10 November 2008

CoFoCoDo Advocates Agenda that is Counter to Rouse

The kind, well-intentioned, leaderless organization has been railing against the GGP downtown plan. One of the primary criticisms has been what CoFoCoDo “spokesman” Alan Klein calls phasing. “Spokesman” Klein was quoted recently on the Explore Howard blog (Groups weigh in on plan for downtown Columbia):

Klein said his group would like to see GGP’s plan broken into five-year phases rather than 10-year phases, which he said would ensure that each development stage is not approved unless certain goals are met.

A few days later, Alan Klein expanded on this theme via the HCCA Yahoo-Group:

In addition, it is vital that the additional density which GGP is asking for be phased in, through separate votes by the Council over time, rather than being granted up front, as they are asking for now.

What is intriguing about this stance by the “leaders” of CoFoCoDo is its hypocrisy. On the CoFoCoDo website, the “organization” states:

CCD wants to ensure that a vibrant Downtown Columbia emerges from the redevelopment planning process and that the plan remains true to the founder's vision for Columbia.

But let’s go back and look at the beginning. When Rouse first proposed Columbia, there was opposition to the project:

Still worse from Rouse’s standpoint, the [Howard County] commissioners issued a set of “guidelines” to the Howard County planning commission that sounded like flat rejection of several indispensable ingredients of the new city. The commissioners declared themselves opposed to row-house development. They warned that they would not “in any case” rezone the entire site for the city at one time. The commissioners were, they reiterated, committed to low-density development of Howard County.
Columbia and the New Cities, Gurney Brekenfeld, pp. 267-268, Ives Washburn Inc, New York, 1971

Sounds familiar?

Another interesting passage relating to the same discussion appears in “Creating a New City- Columbia, Maryland,” edited by Robert Tennenbaum:

[R]ouse contended that it was necessary for all of the property to be rezoned in order to obtain the financing for the project.

When the Commissioners began to deliberate after the close of the hearing, there were strong inclinations by Commissioners Force and Miller to rezone only the Town Center and the first village in order to provide a basis for a trail period.
Creating a New City – Columbia, Maryland, Robert Tennenbaum, p. 101, Perry Publishing, Columbia, 1996.

CoFoCoDo – 1965 is calling…

As Rouse insisted it was essential, the [Howard County] commissioners voted to rezone the entire property at once. [Attorney for the Howard County Commissioners Lewis] Nippard explained to me why, “We’ve had extremely good relations with these [Rouse] people, even though we’ve had differences. If we zoned less than the entire tract at once, they being practical people could take the stand that the county had hedged its bet and ‘we would have to do the same.’ We decided to indicate complete faith and let them develop at the pace the market will allow. Besides, wherever we drew a line, it wouldn’t be the right place.”
Columbia and the New Cities, Gurney Brekenfeld, p. 272, Ives Washburn Inc, New York, 1971

So on one hand, CoFoCoDo declares their intention “that the plan remains true to the founder's vision for Columbia,” while taking a position that was flatly rejected by Rouse.

Hopefully the CoFoCoDo “leadership” will reconsider their position and have “spokesman” Alan Klein re-issue a statement that CoFoCoDo supports the vision and actions of James Rouse.