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Mayor Ginther talks regionalism, safety and public transit during State of the City address

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks during a groundbreaking celebration for the Alvis House expansion and renovation project Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay LaPrete

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther stressed regionalism during his State of the City address Tuesday night, especially when it comes to housing.

“When we work together as a region, all of us benefit, the people of Columbus, those who live here, work here, study here, travel here and those who are choosing to put down roots here,” Ginther said in his speech at the Lincoln Theater on the Near East Side.

“My challenge to our suburban neighbors is this. Stand with us, be part of the solution and contribute to the cause. There is too much on the line for the families we’ve been entrusted to serve,” Ginther said.

Ginther’s speech came as the city works to revamp its zoning code, the first major overhaul in 70 years. He said that zoning reform will mean clearer and higher standards for new housing and businesses, although critics say it will favor developers over neighborhood concerns.

Ginther said he was grateful to cities such as Bexley, Whitehall and Reynoldsburg for going above and beyond to embrace growth and doing their part to bolster housing in the region.

He also said he wants the city’s Building and Zoning Department to create a fast-track approval process for new affordable housing.

During his speech, he also got behind the LinkUS transportation plan that calls for bus rapid transit lines along West Broad Street, East Main Street, Olentangy River Road and other corridors. The Central Ohio Transit Authority board plans to place a sales tax increase on the November ballot to help pay for the system.

Ginther also talked about safety measures his administration has taken, including a collaboration between the public and private sectors on the centralized monitoring of hundreds of downtown security cameras by 2025 that will help police.

He mentioned the Crime Gun Intelligence Center that reduces the time it takes to connect firearms to crimes from 40 to 50 days to 48 hours.

Mark Ferenchik is news director at WOSU 89.7 NPR News.