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Roundup 12-14-2018

December 13, 2018

Contents

Referendum – Opinion

Economy/Economic Development – Benchmarks

Rays – Nothing Yet

Seminole Heights – Milhaus Revisited

Downtown – Renovate

Downtown – Still No

Airports – Growing

USF – Here and There

Downtown/Channel District/Port – The Flour Mill

Hard Rock – Topped Off

Housing – Going Small?

History – Where is that Confounded Spring?

Meanwhile, Back at the Pete

Meanwhile, In the Rest of Florida

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

_________________________________________


Referendum – Opinion

The Times ran an opinion piece by the Commissioner who sued regarding the Referendum.  The piece mixes legal arguments and political arguments.  We are not going to get into legal arguments.  Whether the referendum followed the law will be decided in court.

However, there was a political point we want to address, again.

This issue is bigger than Hillsborough County or any individual’s philosophy on new taxes. It’s about protecting our system of government, which empowers the everyday citizen. If the judicial branch of our government agrees that these charter provisions are unlawful, I will work diligently with the citizens of this county and with my fellow commissioners to search for a meaningful plan that benefits citizens across the county, to address our transportation needs. If the judicial branch rules the charter initiative should stand, I will dutifully and faithfully implement these provisions.

As we noted last week, the referendum process empowers everyday citizens when their elected representatives fail to act.  The transportation referendum itself was born out of a failure on the part of the County Commission to serve the everyday citizen by putting forward a meaningful plan for transportation, including transit.   In fact, we would love it if the Commissioner had presented a meaningful plan to benefits citizens across the county regarding transportation.  If he had, we wouldn’t be in this situation now, we’d be moving forward on said plan.  But he didn’t. (If he had a plan, why didn’t he present it?)  And neither did his colleagues, which is why there was citizen initiated referendum.   Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit (which addresses a completely different question), the needs are still there.

That is the politics. We will see what the Courts say about the law.


Economy/Economic Development – Benchmarks

The Tampa Bay Partnership’s yearly benchmark document is out (here).  Good for the Partnership for actually laying these thing out instead of just engaging in cheerleading and hype.

We did not have time to look at it in depth, but the Times had an article on it:

The Tampa Bay Partnership released its second annual Regional Competitiveness Report on Wednesday. It measures the Tampa Bay area against 19 similar metro areas. Not the biggies like Los Angeles or New York. Think Nashville, Denver, Dallas, Seattle and Orlando.

The report uses 55 measures to dig deep into a half-dozen categories, including innovation, talent, civic quality and infrastructure — the types of things that help attract companies, retain workers and make an area a vital place to live and work.

Bottom line, we have a lot of work to do to keep up, let alone overtake, some of our peer cities. We’re improving in many areas including how much our universities spend on research and development and the share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school. But we’re already behind and losing ground in too many others.

Sounds familiar.  So how did the Times summarize the findings?

The Good

Our commutes may not be relatively horrible (for everyone) now, but, given that we are growing, they will only get worse.  (And, by the way, you will see below that the cost of our transportation is not low.) Now is the time to rearrange the model we have.

The Bad

None of that is a surprise (except Orlando being the #2 in economic output from advanced industries.  We knew it would be higher than we are, but did not think it would be that high.).

We think we can and should do much better. And it is clear that there many in the area who see it the same way.  Unfortunately, there also seem to be many, including a number of elected officials (and presumably their supporters) who through their actions and often, though not always, words seem perfectly content with the status quo.

We will probably say more about the report when we have time to review it more closely.


Rays – Nothing Yet

This is why we have not spent much time recently writing about the Rays:

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said today the plan to build a stadium in Ybor City is no longer viable but the team remains committed, for now, to looking again for a new home in the Tampa Bay area.

Sternberg said the lack of details and progress for the planned $892 million stadium in Ybor City that was to open in 2023 made it clear it was not going to work and thus there was no point in asking for an extension on the Dec. 31 deadline with St. Petersburg to look. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred earlier today sent a letter to Tampa officials saying the framework of the deal was lacking too many details.

* * *

“While the momentum and progress are real, we are not close at all to a workable framework,” Sternberg said, referencing the fundamental issues that Manfred cited as not being addressed including financing, costs, timetable and site control. “We’ve had a long time. Three years is a long time.”

