Engaged Citizens. Innovative Ideas.


On Thursday, November 2, over 60 Heights community members gathered at the Lee Road Library to participate in our fourth and final Crowdsourced Conversations event of 2023, this one on the topic of “Planning and Development in the Heights.”  Special thanks to Eric Zamft, City of Cleveland Heights Director of Planning and Development, for his opening remarks!

ACTION STEPS: Each group identified meaningful action steps they could take, either individually or as part of the collective.  Here are some highlights from each group.

BLUE GROUP: There is a strong desire for better communication between the residents and the city so that residents both know what’s going on in their neighborhoods and the nearby business districts but also how they can get involved in productive ways.  They suggested having Street or Neighborhood Captains (or take turns by rotating through anyone who might be willing to volunteer) who attended city meetings and reported back to the group so they could make informed determinations about action steps they could take as neighbors.

GREEN GROUP: Just like the Blue Group, the Green Group wishes for greater communication from the city about upcoming or ongoing projects but also acknowledges the two-way street where residents should be more proactive in staying informed.  They also emphasized the importance of working together with area groups, neighbors, or others in the community who care about the same issues in order to make progress.  More can be accomplished together than flying solo.

ORANGE GROUP: Heights residents should think of themselves as ambassadors in their neighbors, both in terms of making newcomers feel welcome and bring neighbors together, encouraging folks to get involved and stay involved with what’s happening both on their streets and in the city-at-large.  They also see a benefit in engaging neighbors who live near a proposed development site and would like to see more intentional outreach to those residents prior to a project being approved or implemented.  Additionally, thinking about our business districts as destinations that include more than going into one shop or restaurant and leaving and instead create a cohesive atmosphere where shoppers and diners are encouraged to linger, stopping into multiple businesses or having an inviting outdoor spot to meet up.

PINK GROUP:  Many neighborhood groups got started because of a unifying community issue — it takes work to sustain those groups over time, so finding as many reasons to gather and work together helps keep the connections strong.  There are also many community-wide groups to join, if there isn’t an active block club available.  Racism is also a significant issue to confront, especially when thinking about development in the Northern part of the city. Pledging to stay aware, to show up at public meetings, and to speak up about issues of community importance is crucial to building the best possible version of the city.

PURPLE GROUP: Gaining greater understanding for how our business districts operate is important when thinking about how best to support current retailers/restauranteers and how to think about growing or improve the districts.  This group noted (as did others) that much of the discussion tied back to how the Heights “used to be” — while that reminiscing has its benefits, there is even more benefit to thinking about what made the old times feel like “glory days” and what elements might be missing in our present day business districts or neighborhoods.  Community attention and efforts should focus on what is actionable or doable now or in the near future.

RED GROUP: Make projects small and manageable. Small successes will breed more success, potentially resulting in substantial change. Attempting to tackle many-faceted issues can lead to feelings of defeat and burnout. Using available resources like the Heights Observer to share news/gain news helps keep community members on the same page.  Getting to know neighbors and see what is important to those who live close by can help build coalitions and build unity around shared interests.  Finding ways to engage youth or younger members of the community is an ongoing goal.

YELLOW GROUP: Think outside the box when it comes to spreading the word about various community topics.  While some may only be reachable via social media/digital platforms, others don’t use that type of media at all.  Being creative about how to spread the word and thinking about how your neighbors prefer to communicate can help ensure everyone stays informed.  Similarly, creative ways to attract and support new small businesses are needed to build the districts back up.  Creating incubator spaces for entrepreneurs to get started before moving into their own brick-and-mortar, establishing mentorship opportunities that link small business owners who are able to offer pointers and other support to up-and-coming small business owners, and making space for dialogue that includes what goods and services residents are hoping for, what small businesses are interested in moving into a district, and how the city is able to support the process would make commercial districts feel more intentional and community-focused.

Here are some additional ideas for action steps:

  • Host your own small group action-oriented discussions with your family, friends, and neighbors.  You can even use our small group discussion questions from our “Planning & Development in the Heights” event to get you started!
  • Write articles or op-eds — or maybe even inquire about being a columnist — for the Heights Observer.
  • Join us for the next Crowdsourced Conversation forum to meet other engaged Heights residents.


Our Business Districts:

  • Ideas for how to support small businesses:
    • Shop/Eat Local Whenever Possible
    • Be intentional about trying a restaurant or checking out a shop you’ve maybe never been to before.
    • Create a Small Business Bingo to play with your friends & neighbors
    • Follow (AND LIKE AND COMMENT AND SHARE) small business social media posts – this may seem like a small thing, but every time you like/comment/share a post, it influences the algorithm which allows for more people to see the post
    • Use your own social media platforms to share about your favorite small businesses
    • Write reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and other similar platforms – or even write a feature for the Heights Observer
    • Small business attract residents to neighborhoods – they matter! Small businesses provide community spaces and are a place to meet with (or run into) neighbors.  Be a good ambassador for your neighborhood’s business district and talk up places you frequent with your neighbors
    • Get to know the people who work in the stores/restaurants — this is a great way to stay connected to the latest news and really understand how you and your neighbors can show up for small businesses in ways that are meaningful for them, too
    • Plan a “Neighborhood Takeover Night” in a business district — have neighbors meet up at a particular dining establishment or shop for your next Block Club meeting or social gathering
      • NOTE: If you are expecting more than 10 people, make sure you reach out to the small business to make a reservation so they know you’re coming.
    • Holidays are coming: THINK LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL, EAT LOCAL.
  • Cedar Fairmount news & information
  • Cedar Lee news and information
  • Coventry Village news & information
  • Taylor Tudor/Cain Park district news & information

Planning and Development – City of Cleveland Heights

Planning and Development – City of University Heights


If you have a suggestion for an additional resource, send it to Sarah – swolf@futureheights.org.


Our survey results:

Review the complete survey report for CC’23 Planning and Development in the Heights here.