project could start in early 2013. RTA received a TIGER grant last year for the reconstruction of its University Circle rapid transit station.

Public transit usage increased nationally in the third quarter of 2011. RTA experienced the largest ridership increase in the country, with a 9.7% increase over the same period in 2010.

Update: Ben Wickizer of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter says that state leaders "should take bold action and commit Ohio to becoming a leader in the development of transit infrastructure."

The Trust for Public Land's annual City Park Facts report says that the number of parks in the nation's 100 largest cities has increased, with the fastest-growing segment being dog parks. Cleveland Lakefront State Park remained the 11th-most visited urban park in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its second annual set of five-year American Community Survey estimates. The release provides detailed socio-economic data covering the period from 2006 to 2010. It showed decreasing household incomes and a growing income gap.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development selected the German Marshall Fund to manage the Strong Cities, Strong Communities fellowship program. Up to 30 fellows will be deployed to the six SC2 cities. CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs will administer the program in Cleveland.

In a new report, Emory University's Turner Environmental Law Clinic and Georgia Organics collected the urban agriculture policies of 16 American cities, including Cleveland.

(via Joe Cimperman)

A new report from Environment Ohio ranked Ohio as having the second-highest level of airborne mercury pollution released by power plants, trailing only Texas. Using data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory, it said that power plants in Ohio emitted 4,218 pounds of mercury pollution in 2010.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin attempted to quantify the benefits of reducing automobile usage for short trips in 11 Midwestern metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland. Their findings suggested that "significant health and economic benefits are possible if bicycling replaces short car trips."

(via GOOD)

Bruce Katz and Strobe Talbott of the Brookings Institution spoke about energy policy at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Friday. They said that Northeast Ohio's advanced energy sector is a national model.

The lakefront Avon Lake Generating Station was one of the facilities on a recently-revealed U.S. EPA internal watch list. It said that operators failed to install modern pollution controls at the 41-year-old coal-fired power plant. Dennis Kucinich urged the Ohio EPA to require emissions reductions.

Update: the U.S. EPA filed an enforcement action against GenOn.

Researchers at the Brookings Institution analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data and found that concentrated poverty increased over the past decade, and that it nearly doubled in Midwestern metropolitan areas. They added that "the picture today likely looks quite a bit worse than much of [the] report reflects." The five-county Greater Cleveland area saw an 8.0% increase in its concentrated poverty rate and the City of Cleveland experienced a 13.1% increase.

The U.S. Census Bureau published three-year American Community Survey estimates. The release includes data on more than 40 topics. The Plain Dealer used the information to compile statistics on the ethnic backgrounds of residents in Northeast Ohio cities.

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority President William Friedman testified before the U.S. House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. He urged Congress to take up a comprehensive reform of the Water Resources Development Act. The port authority would like the ability to manage its dredge material without waiting for approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The New York Times used Greater Cleveland as an example of the increasing suburbanization of poverty. The authors of a new Brookings Institution report said that the shift in housing voucher usage "shouldn't be a huge surprise."

In a new report, Transportation for America continued its examination of the condition of bridges by looking at those in the country's 102 largest metropolitan areas. It says that "structurally deficient bridges in metropolitan areas carry a disproportionate share of all trips taken on a deficient bridge each day." In the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area, 11.4% of bridges were rated as deficient, while the two-county Akron metropolitan area had 12.7% of bridges rated as deficient.

The Federal Transit Administration awarded $928.5 million for more than 300 transit projects across the nation. RTA received three grants for a total of $7.1 million.

NOACA officials warned that potential cuts in federal transportation funding could affect area road construction projects.

A new report from the Brookings Institution examined the increasing use of housing vouchers in suburban areas across the United States. Of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Akron metropolitan area saw the most growth and the Cleveland metropolitan area the 15th-most between 2000 and 2008.

The Texas Transportation Institute issued its annual Urban Mobility Report. It said that too little is being done to address traffic congestion issues and that congestion occurs even in off-peak hours. The study was criticized as being overly automobile-centric. It reported that the average Cleveland driver (PDF) spent 20 hours in traffic jams last year, the same amount it reported for 2009 and 2008.

In its annual release of American Community Survey statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau published data covering more than 40 topics for 2010, including income, poverty, and educational attainment. Median income declined and poverty rates increased in most of the nation's metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland. Suburban poverty rates continued to rise. The City of Cleveland remained among the nation's poorest large cities.

A new report from Environment America looked at smog figures in American cities. It ranked the five-county Greater Cleveland area as being tied as the 20th-smoggiest metropolitan area in 2010.

Between 2000 and 2010, the ten least-segregated metropolitan areas in the United States saw greater population growth than the ten most-segregated. The least-segregated metro areas were in the South and West, while the most-segregated (including Greater Cleveland) were in the Midwest and Northeast.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $13.3 million in grants to six cities through its Brownfields Economic Development Initiative. The City of Cleveland received a $3 million grant and a $10 million loan for cleanup and redevelopment of the Warner & Swasey site on Carnegie Avenue.

A new report from the Planning and Community Health Research Center offers an overview of food policy councils and how planners can participate in them, based on the experiences of efforts in four cities, including the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition.

Building upon their earlier work, researchers at the Brookings Institution examined zero-vehicle households in the United States. In the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, an average of 90% of those households are in neighborhoods with access to public transit. In Greater Cleveland (PDF), the figure is 88%.

The Plain Dealer used IRS migration data to calculate net population losses and gains from domestic migration in the seven-county Greater Cleveland area.

Using data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory, the Natural Resources Defense Council calculated the amount of toxic air pollution generated by power plants. The electric sector in Ohio emitted 44.5 million pounds of pollutants in 2009, more than any other state.

Walk Score updated its rankings of walkable cities, last released in 2008. The City of Cleveland was ranked the 17th most walkable of the 50 largest cities in the United States. The most walkable neighborhoods in Cleveland were downtown, University Circle, and Ohio City. In Ohio, the most walkable cities included Lakewood and Cleveland Heights, while Broadview Heights and Solon were among the least walkable.

U.S. House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica proposed a six-year transportation reauthorization bill that would reduce federal transportation spending by about one-third. RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese said that if the proposal is approved, it would force the agency to make a 7.5% cut in bus and rail service. Yonah Freemark of the Transport Politic said that transit agencies would have no good options.

Through its new Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) pilot initiative, the Obama Administration will provide experienced federal staff to work directly with six cities, including Cleveland. The team in Cleveland will include staff from the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Labor, Transportation, and Education, plus the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

A report from NAACP includes environmental justice scores for the 431 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and named the Lake Shore Power Plant in Glenville as the nation's sixth-most harmful plant for low-income communities and communities of color. Leaders of the local NAACP branch say that the plant should remain open.

Using water quality and public notification data, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked the water quality of beaches in 30 coastal states. The 21st annual Testing the Waters (PDF) report scored Ohio (PDF) as having the second-highest percentage of monitoring samples that exceeded national health standards, a poorer performance than last year. Villa Angela beach in Cleveland was included in the report's list of top 10 repeat offenders. Some Great Lakes beach and health professionals have issues with the report's methodology.

In its US and Canada Green City Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit used nine environmental indicators to rank 27 American and Canadian cities (PDF). Cleveland was ranked 25th (PDF) overall, and received the lowest scores of any city in the buildings, CO2, and land use categories. Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council evaluated the evaluation.

Reinventing America's Legacy Cities is a report from the American Assembly of Columbia University. Its strategies were developed by 80 attendees at an April event in Detroit. It "focuses on how America can help legacy cities stem their losses, uplift their communities and their institutions, and harness their assets to help move the nation toward success in the next economy."

A new report from the Brookings Institution "assesses public policies and economic development strategies in eight U.S. metropolitan areas that had a significant specialization in manufacturing in 1980 and lost manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2005," including the Cleveland area. Cleveland's evolving economy is also one of nine case studies in The Next American Economy, a new book by William J. Holstien.

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists identified Ohio as one of ten states likely to see significant increases in respiratory problems from rising ozone levels associated with global warming. Meanwhile, Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy expanded upon his earlier premise that ranked Cleveland as the city least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rust Wire's Kate Giammarise interviewed Al Douglas of the Ontario Centre for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Resources about its effects on the Great Lakes.

A new report from the Brookings Institution used American Community Survey data to determine the educational attainment of immigrants in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. It says that highly skilled foreign-born workers now outnumber lower-skilled ones, and that the five-county Cleveland (PDF) metropolitan area has a very high concentration of high-skilled immigrants.

Repair Priorities is a new report from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. It says that despite decades of underfunding road repair projects, most states continue to inadequately fund road repair, spending a disproportionate amount on constructing new roads. It adds that "while Ohio has invested heavily in repair and maintenance in recent years, insufficient investment over the long-term has led to a backlog of roads and bridges in 'poor' and 'deficient' condition requiring $194 million annually in major rehabilitation costs over the next twenty years."

A new study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy named Cleveland as one of five American cities with high-quality bus rapid transit systems. Under the report's 100-point scoring system, the HealthLine's score of 69 was the highest in the nation, but well below the scores of the top-rated lines in Bogota and Guangzhou.

In its second Dangerous by Design report, Transportation for America highlights pedestrian safety issues and recommends actions to create safer walking environments. The report examines pedestrian fatality statistics, maps individual pedestrian deaths, and ranks the 52 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was the nation's second-safest. Meanwhile, the League of American Bicyclists issued its fourth annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings. Ohio was ranked 37th-friendliest.

"Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America", a new report from the Brookings Institution, compared access to public transit in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. It analyzed how well transit systems connect people to jobs, examining the share of residents served by transit, the share of jobs accessible by transit, and its frequency of service. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked 41st, with figures close to (PDF) national averages. Alan Berube said that "transit simply must be part of a successful 21st century metropolitan economy," and Shaun Donovan and Ray LaHood described shifts in federal programs. An interactive map offers detailed information at the block group level.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2010 Census demographic profiles for Ohio and several other states. They provide information at state, county, and city levels. The profiles show that Ohio's population aged over the last decade, while the West and South had younger populations. The number of single-parent households in Ohio increased, and the rate of home ownership decreased. The profile data is available through the Census Bureau's American Factfinder.

Marc Lefkowitz wrote about the Healthy Communities Active Transportation Conference & Workshop held earlier this week and the state of local bike planning. Cleveland Bicycle Week 2011 starts on Monday. Meanwhile, a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation says that most states lack adequate information to accurately evaluate the performance of their transportation networks. Ohio's scores were in the middle.

Update: ODOT posted the presentations from the HCAT conference.

The U.S. EPA launched an initiative to promote green infrastructure and reduce stormwater runoff. The agency will partner with 10 cities, including Cleveland.

(via the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC)

A new paper by Alan Mallach and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution describes how outdated state laws create barriers to the redevelopment of abandoned properties. They suggest policy changes that would give municipalities more tools for repurposing distressed land and buildings.

The American Lung Association's 12th annual State of the Air report says that Cuyahoga County's air quality continues to improve, but it again gave the County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked as having the nation's 12th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Previous reports: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.

In the fifth report (PDF) in the Paying More for the American Dream series, a group of nonprofits examined mortgage refinance lending in seven metropolitan areas. In the five-county Greater Cleveland area, residents of neighborhoods with large minority populations were denied loans at a much higher rate than homeowners in predominantly white neighborhoods.

In a new paper, Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution used Greater Cleveland as one of three examples of metropolitan areas that are "engaged in practical, smart, and self-starting efforts to grow the economy that are all about pragmatic, bottom-up problem solving at a time when the ills of top-down, business-as-usual economic affairs have become increasingly apparent." Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future presented Northeast Ohio's strategy today at a Brookings Institution event in Washington, D.C.

The second annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked the health of counties by state. In Ohio, Cuyahoga County again ranked well in health factors and lower in health outcomes. Both rankings were improvements over last year's scores. Geauga and Medina counties appeared near the top of both lists.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial and PBS's The Rundown weblog reflected on the report.

A new report from Transportation for America says that 11.5% of the 599,996 bridges in the United States are rated as structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration. The FHWA estimates that it would take $70.9 billion to eliminate the current backlog of needed repairs. In Ohio, 9.8% of the state's 27,963 bridges are rated as structurally deficient.

The Plain Dealer compared the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 population estimates to the 2010 Census figures, and also examined local migration patterns. Cleveland's African-American population is suburbanizing and its Latino population is growing. Racial segregation continues to be an issue.

National media outlets are focusing on population declines in older industrial cities, and Terry Schwarz of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative discussed the subject on the Diane Rehm Show. Terry Schwarz and Brad Whitehead contributed opinion pieces to a set of commentaries in the New York Times. In Shelterforce, Alan Mallach explored how community development corporations are responding to the demographic changes. Greater Ohio's Lavea Brachman looked to Europe for ideas.

Update: WKSU's M. L. Schultze spoke with Kimberly Phillips of the College of William & Mary about local African-American history.

An article in the magazine E looks at the Re-Imagining Cleveland initiative and efforts to reclaim open space in other cities.

The annual Inrix National Traffic Scorecard says that average travel times in the United States increased by 10% in 2010, and that several metropolitan areas experienced more congestion than their pre-recession 2007 highs. It ranked the Cleveland MSA as having the nation's 31st-highest level of congestion.

Update: Todd Litman criticized the analysis and the Urban Mobility Report that was released in January.

Two Northeast Ohio funds received a total of $53 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit allocations, part of the $3.5 billion awarded nationwide. The Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund received $35 million in tax credits and the Northeast Ohio Development Fund received $18 million.

President Obama's proposed 2012 budget could have a number of local impacts.

Funding for many urban development, environmental, and historic preservation programs would also be reduced.

Update: Great Lakes advocates are urging Congress to restore funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Great Lakes congressional delegation "must join together, in a bipartisan manner, to preserve" the program.

The Redfields to Greenfields project proposes that public-private partnerships should acquire unproductive urban properties and convert them to greenspace or set them aside for future development. Its Cleveland report (PDF), issued in 2010, says that a $2 billion investment would "remove an estimated 1,850 acres of non-performing real estate from the market" and "create over 120 miles of interconnected greenways."

(via SmartPlanet)

Civic Economics and the American Booksellers Association issued the Indie City Index, a comparison of the strength of independent retailers by metropolitan area. It assigned a score to each metropolitan area in the United States. Of the 363 metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA was ranked 356th, earning the lowest score among metropolitan areas with populations between 1 and 3 million.

The Texas Transportation Institute published the 2010 Urban Mobility Report, which states that traffic congestion in 2009 began to rise as the economy improved. Drivers in Greater Cleveland (PDF) continued to experience one of the lowest average delay times of the nation's large urban areas. CEOs for Cities issued a critique of earlier reports' methodologies in September, and said that the 2010 report "continues to present an exaggerated and incorrect picture" of urban transportation issues.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the report.

Changing Gears looked at the West Shoreway reconfiguration plans in Cleveland and other freeway removal projects across the United States.

Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy ranked 50 major U.S. cities (PDF) by their vulnerability to climate change. He found that Cleveland was least likely to experience negative repercussions, while Miami was the most vulnerable.

Writing about the recent Brookings Institution report and summit, columnist Neal Peirce described Greater Cleveland as one of several metropolitan areas that have "devised ingenious recovery strategies."

The U.S. Census Bureau released national and state population totals, the first data from the 2010 Census. As of April 1, 2010, the population of the United States was 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7% since 2000. Ohio's population was 11,536,504, an increase of 1.6%. Because Ohio's population grew more slowly than other states, especially those in the South and West, the state will lose two congressional seats.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the changes will require Ohio's congressional delegation to "work together more closely than ever, without regard to partisan or geographic divides, on issues that have a major impact on the state's economy and competitiveness."

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of data from the Toxics Release Inventory. Nationwide, releases of toxic chemicals fell by 12% to 3.37 billion pounds from 2008 to 2009. Releases in Ohio fell from 224 million pounds in 2008 to 159 million pounds in 2009, a decrease of over 29%. Cuyahoga County's top polluter in 2009 was the Charter Steel mill in Cuyahoga Heights. The ArcelorMittal steel plant in Cleveland was idled for much of the year.

Update: businesses in Ohio continued to emit more toxic air pollutants than those of any other state. Officials attribute the decreases to pollution control equipment, the recession, and new processes.

The new American Community Survey five-year estimates have elicited a range of interpretations:

The U.S. Census Bureau published its first set of five-year American Community Survey estimates. The release includes information about smaller units of geography and topics that were previously only available through the decennial census. It covers 72 topics for the period between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009. The estimates show a country that continues to become more urbanized and more integrated, although segregation remains an issue. They also reveal a variety of details about Greater Cleveland. The Census Bureau will issue new five-year ACS estimates every year, and will release the first data from the 2010 Census on December 21.

Materials from October's national Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference in Cleveland are now available online.

The U.S. Department of Transportation redirected $1.195 billion in passenger rail funding from Ohio and Wisconsin to projects in 14 states, with the largest awards going to California and Florida. Ohio lost $385 million of the $400 million grant it received in January to support the planned 3C Corridor passenger rail line because Governor-elect Kasich pledged to cancel the program.

Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown expressed their disappointment, while Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the decision will "ensure American taxpayers get a good return on their Recovery Act dollars," and Ohio rail advocates said that the action was premature.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Governor-elect Kasich acted too hastily.

The U.S. EPA announced plans to delay implementation of proposed new ozone standards. The new rules were to be finalized by December 31, but the agency now intends to wait until July 2011. The decision may be related to shifts in Congressional power.

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office identified Ohio and Greater Cleveland as being among the areas that have experienced the most bank walkaways. It recommends that federal agencies should require mortgage servicers "to notify borrowers and communities when foreclosures are halted and to obtain updated valuations for selected properties before initiating foreclosure." Sherrod Brown said that the practice exacerbates neighborhood blight.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called the report "a welcome first step, but still just a beginning."

At the Urbanophile, Aaron Renn used U.S. Census Bureau and IRS data to separate domestic migration statistics into in-migration and out-migration figures. He found that several Midwestern metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland, did not have disproportionally high out-migration rates, but did experience very low in-migration rates.

Meanwhile, Professor David Barnhizer wrote in a Plain Dealer op-ed that Cleveland needs to make itself more attractive to high-skilled international immigrants. The Knight Foundation and Gallup recently completed the Soul of the Community survey, a three-year study of community attachment in 26 American cities. One of its findings in Akron was that new residents felt more attached to the city than residents who had lived there longer.

A new report from the National Housing Law Project highlights five Neighborhood Stabilization Program grantees that "used innovative strategies to meet their obligations to provide housing for very low-income families." It profiles programs in Cleveland, Knoxville, Phoenix, Greenville County, South Carolina and Hamilton County, Ohio.