Sternberg noted the hours and “many millions” the team invested in the Ybor project and said the failure was not due to a lack of effort on any party.  

We do not know if this is fully serious or a negotiating strategy.  And it does not really tell us much, except the Rays did not like what they saw.  And we are not sure why the MLB Commissioner gave his opinion rather than leaving it to the Rays to speak:

Hillsborough County officials hoping Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred would help consummate the deal for a new Rays stadium appear to have struck out.

Manfred, in a strongly worded letter sent today, said the framework of the deal lacks specific details necessary for him to “understand the merits and feasibility” of the proposal as well as “the actual level of commitment” from the public side.

While the Commissioner did not see the commitment from the public side, there was one detail in the framework: the amount the team would put up.  All the other details are logically contingent on it, and we still do not know what that is.  While the Commissioner may not know the commitment from the public side, the public does not know the commitment from MLB or the Rays.  That’s what talks are supposed to be for.  In any event,

Sternberg said they are are a “pretty resourceful” and “pretty determined” group and remain optimistic about finding a new home in the Tampa Bay area, with no plans to try to leave the area before the end of 2027 use agreement at the Trop.

But he also acknowledged that at this point any new stadium in the Tampa Bay area wouldn’t be ready until 2024, and at some point they have  to start thinking about where they would play in 2028, when they potentially could relocate with permission from MLB. New stadium construction requires four-five years lead time. Montreal, Portland (which recently unveiled stadium plans), Las Vegas, Charlotte and Nashville are all considered potential sites for a team.

And if you are interested in getting into the nitty-gritty, the Times had an interesting article regarding some of the issues that arose here.

A Times columnist summarized the situation thus:

Here are the calculations that must be made:

Are the Rays worth enough to St. Pete, and is the urgency to develop the Trop land high enough, that the city gives the team a sweetheart deal to begin building a new stadium in the next few years?

Is Tampa so tired of seeing a Major League Baseball team from a distance that business executives and a new mayor finally come to the plate with a deal that has a little more substance and a little less projection.

And is Rays ownership really as committed to Tampa Bay as they say, or will they decide there is more money to be made by selling the franchise to the highest out-of-town bidder?

Those are your three scenarios.

Eventually, someone will blink.

Or not.

We are Rays fans.  We like baseball.  We like going to games.  We want them to stay.  Hopefully, something will get worked out.  We shall see.


Seminole Heights – Milhaus Revisited

There has been a change to the Milhaus Nebraska project.  From URBN Tampa Bay:

Milhaus has modified their proposal for 6307 N. Nebraska Avenue in Seminole Heights. Apartments are now featured along the ground level of North Street (before it was parking on the ground floor along North Street) and the leasing/club space now takes up a larger portion of the project’s frontage along Nebraska. The number of garages integrated into the building, as well as space for bicycles and motorcycles have all been increased some. The project now includes 112 units, 1,220 square feet of office space, and 113 parking spaces.

And, because we find little to disagree with, here is their take:

We particularly like what appears to be an indoor room for resident bike parking. However, as we have stated before, we support the request for rezoning, but continue to oppose this particular plan. Nebraska is the immediate neighborhood’s only commercial corridor. It should not downzone into a residential street, else it will preclude Seminole Heights becoming a true mixed-use urban neighborhood. The Nebraska frontage needs to feature ground floor commercial, with no apartments fronting Nebraska.

The neighborhood needs a commercial corridor which better serves their needs, and which helps create the sort of daytime economy that can support the influx of new restaurants and shops. It is vital that Seminole Heights’ fairly limited supply of commercially zoned land retain its commercial use during redevelopment per the neighborhood’s vision plan, or this diversification of Seminole Heights’ economy cannot occur, for lack of places for it to occur.

* * *

Edit: Something we forgot to mention earlier… this project is on the east side of Nebraska, where the afternoon sun from the west can be withering. Where’s the awning, canopy, trees or other source of shade for peds?

We like the general idea of this project and want Nebraska to reach its potential as a thriving, urban area.  The problem is that this project just skips the good urban design part regarding street action.  Hopefully, they will tweak it and get it right – including some awnings.


Downtown – Renovate

URBN Tampa Bay had news of a new renovation on Franklin Street.

This new rendering/drawing has been released for Lit Premium Cigar Lounge’s new location at 908 N. Franklin St in Downtown Tampa. The proposed project will renovate the vacant, historic, yellow building next door to The Franklin Manor.

