Accessory dwelling units, no tax rate increase, local COVID updates

So much is going on right now between COVID-19, the City Budget, and our proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation. I hope you are staying healthy and find a way to enjoy the weather today. Also, there is a virtual One Annapolis festival today at noon (see more below).

First there is the budget. I am in general support of what was proposed by the Mayor, as it was very reasonable. There is no tax rate increase, though, with property values going up your actual real taxes (what you pay) would go up. The administration was banking on freezing salaries for half a year to help us balance our budget in these difficult times. Unfortunately the unions have balked thus far and won't support that. I find it utterly reprehensible and short-sighted for the unions to expect a raise, when we have unprecedented levels of unemployment. Is that really what you, the public, want us to do during this time: give raises to our employees? This would be on top of a likely "hero pay" bonus that may be granted if we get covid bailout funding from elsewhere. I know they are working hard during this time, but it seems wrong to grant raises when so many are out of work. Not to mention that if we don't make cuts now, in anticipation of a very bad year next year, that will increase the likelihood of layoffs and furloughs in the future. Are the unions really so shortsighted as to not realize this? Not to mention the fact that we have a $5 million (if I recall correctly) structural deficit, which I'll get into in the future. 

We also may have a vote on the Accessory Dwelling Units legislation. See more on that below. 

You also will have an opportunity to submit testimony regarding the proposal to reorganize our environmental offices and moving some of those positions, at no cost, into a deputy city manager for resiliency and sustainability position. I also comment more on this below, but find it a promising approach that compromises between what the Mayor and I have proposed separately in the past. 

Take care everyone, and stay well,

Rob

Next Council meeting - 5/26/20 (agenda)

Council meetings start at 7pm and are televised on local cable, Facebook, and the City website (www.annapolis.gov). Due to COVID-19, our meetings are now being held virtually. http://www.youtube.com/CityofAnnapolis

http://www.facebook.com/CityofAnnapolis

Anyone needing reasonable accommodation to be able to participate in a public meeting held by the City of Annapolis should contact Regina Watkins-Eldridge at 410.263.7942, by MD Relay (711), or by email at cityclerk@annapolis.gov at least five days prior to the meeting date to request assistance.

If you would like to submit public testimony, we have included a new link allowing written testimony to be submitted into the recorded minutes of the meeting. Submit written testimony: http://www.annapolis.gov/testimony.

First readers (legislation being introduced)

  • O-21-20 & O-22-20 - These both deal with conveyance of City property behind 113 & 115 Cathedral to the property owners. While these are only on first reader (introduction), I remain concerned given that this area appears to currently be green, pervious, grass, and this would turn it into parking. We should be keeping our limited greenspace downtown and using our properties to expand it. I'll certainly be questioning this if it gets to committee. 
  • O-21-20 (no legislation to link to yet) - Payment for City Services -- For the purpose of establishing a fine for dishonored checks and other written instruments; establishing a convenience fee related to accepting payment over the phone or online; and establishing a penalty for late payment of sewer service bills.