(via ReBuild Ohio)

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan described the federal Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program and its recent $4.25 million grant for regional planning in Northeast Ohio. Columnist Neal Peirce highlighted the Northeast Ohio award and said that the grant program shows how federal government can be made more efficient and effective through cross-department collaborations.

Under the terms of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states, the old General Motors will commit $773 million for the environmental cleanup of 89 former manufacturing sites. Five plant properties in Ohio will share $39 million: $25.8 million will go to the facility in Moraine, $7.3 million to Elyria, $3 million to Mansfield, $2.6 million to Toledo, and $746,000 to Parma.

Research conducted by the Brookings Institution and the Reinvestment Fund examined access to supermarkets in 10 metropolitan areas, including Cleveland. In the Cleveland MSA (PDF), they found that 11.3% of the population lives in areas with poor access to supermarkets. Results of the analysis for the 10 profiled areas and for the entire nation are available at the Reinvestment Fund's PolicyMap.

Following the national vacant properties conference held in Cleveland last week, the Detroit Free Press looked to Cleveland for innovative examples of urban revitalization, and MSN Real Estate described Cleveland as a city creatively working to reinvent itself. On Friday, the Center for Community Progress released Restoring Properties, Rebuilding Communities, a new report that encourages those interested in vacant properties to "build a truly effective agenda to turn vacant, abandoned, and problem properties into productive places in our communities, based not on one-off deal-oriented transactions, but on true systemic reform."

Congressional offices have revealed some recipients of TIGER II grants, and the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to officially announce the awards later this week. Sherrod Brown announced that RTA received a $10.5 million grant for the planned reconstruction of the University Circle rapid transit station.

Update: 75 projects in 40 states received funding. The RTA project was the only one in Ohio. An RTA press release offers more details.

Northeast Ohio was one of 45 areas selected for funding through HUD's $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The consortium of 21 entities from 12 counties was awarded $4.25 million to "develop a cooperative regional plan to address housing, transportation, environmental impact and economic development for Northeast Ohio." The consortium consists of MPOs, housing authorities, and county and city governments, plus the Levin College of Urban Affairs, the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and the Fund for Our Economic Future, which helped to fund and organize the application.

The U.S. EPA awarded $4 million in grants for communities to develop area-wide approaches to brownfield redevelopment. The City of Cleveland was among the 23 recipients, and will use its $175,000 award to facilitate community involvement (PDF) in prioritizing brownfield remediation along the route of the planned Opportunity Corridor in Kinsman and Buckeye.

The Brookings Institution prepared two analyses of metropolitan poverty. They found rising levels of suburban poverty and growing overall poverty rates in the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas. In the five-county Cleveland MSA, the estimated poverty rate increased by 2.6% between 2007 and 2009, rising to 15.3%.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's revised timetable for the planned 3C Corridor has done little to persuade Republican critics of the passenger rail line. Ohio is one of several states where Republicans could block or delay federal plans to expand the nation's passenger rail system. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood presented his reasons for supporting high-speed rail.

The National Resources Inventory, conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows that every state lost farmland between 1982 and 2007. Ohio had the second-highest amount of prime agricultural land converted to developed land, losing 585,100 acres from 1982 to 2007.

(via Kaid Benfield)

In one of its occasional rescissions, Congress required states to return transportation funds to the Federal Highway Administration. Ohio was one of 30 states to make a disproportionally large cut in funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. While Ohio was required to return 5.8% of its annual apportionment, it cut 33% from its Transportation Enhancement Program.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau published data from the 2009 American Community Survey, and the release reflects the major impacts of the recession. Figures are available for areas with a population of at least 65,000. In Northeast Ohio and across the United States, median household incomes declined and poverty rates rose. The City of Cleveland's estimated 35.0% poverty rate was second-highest in the nation, trailing only Detroit.

A new traffic congestion report from CEOs for Cities offers a critique of the Urban Mobility Report and presents an alternative methodology. The report by Joe Cortright offers "a new view of urban transportation performance. It explores the key role that land use and variations in travel distances play in determining how long Americans spend in peak hour travel." He adds that the Urban Mobility Report "has a number of key flaws that misstate and exaggerate the effects of congestion, and it ignores the critical role that sprawl and travel distances play in aggravating peak period travel."

Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday show that the poverty rate in the United States was 14.3% in 2009, up from 13.2% in 2008, while median household income remained flat. Minority populations were disproportionately affected. In Ohio, the poverty rate decreased from 13.7% to 13.3%, a change within the survey's margin of error. Median household income in Ohio fell from $49,811 to $46,318, below the national median of $49,945. The Census Bureau will release more detailed figures later this month.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial concludes that the numbers make a "compelling case for both short-term measures that provide relief and longer-term measures that will reduce poverty."

Update 2: WCPN's Sound of Ideas explored suburban poverty in Northeast Ohio.

In the third round of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $970 million in grants. Allocations in Ohio totaled $52 million, including $6.8 million to the City of Cleveland, $2.6 million to Cuyahoga County, $1 million to the City of East Cleveland, and $1 million to the City of Euclid.

A new study by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force quantified the health problems (PDF) caused by fine particle pollution from the nation's coal-burning power plants. It ranked Ohio as having the second-highest number of adverse health impacts, trailing only Pennsylvania. For metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA ranked eighth-highest. Power companies and the coal industry dispute the group's findings.

Update: the Statehouse News Bureau's Jo Ingles spoke with Nolan Moser of the Ohio Environmental Council about the study.

The Trust for Public Land published its annual City Park Facts report, a profile of park systems in the nation's 85 largest cities. It states that the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Metroparks, and Cleveland Lakefront State Park combine to supply 3,130 acres of parks in Cleveland. Like last year, Cleveland Lakefront State Park was the 11th-most visited (PDF) urban park in the country. Cleveland also offers the highest number of swimming pools per capita of any city in the report.

The Natural Resources Defense Council published its 20th annual Testing the Waters report today. The survey of water quality at U.S. beaches ranked Ohio's (PDF) beaches 27th of the 30 states in the survey, an improvement over last year's rank of 29, but still among the nation's worst. Urban runoff and combined sewer overflows contribute to the pollution problems.

On Monday, the White House released the final recommendations (PDF) of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, and President Obama signed an executive order that established the country's first national oceans policy and created the National Ocean Council. The council includes representatives from a variety of federal agencies, and is intended to strengthen governance and coordination for the stewardship of the oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes.

Fortune highlighted the efforts of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and similar initiatives in other cities to increase levels of urban greenspace.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2009 municipal population estimates, the final set of estimates to be based on Census 2000 data. The City of Cleveland's population fell to 431,363, with an estimated loss of 2,658 people between July 2008 and July 2009. The 0.61% rate of decrease was lower than the estimated decreases of recent years. While most Cuyahoga County communities lost population, many communities in the surrounding six counties gained population. The City of Avon grew by an estimated 52% between 2000 and 2009.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Heath is scheduled to take up a package of environmental restoration bills that includes the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act of 2010.

Update: the committee approved the bill.

Biologists with the Ohio EPA have begun running tests to determine the ecological and environmental conditions of Lake Erie's coastal waters. They will survey 26 near-shore locations this summer, and their data will be incorporated into the National Coastal Conditions Assessment.

More than 150 sites were selected to participate in a two-year pilot program for the Sustainable Sites Initiative. The interdisciplinary initiative is an effort to establish a national rating system for sustainable landscape design. The projects in Ohio are at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland, the West Creek Reservation in Parma, and the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details about the Botanical Garden's participation.

Update 2: the Parma Sun Post described the project at the West Creek Reservation.

About 250 people, including Jesse Jackson, attended a rally for public transit funding on Cleveland's Public Square on Saturday. The event was part of a multicity campaign for changes in transit funding policies.

A new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution looks at the "challenges facing America's distressed older cities," examines the "role and influence of federal policy on these cities" and "offers a set of specific recommendations for how the federal government can help." A second paper by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman focuses on Ohio and suggests changes in state policy.

A new multi-state report (PDF) by a coalition of seven organizations examined the lending patterns of four large national banks in seven metropolitan areas. It found that between 2006 and 2008, prime mortgage lending decreased disproportionately in minority neighborhoods. In Cleveland, prime purchase and refinance lending fell by 42.7% in predominately white neighborhoods and 68.5% in minority neighborhoods.

The State of Metropolitan America is a new report from the Brookings Institution. It "focuses on the major demographic forces transforming the nation and large metropolitan areas in the 2000s" and says "that our nation faces five 'new realities,' currently redefining the country." It also sorts the country's metropolitan areas into seven categories, placing the Cleveland MSA in the Industrial Core classification, which it describes as "in some ways the most demographically disadvantaged of the metropolitan types." Local leaders and academics expressed concern about the demographic trends.

Update: the News-Herald backs the report's recommendations.

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report shows that the air quality in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities has improved, but that pollution levels remain dangerously high. Greater Cleveland was ranked as having the country's 19th-worst year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year. Cuyahoga County again received failing grades for its its levels of ozone and particulate pollution.

About 62% of Cleveland households mailed back their 2010 Census forms, and the statewide return rate was 76%. Both figures were slightly below 2000 levels. The national response rate was 72%. Census takers will start visiting nonrespondents on May 1.

The U.S. EPA today announced $78.9 million in brownfields grants to communities in 40 states. The Cuyahoga County Land Bank received a $400,000 grant to conduct brownfield assessments.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual county population estimates say that Cuyahoga County's population fell by 7,171 people between July 2008 and July 2009. The decrease of 0.56% was smaller than in previous years, but Cleveland State's Tom Bier believes that outmigration will increase once the economy improves. The eight-county Cleveland CSA lost an estimated 2,990 residents over the same period. Many of the decade's fastest-growing counties were in Texas.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the trends.

