Monday, March 19, 2007

The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be...

I know things have been quiet all around the HoCo-blogsphere. I have no excuse for my lameness. But I'm not going to apologize for it either.

Anyway, the quiet will likely continue until we get something to fuel our fire. What that will be, I can't say. Perhaps the Columbia elections? Perhaps the proposed building height restrictions for Town Center, which have been the subject of intense debate on the Howard County Citizens Association listserve. So, if you're looking for action, I strongly recommend joining the group or at least the e-mail list (which I believe you can join without having to officially become a member).

A few stories that may or may not be of interest to you...

Likely to join the Howard County endangered building list are the Exhibit Center and the Rouse Company building in Town Center. Both, like Merriweather Post Pavilion, were designed by Frank Gehry, who, after his work in Columbia, went on to become a rock star in the architecture world. Now, I know Merriweather has kind of been "saved" and all, but why can't it qualify for the list, too? I'd say it's still just as at risk as the others.

Speaking of old buildings, the county has begun the process of buying Belmont. Lots of details still need to be resolved.

Finally, you mean the need for age-restricted housing might not be as severe as it's made out to be and that this justification is really just a pragmatic work-around for developers who can't build non-age-restricted housing? Really?

“It has nothing to do with the demographics,” said local economist Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group. “It has to do with the fact the homebuilder community needs to build projects, and age-restricted housing tends to generate less opposition.”

The 637 age-restricted housing units built last year accounted for 34 percent of the total units built in Howard, according to the county’s latest annual Development Monitoring System Report, which details development activity from October 2005 to September 2006.
Ah, market distortions: Good for some, bad for others.
This abundance of age-restricted housing also means less available housing for other sectors of the population, particularly young families.

Young families face fewer housing options and rising housing costs, Basu said.

“I don’t think these public policies contribute to the well-being of younger families,” he said.
But a cynic might say "that's the point!" As we saw in the discussion of the senior property tax credit, the importance of a family's well-being is inversely proportional to their impact on the county's bottom line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, Gehry's Rouse Company building and Exhibit Center haven't had accoutrements such as this formerly vibrant but now decimated large tree and this junked truck wrapped around another large decimated tree added near them like Merriweather.

Compare those sights to the historic aerial photo of Merriweather and its considerably more well treed and natural lawn found in Barbara Kellner's 2005 book on Columbia and it's a pretty stark contrast.

Also worth comparison to the carny-like additions to Merriweather of late, a Sydney Pollack documentary of Gehry and his works and how they relate to their surroundings. That relation to surroundings seems to be of less and less importance for Merriweather of late.


You may want to clarify "impact" in "the importance of a family's well-being is inversely proportional to their impact on the county's bottom line".

Are you referring to positive impact or negative impact? Positive impact would ostensibly be a family contributing more revenue (income and property tax) than they consume in services. Negative impact being consuming more costs in services than the taxes received from them.

Does this mean you're in favor of age-restricted housing receiving equal treatment under APFO regulations? Logic indicates age-restricted housing shouldn't be free of school-capacity APFO regulations, since much of local age-restricted housing is occupied by local residents, who vacate local existing housing, that existing housing is then occupied by other families that then often do impact school population levels.

This ancillary school impact can be determined if it hasn't already been. Consequently, age-restricted housing shouldn't get a pass on that portion of APFO. Does that sound more fair?

Just keep in mind that with less age-restricted housing available, less existing residents will vacate existing housing and opt to instead age in place. That means less existing housing stock for younger families to buy. And, existing housing is more affordable than the luxury of brand new housing, too.