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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Realistically speaking, if we continue to bulk up on density we'll end up dropping into mediocrity.

Chris Bachmann said...

I would disagree on the density comment. Money magazine is really aiming at a particular demographic. i think part of the change is reflected in changing attitudes about what makes a quality city. Older generations will see Columbia as an ideal place, while younger people see Columbia as part of the problem. We used to define cool. I personally try to disregard this kind of focus and try to do what's the next right thing. Everyone else will catch up eventually.

JessieX said...

Chris: Dude, You rock! Great comment. Ditto. Et cetera. Mine own eyes have seen how once I thought Columbia was so fabulous in its newness and freshness. Now, I see it as a nightmare in city planning. Great concept for the time, but what a poorly laid out use of space! Pockets of density are one of the components of a solution. Pockets of smart, mixed-used density.

JessieX said...

Chris: Dude, You rock! Great comment. Ditto. Et cetera. Mine own eyes have seen how once I thought Columbia was so fabulous in its newness and freshness. Now, I see it as a nightmare in city planning. Great concept for the time, but what a poorly laid out use of space! Pockets of density are one of the components of a solution. Pockets of smart, mixed-used density.

Tom said...

So they evaluate a couple hundred cities every year and the 21042 zip code still stays in the top eight. I am impressed. Something continues to be done right here!

Anonymous said...

2006: Columbia/Ellicott City ranked as 2nd best place to live east of the Mississippi.
2008: Columbia/Ellicott City still ranked as 2nd best place to live east of the Mississippi.

Precipitous drop? Hardly.

If you're looking for an explanation of why it moved from 2nd to 8th for the entire country, look no further than the only criticism listed in the article's description of Columbia/Ellicott City: "...traffic can be a headache..." Any guesses what adding another perhaps 5,500 residences' and lots more commercial development's 13,000 daily car trips to Town Center will do to traffic and the corresponding quality of life ranking?

B. Santos said...

Anon 1:16:

Check your geography. Both Naperville, IL and Franklin Township, NJ are east of the Mississippi. So yes, Columbia/Ellicott City dropped in the rankings (Have you considered joining CoFoCoDo?).

With regard to traffic, the survey does not take into account traffic. It does consider commuter time. And yes, our commuter time is not as good as others.

Traffic within Columbia still is not that horrible. I roll through downtown almost every day without trouble. Very few cars during the morning rush hours.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected, having overlooked Franklin, NJ in the list. Columbia/Ellicott City is indeed the 3rd best small city east of the Mississippi per that ranking, not 2nd as it was in 2006.

Still, it's an exaggeration to label that move as a precipitous drop. Now, if Columbia had dropped in the rankings to somewhere around 37th (the slot occupied by more-congested Reston, VA, where the article notes "street traffic can be maddening"), then, yes, that would be a precipitous drop.

Is adding 13,000+ daily car trips a good recipe to get down to Reston's ranking, a place described by wikipedia as having hostile pedestrian situations, lacking mass transit, and congested commuter traffic to DC that was addressed [not by either mass transit or better free roads, but] by a toll road?

Thankfully, some communities are succeeding at preventing "density creep". Even NYC has heartily embraced downzoning, responding to its communities' concerns by reducing the allowed density of new developments where such density exceeds environmental or infrastructure capacity, in order to preserve communities' quality of life.

Kudos on completing your own researching of information and firming up that Plymouth, MN is not east of the Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

It dropped because of the idiots that voted for "MOM" Why the idiot demoRATS in this state keep voting for such morons is beyond comprehension.