Workforce housing update
I first wanted to provide an update on O-40-22 (workforce housing), the ordinance that would allow density akin to apartment-hotels in single family residential districts throughout the City. I’ve documented my concerns here previously, and you can find my comments in the paper here. There was considerable public testimony on O-40-22, but what’s clear is that consensus has not been established on this legislation and at least as of now, there are not enough votes for it to pass (though there is only a 1-vote margin). However, the co-sponsors have not pulled the legislation and are instead trying to amend it. As I alluded to in the paper, I do not think this is legislation that can be saved. The fundamental flaw is that it should be a part of our comprehensive planning process, which is our method of building consensus in the community around our housing needs. In order to go through that process, this legislation needs to be withdrawn and be made a part of that discussion. Similarly, my other major concern about adequate public facilities cannot simply be amended into this legislation. Despite what many supporters said during their testimony, the housing density increase proposed in O-40-22 would NOT have to go through our adequate public facilities laws, unless they are building 11 or more units on one site. I am surprised and disappointed that certain staff, as well as those who served on our affordable housing task force, are perpetuating this misinformation. We have confirmed it in Environmental Matters Committee, with our Planning & Zoning staff, that the proposed housing would NOT have to comply with our adequate public facilities. This is another fundamental flaw that risks concentrating development and density impacts in certain neighborhoods and parts of our City, and I do not think this can be fixed via amendment.
I believe we need to take a consensus based approach to first identify and discuss what our housing goals are as a Council and community. I propose we do so via a work session. Once we identify any goals/targets, we should then utilize the Comprehensive Planning process to recommend policies that would help us achieve those goals. I hope we can also utilize the approach laid out in the 2009 Comprehensive Plan that states we need to take a strategic and targeted approach when adjusting density, while at the same time honoring and respecting neighborhood character. This is precisely what we are attempting to do with R-1-23. This is a Resolution that myself and 4 other co-sponsors are introducing to make it clear these are the steps we want to take and our goal is to establish consensus, not division in our community.
Quiet Waters park expansion thoughts
I’ve received a number of questions about my stance on the proposed use of the Quiet Waters Park expansion, as detailed in the paper by the County executive and our County Councilperson. You can find details of the proposed plans here, as well as hear directly from the Chesapeake Conservancy here.
I support the proposed plans by the County Executive and County Council. Personally, I think this is getting blown way out of proportion. This expansion of our park was pursued by the County and the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the original owners had always stipulated that they wanted their property utilized by the Chesapeake Conservancy. The original idea was for them to utilize the existing home to house their non-profit business. When the original home was damaged by the tornado that made its way through the park, it was determined that Chesapeake Conservancy will need to construct a new building, which will, by the way, be a LEED (green) building. Most of the new construction will be concentrated to the previously developed areas. I’ve also heard from folks that this is an “unprecedented” use of public property. Let’s be clear, there are plenty of precedents for utilizing what will be public property in this manner. In the City, we have given a long-term lease to the Annapolis Maritime Museum to manage the Ellen Moyer Back Creek park. What they have done is retrofit and renovate the existing unused building to house their offices. They are putting an unused public asset to use for a good cause and improving the property at the same time. They are managing this property a lot better than the City ever did. Another example is CRAB, where the City owns that property but is leasing it to CRAB to place their headquarters. A third example would be the Annapolis Children’s museum, where the City actually owns that property. In this case, having the Quiet Waters park expansion be utilized in this fashion, by a non-profit as the original owners envisioned, is desirable to the alternative, which would be a housing development. I have checked the critical area maps and this is an LDA (limited development area) in the Critical area, which means it could have been sold for housing, but instead will be utilized by the public and at the same time house a very reputable and respectable non-profit that helped to seal the land deal. Seems like a win-win to me. To top it off, the County has committed to a no net loss policy of any trees/forests that need to be removed. So at this point, I’d argue we should be looking for ways to support and improve the plans, rather than fighting against the proposal so much.
