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 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd caution anyone who reads this blog regarding the conclusions reached.

Clearly there's a pattern to your attacks on others' credibility.

You support stiflingly smothering the county with growth and anyone who supports sane growth is not credible, according to you.

Note that Alan Klein and the others did not personally attack the opposition the way Santos does here.

Get a grip, man.

Anonymous said...

Anon, given the misrepresentations about Santos in your comment, I'm guessing that you're a member of CoFoCoDo's board of directors.

B. Santos said...

Anon AM,

Wow. I am not sure what you read, but it sure was not my blog post.

Let's review.

The only person mentioned by name is Alan Klein. Here is the quote:

"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."

Sounds fairly neutral to me, if not praise (the intent).

Moving on, when did pointing out factually incorrect information become an attack? Should incorrect statements go unchallenged and become part of the local discussion? Should a pattern of factually incorrect statements be brought to light?

I think that it is important that correct is disseminated. I hope you do too.

Anonymous said...

Rules are great as long as they apply equally to all.

Anon 14:16: I'm not a member. Just complying with Santos' challenge question above: "Should incorrect statements go unchallenged and become part of the local discussion?"

B. Santos said...

Anon,

So what are you challenging?

Anonymous said...

Challenging your objectivity. You have a position and will say what it takes to support, rather than research for the truth.

It's quite possible, based on the evolution of conversation on the 5500 units that the source was talking about population and/or numbers of units, but you attempt to cut off the opposition before laying out the facts.

You have a position and have not been an objective source if info on this topic.

B. Santos said...

Interesting, the quote comes from CoFoCoDo, it states number of residential units (5500) and says that this is 3 to 4 times that of Wilde Lake.

This is in fact false. I provide supporting data to show this.

If in fact the well intentioned people at CoFoCoDo wanted to compare populations (speculative vs. actual), why would they be so foolish as to not include the word population?

Tom said...

I think the real number should have been to show how this will change Town Center not Wilde Lake. Unless, you audience lives in Wilde Lake. That's the problem in Columbia we loose the focus because of the peripheral issues.

Young at Heart said...

In a piece today in the Sun, Liz Bobo states that Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills together have less than 5500 residential units. According to the CA Public Information Guide, WL has 2618 and OM has 3416 units. According to my math, that's 6034 units, which is MORE not less than 5500 units.

This seems like a minor point to quibble about, but if Liz or others are going to use data to support a position, they should at least try to get it right.

And pointing out inaccurate information, which Bill Santos did, is not "personally attacking the opposition."

Anonymous said...

Pro developer people are soooo easy to spot.

Young at heart, what makes you put more trust in one source compared with another?

When I see two different answers to the same question, I tend to dig further, but not so for the pro-dev folks, just find someone who'll say it.

At the PELU, one pro-dev claimed "Even Jim Robey voted against standing!". Well. That's quite a surprise since the MD Senate didn't vote on that bill!

I sure hope readers aren't caught up in the self-righteousness, but rather understand the need for more information.

Tom said...

So what is the point, that 5500 units is a lot. OK, yes it is. But it is this kind of density what is needed to create the density that even gives Columbia a chance to get better rail transportation to come to Columbia. It is this level of density that creates the vibrancy that the community wants. It is this level of density that helps address the low to medium housing crisis in Howard County. And yes, it is this level of density that will encourage the developers financially to complete this project with all the amenities the community has told GGP and the County it wants.

Yes, there are infrastructure issues to be worked out. But, the County has statutes already in place. Nowhere have I seen where this development is asking for these rules to be ignored.

So at this point in time we have a framework for the future. The next step is to take it to the County level where planning and zoning will add the infrastructure requirements and eventually the County Council will approve a final
plan.

My questions: Did the GGP planners listen well? Is in concept is the GGP plan what the community asked for? Can we look beyond the trees and see the forest in 2030?

Anonymous said...

"it is this kind of density what is needed to create the density that even gives Columbia a chance to get better rail transportation to come to Columbia"

The question of how much density is necessary for getting better transit to Columbia has been so mishandled, repeatedly, by the traffic studies, by the County's framework, by more density advocates, and at GGP's transportation presentation in May.

Getting better transit to Columbia is doable without even adding one more person to Town Center. Question upon which metrics, costs, and assumptions someone is basing their opinon when they claim the only way to bring transit to Columbia is by massively increasing Town Center's density. Don't accept such claims without hard facts.

The first Town Center traffic study the County commissioned a few years ago said (I'm paraphrasing) increasing density like this would cause traffic to fail, but that failure could be used to squeeze the public into accepting the high cost of retrofitting transit in after the fact.

