25 July 2008

Much to talk about, little time to do it

Two issues are on many minds this morning: The CA Board of Directors deliberations on Symphony Woods (I stayed until 10:30 PM last night, and still no decision had been made) and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision that Joel Broida has standing in his appeal of the Plaza Tower.

I have a big day today (cooling tower inspections, yea!!), so I will be putting something together on each subject this weekend. In the interim, maybe some of the anonymob can vent on either subject...

21 July 2008

Sometimes, you get what you ask for

As has been noted here and elsewhere, things have been somewhat quiet on the downtown development front. I believe this in part because the people at CoFoCoDo have been quietly popping champagne corks and celebrating a job well done.

The reason? In January 2007, CoFoCoDo set their terms for density.

From their position paper "Framing the Future of Downtown Columbia," page 5 [emphasis mine]:

We favor the continuing development of Downtown, but there are many models of diverse and vibrant downtowns. We offer Georgetown and Annapolis as examples of communities that do not rely on high density to provoke an exciting sense of place. These locations are especially interesting, and they exude excitement...
and on page 13, under the banner "Human Scale,"

We note that there are many models of diverse and vibrant downtowns. We offer Georgetown and Annapolis, not as models to copy – because Columbia does not need to copy anything - but as proof that communities do not need to rely on excessive density to have an exciting sense of place.
Well, a little research demonstrates how well informed the good people of CoFoCoDo are. According to the United States Census, Georgetown would fit nicely into the current downtown plan.


  • Area (acres): 676
  • Dwelling Units: 4976
  • Population: 8524

Columbia Town Center:

  • Area (acres): 570
  • Dwelling Units: 5500
  • Population: 7000 - 10,000 (??)

Data for Georgetown was obtained from the US Census, District of Columbia Census Tracts 1 and 2.02. Columbia Town Center data obtained from the Howard County Government website and the GGP presentation.

Kudos to CoFoCoDo for leading the way on this issue. Sometimes it's so nice to get what you ask for.

16 July 2008

...and Speaking of CoFoCoDo...

Our friends at our favorite coalition have once again put out some poorly researched information. Currently featured on their website under the banner "CCD's Response," is the following:

"We are quite concerned that he [Greg Hamm] is insisting on proposing 5500 new residential units, three to four times the size of Wilde Lake"

Let us look past the "insisting on proposing" construct and move directly to the math. CoFoCoDo states that 5500 residential units is three to four times the size of Wilde Lake. That would put the number of residential units in Wilde Lake somewhere between 1375 and 1834 units.

One problem...it's totally false. According to the Columbia Association's 2007 Public Information Guide (page 18), Wilde Lake currently has 2618 residential units. Given that half the CA Board of Directors (Alex Hekemian (OM), Evan Coren (KC), Cynthia Coyle(HC), Michael Cornell (RH), and Phil Kirsch (WL)) are members of CoFoCoDo, maybe one of them could supply a copy of the Guide to the rest of CoFoCoDo.

Beyond the math error, I wonder what is really going on at CoFoCoDo. When I hear spokesperson Alan Klein make a speech, testify at County hearings, or speak out a community meetings; he sounds so confident, so forthright. Why is it that other parts of the organization succumb to embellishment or exaggeration (Columbia is the 2nd best city east of the Mississippi, 5500 units is four times the size of Wilde Lake) to make a point? It seems if they were right, the truth would suffice.

15 July 2008

What Happened?

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

In 2006, Money magazine put the Columbia/Ellicott City region as number four on their list of best places to live. Many of the CoFoCoDO/HCCA variety loudly proclaimed that Columbia was anointed the best place to live east of the Mississippi River. Although this error was brought to their attention (Naperville, IL is the best place to live east of the Mississippi), many continued to broadcast the fallacy at meetings and around town. Funny, they almost always talked about Columbia and not the Money magazine's marriage of Columbia/Ellicott City.

In 2007, the magazine looked at smaller communities and Elkridge was ranked Number 42 (where was the HCCA love for Elkridge?)

Now in 2008, small cities (Money magazine's nomenclature, not mine) are back in play, and the Ellicott City/Columbia area is ranked 8th. We are now 3rd or 4th best east of the Mississippi (I'm not certain where Plymouth, MN is with regard to the big muddy, but I will look it up later).

Click here for the rankings from 2006.

Click here for the rankings of small towns (including Elkridge) in 2007.

Click here for the rankings from 2008.

Anyone have any ideas why the precipitous drop? Compass eyes and ears would like to know.

07 July 2008

How do You Like Maryland Transportation Planning?

I received an email from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council of Governments (Balto Metro) today. The email detailed a meeting between Balto Metro, the United States Department of Transportation, and the public. The purpose of the meeting was to get public input on the Balto Metro planning process. The meeting was June 24, 2008.

However, there is still time. Email comments will be accepted through July 9, 2008. Follow the link here to reply.