Employers can make mass transit a high priority
On our article about the Regional Transit System's study of its current bus system and bus routes ("Rochester's Changed. Now It's Transit's Turn): A stakeholder category that is not mentioned strongly enough here is employers. Pactiv and Del Lago have admirably included van pools into their recruitment and planning, as they are located far from the Rochester population base. But there are employers within Monroe County who could also encourage workers and potential workers to use transit by making it a priority.
Many job seekers cannot reasonably consider certain employers because the plant is two miles from the nearest bus stop, or the route does not match the employer's start times. People lose jobs when transportation options fall through, which further impacts our most vulnerable workers.
If we make van pools a priority, we can hugely impact the people who want to work but have difficulty getting there.
On Urban Journal's "A Question for City Hall: Who Is Downtown For?": I live in subsidized housing downtown as a disabled senior. I cannot get employment, even with a degree, because I am over 55. There are not that many living situations for people like me; many have long waiting lists, others have bedbugs, slumlords, and drug- and alcohol-addicted neighbors.
There is also senior subsidized housing that reject good tenants over credit ratings and that keep their apartments out of reach for DSS recipients by keeping their rents just over budget requirements, even while advertising that they take DSS.
Many buildings are in crime-ridden neighborhoods, are dirty, and have broken windows, washing machines, and elevators. I've been on a two-year waiting list for my disability hearing and have no choice but to live on DSS until the hearing materializes – and if I finally win it, three more months of DSS taking a chunk of my settlement money along with the attorneys.
After rent, food, and utilities, my monthly cash totals $32 a month. I cannot afford to take the bus or even get necessities at the Dollar Tree.
And now my apartment building is in danger of being eliminated due to downtown "revitalization." I have been pushed out of every decent neighborhood I have ever lived in as a good, quiet, and clean tenant, due to high rents, budget requirements, and landlords putting potential tenants through credit and background checks and refusing any kind of government aid as rent, even though it is a guaranteed monthly payment.
Revitalizing downtown is definitely a must. I'm just not sure we need to give tax breaks to the wealthiest developers to get it done. It will definitely take money to get it done, but I believe low-interest loans and matching grants for updates and renovating are enough.
Rochester desperately needs the tax revenue, so giving tax breaks to those who can afford a $300,000+ condo downtown is not the fairest idea, but I can see how it's enticing on both sides. Those are the people with more disposable income to spend on the surrounding businesses, so enticing them is a genuinely good idea. But I also believe there are many who truly want to live downtown regardless.
I think there's a good middle ground, if those with the integrity and know-how, plus community leaders, would just get together to discuss the best options instead of allowing back-office dealings directly with the mayor.
Land trusts are helping people around the US
On housing activists' efforts to help residents avoid eviction through the use of land trusts ("Housing Trust Gears Up"): Thank you for sharing the great work by Liz McGriff, Take Back the Land, and City Roots Community Land Trust to bring new and viable options for permanently affordable housing to Rochester.
There are over 250 community land trusts across the country. The largest is Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont, with 565 owner-occupied homes and 2200 apartments in its portfolio. It was launched in 1984 with a $200,000 seed grant from the administration of then-Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders.
In 2008, Champlain CLT won the prestigious United Nations World Habitat Award, recognizing its innovative, sustainable programs. It's time for the City of Rochester to get on the bandwagon!
Try enforcement before lowering speed limits
On the Healthi Kids Coalition's push for lower speed limits on neighborhood streets: There definitely is a speeding problem on city streets. I typically go 35, and I am almost always the slowest and am passed regularly.
But reducing the speed limit to 25 isn't the answer. Keep it at 30, but aggressive traffic enforcement is needed. On a number of city streets, the norm is 35-45. Some go slower, a few go faster.
Let's work on slowing drivers down to the current speed limit first, before taking the limit down further. #Aggressive traffic enforcement.
Where are local stories that were 'censored'?
On our publication of the Project Censored list: Great article; we waited a long time for a local article about nationally ignored news stories in 2016. I wonder how long we will have to wait for a local story about the local news which was not reported in 2017 – like conflict of interest in state economic development money or police brutality in Rochester or even the legal victories of residents against the city over the points system?
These are just a few of the things we seem to have missed, and there is much, much more.