The NOACA Governing Board approved a resolution that urges the U.S. EPA to set achievable ozone standards. In January, the federal agency announced its intention to tighten the ozone limit. It is expected to finalize its decision in August.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Sustainable Housing and Communities Listening Tour will stop in Cleveland (PDF) on March 10. The event will begin at 10:30 in the US Bank Centre Building at Playhouse Square.

A USGS study of the northern United States found levels of chloride above the recommended federal criteria in more than 40% of the urban streams tested. The elevated levels, likely attributable to the use of road salt, are harmful to aquatic plant and animal life. An ODOT representative described it as a "tradeoff between our safety and the environment."

Traffic congestion and travel times increased nationally in 2009, according to the annual Inrix National Traffic Scorecard. Congestion levels decreased in 2008 and reached their low point in spring 2009 before starting to rise again. The worst bottleneck in the Cleveland metropolitan area was the I-90 westbound interchange at Chester Avenue.

A new report from the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked health outcomes and health factors in the United States by county for each state. In Ohio, Geauga and Medina counties were among the state's healthiest. Cuyahoga County ranked highly in clinical care, but poorly in morbidity, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

Update: the report was the subject of a Sound of Ideas program on WCPN.

While many communities are using their federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants to rehabilitate foreclosed homes, the majority of the local $40.8 million award will be used to demolish abandoned houses.

(via Community Research Partners)

A U.S. EPA study of electroplating facilities (PDF) in Cleveland and Chicago found that they were discharging high levels of PFCs in their wastewater. The emissions are permitted under a 2007 Bush administration exemption for the factories.

(via Great Lakes Echo)

A new report from the Brookings Institution shows the growth in suburban poverty between 2000 and 2008. Poverty levels in the suburbs of the nation's largest metropolitan areas increased almost five times faster than the levels of core cities. The unemployment rate also rose more quickly in the suburbs. In the Cleveland metro area, the share of the poor living in the suburbs grew by 9.3%, the second-largest increase in the nation. An earlier report examined the changes from 1999 to 2005.

Update: WKSU's Jeff St. Clair interviewed Elizabeth Kneebone, the report's author.

The U.S. EPA proposed tougher new standards for ground-level ozone that would replace standards set by the Bush administration in March 2008. The proposal calls for new standards between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 parts per billion standard adopted in 2008. Northeast Ohio, which last year attained compliance with the 1997 standard (80 ppb), would not meet the new standard. Much of the rest of the state would also be in noncompliance, and the major metropolitan areas may have difficulty reaching the lower levels.

A Plain Dealer article says that we have "entered the decade of the Super Region." Richard Longworth of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs says it makes sense for neighboring metropolitan areas to work together. Others, especially Aaron Renn, approach the concept of megaregions with more skepticism. Governing's Alan Ehrenhalt thinks that their value has been overstated.

Richard Moe, the outgoing president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, encourages shrinking cities to act carefully when approaching the issues associated with population loss. He says that the process "should be carried out in the context of a carefully conceived master plan -- one that encourages input from all stakeholders and takes into account a range of considerations, including the historic value of the housing stock, in determining what stays and what must go."

The 2010 federal omnibus spending bill includes $500,000 for the reconfiguration of the six-way intersection at Warrensville Center Road and Van Aken Boulevard in Shaker Heights. It also includes $2.5 billion for high-speed rail projects, a compromise between Senate and House versions of the bill.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2009 state population estimates today. Ohio's population grew by an estimated 189,505 between 2000 and July 2009, an increase of 1.7%. It was one of the nation's smaller growth rates. At the national scale, population growth slowed in the South and West over the last year. The recession has reduced domestic and international migration.

The Sacramento Press looked at lessons that California could learn from older Midwestern cities.

(via the Cleveland Foundation)

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of Toxics Release Inventory data. In 2008, pollution releases at the national level fell by 6% from 2007 levels. Ohio reduced its releases of toxic air pollutants by 22%, but remained the nation's top emitter of toxic airborne compounds. Toxic releases in Cuyahoga County fell from 12.2 million tons in 2007 to 9.9 million tons in 2008. The ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland was the County's top polluter.

A study of immigrants in the nation's largest metropolitan areas found that while the five-county Cleveland MSA's proportion of immigrants is relatively low, the area's immigrant population has made strong economic contributions. The study identified correlations between immigration and economic progress, saying that "there is no doubt that immigration and economic growth go hand in hand." In October, panelists on WCPN's Sound of Ideas discussed immigrant attraction.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that African Americans are more likely to live in proximity to a polluting industrial facility than white Americans. The disparity was especially acute in Midwestern cities.

Dangerous by Design, a new report from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, examined pedestrian safety in American cities. It highlights the hazards of inadequate investment in pedestrian infrastructure and the need for better design. The Cleveland MSA was one of the safer large metropolitan areas for pedestrians.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch looked at the situation in Ohio.

While Congress passed an one-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 transportation law, it did not remove the $8.7 billion rescission included in the old bill. The cuts have hit alternative transportation projects especially hard, and Ohio is among the states canceling funding for transportation enhancements, CMAQ, and trails projects.

As the U.S. Conference of Mayors marked the 1,000th local leader to sign its Climate Protection Agreement, it published profiles of 16 mayors who are pursuing innovative strategies (PDF) to reduce pollution. Frank Jackson was one of those profiled.

(via Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

The Indiana Department of Transportation applied for $2.8 billion in federal stimulus funds to plan, build, and launch high-speed rail service between Chicago and Cleveland.

Additional 2008 American Community Survey data released by the Census Bureau includes information about income, poverty (PDF), and food stamp receipts. The poverty rate rose in Ohio and the Midwest, while in Northeast Ohio, the number of people with incomes near the poverty line increased. An analysis by the Brookings Institution predicts that poverty rates will remain elevated for years.

The next event in the Levin College Forum's Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure series will be held on October 8 and is titled Reconsidering the American Dream. It will be a discussion of proposed federal housing policy reform, and author Alyssa Katz will give the keynote address.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2008 American Community Survey data on Monday. Social, housing, demographic, and economic data are available for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. It showed decreases in median household income across Ohio, especially in the state's major cities. For the first time, the ACS included data on health insurance coverage, and Northeast Ohio's big cities had a greater percentage of people without coverage than state and national averages.

An evaluation by the U.S. EPA's Office of Inspector General estimates that at the current rate of progress, it will take more than 77 years to complete the cleanup of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The complete document and a summary (PDFs) are available online.

Marc Lefkowitz looked at food deserts in Cleveland and their connection to chronic health issues. Author Michael Pollan also has been making connections between food policy changes and health-care reform.

Smart Growth for Coastal & Waterfront Communities is a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It presents 10 elements that "augment the existing smart growth principles to reflect the specific challenges and opportunities characterizing the waterfront."

(via Kaid Benfield)

Ohio Rail Development Commission officials are quickly trying to fulfill requirements for federal funding of the proposed 3-C Corridor passenger rail line. They intend to apply for up to $450 million of the $8 billion in stimulus funds available for high-speed rail. The requests of Midwest states that would be served through the Chicago Hub Network are expected to be among $102 billion in requests from 40 states and Washington, D.C.

In spite of cutbacks and fare increases this year, RTA faces a possible $20 million deficit for 2010, which could force additional cuts in service. Transportation for America compiled the financial problems of public transit agencies across the country in a new report titled Stranded at the Station.

Update: RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese met with Cleveland City Council on Wednesday.

2009 City Park Facts, a new report from the Trust for Public Land, compares the park systems of 77 American cities. The City of Cleveland has 7.1 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, and parks make up 6.3% of the City's total area. Cleveland Lakefront State Park was the 11th-most visited urban park in the United States. The National Park Service also announced that national park visitation rose in the first half of 2009.

The U.S. EPA is developing national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) . Area officials expect that Ohio cities will be able to comply with the new limits.

The Infrastructurist identified the planned reconstruction of the West Shoreway in Cleveland as one of seven urban freeway removal projects that could benefit American cities.

For the second consecutive year, the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual Testing the Waters report ranked the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second-worst in the nation. Bacteria levels at the state's Lake Erie beaches exceeded acceptable levels approximately 19% of the time in 2008. There were 783 health advisory days at Ohio beaches last year, up from 657 in 2007.

Panelists Lindsay Baxter, Roger Chang, and Andrew Watterson discussed the state of sustainability in older industrial cities (MP3, 51.7 MB) at the City Club on Thursday. On Friday, author Storm Cunningham spoke about "what it takes to achieve rapid, resilient renewal" (MP3, 51.4 MB) in urban areas.

The Texas Transportation Institute's 2009 Urban Mobility Report found that traffic congestion in American cities eased slightly in 2007. Greater Cleveland figures followed the national trends (PDF). Of the 29 large urban areas studied, the Cleveland area had the second-lowest amount of congestion per driver.

A New York Times analysis of state spending of federal transportation stimulus dollars "offered vivid evidence that metropolitan areas are losing the struggle for stimulus money" to rural areas. The article used the funding for the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland as an example. A recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (PDF) reached a similar conclusion, leading mayors to register complaints with the White House.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch also published an article on the subject.