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

This is the building now:

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

Especially given that so much of it has been demolished, it is nice to see what is left of downtown’s historical fabric being brought back to life.


Downtown – Still No

The attempt to get an 11-story storage building built downtown continues.

We have new color elevations and a site plan for a proposed 11 story storage facility proposed for 802 East Laurel Street in Downtown Tampa. The project includes 113,499 square feet of storage space and a private recreation deck on the top floor.

The current rule in Downtown is that the square footage of a storage facility cannot exceed 40% of the floor area of a project. This development is seeking a special use permit (SU-2) to have 91% of the floor area of the project as storage facility.

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

We cannot overstate just how poor this proposal is.  The building is not only a bland use (and it really is single use), it is just plain bad (basically like this).  It has no street activation.  It has no design to speak of.  It is against the downtown plan and the existing rules (which are already too lenient).  Simply put, this does not belong downtown (or most places in the City, really).  It does not belong right next to Encore.  It does not belong right next to a possible Brightline station.

The Burger King drive-through was bad enough.  This will definitively tell you what the vision of every member of the City Council is.


Airports – Growing

There was news from the Airport:

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board of Directors on December 6, approved a $66 million contract for construction of new facilities and site preparation of 35 acres at the Airport’s new SkyCenter development area. 

* * *

The construction contract, awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction, enables the company to develop the SkyCenter site, which is located just west of Tampa International Airport’s new Rental Car Center.

The company will also build a 40,000 square-foot atrium and 230-foot long pedestrian bridge that connects it to the SkyConnect station at the Rental Car Center, a new 650-foot commercial curbside, a 230-foot extension of the Rental Car Center’s remote curb that serves county buses, and reconfiguration of the Cell Phone Waiting Lot including new restrooms and Flight Information Display system.

* * *

Construction is expected to begin in January 2019. The site development and construction of the atrium and walkway are expected to be complete in 2020. Future plans for SkyCenter include a hotel, retail space and at least one office building.

That contract does not include the hotel and office building, the developers of which remain to be picked.

The Aviation Authority Board is scheduled to select a developer for a nine-story office building at SkyCenter next to the atrium early next year.

In additional news, the design-build contract for the UPS facility was also posted.  At pages 45 and 80 of the pdf, among others, you can see the plan for the layout of the UPS facility (see pdf here).

There was also expected news from St. Pete Clearwater Airport.

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport has hit a new passenger growth mark, breaking its all-time annual record already.

This November was the largest November in the airport’s history with 173,316 passengers, a 1 percent increase over 2017, according to the airport’s monthly passenger report.

Year-to-date passengers are up 11 percent over 2017. The airport has had more than 2 million passengers thus far.

Which is very good, but the problem remains the same: the dependence on one airline.


USF – Here and There

There was USF news this week.  First,

Even after 1,200 stores, Publix is still is finding new firsts.

Thursday ended what’s been a decades-long wait for University of South Florida Tampa students and alumni when the grocery chain opened its first-ever store on a college campus. USF President Judy Genshaft said the dream and demand for an on-campus grocery store has been on the top of students’ request lists for years.

“Not beside, not across the street, but on our campus,” Genshaft said from a lectern set up outside the store ahead of its early morning ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This a change-maker in our community and we can’t be more proud.”

It is a nice amenity.  While a bit sprawling in design (but USF’s campus is still sprawling), it is easily walked to from the new dorms, which is good.

But there was bigger news:

Consolidating three separate University of South Florida campuses is proving to be a mammoth task, so the Board of Trustees is taking baby steps.

We have not really commented on about consolidation before except to say that the consolidation move seemed to lack enough consultation with the areas involved, and what we really cared about was the students.   That is still true.  However, we have to say that over the years we have felt that the entire saga of regional campuses, separate campuses, amputated campuses, consolidating campuses, etc., seems far more a symptom of local political officials wrangling for points and seeing USF as a development tool than looking for what benefits the students, the area overall, and the school. (Though some things seems pretty obvious like it would be odd to have marine biology related programs based in Tampa given that the Tampa campus is landlocked and the St Pete campus is on the bay.)  We have no favorite model; we just want USF to provide the best education for the students and do useful research.  In any event, consolidation is on.