Approving a plan for increasing density this much without the plan including transit details will result in:
- not disclosing prior to approval the future costs to build such transit, foisting the cost of such transit onto future residents (profits for some now, but future generations at large pay later for trying to solve the traffic nightmare),
- not ensuring there is space for transit to run, creating a formula for parties in the future to claim "well, gosh I guess the only place we can fit it is along this river, over this wetland, etc. (exactly as one illustration at the Charette showed, river buffer along the Little Patuxent River being cleared to bring a rail line into Town Center), exactly where transit should not be placed,
- years or decades of terriby congested traffic, worsening commutes, air quality, noise, and emergency response,
- and sacrificing swaths of Symphony Woods and other open space areas in Town Center and Oakland Mills to build roads, bridges, interchanges, and red light intersections, all of which still won't allow meeting current traffic congestion laws.

GGP has plenty of profitable development potential within current zoning, allowing additions to Town Center. Why should we approve going drastically beyond current zoning in a manner that slices up Symphony Woods, builds roads over Lake Kittamaqundi, and exceeds traffic congestion laws?

"It is this level of density that creates the vibrancy that the community wants"

One of the concurrances from the Charette was that a master plan for Town Center keep density LOW. This plan isn't low density.

Vibrancy isn't sitting at red light after red light to get to/from work, or shop, or get to the hospital. Or being told you'll have to pay to park in Town Center. Or being told to pay in a parking garage a mile or more from Town Center, told to wait for a shuttle bus, and told to ride the shuttle bus. Or being told to pay for ongoing upkeep of roads that don't include bike lanes in case you don't want to pay/park/wait/pay/bus to Town Center to work. Or being told to pay for a traffic monitoring center (watching lots of cameras so we can be told how bad traffic is). Or being told to pay for "traffic demand management".

"It is this level of density that helps address the low to medium housing crisis"

Has anyone seen how many of the 6,000 (including the 500 proposed in WL) are guaranteed for low income? I haven't.

"it is this level of density that will encourage the developers financially to complete this project with all the amenities the community has told GGP and the County it wants."

The community did not say it wanted a large part of Symphony Woods cleared and used to construct buildings. The community did not want high density. The community includes schools among necessary amenities. 6,000 new homes, but 0 new schools? Where's the logic?

And this level of density will be expensive to the taxpayer. Increasing the density of a community increases the amount per person the government has to pay in public sector service costs. In other words, the higher the density, the higher the taxes. That seems counterproductive to keeping Columbia welcoming to low- and moderate-income level residents.

"there are infrastructure issues to be worked out. But, the County has statutes already in place. Nowhere have I seen where this development is asking for these rules to be ignored."

What about APFO? Current APFO traffic regulations governing intersection congestion won't be met, meaning longer waits, backed up traffic, etc. GGP mentioned proposing to not meet current APFO regulations, but instead request the laws be changed to accept worse traffic. So, the "statutes already in place" go out the window, no?

How many roads will be built through areas that current laws try to protect against disturbing? How many waivers will be needed for those roads to go over lakes and rivers?

"Did the GGP planners listen well? Is in concept is the GGP plan what the community asked for? Can we look beyond the trees and see the forest in 2030?"

The Charette asked for low density. GGP responded with drastically increased density.
The County framework chose to include a photo of James Rouse standing in front of a poster referring to "PERMANENT OPEN SPACE". GGP's plan treats a lot of that open space as non-permanent.
The community asked for improvements. GGP responded with a plan projected to cause multiple failed intersections (even with all of the new roads being built through open space).

2030's forest under this plan isn't what it could be.

Jud Malone said...

Well,

Anonymous has written quite a position paper. All I can say is, it is rampant with innuendos and its short on facts - it borders on hysteria.

Too bad this community can't quite get to a true dialog on the issue of revitalizing downtown and the surrounding villages.

Anonymous said...

The "position paper" was full of facts, and the weak attempt to discredit the source is transparent.

I am really starting to believe that the pro-dev group has not one shred of support for the advantages to the community on higher density.

PZGURU said...

Mr. Mallone,

I think it is you and the rabid pro-Town Center crowd that has weak facts and are cramming your agenda down the rest of Columbia's throats. Anyone who opposes this ill-conceived plan gets attacked by this blog host and people like you.

Weren't you one of the residents who came out and testified against the Crescent Property Plan and how much noise, traffic, glare, etc., it would cause? Yes, I believe you were.

You continued your opposition of that plan even after MPP was taken off the table and GGP said they would preserve it, and after GGP said they wouldn't put big box retail on the site.

But now you are in favor of a proposal that includes 5 times as much development?!?!? Whae happened to your concern about the environment, noise, traffic, dust, light pollution, and so on?

Why the flip flop? This is the same flip flop position that I have tried to get Ian Kennedy to explain to me.