Ward 7 update - short term rentals round 2, critical area, DPW headquarters

I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. We have another Council meeting coming up this Monday, and the big items are two appointments, legislation governing short term rentals (and limiting them, if my amendments succeed), and more legislation that would strengthen the Critical Area laws (even more so if my amendments pass). Here are some details:


Parkside Preserve construction project

Work on the Parkside Preserve (aka Reserve at Quiet Waters) development project off Annapolis Neck Road continues. They are supposed to be stopping their work soon for the winter and will pick it back up in the spring. The site should be 100% stabilized before then. If you see any areas that are not stabilized, or where mud is washing off the site during storm events, please send me pictures and I’ll notify the City. Staff has informed me that they will be speaking with the contractor to discuss what is expected of them over the winter, which I’ve been told will include some amount of inspections on their part. 

Mayor moves forward with purchasing Hudson Street for new DPW HQ

As you may recall, the Mayor decided to halt the re-construction of the DPW buildings on Spa Rd. He was hoping to do a “land swap” with a private developer at the intersection of Spa and Forest Drive, but the sites were different sizes and there was community opposition. Now he has zeroed in on a property off of Hudson street. The good part about this site is it is already graded and it’s located within an industrial zone (no impacts to residential neighborhoods). The part I still have concerns about is where we will be finding the money and if the costs will balance out. The cost of the property is $2.2 million, and the Mayor has already put in an offer (without speaking to the entire Council). From what I gather they will take that money from the already appropriated money (I think it’s 4 or 5 million) for the DPW building. They are claiming that there will be cost savings/reductions to the budgeted construction amount, if constructed on Hudson Street, because the site is already graded and they can alter the design as it doesn’t have to blend in with a residential neighborhood. This sounds reasonable, but I’d like to see the numbers to ensure we can indeed find those cost savings. I’m skeptical given that the new Truxtun Pool and reportedly the downtown pump projects have both gone over cost. If the administration is planning on balancing the costs by surplussing the Spa Road properties, I’d like to see the numbers on that as well. We know the southern Spa Rd site is contaminated, and I’m concerned that either we will need to pay for the remediation, or if a buyer has to worry about it then it would reduce the amount of money we get from any sale of the property. Furthermore, I’m not so certain we should sell those properties. They provide a great opportunity for us to turn this area into a stormwater management center, wetland restoration area, and forest mitigation bank, that would create a central park for the City connecting Truxtun Park to the greenspace near South Cherry Grove. 

Next Council meeting - 11/18/19 (agenda)

Council meetings are held at 160 Duke of Gloucester St (2nd floor) at 7pm and are televised on local cable, Facebook, and the City website (www.annapolis.gov)

Public hearings

    • O-26-19 - Short term rentals - This legislation was up for a vote last week but was amended, and so it is coming up for another public hearing at this meeting. The legislation as amended really doesn’t do much, and doesn’t address the main issue in my mind, which is that we have too many Short Term Rentals (STRs) in our residential neighborhoods. The only thing the legislation does is improve the overall code language and limits people, whether residents or not, from having more than 1 STR. Based on an inventory of licensed and unlicensed properties in Ward 1, this would not have any impact on the total number of STRs. The density of STRs is detrimental to neighborhoods because they create vacant homes where there is no resident to participate in the community, to become neighbors, or for our kids to play with, and they drive up housing costs. I am proposing 4 amendments to ensure this legislation actually tackles the main issue at hand. The first would create a transition period of 2 years for the new standards to take effect, giving owners of STRs that are not primary residences time to shift to a new business strategy, like moving to long term rentals. The second amendment would put in place a requirement that STRs that are not located in a primary residence would be prohibited. This would still allow a resident to rent out their room(s) or house as an STR, but it would prevent outside investors from buying up our homes and turning them into businesses. The third amendment clarifies that informal roommates or friends spending the night are not considered STRs. The fourth amendment would create reporting requirements passed by other jurisdictions to be placed on the online platforms. All that said I’m not sure my amendments have enough votes to pass. The standards I’m proposing have been done in many other jurisdictions across Maryland and the US. I’m not sure how I’m going to vote on the overall legislation as it depends on amendments. And unfortunately one of the supporters of the legislation need to open it back up for a reconsideration vote to even allow my to propose my amendments. If you have any thoughts on this legislation please let me know. 

Legislation up for a final vote

  • O-36-19 - Parking Meters - For the purpose of including parking kiosks and parking mobile devices in the requirements for installation and location of parking meters. I plan on supporting this pending any comments from you. 
  • Appointments - There is a candidate being nominated for City Attorney, Michael Lyles, and another for City Manager, David Jarrell (current DPW director). I plan on supporting Michael Lyles for appointment as City Attorney. Regarding City Manager, I am still awaiting final confirmation from the law office that we can legally use an equivalency standard when determining if Mr. Jarrell’s experience and education meets the Charter requirements. If I can get that final approval I will support his nomination. While I’d prefer a national search, I think Mr. Jarrell will do a good job as City Manager.
  • CA-6-19 and O-18-19 - Creating a Department of the Environment - I’ve been side tracked with amending the Critical Area legislation and with the Short Term Rental legislation and haven’t been able to work further on this legislation. And we keep getting new staff reports seemingly every few weeks that are inaccurate and muddy the conversation. So what I and the sponsors will be doing is postponing this legislation for a future date. This will give the sponsors additional time to work with the existing Departments for an agreeable proposal for all. 
  • O-11-19 - 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 intend to support this legislation, pending any comments from you. 
  • O-31-19 - reduces public speaking time to 3 minutes (down from 5). Originally I supported this effort because I’ve seen people leave meetings that drag on too late, but after hearing from the public I am not so sure I support this still. Some have raised the point that if we are more disciplined and more effectively chair the meetings we can save time in that regard without limiting the public speaking time.  I have requested legislation that will restructure our meetings where the first meeting of the month is where we actually vote on legislation and deliberate, and the second meeting of each month is where have the public hearings and ceremonial items. I feel this would help to prevent the all too often occurrence where the meetings drag on and we are deliberating on legislation late into the night. Such late discussion does not foster good decision making. Pending comments from you, I’m leaning towards voting against this legislation. 
  • O-27-19 & R-36-19 - Critical Area overhaul - The underlying legislation simply updates our Critical Area Code to bring it into compliance with the State requirements. The Environmental Matters Committee and staff spent a number of hours working on a series of amendments to this legislation that seek to bring these regulations up to the same standards that our new Forest Conservation laws have created. Otherwise, this poses a problem when the weaker Critical Area law can overrule the stronger Forest conservation laws. It’s likely that if these amendments are adopted then it will need to have another public hearing at the following meeting. Pending comments from you, I intend to support the legislation.

New Community updates 

District 30A Town Hall

Please join Senator Elfreth, Delegate Cain, and Delegate Henson for a Town Hall discussion on the 2020 legislative session. You will have an opportunity to hear about legislative updates and ask questions on issues such as education, the environment, public safety, and healthcare.

Thursday, December 12th

6pm - 8pm

Annapolis High School

2700 Riva Road, Annapolis MD 21401

shop downtown

Continuing community announcements

Annapolis 2020 Comprehensive Plan survey

Take a few minutes of your time to complete this survey for the 2020 Annapolis Comprehensive Plan update and share where your priorities lie for the next 20 years in the City. The questions regarding planning priorities are informed by meetings with stakeholders over the last two months and the first public meeting that was held on May 7th.

Take the survey here: https://forms.gle/uYdq7sCX2ihF96dq8

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  • Rob Savidge