Consolidation is now required for USF, after Gov. Rick Scott signed the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018. Currently, each of the institutions is separate and has different requirements: students need to apply to all three schools separately and each institution has its own standards and practices. The three USF campuses — Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee — will consolidate under one umbrella by July 1, 2020. However the Board of Trustees needs to make its final recommendations in March.

We don’t really care if this process sets up one “college” with two “schools” for the various colleges/departments as contemplated for the college(s) of business, or some other combination.  In the era of online classes/web-learning and innovative automobiles that can transport professors to different locations, we just do not see why it is so hard to have essentially the same offerings in most programs at the various campuses, even if a department is officially based on a different campuses.

We just hope the Board gets all the technical stuff worked out so the university can focus on what it is supposed to be doing: teaching students with a side of research.


Downtown/Channel District/Port – The Flour Mill

There was news about to where the flour mill downtown will be moving now that the land has been sold.

Port Tampa Bay is moving forward in a lease agreement with Ardent Mills after its property was bought for the Water Street Tampa project.

* * *

According to the lease agreement between the port and Ardent Mills LLC, which had a public hearing on Friday, the flour mill may be moved to Berth 302 at Port Redwing in Gibsonton.

The initial term of the lease for the 10 acres of land would be for a period of 40 years with four lease extension options every 10 years.

The port’s staff will make a recommendation on the lease agreement to the port authority’s board of commissioners on Dec. 18. The agreement states that the annual rental rate during construction would be $12,500 per acre, and for the initial year of the operational period it will be $24,000 per acre.

It also states that Port Tampa Bay would construct additional rail improvements to the main rail line at Port Redwing. Ardent Mills would pay for the rail improvements. Ardent Mills will also be responsible for all utilities, real estate taxes, site improvements, insurance, maintenance and movement of minimal tonnage.

During the operation period, the annual tonnage must be 450,000 tons, 100,000 of which must be by vessel over a Port Tampa Bay dock. 

We do not have all the detailed language, but in general we have no problem with the idea (assuming Ardent Mills builds the new mill, as indicated in the meeting notice).  It keeps the business here and frees up the land downtown.  That looks like a win-win.

On a side note, it is always amusing to us how some things just seem to magically happen in this area (with little to no public input) while other things languish for decades.


Hard Rock – Topped Off

We have not written about it much but the expansion at the Hard Rock has topped off.

That, however, is what’s going on at the Tampa Seminole Hard Rock & Casino at Interstate 4 and Orient Road. There, the tribe on Tuesday marked a key milestone in its $700 million expansion. As hundreds of late-morning gamblers played video slots and poker inside, workers outside hoisted the uppermost beam into place atop a new 15-story hotel tower, expected to open in mid-2019.

* * *

The new tower will give the tribe about 800 rooms on its Tampa property, including 88 suites (79 of them new). The hotel tower’s top floor will offer a private gaming parlor for VIP guests, with a similarly exclusive check-in and private elevators to the high-end suites.

An expanded deck the size of a football field will include three pools and a 120-seat restaurant, plus a 25,000-square-foot spa and salon nearby. There also will be a 200-seat Italian restaurant, a 30,000-square-foot event center with a large ballroom and 700 more parking spaces. The number of places to shop will more than triple, and the casino will be renovated, ending up with 5,000 slots machines and nearly 200 gaming tables.

We are all for the expansion, but it is too bad that the complex is so isolated.


Housing – Going Small?

We have recently been discussing affordable housing.  Not coincidentally, there was an editorial in the Times regarding housing.

In twin discussions recently, the council heard concerns over city-supported home-building projects and proposals for building affordable homes from storage containers. About a dozen residents complained that a city contract to develop about 85 parcels in east Tampa would be cost-prohibitive – with homes selling between $180,000 to $224,000 – and lead to residents being pushed out of the predominantly black, low-income neighborhood. In a later discussion, executives from a Tampa company that builds homes out of storage containers told the council they could build a smaller home for about $83,200. That piqued the interest of east Tampa residents, who said the five-figure price tag was more in line with their definition of affordable.

Plainly, the City could have done better than that deal.  And we are all for looking at alternatives to traditional single family neighborhoods (though we are not completely sold on containers or tiny homes, especially in Florida.  Of course, there are other options, like allowing more density and multi-family housing, especially not the sprawling kind. (If you are looking to make things affordable, sprawl is not the best path. Sprawl is not an efficient use of land or infrastructure, and it is not economical for those living in it.)