Public hearings

  • (continued from last meeting) O-5-20 - City Council Meetings - Order of Business - For the purpose of modifying the order of business for regular and special meetings of the City Council. I am the primary sponsor on this legislation. What I’m seeking to do is have one of our monthly meetings be dedicated to public hearings, citations, and reports, and then the second meeting be dedicated to deliberating on legislation on second reader. My intention is to allow us to deliberate on legislation earlier in the evening, as opposed to having it be last on our agenda, where we often don’t end up voting until 10 or 11 at night.
  • (continued from last meeting) O-15-20 - Waterfront Mixed Maritime District - For the purpose of allowing professional offices in the WMM zoning district in accordance with certain standards; amending certain parking standards; and making stylistic changes
  • ID-141-20 - This is an opportunity to testify on the budget, and in particular the tax rate vs real property taxes. What I mean is this: the budget does NOT propose to raise the tax rate. However, due to increasing property values your real (paid) taxes would go up by 3%, unless we were to reduce the tax rate to have a constant yield (I. E. Keep the amount you pay the same). 
  • O-18-20 - Institutions for Care of the Aged - The purpose of this ordinance is to add “Institutions for the Care of the Aged” as a permitted use in the Professional Mixed Office Park (PM2) district. I have introduced this legislation. Its purpose is to allow the construction (pending permit and public review) of the Bay Village independent living center (sister building to the assisted living behind the CVS) on the lot of the Quantum Sails building and the adjacent vacant lot across from the Giant. The current zoning would not allow this. What was originally planned for this lot, which is allowed in the zoning, is a restaurant. Given our traffic concerns and constraints on the peninsula, an independent living facility would have less of a traffic impact than a restaurant. Personally, I would prefer another restaurant, but I’m trying to be responsive to the widespread concern about not adding more traffic to Forest Drive/Bay Ridge Rd. If that is our primary concern, this facility makes more sense. Environmentally I don’t have any concerns given that this is redevelopment of the Quantum Sails lot and construction on a mostly already cleared lot. The large specimen tree at the front of the property will be protected and made into an amenity for the seniors. The developer has put forward a design that would put most of the parking underground, and allow for synergy between the Starbuck lot and the future Lidl (County) lot. It would be a maximum of three stories (we talked them down from their original 4-5). You know me, I’m very wary of new development, but in this case the developer has done their due diligence meeting with the Annapolis Peninsula Federation and other community leaders through this initial phase of the project, and are proposing something that won’t compound our traffic issues. I will encourage them to keep reaching out to the public and may invite them to a future town hall meeting once we can meet again. This will only impact two small areas of the City, the Bay Village complex and the Safeway area, so I’m confident there will be no unintended consequences with this legislation. This is the very beginning of the process. Even if this passes, the proposal is subject to change after the public has further opportunities to chime in later in the process, as well as the Planning Commission and our Planning & Zoning staff. They also have to undergo a full traffic analysis. 

  • O-19-20 - For the purpose of clarifying the rules of procedure concerning the scheduling of public hearings before the City Council.
  • CA-1-20 & O-20-20 - Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability - For the purpose of establishing the position of Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability. This is the compromise that the new City Manager, David Jarrel, presented to the Mayor and I, building off of the previous two attempts at re-organization, which included my previous attempt to create a new Environmental Department (withdrawn). I am quite happy with this proposal, and I’m glad that the Mayor and I have come together on this. Elevating the environment, resiliency, and sustainability to a Deputy City Manager position gives that position the full authority of the City Manager’s office and insulates it from politics. Such an elevation allows this position to ensure we are responding to the existential threat of sea level rise in a coordinated manner, and that we get the organization-wide change we need to become more sustainable. Furthermore, the incorporation of sustainability allows this position to work on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social. Meaning that they will also be able to help coordinate and ensure we are building a more socially equitable City; that One Annapolis that the Mayor and I both want to build. I hope that my colleagues realize that the environment and resiliency are unique programs that we have been struggling with how to organize for many years. This solution acknowledges that and takes into account what we’ve learned over the years, so I hope they will support this proposal. 

