Another article from the weekend Sun addresses the "good news" about the approximately 40% increase in building permits issued by the county between 2008 and 2009. This is despite the worst job losses in 30 years.
Mr. Carson fails to address the elephant in the room (Larry is known to hate elephants) by ignoring the face that our council has been on a zone changing rampage. Of course buidling permits have gone up. People say "BRAC" and the council gets out their pen. I was one of those people that saw my house go down in value and thought "well that's ok, we'll have an influx of people in 2010, which will buoy the local market." Well that buoy can't float if we prematurely flood the market with housing, which is exactly what the developers and council-members are doing. If you read between the lines on the above linked article, it appears that the members are trying to create an artificial tax revenue stream under the premise of "maintaining county services."
The real shame is that the mess of all this is only going to be evident immediately after the 2010 elections. A good number of our current council members will be able to shrug, blame those that lost their seats, and wait out their term to hope that people forget the votes they made in 2009 and February 1, 2010 (big one today).
I am not anti-development. I did move to the county (and out of Baltimore city) because I enjoyed the rural/suburb/urban mix that Howard County is able to provide. This mix was made via excrutiatingly careful zoning and urban planning. One would be hard pressed to see any "care" in what's going on now. When you look at the statements of the council-members, they almost always appear to be caught up in a wave of unpredictability. They'll say things like "I look forward to seeing this play out in the years ahead" or "This will take additional examination before a resolution can be found" or "I haven't made up my mind on this issue" and then BAMMO they vote in an entirely predictable "Let's roll the dice" manner.
No matter where people stand on issues like development, there does not seem to be a solid voice in the council that the people can trust. If we're moving in the direction of redevelopment and rezoning, I want someone to say "Hey, this one's on me. If it works, I want a statute next to the lakefront. If it doesn't, pack my bags for me and send me into the desert." We don't have that. We have the Teflon Don in Ken Ulman, to which nothing sticks, and a pack of yes-men. I know I have at least one reader who is not a fan of Greg Fox, but I tell ya what, we should be thankful we have him. He has stood in the way of irresponsibile legislation on multiple occassions, even if it was only long enough for us to know it was happening. I know that Greg tends not to get too deep in the development stuff, since that doesn't directly affect his District, but he is more often the not the ONLY person that seems to have a challenging voice to those plans that are from the lawyer's drafting table to county law.