Tiny homes could be part of the solution, but the city will need a much broader strategy – rethinking its land development code, easing parking requirements and other regulatory changes to welcome a new type of residential mix. The city will also have to protect the traditional neighborhood setting. Housing costs, low inventory and rising rents have already prompted many home owners to rent out rooms in single-family homes. Three front doors and five cars in the yard is a dead giveaway. The housing crunch is putting pressure on property owners and creating challenges for code enforcement to protect the neighborhoods. As Tampa continues this discussion, the candidates for mayor and council seats in the March election need to flesh out an agenda that stabilizes housing and accommodates future growth.

The last sentence makes a good point.  There are a variety of steps to try to mitigate the problem (we don’t think it will be fully alleviated). Elected officials (and those who want to be elected officials) need to deal with the issue and be open to new alternatives – and speak to details not generalities.  (And, of course, one thing that would help would be if there was robust transit so people did not have to drive, did not have to park, and had more money to put towards housing.)


History – Where is that Confounded Spring?

There was an interesting and amusing article in the Times regarding Government Spring.

Still unknown is the location of Government Spring, one of downtown Tampa’s first sources of fresh water. But people with an interest in the Sixth Avenue construction project think they have the answer, and it lies nearby. They just don’t agree on where.

Daryl Shaw, who owns the property under development, says the historic spring is on the land next door at 1234 Fifth Ave — and the owner of that land, attorney Dale Swope, concurs.

But Gerry Curts, an Ybor City architect who sold Shaw the parcel a year ago, says it’s on Shaw’s land.

Anyway, it is interesting, and you can read it here.  While it is not surprising that some infrastructure could get lost, Tampa really is not that old that such things should disappear (or people not know what tunnels, which are not really common in this area and which were apparently maintained as late as the 1980s, might be for), the one part of the article that really caught our eye was this:

Spring mysteries abound, Anastasiou said.

What Tampa celebrates as Ulele Spring is a pool at the end of a pipe. The spring feeding it lies either under the road or a parking lot.

“We’ve never been able to find the exact location,” he said.

It takes nothing away from the location or the restaurant, but that is just odd.


Meanwhile, Back at the Pete

There was some interesting news from St. Pete this week.  First,

On Wednesday, the city’s Development Review Commission unanimously approved a $69-million, 20-story tower that would replace several quaint old apartment buildings that are home to Olsen and dozens of others. The unanimous vote came despite complaints that St. Petersburg’s stock of affordable housing is rapidly disappearing.

“I’m probably going to have to completely move out of the area,” said Olsen, a retiree who lives on her Social Security income.

Illinois-based Inland National Development plans to demolish seven apartment buildings, some dating to the 1920s, on Fifth Street N and Third Avenue near Mirror Lake. They would be replaced by a U-shaped tower with nearly 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

City staffers recommended approval of the tower, which would add another 270 units to the more than 2,000 recently built or under construction in and near downtown St. Petersburg.

This is a complicated issue.  We are all for (properly designed) new buildings, but we prefer it to fill up surface parking lots (of which St. Pete still has many) rather than replacing used and useful buildings. Part of the impressive success St. Pete has had in its downtown is reinvigorating the old buildings and adding to them rather than (at least in most cases) ripping up the original fabric and replacing it.

And,

Merhige also raised concerns that affordable apartments would be knocked down for a project that might never get built.

“We saw what happened in 2005, 2008,” she said. “It’s gonna happen again, there’s boom now but there’s going to be a bust.”

City officials said the developer would be required to submit “full and complete” construction plans but no proof of financing before demolition permits were issued.

In other words, it could be a replay of the Maas Brothers Building in Tampa (that would probably have been renovated by now if it hadn’t been demolished and then turned into surface parking.)

Or as URBN Tampa Bay put it:

Perhaps in another year, the developer will figure out that they are about to knock down a block worth of the fine grained development that makes St Pete the sort of urban neighborhood people are flocking to. 

Perhaps, but most likely not.  We doubt they will care at all, especially if St Pete doesn’t.

In other news:

Nearly 230,000 gallons of wastewater spilled from a tank Monday at one of the city’s water treatment plants.