Legislation up for a final vote

  • O-11-19 - R2-NC District - Demolitions - For the purpose of requiring a structural analysis prior to demolition of a residential structure or building in the R2-NC, Single-Family Residential Neighborhood Conservation District; requiring execution of a contract between the city and a structural engineer prior to demolition; and generally relating to the demolition of a residential structure or building in the R2-NC District. I think this legislation will be postponed again as we await the Planning Commission comments. I’m inclined to support the postponement and the legislation itself, pending any comments from you. 
  • O-34-19 - Planning and Zoning - Appeal Procedures - For the purpose of clarifying the procedures governing an appeal of a decision of the Planning and Zoning Director; making stylistic changes; and generally related to appeal procedures. I'm hoping this will just be withdrawn by the sponsor or sent back to committee, or even the law office for a new version with our new law office. 
  • O-38-19 - Housing and Community Development Committee - For the purpose of renaming the Housing and Community Development Committee; clarifying certain powers and functions; and making stylistic changes. I support the sentiment behind this, but it needs to be tweaked more. I have an amendment that would turn this into a commission and remove the council from being considered members. We already have a housing standing committee, and this is the only commission that has the council as members. Considering this commission reviews our community grants and makes recommendations to the council, it doesn't seem appropriate, given that we make the final determination on those grants anyway. Pending any input from you, I'll likely support this if I can get my amendments passed. 
  • O-39-19 - Accessory Dwelling Units - For the purpose of allowing accessory dwelling units in all zoning districts that allow single-family detached dwellings; establishing use requirements for accessory dwelling units; adding certain definitions; making stylistic changes; and generally related to accessory dwelling units. I am a cosponsor of this legislation. The idea is to allow the use of "granny suites", to increase our rental housing stock in an effort to create more affordable housing. This approach has been used in other neighboring jurisdictions like Montgomery County. I support Alderman Rodriguez's amendments that would prevent these from being used as short term rentals and decrease the size to 800 sf maximum. All that said, I need to review some testimony I’ve received and consider additional amendments this weekend. If I feel I need more time, or if I hear a compelling argument from my colleagues as to why they need more time, I may make a motion to postpone, despite the fact that some of my colleagues refused to do the same for me when I wanted more time on the short term rental legislation. I don’t think being vindictive is a good way to legislate. As I’ve said, there are other improvements that could be made to address the concerns from the community, including parking and density issues. While this legislation does require off-street parking for these units, there may be more we could do. 
  • O-4-20 - Plumbing Code - Capital Facilities Payment Plan - For the purpose of establishing a Capital Facilities Payment Plan; identifying eligibility requirements, setting a payment schedule, providing for interest and penalties; making stylistic changes; and generally related to said payment plan. I'm inclined to support this legislation, pending any comments from you. 
  • O-7-20 - Designated Loading Zones - For the purpose of authorizing designated loading zones in the City of Annapolis; creating certain definitions; and generally related to designated loading zones. I may make or support a motion to postpone this. There are some concerns from my colleagues about if this would impact their communities and I want to be respectful of that concern. 
  • O-11-20 - City Council Meetings - Attendance - For the purpose of allowing a member of the City Council to attend a regularly scheduled Council meeting by electronic means; placing limitations on remote attendance; and generally related to attending Council meetings remotely. I feel like this is a very balanced piece of legislation that would allow for members of the council to continue to meet remotely, if warranted, in the future when we resume normal meetings. There are checks on this within the legislation so it isn't abused or used too frequently. 
  • O-12-20 - Municipal Infractions - Process - For the purpose of clarifying that municipal infraction enforcement actions are processed through the Office of Law; and making stylistic changes. Pending any input from you, I'm inclined to support this legislation. 
  • O-13-20 - Sidewalk Signs - For the purpose of extending the sidewalk sign permit fee waiver to a date certain. As much as I can't stand the fact that we are requiring permits for sidewalk signs (talk about unnecessary bureaucracy…), this legislation would waive the fees and pending any comments from you I'm inclined to support it. 
  • O-17-20 - Unsafe Structures - Placarding - For the purpose of authorizing the Fire Department to placard certain residential and nonresidential structures that have been designated as unfit for human habitation or unsafe; and making stylistic changes. Pending any input from you, I'm inclined to support this legislation. 
  • R-17-20 - Annual Statement of Performance Standards - For the purpose of approving the annual performance statements filed by City agencies and departments. These have proven to be very useful and helpful during the budget deliberations, though they need to be updated to include some environmental standards for DPW and P&Z. I'm inclined to support, pending any comments from you, and once my concerns get addressed. 
  • R-29-20 -  Would create an Affordable Housing Task Force. Pending any input from you, I'm inclined to support this legislation. 

Information the Maryland Primary Election

Maryland Mail-In Elections

#DemocracyIsEssential

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the statewide Primary Election has moved to June 2nd.

Registration deadline 5/27

Ballots not yet sent to voters

Number and location of limited in-person voting centers/drop off boxes are to be announced – counties will have between 1 minimum to 4 maximum

Deadline to request a ballot is May 26th by mail/fax OR May 29th to download online

Ø  Elections will be held primarily by mail

o   Only limited in-person voting opportunities will be available to ensure safety – details and locations for in-person voting and ballot drop of boxes are provided at the bottom

Ø  All active voters will automatically receive a ballot in the mail

o   If you received a specimen ballot from the State Board of Elections you are an active voter

o   If you have recently moved or need your ballot delivered to another address, you may not automatically qualify to receive a ballot and should contact your local board of elections

o   You can request a ballot online or print and mail a request to your local board of elections:

