Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Parking and Public Ownership (Tuesday LINKS)

I don't know enough about the Ellicott City Parking imbroglio to offer significant comment on the outcome or how it was reached, but I can say that amongst the Old EC business owners I've spoken with, they break down into two camps:

A. Those who had a part in proposing the new method of parking and are advocating for its implementation.

B.  Those who had the new parking system "announced" to them and are against it.

This is completely based off of my observations and may not be a full representation of how this plan was designed, but I've heard from enough business owners to feel comfortable sharing that observation with all of you.

Trying to change the manner in which a business district operates is an enormous and intimidating task.  The very idea of change alone would seemingly make this a nonstarter for a line of businesses who have amongst them stores that have been in operation for over 50 years. 

"Change?  Sonny, I sold your Mom diapers for you.  Go change that."

But at some point, change is necessary.  Those of us who live in Columbia have seen the rough edges and blunt force of change over the past decade and are about to see a lot more.  The manner in which the public responds is unpredictable, other than the constant presence of opposition.  But let's get back to the two groups noted above.  They seem to be dictated by "ownership".  Is this change mine or is the change imposed by someone else?

The Columbia Association faces this in microcosm.  CA has had to make significant changes over the past two years that I've been on the Board and the nature of opposition or support for those changes i often predicated on the manner in which we have been able to accomplish "public ownership" of the change.  This is clunky and often sacrifices the perfect for the good.  You rarely get to implement the "cutting edge" plan.  It is safe, rarely risky.  But the evolution of the community incorporates the interests of those who are slow to change.   It is the difference between executing corporate policy and public policy.

This isn't my preference.  Anyone who knows me knows that I would much prefer the new innovation over the safe.  And for those who feel the way I do, we have an obligation to make ourselves heard amongst those who wish to slow down.  But that doesn't mean we get to decide the mater entirely.

One aspect of the parking discussion that deserves mention is the fact that this was a problem in need of solving.  The response of those opposing the new changes (i.e., paid parking) have said "Yes, but not like this."  That's where the slow deliberation of public ownership may not have a place.  We can second guess the Ulman Administration all day long (we do anyway), but a significant responsibility of the Executive Branch is to solve problems, often irrespective of the micro-politics at play.  For something as personal and emotionally complex as Old Ellicott City Parking, I think a lot of us would have love to see more buy-in from the business community.  Maybe that was attempted.  Maybe it wasn't.  But all complaints aside, the parking problem, for better or worse, has been addressed.  Whether it was solved will be left for future complaint or compliment.


Ravens Cornerback Lardarius Webb and Line-backer Ray Lewis are both out for the season with injuries from last Sunday's game.  We'll see if Jimmy Smith and McPhee can step up in their absence.

Baltimore's largest Plaintiff's firm is handling the City Comptroller's lawsuit against the Mayor pro bono.  That law firm just happens to be Peter Angelos's firm, which introduces an interesting political dynamic to the suit.

Baltimore County has two zoning decisions on the 2014 ballot for referendum, for which developers and other business interests have contributed $225,000 to help fight against passage.  Putting zoning decisions on the public ballot is a very dangerous proposition and is bad policy.  It is one thing to challenge a generally applicable law, but something else entirely to have the public vote regarding what a property owner may do with their land.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: If you care about school redistricting, you really need to read Lisa B, Mrs. S's blog.  Not just this post, but all of the posts that came before it.  If you don't have a student in the school system, you should still care about redistricting.  We're not just talking about students and portable classrooms.  We're also talking about development, property values, and school transportation costs.  From my perspective, there are some very dangerous and concerning ideas that are being thrown around like they are nothing.  I appreciate Lisa's work to help educate us about the process and where it is going.

That's all for today.  Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!  I may get together a LiveBlog for tonight's Debate.  Let me know in the comments below if you are interested.