Here is the area in question (the southeast corner of the park, which was private property).
And the proposed disturbance and tree removals:
Stay healthy and stay safe,
Next Council meeting – 1/23/23 (agenda)
This Council meeting is starting at 7pm and will be televised on local cable, YouTube, Facebook, and the City website. You can submit public testimony at http://www.annapolis.gov/testimony. This will be an in-person meeting.
- No legislation is up for a public hearing today.
Legislation being introduced on first reader
- O-2-23 - Budget Target Dates and Financial Impact of Labor Negotiations - For the purpose of clarifying the timeline for negotiations between the City and employee groups; requiring the Finance Committee to be briefed; technical corrections to the City Budget section of the code; and generally related to the annual city budget schedule requirements.
- R-1-23 - Workforce Housing Development Planning in the City of Annapolis - For the purpose of emphasizing the important role the "Annapolis Ahead 2040 Comprehensive Plan" can and will play in identifying, planning, and furthering our workforce housing goals; ensuring an equitable distribution of such housing, factoring in nearby County zoning; ensuring City Council and public input; postponing significant zoning changes and decisions until the Plan is completed; setting dates for drafts of the Plan; and generally dealing with City housing development. This is legislation that I and 4 other co-sponsors are introducing as an alternative, consensus based approach to O-40-22 (the other workforce housing ordinance).
- R-2-23 - Restaurant Parking Lot Usage Pilot Program Extension for Outdoor Dining - For the purpose of directing the City Manager to extend the Annapolis Outdoor Dining Pilot Program, allowing restaurants to use privately-owned parking lots for outdoor dining for one year.
- R-3-23 - Code of Civility - For the purpose of establishing a Code of Civility setting forth how members of the Annapolis City Council and all boards, committees, and commissions appointed by the Council shall treat one another, staff, constituents, and members of the public, and establishing regulations for those attending public hearings or forums to maintain proper order and decorum. I am co-sponsoring this legislation, to establish rules of conduct for the Council as well as the public.
Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-33-22 - City of Annapolis Public Ethics Law - For the purpose of compliance with the requirements of Subtitle 8 Local Government Provisions of the Public Ethics Law or Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 19A.04; renumbering for current style; and generally relating to ethics requirements for the City of Annapolis. I am inclined to support this, pending any comments from you.
- O-57-22 - Residential District - Code Section Correction - For the purpose of correcting a referral to a section of city code in Title 21 ? 40.050(D)(1) and ? 50.040 Tablenote 10. This is a technical correction, and I am inclined to support it, pending any comments from you.
Community & Political updates
BGE purple street lights
If you see a purple street light and would like BGE to replace it, you can go to
https://www.bgenow.com/2021/10/15/purple-streetlights/ to report it. Just click on the link in the third paragraph to be taken to the online street light repair map. As you zoom in, the map changes to allow streetlight selection.
Chesapeake Research Consortium paid internships
The Chesapeake-Student Recruitment, Early Advisement, and Mentoring (C-StREAM) is a program focused on recruiting, advising, and mentoring college students from populations historically excluded from the environmental field who are currently underrepresented in environmental research and management professions. The original program, begun in 2018, consisted of eight funded internship positions, with the CRC initially providing matching of students to internships and delivering professional development support. Here is the direct link to apply. https://chesapeake.org/c-stream/ If anyone has any questions please feel free to reach out to the program director at [email protected]
EYC presentation on Saving the Bay by Hilary Harp Falk, CBF president
The first presentation of the 2023 EYC Environmental Lecture series will be Wednesday, January 25th at 7 pm at EYC and via zoom - "Facing Our Unfinished Challenge to Save and Keep Saved the Chesapeake Bay" by Hilary Harp Falk, President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (here is the link). She will be summarizing the Foundation's recently released 2022 State of the Bay Report and their ongoing programs. CBF is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay. The Foundation has also been a long time partner in our EYC oyster restoration efforts.