Family Homelessness in Cuyahoga County, a new paper from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, examined data on families at risk of becoming homeless and on those using residential homeless services. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also released a pair of reports about changes in homelessness at the national level. The 2008 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (PDF) found increasing rates of family homelessness in suburban and rural areas. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County were one of nine areas studied in the agency's first Homeless Pulse Project (PDF) report.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates state that Cleveland's population was 433,748 in July 2008, which is 4,265 people below the 2007 estimate. The figures reflect similar changes at the county level and in other urban areas. Population losses slowed in urban cores and growth slowed in exurban areas. Cleveland lost 0.97% of its population, an improvement over last year's loss of 1.11%. The Plain Dealer chose to highlight a more negative angle, focusing on the estimated population decrease of 43,724 between 2000 and 2008.

Update: CSU's Mark Salling talked about the estimates on WCPN. Dr. Salling was also among the guests on the station's Sound of Ideas program devoted to the subject. Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution examined the trends on a national level.

A University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist says that there is a link between crime and vacant properties in urban areas. His research indicates that a rise in the number of vacant lots correlates with increased rates of aggravated assaults.

New age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin population estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Ohio's population remained virtually unchanged but continued to grow more diverse. Nationally, minority populations grew again, but more slowly than previously anticipated. The growth rates of Hispanic and Asian populations have started to decline, reflecting the recent drop in immigration levels.

Update: the Plain Dealer posted the figures for Greater Cleveland.

Last week, the U.S. EPA announced $111.9 million in grants, of which $5.6 million will be for projects in Ohio. Cuyahoga County received a $1 million grant to conduct brownfields assessments at about 35 sites. The grants were "bolstered by funds" from the federal stimulus bill.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges Congress to adopt President Obama's proposal to invest $475 million in a Great Lakes restoration initiative, saying that "lawmakers on the budget and appropriation committees must ensure the money finds a secure place in the federal spending plan."

The American Lung Association's 2009 State of the Air report gave Cuyahoga County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The 10th annual report listed Greater Cleveland as having the nation's 10th worst year-round particle pollution, but unlike last year, did not include the metropolitan area in the list of cities with the worst short-term particle pollution.

Update: the report (PDF) noted that Greater Cleveland's air quality has significantly improved over the past five years.

The Ohio EPA yesterday announced plans to invest $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds and low-interest state loans in water and sewer infrastructure projects. Approximately $46 million will go to projects in Northeast Ohio, including $5 million for two NEORSD sewer projects. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled plans for $750 million in stimulus funds, of which the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will receive about $7.8 million. The award will fund five projects in the Park. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the dollars (PDF) will help address the Park's maintenance backlog. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it will reallocate $115 million of the $200 million in stimulus funds it recently assigned to the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland to 52 other projects across the state. ODOT officials say that the funding will be replaced with other state and federal dollars.

Senators Voinovich and Brown introduced the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2009, which would establish new rules and supply funding for addressing combined sewer overflows. They introduced a similar bill last year, but it was not enacted.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and News-Herald have more information.

Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his strategic plan for high-speed rail in the United States. It includes two connections to Cleveland as part of the Chicago Hub Network: the 3-Corridor that would link Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, and a line between Cleveland and Chicago that would stop in Toledo. Governor Strickland said that Ohio will compete for federal stimulus dollars that have been allocated for high-speed rail.

Fast Company named Cleveland as one of its 12 Fast Cities of 2009, and called the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland program one of the nation's "loveliest urban initiatives." Seattle was the magazine's city of the year.

(via Cleveland Design City)

The Plain Dealer's recognition of the Year of the River continues with a look at how the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire helped to advance the environmental movement at a national level and the myths that surround it. The resulting 1972 Clean Water Act has played a large role in the improvement of the River's water quality.

Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution analyzed data from 1998 to 2006 to update research on job sprawl in 98 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. She found that private sector employment continued to decentralize. Over 45% of employees work more than 10 miles away from downtowns, compared to the 21% who work within three miles of city centers. Greater Cleveland was one of 53 large metropolitan areas classified as experiencing rapid decentralization, with 45.7% of jobs located more than 10 miles away and 16.2% of jobs located within three miles of downtown as of 2006.

Container manufacturer Nalgene conducted a survey of wastefulness in the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Cleveland finished as the 16th least wasteful city in the nation, ranking highly for library usage and saving leftover food, but scoring poorly in avoiding driving for short trips, use of energy-efficient light bulbs, rain barrel usage, and turning off the lights when not in the room. San Francisco was named as the country's least wasteful city.

Budget committees in the U.S. House and Senate included President Obama's proposal for a $475 million Great Lakes restoration fund in their budget resolutions. An editorial in the Blade says that "protecting and restoring the Great Lakes is not a luxury but a critical necessity," and in a Detroit Free Press op-ed, Rich Bowman of the Nature Conservancy suggests investments in natural systems.

The federal stimulus bill passed in February includes $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. The grants are available to fund projects that reduce energy use or improve energy efficiency. Ohio's share of the allocations is $84 million. Cuyahoga County will receive $5.8 million and the City of Cleveland will receive $4.5 million.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory statistics reveal that Ohio businesses emitted 3.89% fewer toxins in 2007 than in 2006. Factories and power plants in Ohio continued to emit more air pollution than any other state. Nationwide, toxic releases declined by 5% in 2007. A provision in the recent appropriations bill reinstated stronger reporting requirements, reversing a 2006 Bush administration rule.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual county population estimates show that Cuyahoga County lost 11,262 people between July 2007 and July 2008. However, the rate of decrease slowed for the second consecutive year. The County's rate of population change peaked at -1.32% in 2006, was -0.97% in 2007, and was -0.87% in 2008. The other four counties in the Cleveland MSA continued to gain population, but their increases did not completely offset the decrease in Cuyahoga County. The metropolitan area's population fell by 6,594 between July 2007 and July 2008. Population losses slowed across the Midwest, while increases slowed in the South and West. Some attribute the changes in migration patterns to the poor economy.

The water quality improvement bill passed by the U.S. House last week includes an increase of funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act, raising the authorization from $54 million to $150 million per year over the next five years.

In this month's issue of Next American City, Ariella Cohen writes about the recession's impacts on American cities, and uses Cleveland as an example of the challenges and opportunities facing municipal officials.

The second Inrix National Traffic Scorecard found that peak hour traffic congestion in American cities was nearly 30% lower in 2008 than in 2007. Authors attributed the decline to increases in gas prices and unemployment. They also noted that a relatively small decrease in traffic volumes had a large impact in reducing urban congestion. The Cleveland MSA was the least congested of the nation's 25 largest metro areas, and was ranked as number 38 among the 100 metro areas surveyed. It was number 36 in 2007. Half of the region's ten most congested spots are along the Innerbelt freeway.

The outdoor advertising industry is using a pair of 2007 studies conducted in the Cleveland area in their efforts to gain authorization to install digital billboards elsewhere in the nation. A study of Cuyahoga County statistics (PDF) by Tantala Associates says that "digital billboards have no statistical relationship with the occurrence of accidents." A study of Cleveland drivers (PDF) by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says that "digital billboards seem to attract more attention than the conventional billboards" but that "no conclusions can be drawn regarding the ultimate safety of digital billboards."

President Obama's proposed 2010 budget for the U.S. EPA includes $475 million for a new multi-agency Great Lakes restoration initiative.

Cuyahoga County's $420 million wish list for federal stimulus dollars includes gray and green infrastructure projects, green energy initiatives, and social service programs. The State of Ohio is accepting suggestions for stimulus projects at a special website.

Update: this week's Sun Newspapers have more details about the requests made by Euclid and Broadview Heights leaders.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in the nation increased by 4% between 2002 and 2007, but the number of farms in Ohio fell by 2.5% over the same period. While Ohio now has fewer family farms, more of them are operated by women.

Eleven Greater Cleveland cities made requests for federal stimulus dollars through a report compiled by the United States Conference of Mayors. The Plain Dealer lists their proposals. Ohio leaders have been actively lobbying for funding, and the state may receive $6.8 billion.

In a new survey, the Pew Research Center asked Americans if they were happy with the city in which they live, where they would like to live, and why. Almost half of the respondents said they would like to live somewhere else. The top 10 cities were all in the South or the West, while the bottom five were in the Midwest. Cleveland finished second to last in the list of most popular cities.

Ohio officials do not intend to join California and 13 other states in their effort to set strict new automobile emissions standards.

Senators Voinovich and Levin yesterday introduced the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act, a $20 billion plan for restoring the Great Lakes. President-elect Obama supported a smaller $5 billion plan as a candidate. Similar implementation acts were introduced in 2006 and 2007.

The final version of a controversial report by the Centers for Disease Control concluded that there is insufficient data to link health risks to pollution in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The report recommends further study.

(via Green Buckeye RN)

The January issue of Urban Land includes a look at redevelopment efforts in warehouse districts across the nation (PDF), including Cleveland's Warehouse District.

(via Downtown Clips)

"The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America" is a new report from the Federal Reserve System and the Brookings Institution. It features case studies of 16 diverse communities from across the United States, including Cleveland's Central neighborhood (PDF). Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution offers suggestions for federal policies to address concentrated poverty.

As expected, the U.S. EPA announced yesterday that Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties failed to meet new standards for fine particle pollution. The Ohio EPA has three years to draft a compliance plan, and the counties must comply with the standards by April 2014. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court reversed itself (PDF) yesterday and temporarily reinstated the Clean Air Interstate Rule that it struck down in July. The EPA is still required to revise the rule but has no deadline for doing so.

New U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates say that Ohio gained 18,993 residents between July 2007 and July 2008. The 0.1% increase was one of the nation's slowest rates of growth. Between July 2000 and July 2008, the state grew by 1.1%, an increase of 121,767 people.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "anemic population growth makes it critical that this state and region develop an agenda that aims to restore and revitalize cities as the engines of job development and growth."