Those are just the latest of nearly 2 million gallons of wastewater to gush from city infrastructure in the last three months.

You can just read about it here.  Instead of getting all worked up about Tampa’s idea of converting wastewater into drinking water , maybe St. Pete should look into adopting it.


Meanwhile, In the Rest of Florida

A new report discusses the increase in value of land around SunRail stations in the Orlando area.

Property values around the first 12 train stations increased by $2.4 billion — 63 percent — from 2011-2017, and FDOT estimates that $1.19 billion of that is directly attributable to SunRail, according to a report in GrowthSpotter.

Each station has drawn new development, and most experienced a sharp increase in property values that outpaced their surrounding areas by nearly 23 percent.

The research team from Florida State University first analyzed the property value impact of SunRail in 2015, but at that time, the system had only been operational for two years. Now, with three more years of data, the team determined that property values in the station areas are escalating at a higher rate as the system matures.

That is no surprise to us.  We would expect rail transit stations to help increase property values.  But there is even more to it, which URBN Tampa Bay highlighted quite well:

It’s important to note that SunRail is a bare bones commuter service that is not well integrated into other local transit offerings.

There’s a strong case to be made that converting the CSX tracks here in Hillsborough County to mass transit service, would yield a significantly greater impact than doing the same has yielded in the Orlando area. Particularly since Hillsborough County now has the funding in place to do better than a bare bones set up. We can design and build high quality bus, ped and bike infrastructure to tie directly into the rail stations. We have a BOCC and presumably a city council in place who will reform their development codes and fee structures to facilitate walkable development where these infrastructure investments are made.

A key to that happening is for the state Legislature and FDOT to give the Tampa Bay area the same level of investment they have already given South Florida and the Orlando region with TriRail and SunRail. Here, the state wants to basically screw us with a cheap express bus plan run along the interstate, where the service is beholden to traffic conditions. Worse, it’s not even a good plan, and would dump hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars into parking garages in neighborhoods where the last thing residents want is another reason for drivers to jam their streets coming and going to the highway.

Note the last point. The “BRT” plan features a large number of parking garages, apparently based on the assumption that people will drive to the interstate, pay to park their car, then ride a bus on the interstate (rather than drive their own cars in a more direct route) to their destination.  First, that seems unlikely.  Second, no one has asked the revitalizing areas where some of these garages will be built (and which have vigorously opposed FDOT’s plans to cram more highway into their neighborhoods) if they want hulking garages (or, maybe, big surface parking lots) built there instead/as well.  (And the “BRT” plan has been touted by some of its own proponents as lacking permanence, which also means it lacks a key quality for the “BRT” to make the land around the stops more valuable for large investment.)

It is also important to note that the State bought the CSX tracks for SunRail, which is something it should do here, too (though we favor a local rail use on the rails, not commuter rail).  Simply “fixing” the interstate is not comparable, and we deserve better (note FDOT is also “fixing” I-4 in Orlando, so even to the State it is not an all or nothing idea).  There is no reason the State should buy the rail in Orlando (and give insurance guarantees) and not do so here (though probably the biggest obstacle is locally elected officials).


Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

This week Walk Bike Tampa (as opposed to Bike/Walk Tampa Bay, which is something different) held a forum for mayoral candidates regarding, you guessed it, walking and biking issues. (You can read about it here. )   Baltimore has adopted a complete streets program.

Baltimore officials celebrated Thursday the passage of the “Complete Streets” law, a broad set of regulations requiring the city’s Department of Transportation to design roadways, sidewalks and bike lanes in a way that promotes walking, bicycling and public transit, beyond just cars.

Mayor Catherine Pugh signed the bill into law late last week, and Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who sponsored the legislation, held a news conference Thursday at City Hall Thursday to commemorate it.

Dorsey said the law will set up Baltimore for success and improved equity in the future by encouraging “designing for a more human-scale city.”

In addition for prioritizing use by pedestrians, bicyclists and others in street design, the law requires the transportation department to spend the next 13 months implementing the new guidelines, developing community engagement plans and drafting a Complete Streets manual outlining street design and investment priorities.

If the City (or County) is really committed to moving beyond relying solely on cars, they should do something similar here. (You can read more about it here.) The problem is that in the vast majority of places in the area, the buildings are built to promote cars over people. For real change to happen, that also needs to change.

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