Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Different Future: Ellicott City and Hipsturbia (Tuesday LINKS)

In the nearly non-stop coverage relating to the future of Columbia, its ability to attract "young professionals", and how "population density" is the most desirable thing you can say to a 28 year old, you can't help but feel like Ellicott City has been overlooked.  It is the only place in Howard County that is referred to as a "City" with any consistency and even has a "Main Street" to anchor it to the construct.  New apartments are planned for the near future and housing construction has been underway in the surrounding hills for as long as I can remember.

And the New York Times says we may have projected "the future" all wrong.  Alex Williams writes:

As formerly boho environs of Brooklyn become unattainable due to creeping Manhattanization and seven-figure real estate prices, creative professionals of child-rearing age — the type of alt-culture-allegiant urbanites who once considered themselves too cool to ever leave the city — are starting to ponder the unthinkable: a move to the suburbs. 

But only if they can bring a piece of the borough with them. 

To ward off the nagging sense that a move to the suburbs is tantamount to becoming like one’s parents, this urban-zen generation is seeking out palatable alternatives — culturally attuned, sprawl-free New York river towns like Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown — and importing the trappings of a twee lifestyle like bearded mixologists, locavore restaurants and antler-laden boutiques. 


Mitchell Moss, an urban-planning professor at New York University, said that funkier suburbs like the river towns are getting a new look from “overeducated hipsters,” not just because they have good schools, spacious housing and good transit, but because lately the restaurants are good enough to keep them in the suburbs on a Saturday night. “The creative class is trying to replicate urban life in the suburbs,” he said.  

River town...locavore restaurants...antler-laden boutiques...good schools...spacious housing?  

Admittedly, the writers are talking about places that connect to New York City, but would the hipster described above be disappointed in Ellicott City?  In fact, don't you get that vibe nowadays?  A younger vibe?  Jane and I couldn't even get a seat at The Bean Hollow two weekends ago.  It was filled with exactly those groups of young people described in this piece.  

I think two of the top objectives for the next County Executive will be to lay out the future of Ellicott City and figure out how Howard County is going to connect to the next wave of mass transportation.  The two are integrally related.  While Columbia may one day be able to stand on its own as a Work-Live-Play bubble, Ellicott City is unlikely to share the same future.  In some ways, it will always be a preferred "retreat", making connections to reliable transportation to Baltimore and D.C., critical to its viability as a residential area.

All the housing in the world does not decide where people choose to live.  We may be praising the wrong jewel.


Speaking of Ellicott City housing, Blair Ames notes that a proposed amendment to zoning regulations would allow the developer of the Normandy Shopping Plaza the ability to use neighborhood center zoning without the corresponding commercial space, which has surrounding residents concerned that the existing businesses will go without upgrade.  This is the first time I have heard of residents concerned that a developer is not building enough commercial space.  In light of just how long it has taken for this project to get off the ground (admittedly put off by the developer having to wait for Comprehensive Rezoning), I am beginning to think that there is a concern about profitability. 

The Flier also notes the Neuman for Exec story, but without mention of Dennis Lane's post last Saturday, which was the first I saw on the subject.  Let's make a deal - if a journalist "finds out" about something from a blog, they give a hat tip in the article. 

Errors in automated law enforcement are dead.  Long live errors in automated law enforcement.

In what may continue to be the most misunderstood law on the Maryland books, the State-mandated septic ban (i.e., Growth Tiers) survived a repeal attempt after the House Environmental Matters Committee gave the repeal bill an "unfavorable" report.  This begs the question - If the law is unenforceable, as argued by some in this County, why is there a need for repeal?

Featured Blog Post of the Day: HowChow is on another tear, to eat it up (ugh, sorry) while you can.  Yesterday he posted a review of Sushi Tendou in Fulton, giving it high marks for quality, but noting some growing pains (i.e., an absence of "crunch" in their "crunchy" roll).

That's all for today.  Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!