Ø  Mark your ballot, SIGN the oath, postmark by Election Day

o   You must sign the voter oath that comes with your ballot for your vote to count

o   Postage is pre-paid on mail-in ballots

o   Vote from home. Only travel to one of the limited polling locations if absolutely necessary

o   To check the status of your ballot, whether it was received and processed, click here

Specific information for upcoming elections:

Local Board of Elections Information: https://www.elections.maryland.gov/about/county_boards.html

Voter Info Lookup System: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

Check status of your ballot: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

Online ballot request: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1

Print ballot request PDF: https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/documents/Special_Election_Absentee_Application.pdf

One Annapolis virtual festival today

One Annapolis Streaming Festival Set for May 23

Virtual event will raise funds for community service partners.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 18, 2020) – The City of Annapolis with Feed Anne Arundel will host the “One Annapolis Streaming Festival” on May 23, 2020 starting at noon. The live music concert featuring 30 artists aims to raise $10K to be distributed evenly to five local non-profit organizations.

The organizations offer resources to residents including: YWCA (domestic violence), Feed Anne Arundel (food insecurity), Co-op Arundel (homelessness), Street Angel Project (mental health disorders), and First Christian Community Church of Annapolis (substance use disorders).

 “Each one of these organizations plays a vital role in helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley. “I am proud that the City is able to support their work with this event. I encourage people to give generously.”

The organizations benefiting from the event are specifically serving residents of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. For example, the 35 restaurants and inns that make up Feed Anne Arundel provide food to people while also keeping local employed. From the beginning of the pandemic and state shut-down, Feed Anne Arundel has served more than 15,270 meals. This food service has simultaneously provided more than $129,369 back into the hands of local restaurants, their employees, farmers, drivers, food distributors, utilities, and landlords.

“Each one of these organizations plays a critical role,” said organizer Adetola Ajayi from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations.

The virtual fundraiser will stream live on Facebook.com. More than 30 artists of multiple genres of music will be featured. Several guests, including Mayor Gavin Buckley, Alderman DaJuan Gay, Diva DiVoice, William Rowel, Darius Stanton, and others will act as festival hosts.

Viewers can follow the donate links on the social media feeds during the festival or at (https://cfaac.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1818). Donations are being handled by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County. The donation links are currently open and will remain open till the end of the One Annapolis Streaming Festival. In ddition, viewers will be able to participate in a special virtual auction.

For details and follow up, contact Adetola Ajayi: oneAnnapolis@annapolis.gov.

Covid updates 

Annapolis Non-Emergency: 410-260-2211

Monday - Sunday 24 hours a day

COVID-19 Health Line: 410-222-7256

Monday - Thursday: 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Sat/Sun: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

School system expands meals program; children can now get breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 52 sites

http://aacpsschools.org/pressr/?p=5666 

Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities launched online updates and virtual activities

https://www.aacounty.org/departments/aging-and-disabilities/

Library resources

The Anne Arundel County library system has a number of digital services that they have expanded during the crisis. 

Activities for Kids

Common Sense Media has compiled a list of Free Online Events and Activities for Kids at Home

Business resources

https://www.annapolis.gov/1631/COVID-19-Business-Resources

Workforce assistance

https://www.annapolis.gov/1634/COVID-19-Workforce-Assistance

Unemployment Benefits

If your employment has been impacted by COVID-19 you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria

  • It is strongly encouraged you utilize the NetClaims application to file your claim online
  • The Division of Unemployment Insurance’s call center is open Monday – Friday from 7:30 am to 6 pm (updated hours).  To speak to an Unemployment Specialist please call 301-723-2000.  Please note the call center is experiencing unusually long wait times.
  • If you are having difficulty accessing the website or placing a call, please email ui.inquiry@maryland.gov
  • For more information about unemployment benefits & COVID-19 please check the frequently asked questions page.

AAWDC Career Development Services

AAWDC services are still available remotely and can be accessed by emailing careercenter@aawdc.org or contacting your Career Navigation Specialist.  Services include:

  • Remote career coaching
  • Connection to benefits and support needed during this difficult time
  • Career planning & exploration
  • Job search resources and connection to businesses hiring

Annapolis COVID-19 frequently asked questions

https://www.annapolis.gov/faq.aspx?TID=48

Annapolis Maritime Museum virtual exhibits

https://amaritime.org/museum/exhibits/


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  • Rob Savidge