"What's at Stake," a new report from Environment Ohio, enumerates the environmental, economic, and human health threats posed by global warming. It says that "if unchecked, global warming will affect every part of Ohio in the coming century" and urges action to curb emissions of global warming pollutants.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Ohio leaders should be "pushing and preparing aggressively for action, emphasizing the cost if steps are not taken."

NOACA has drawn up a list of 65 "shovel ready" infrastructure projects that would use $197 million of the anticipated federal economic stimulus package. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out that Cleveland is among the cities that have not submitted a list of projects to the United States Conference of Mayors. Other area cities, like North Royalton, have participated. The National Parks Conservation Association has also prepared a list of recommended investments, which includes a project in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data for all communities with a population greater than 20,000. Previous releases were limited to areas with more than 65,000 people. The estimates, which reflect data collected between 2005 and 2007, present an opportunity to evaluate demographic trends in mid-size cities. The release reveals information about population shifts in Cleveland's suburbs, declining household incomes in the Akron area, and regional poverty statistics. American Community Survey data can be accessed at American Factfinder and at Cleveland.com.

Carol Coletta reflected on her recent visit to University Circle and the definition of the term "premier urban district". She also shared her hopes for the Obama administration's urban agenda.

Update: she also posted her keynote address from University Circle Incorporated's annual meeting.

The Great Lakes Region Coalition, a group of over 30 Midwest chambers of commerce, released a business agenda that outlines their federal legislative priorities for growing the region's economy. The initiative is an outgrowth the Brookings Institution's work on the Great Lakes Economic Initiative.

Update: Joe Roman describes the agenda in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

The Blade's Tom Henry says that Bush administration and federal EPA officials "lobbied against our best interests by calling upon both chambers of Congress to reject the House version of a bill that would have reauthorized the Great Lakes Legacy Act at up to $150 million a year."

(via Great Lakes Law)

Update: President Bush signed the reauthorizing legislation.

President Bush signed the Great Lakes Compact today. The Compact now moves into its implementation phase.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a two-year reauthorization of the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The Senate bill was at the current funding level of $54 million per year, not the $150 million per year approved by the House earlier this month. The House adopted the Senate version of the bill on Sunday.

Statistics released by the BEA show that the five-county Cleveland MSA had the 26th-largest GDP of the nation's 363 metropolitan areas. However, it was also one of only 55 metropolitan areas to see a contraction of its economy between 2005 and 2006. The region's losses were attributed to a decline in manufacturing.

Ohio received more than $258 million of the $3.92 billion allocated by HUD for foreclosure relief. Cleveland's share was $16.1 million, and Cuyahoga County's was $11.2 million. The cities of Akron, Elyria, Euclid, and Lorain also received funds, as did Lake and Summit counties.

Editorials in the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, and News-Herald praise Congress for passing the Great Lakes Compact.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today by a vote of 390-25. Representatives Kucinich and Kaptur were among those voting against it. The Senate approved the Compact in August, and President Bush has indicated that he will sign it.

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data covering 2007 social, economic, and housing characteristics. The data was interpreted in a variety of fashions:

Update: the Plain Dealer summarized the data for Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland and Akron metropolitan areas, Ohio, and the nation.

Best Performing Cities 2008 is a new report from the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners that ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by "how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth." Of the 200 largest metropolitan areas studied, Greater Cleveland was ranked number 193. Most cities in Ohio and Michigan fared poorly on the list.

(via Planetizen)

By a vote of 371-20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The reauthorization bill now moves to the Senate. If enacted, it will triple the annual funding for cleanup of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Andrew Macurak writes that the U.S. Census Bureau's ranking of poorest and wealthiest cities is flawed, because it does not account for cities that have absorbed their suburbs, city-county consolidations, and similar situations. He suggests that a comparison of counties would more accurately depict the distribution of wealth.

(via Kaid Benfield)

Great Lakes issues have entered the U.S. presidential race. Last week, Great Lakes advocates urged both candidates to increase their support for Great Lakes restoration efforts, and yesterday, the Obama-Biden campaign introduced a five-point plan for improving the Great Lakes. It includes $5 billion over ten years for a fund dedicated to Great Lakes work.

A review by the Institute of Medicine upheld the official findings of a controversial study by the Centers for Disease Control about health risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The Institute of Medicine noted that shortcomings in the draft reports limit its usefulness "in determining whether health risks might be associated with living near the lakes."

Akron Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels writes about the continued reactions to the list of America's fastest-dying cities published by Forbes.com last month, describing it as something that "is so not worth talking about that weeks later people are still talking about how it's not worth talking about."

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released annual income, poverty, and health insurance coverage statistics from the 2007 American Community Survey. In Cuyahoga County, the median household income grew from $41,522 in 2006 to $44,358 in 2007 (a 6.8% increase), while the poverty rate rose from 14.8% to 15.5% (a 4.7% increase). The City of Cleveland's poverty rate also rose, from 27.0% in 2006 to 29.5% in 2007, the nation's second-highest figure among big cities. Detroit had the highest poverty rate for the second consecutive year.

U.S. Census Bureau population estimates by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin indicate that between 2000 and 2007, Cuyahoga County's Asian population increased by 4,766 and its Latino population increased by 5,882, while the white population declined by 95,307 and the black population declined by 7,006. Nationwide, racial and ethnic minorities now comprise 43% of Americans under 20. The Census Bureau also projects that minorities will account for over half of the country's total population by 2042.

The Federal Highway Administration released data showing that Americans drove less for the eighth straight month, driving 12.2 billion fewer miles (a 4.7% decrease) in June 2008 than in June 2007. Ohio drivers reduced their travel by 442 million miles (4.6%) over the same period.

The U.S. Senate unanimously voted to ratify the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today. The House Judiciary Committee approved the Compact on Wednesday, and the full House is expected to act on it when members return in September. In addition, committees in both houses voted to reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

The housing bill signed by President Bush yesterday will eventually bring $26.6 million to Cuyahoga County communities for acquisition and rehabilitation or demolition of abandoned houses. The City of Cleveland is expected to receive the majority of the money.

Update: the Plain Dealer analyzed the legislation and clarified that the $26.6 million figure is only an estimate. The Christian Science Monitor also interviewed local officials about its likely implications.

Yesterday, Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety about the implications of the court decision that struck down the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule. He encouraged Congress to pass a bill that would reinstate the rule.

The National Resources Defense Council rated the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second worst in the nation, an improvement over last year's last place ranking. The annual Testing the Waters report placed the beaches (PDF) at Villa Angela State Park and Euclid Beach State Park among the worst ten for exceeding public health standards.

In a statement released yesterday, President Bush announced his support for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Compact tomorrow.

Ohio EPA officials worry that the agency's plans to reduce smog and soot may now be insufficient, because a federal appeals court recently struck down a U.S. EPA rule intended to reduce soot and smog through a cap-and-trade program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges federal leaders to create a replacement for the rejected rule.

Bipartisan resolutions for the ratification of the Great Lakes (PDF)-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact were introduced in both houses of Congress this morning. The Senate bill is sponsored by Carl Levin and George Voinovich, and the House bill by John Conyers, Jr., Vern Ehlers, Steve LaTourette, and Jim Oberstar.

Walk Score has been updated with new walkability rankings by city and neighborhood. Of the nation's 40 largest cities, the City of Cleveland was ranked as the 14th most walkable. The only Cleveland neighborhood to make the top 100 was downtown, at number 73.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates indicate that Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs continued to lose population. Between July 2006 and July 2007, Cleveland's population dropped by an estimated 5,067 people, about 1.1% of its total. While it was the largest numerical drop in the nation, it was a smaller annual decrease than in the last several estimates. Cleveland officials believe that the City is poised to start reversing the trends, and downtown Cleveland has been gaining population. Population tables are available for download from NODIS.

Richard Longworth, author of Caught in the Middle and Akron Beacon Journal Managing Editor Doug Oplinger were the guests on this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN, where they discussed the Midwest's lack of competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The Plain Dealer's Elizabeth Sullivan says that if Ohio's congressional delegation can cooperate across party lines, the state is well-positioned to gain federal investments in intercity passenger rail. She also notes that "a Chicago-to-Cleveland high-speed rail line is one of only 12 authorized routes that will be grandfathered" into Amtrak reauthorization legislation.

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services held a field hearing in Cleveland about the foreclosure crisis. Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters led the nearly five hour meeting, which was also attended by five members of Ohio's congressional delegation. Recent stories about Cleveland in the national media have drawn attention to the issue, and the Plain Dealer used East 144th Street in Mount Pleasant as an example of the impacts of foreclosures.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the subcommittee's Cleveland appearance "reflects the severe financial and social repercussions across the country."

The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, could fund up to 80% of intercity passenger rail projects. It could provide dollars for the Ohio Hub plan and the proposed 3-C corridor.

Job Opportunities for the Green Economy (PDF), a new study (PDF) from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, reports on the potential employment benefits from building a green economy in 12 states. It concludes that in Ohio, "there are more than 551,000 jobs (PDF) in a representative group of job areas that could see job growth or wage increases by putting global warming solutions to work."

The Brookings Institution detailed the carbon footprints of the 100 largest American metropolitan areas by analyzing emissions from transportation and residential sources in 2005. Urban residents generally had smaller carbon footprints than rural residents, but several Ohio metropolitan areas were among those with the largest footprints due in part to their reliance on coal. Cincinnati and Toledo were in the top five. The Cleveland metropolitan area had the 31st-smallest footprint of the 100 cities examined, ranking 12th-lowest in emissions from transportation and 74th-lowest in emissions from residential energy use.

A new report from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition describes the likely impacts of global warming on the Great Lakes and recommends several changes in federal policy. It predicts that the lakes will be warmer and shallower, and will see increases in pollution and dead zones. The solutions identified include adoption of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.

The poor national retail climate has led many large retailers to scale back their expansion plans. Cabela's recently announced that it would join them, which means that the company's plans for a Brunswick store have been delayed.

The U.S. Senate approved former ODNR Director Sam Speck's appointment to the binational International Joint Commission. The opening was created when Dennis Schornack was fired last year.

U.S. Senators George Voinovich and Carl Levin introduced the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 on Thursday. The bill would expand upon the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 and provide $150 million annually over the next ten years for the cleanup of the 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The funding increase is one of the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.

The Centers for Disease Control released a revised draft of its controversial study on heath risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The new draft contradicts earlier versions by omitting county-level data and saying that "current health and environmental data collection cannot define the threat to human health from critical pollutants in the Great Lakes region."

(via GLIN)

The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report, and again gave Cuyahoga County an F in particulate pollution. The County received a C in ozone pollution, up from a D in 2007 and an F in 2006. Los Angeles was again ranked as having the nation's worst air, but for the first time, Pittsburgh was ranked first in short-term particulate pollution. Cleveland was number 15 in short-term particulate pollution and number 11 in year-round particulate pollution.

The U.S. Census Bureau released national and state population estimates by race, Hispanic origin, sex, and age. Between July 2006 and July 2007, Ohio's minority population grew by 22,403 people, a 1.1% increase. The state's white population shrank as baby boomers moved south and west, but the increases in African-American, Asian-American, and Latino populations more than offset the losses.

In this week's Free Times, Bruce Fisher writes about urban sprawl and the presidential candidates' lack of attention to urban issues.

A Plain Dealer editorial draws connections between a recent report on the potential financial benefits of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, ballast water legislation recently passed by the U.S. House, the nascent water technology industry, and the Ohio Senate's stance on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

The Vulcan Project at Purdue University reports that for states, Ohio had the third-highest levels of carbon dioxide emissions. For counties, Cuyahoga County had the fourth-highest amount. The state and county fared much better when per capita emissions were calculated.

Cleveland State University professor Alan Weinstein was interviewed on the American Planning Association's podcast (MP3, 13 MB) about the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on urban planning.

Reviews of Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism, a new book by former Chicago Tribune editor and columnist Richard Longworth, say that it "takes us through a Midwest that is facing rapid change" and provides "sober advice on how to alleviate, if not eliminate, the region's pain."

The Plain Dealer began a series on water issues with a piece on the Great Lakes and water diversions.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual release of county population estimates shows that Cuyahoga County continued to lose population to its surrounding counties and to other states. Between July 2006 and July 2007, the county lost 13,304 people (about 1% of its population). Between 2000 and 2007, it lost 96,213 people (6.9% of its total), the biggest drop in the country. Ohio led the nation with seven of the 34 counties with the largest population declines.

This week's Free Times recounts the saga of the recently-released CDC study about health risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern, and takes a closer look at the sites in Northeast Ohio.

The U.S. EPA weakened its new ozone standards after a last-minute intervention by President Bush. The agency also predicted that Geauga County will be one of only 28 counties in the nation that will fail to meet the new rules by 2020. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says the limits will cause economic hardship in Ohio.

Update: local Republican politicians ridiculed the EPA report about Geauga County.

Yesterday, the U.S. EPA announced that federal ozone limits will be tightened from the 1997 standard of 84 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion. The EPA's advisory council had recommended a standard as low as 60 parts per billion. The eight county Greater Cleveland area does not comply with the 1997 standard, and likely will require additional measures to meet the new rules.

Update: Friday's Plain Dealer has more details.

Under pressure from Congress, the Centers for Disease Control published 2004 and 2007 drafts of a study detailing health issues in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The agency also highlighted its concerns about the report, and asked the national Institute of Medicine to review the document.

The U.S. EPA has been investigating air pollution from the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland. Local activists want the company to reduce its emissions.

The U.S. EPA is scheduled to release new ground-level ozone standards by Wednesday.

Governor Strickland asked Amtrak to study the 3-C Corridor, a proposed restoration of passenger rail service connecting Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. It would form the backbone of the proposed Ohio Hub system. The line has not existed since 1971. The study should be completed in 12 to 18 months.

A new report on Great Lakes spending estimates that local governments invest $15 billion per year to protect the Great Lakes, a figure that greatly exceeds federal spending. Local officials say that the study should strengthen the case for a larger federal role. Today was also the third annual Great Lakes Day on Capitol Hill, where Great Lakes advocates presented their legislative priorities to lawmakers.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory data showed that pollution in Ohio increased by 5% in 2006. Releases of toxic substances rose from 277.1 million pounds in 2005 to 291.3 million pounds in 2006. Ohio again led all states in toxic air pollution.

(via Economic News From Ohio's Regions)

Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution write in a Plain Dealer op-ed that "Ohio's mantle as presidential battleground state" put it "in a political position to demand fresh solutions" for economic, educational, and urban issues.

Update: in a second Plain Dealer op-ed, Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters Ohio offers additional suggestions.

The Economist examined how major hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic have become economic drivers, and also looked at their relationships with their surrounding communities.

(via Smart Communities)

Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, presented a speech titled "Homeownership and America's Future" at the City Club on Friday. His talk is available as a podcast (MP3, 52.8 MB).

Charges that a Great Lakes environmental report was suppressed and its author demoted have led to a Congressional investigation of the Centers for Disease Control. A similar controversy surrounded a Canadian report several years ago.

Yesterday, Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment about brownfields redevelopment funding. H.R. 5336, a reauthorization of the the U.S. EPA's brownfields program, was introduced on Tuesday.

RealtyTrac reports that at 2.97%, the Cleveland metropolitan area had the nation's sixth-highest foreclosure rate in 2007. That's up from the area's 2.5% foreclosure rate in 2006, when it was ranked 14th. Detroit topped the list in both years.

A watchdog group claims that a study by the Centers for Disease Control on health problems near Great Lakes toxic sites was suppressed "because it contains such potentially 'alarming information' as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates." The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit investigative organization, published excerpts of the unreleased report.

Update: a brief piece by Elizabeth Sullivan and an editorial in the Plain Dealer are both highly critical of the CDC's actions.

Many cities are encountering obstacles in meeting their carbon dioxide reduction goals, despite enthusiasm among citizens and city officials in places such as Cleveland. Even the best-laid plans to reduce emissions have been constrained by budgets, conflicting political ideologies, legal restrictions by states, and people's unwillingness to change.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007 last month, but President Bush's proposed budget again includes no funding for the public housing program. ULI's John McIlwain says that the program needs to be continued.

The proposed budget also includes a 15.9% reduction in funding for Great Lakes programs. Update: the Blade has more information about the proposed cuts in Great Lakes funding.

The only Ohio ZIP code on the list of the list of 100 worst hit in December by the foreclosure crisis was 44105, the area around Slavic Village. It was ranked number 51. Last June, it topped the list.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

RealtyTrac reports that nationwide foreclosure filings increased by 75% in 2007. In Ohio, the number of filings rose by 88%.

President Bush intends to nominate former ODNR Director Sam Speck as one of the three U.S. commissioners of the International Joint Commission. The appointment requires confirmation by a U.S. Senate panel.

(via GLIN)

A new report from the Brookings Institution on walkable urban places ranked Greater Cleveland 29th of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Washington, D.C. was ranked first. Under the survey's criteria, University Circle was the only walkable place in Cleveland.

Update: the Plain Dealer provides additional analysis.

A new report (PDF) prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors enumerates the negative effects of the foreclosure crisis on cities' gross metropolitan products. The report's authors say that 2008 should be "no worse than 2007" for Cleveland. Meanwhile, figures from RealtyTrac show that there were 94% more foreclosure filings in Ohio in October 2007 than in October 2006.

The Center for Global Development compiled government and industry statistics at CARMA, and determined that Ohio is the fifth-worst state for carbon emissions from power plants. Plants in Ohio released 133 million tons of CO2 in 2000. This afternoon, five Midwest governors the premier of Manitoba signed an accord to limit carbon emissions, reduce energy consumption, and encourage renewable energy. Governor Strickland also signed on as an observer.

(Update: The Plain Dealer presents more details about the pact.)

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution identify some of the shortcomings of American urban policy, while Joe Frolik of the Plain Dealer examines why political candidates have been neglecting metropolitan issues. Both columns point to the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity for answers.

Yesterday, the Brookings Institution rolled out the Blueprint for American Prosperity, the latest initiative from its Metropolitan Policy Program. It will "promote an economic agenda for the nation that builds on the assets" of America's metropolitan areas. Data presented (PDF) in conjunction with the introduction of the initiative says that the Cleveland metropolitan area generates 22.5% of Ohio's GDP with 18.5% of the state's population.

The BBC used Cleveland to illustrate the foreclosure crisis in the United States, devoting a detailed BBC News article and an episode of This World to the subject.

(via Foreclosing Cleveland and cleveoh)

President Bush vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, but Congress is expected to override the veto.

(Update: The House overrode the veto on Tuesday, and the Senate followed suit on Thursday.)

The Economist used Flint and Cleveland as examples of cities where "a faint spirit of change is wafting through some of the rustbelt's grimmest streets."

(via CEOs for Cities)

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis answered questions from Washington Post readers about his recent piece on the foreclosure crisis. The Economist also looked at the crisis in Maple Heights, describing it as "a community in collapse."

(via Callahan's Cleveland Diary)

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, American City & County's County Leader of the Year, wrote an op-ed about the foreclosure crisis that appeared in Sunday's Washington Post. It begins, "Let me tell you about a place called Slavic Village and the death of a girl named Cookie Thomas. You've never heard this story before -- talk of housing markets and hedge funds, interest rates and the Federal Reserve has drowned it out."

Despite the threat of a presidential veto, the US Senate approved the Water Resources Development Act, a bill authorizing $23 billion in water resource projects, by a vote of 81 to 12.

Growing Cooler, a new report published by the Urban Land Institute, concludes that "urban development is both a key contributor to climate change and an essential factor in combating it."

After skipping a year, the Texas Transportation Institute published its Urban Mobility Report for 2007. As in previous years, Cleveland fared very well in the report. Traffic congestion worsened nationwide, and Cleveland's annual delay per traveler rose from 10 hours to 13 hours, well below the national average of 38 hours.

A new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council looked at ten cities in eastern and southern half of the U.S. and says that global warming will increase their number of days with high ozone levels. Cleveland "would see 11 more days per summer that exceed the EPA's standard."

A coalition of local leaders have proposed designating the entire Connecticut Western Reserve as a National Historic Area. The designation could bring an annual $1 million in federal funds for ten years to the the area that covers all or part of 13 Northeast Ohio counties.

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

On Tuesday, the US Census Bureau published its annual American Community Survey figures on income and poverty. Cleveland was ranked as the fourth poorest major city in the nation, an improvement over last year's number one ranking. The data showed that poverty remains a serious issue in cities across Ohio. In anticipation of the release, Mayor Jackson appeared on WCPN's Sound of Ideas to discuss poverty and other topics.

"Testing the Waters", the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches, says that Ohio's Lake Erie beaches pose the greatest health risk in the nation. The problems are largely due to high bacteria levels from combined sewer overflows.

(Update: The Plain Dealer and WKSU offer more details.)

The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates by age, sex, race, and ethnicity for every county in the nation. In Ohio, minority populations are increasing and the non-Hispanic white population is decreasing. Nationwide, minority populations outnumber whites in about 10% of counties.

Last week, the U.S. House and Senate reached an agreement on a $21 billion reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes many projects that would benefit the Great Lakes region. However, President Bush said he will veto the bill because he feels it's too expensive. The veto threat caused the Senate to enter its summer recess without passing the bill.

The Free Times concludes its series on the foreclosure crisis with a look at the history of predatory lending legislation in the state and federal legislatures.

The Cultural Gardens Federation is working with the National Park Service to have the 50 acre Cleveland Cultural Gardens designated as a national monument. The designation would require Congressional approval.

Senator Voinovich says that as many as 48 Ohio counties would not be in compliance with the proposed new federal ozone standards. 25 Ohio counties, including those in Greater Cleveland, are not in compliance with the existing standards.

Last week, Representatives Mark Kirk and Dan Lipinski introduced the Great Lakes Water Protection Act in the US House. It would quadruple fines for the release of sewage into the Great Lakes, starting in 2027. Rep. Kirk named Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee as the three largest sewage dischargers.

A Wall Street Journal exploration of the recent growth of urban parks in the United States includes a mention of the increase of parkland in Cleveland.

The US Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates show that the City of Cleveland continues to rapidly lose population. The estimates say that between 2000 and 2006, the city lost 33,15 people, 6.9% of its population. Between July 2005 and July 2006, the city lost 6,247 people, 1.4% of its population. Most Great Lakes cities, including Akron, also lost population. Cleveland.com and Ohio.com both offer forms for querying the estimates.

Yesterday, the US EPA proposed tightening ground-level ozone standards. Current standards permit up to 84 parts per billion of ozone, and the new proposal would lower that to 70 to 75 parts per billion. The local implications of the proposed change are not yet known. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA recently submitted an interim plan to the US EPA for bringing Greater Cleveland into attainment with the current standards, and will hold a public hearing at their Northeast District Office on July 24.

(Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about potential local impacts of the proposal.)

In the first article in a series, the Free Times looks at the nationwide foreclosure crisis and its detrimental impacts on Slavic Village, which is "perhaps the epicenter of a nationwide foreclosure epidemic."

The US Census Bureau reports that the percentage of commuters driving alone has increased slightly since 2000. Half of the top ten cities in the nation for solo driving are in Ohio, with Canton at number one and Akron at number three. WKSU's Daniel Hockensmith interviewed AMATS transportation planner Jason Segedy about the report.

(Update: Another WKSU story has more details.)

Foreclosure filings in Ohio and the rest of the nation increased again last month. Ohio saw 13,214 foreclosure filings in May, an increase of 16% from April and of 150% from May 2006.

The latest County Business Patterns release from the US Census Bureau says that the number of businesses in the US grew by 6% between 2000 and 2005, but that Cuyahoga County lost 3.4% of its businesses over the same period. Some local economic development experts assert that the report would look rosier if it included more recent data. Cleveland.com illustrates the numbers with an infographic and an interactive map.

The Brookings Institution's latest report, "Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities", is intended to "mobilize governors and legislative leaders, as well as local constituencies, behind an asset-oriented agenda for reinvigorating the market in the nation's older industrial cities." Brewed Fresh Daily links to additional media coverage.

(Update: The Brookings Institution also released a related profile of Ohio (PDF), and Tuesday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN discussed the report with author Jennifer Vey, Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio, CSU Professor Ned Hill, and Brad Whitehead of the Cleveland Foundation.)

The Brookings Institution posted Audrey Singer's keynote speech from the Changing Face of Cities conference held in Cleveland earlier this month. As she did in 2004, she identified Cleveland as a former gateway city for immigrants.

President Bush directed the US EPA and three other federal agencies to develop regulations for greenhouse gases from vehicle emissions by the end of 2008. Critics accuse Bush of stalling to avoid compliance with the April Supreme Court decision.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have introduced bills that would reverse the Bush administration's changes to Toxics Release Inventory reporting rules.

A new national study from the National Research Council says that while wind power is gaining in popularity, it is lacking guidelines and policies from all levels of government.

Cuyahoga County again received a failing grade in the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report. The county's ozone grade improved, but the particulate figures were worse than last year. The metropolitan area's air was ranked as the sixth-worst in the nation for annual PM2.5 pollution.

(Update: WKSU has more details.)

The US EPA proposed a new rule that would make easier for utilities to it make changes to power plants without installing new pollution controls. Critics say that the agency is ignoring the recent Supreme Court ruling on greenhouse gas emissions. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson refused to say how soon the agency will comply with the ruling.

The Creativity Exchange analyzed the latest US metropolitan area population estimates and prepared graphs that show the cities with the greatest population losses, including Cleveland.

A new report from U.S. PIRG says that Ohio had the fourth-highest level of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, and the third-highest for those produced by coal-fired power plants. Ohio's emissions grew from 244.9 million metric tons in 1990 to 261.8 million metric tons in 2004, a 7% increase.

Foreclosure crisis roundup:

The US EPA finalized their Clean Air Fine Particle Implementation Rule on March 29. Most counties in Greater Cleveland were designated as nonattainment areas.

Metropolitan area population estimates released yesterday by the US Census Bureau show that the fastest-growing areas of the nation continue to be the South and the West, and that immigration is keeping many areas from shrinking. They say that the estimated population of the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor MSA fell from 2,148,010 in 2005 to 2,114,155 in 2006, a loss of 1.6%.

(via The Creativity Exchange and Crain's Cleveland Business)

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the US EPA the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency means that the EPA must regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gasses unless it provides a scientific basis for its refusal. President Bush said he did not plan to impose caps on emissions.

The Supreme Court also unanimously supported a case against Duke Energy and upheld regulations that require the installation of pollution control technology on older coal-fired power plants.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis testified about predatory lending and foreclosures before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. "The damage has been enormous, but sadly, the news of the past few months convinces me that the worst is yet to come." Inez Killingsworth of the East Side Organizing Project also testified.

U.S. Representative Ralph Regula introduced a bill that would extend the authorization for the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway for 15 years and provide an additional $10 million in federal funding. Legislation approved in 1996 authorizes federal support until 2012, but the $8 million made available since 1996 is near the federal maximum.

Bipartisan bills that call for over $20 billion to implement the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy were introduced in both houses of Congress yesterday. The bills are virtually identical to legislation introduced last year. Senators Carl Levin and George Voinovich introduced S. 791, and Representatives Vern Ehlers and Rahm Emanuel introduced H.R. 1350.

The APA Advocate provides an agency-by-agency analysis of the 2008 budget proposed by President Bush and its impacts on planning-related programs, saying it "contains scant good news for planning, outlining cuts for most non-defense, non-homeland security domestic discretionary spending."

A new staff paper from the US EPA recommends strengthening ozone standards. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has until June 20 to make a proposal, and a new limit must be adopted by March 12, 2008. Meeting new regulations could be challenging for Northeast Ohio, because the region does not comply with current standards.

Proposed funding reductions for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would result in major budget cuts for Ohio public housing agencies. The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is projecting budget cuts of $3.8 million to $6.8 million, and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority would have to cut $4.5 million. Mayor Plusquellic of Akron is in Washington to lobby on behalf of cities against the cuts.

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