Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I belong in the service of the Queen...

Rain, be damned! We're hula-hooping today.

Despite a fair amount of concern, it looks like the weather won't be too bad for my campaign event tonight. Now, if only we can get it to hold off for Saturday, too.

Anyway, I'll spare you a blow-by-blow recap of last night's candidates forum and instead just tell you that I thought it went well. I suppose I'm not the best person to ask about my performance, however.

The only real news to share about the forum is the proposal my opponent, Barbara Russell, offered. I was surprised with how many people I talked to today had already heard the news, so bear with me if you already know the details.

Basically, she'd like to see public water and sewer service extended to western Howard County in order to alleviate development pressure in the east. This would allow higher density development in the west, which could help meet the county-wide need for (affordable) housing without having to squeeze more into developed areas, like Columbia.

She calls it a "new paradigm," a characterization I disagree with. It sounds to me like sprawl, which is the very paradigm New Towns like Columbia were supposed to replace.

But I'm more interested in your thoughts, both on the merits of the idea and it's applicability to the Oakland Mills race. When commenting, if you don't mind, post whether you live inside or outside of the county water service area. I don't mean to pry. Rather, I'm interested in seeing how opinions are affected by location.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is nothing new about moving the water and sewer west in the County. Western HC has been against it for exactly the reason Barbara says. But, this is a County wide issue and I only see a marginal relationship to the Oakland Mills Council seat race. OM has many more internal pressing issues that the CA Council Rep should be focused on.

FreeMarket said...

I live in western Howard, out where you are just as likely to see a squirrel in a pot pie as in a tree, beyond the realm of public water. I don’t know why BR is trying to make a campaign issue out of public sewage in Western Howard. She should be able to express her opinions on anything, but I don’t understand why she called the memo a “proposal”, nor do I understand why she used her CA title on it. Simply bringing water and sewage westward would add to the sprawl we already have, unless there were substantial zoning reforms that came along with the water. BR’s idea is too rough to even consider, and I doubt it would provide Oakland Mills residents with anything other than higher taxes. In short, the idea is lame and it is not relevant to the Oakland Mills race.

There are things that need to be done to make Western Howard more community oriented. Whenever I go to the shopping center in Dorsey’s Search, I walk from the Safeway to Subway to Blockbuster and everywhere in between. The walkway, trees and benches make the atmosphere enjoyable. When I go to Dunkin’ Donuts in Lisbon, I drive 100 feet to Harvest Fare rather than walk. Sure, I could walk, but why the hell would I want to? It is visually mind-numbing.

mamagoots said...

I live outside the county's water service area. Actually, I live outside the county. Heck, I even live outside the state! But that doesn't change blooey to feasible.

"New paradigm" sounds an awful lot like old "NIMBY." So move the affordable housing issue to the western end of the county?

So. Who's gong to live in this so-called "affordable" housing? Minimum-wage service workers or teachers/police/firefighters? Now those guys at the upper end of the spectrum (the teachers etc) may also be able to afford the car to get them to their jobs, but more than likely the low end minimum wagers will have to depend on public transportation to get them to McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Giant, etc. Is that infrastructure in place? Anybody seen the Columbia Ride-On or Howard County Transit out there by Long Corner Road?

"Affordable" housing needs to be where the people who need it can afford to get to the jobs that enable them to afford the housing.

Hello? What part of this is rocket science?

And what part of this has anything to do with the CA elections? OM?

wordbones said...

This is just further evidence of BR's poor judgement.

I live within the county water and sewer district (old EC). I have long been advocate for infill development and increasing density in areas where the services (shopping, public transportation,roads, health services, etc.) already exist. Extending water and sewer into western Howard will open the floodgates of sprawl development.
-wb

Anonymous said...

Barbara's statements are exactly the reason why voters need to know who is elected at the most fundamental local level.

She made it past the entrance gate, and would devastate the way of life in the west county given the opportunity to serve on the county council, which get's it's members from CA, school bd, etc..

I live in the west, and would work against any candidate who says they want to develop the west.

Anonymous said...

OK, So I don't even live in the county anymore, but this idea of extending public water and sewer to western Howard County is one of the most ill-conceived and possibly ignorant ideas I have heard in a long time. The first thing to consider would be cost, which I would expect to be quite significant, requiring an additional source of revenue to pay for it. The point about low income housing needing to be near low-income jobs is also valid. The other thing is obviously the issue of sprawl, which is already a problem in western Howard county without this. Have you ever been to Atlanta? It is a nice city, but the suburbs are a series of endless sprawl, which certainly does not help the traffic situation. It seems to me that BR has taken the "not in my backyard" approach and is saying let them live somewhere far away from me, where I don't have to be affected by them.
How does this have anything to do with CA board and her responsibilities?

It seems like she is living in another world.

jim adams said...

There have been 7 extensions of the public water lines into Western Howard County, the last one to the West Friendship Fire Department. The size of the pipes were over sized, Possibly with thoughts of developing the area with more housing. This is were politicians Kittleman, Bates, and I believe Miller live.

As you know there would be great profits earned by a few individuals with development of the west, and the millions of dollars of expences for sewage and water given unwilling to the citizens of the county.

Many of you may not know we have aging water lines coming into the county, and this means costly, extensive repairs to service the existing communities.More development will result in more stress on this old water delivery
system.

As a resident of Western H.C. I don't want to see this development occur, unless it is very slow,is very well planned, and benfits those now living in the west.

Lets first deal with other problems, like the possible closing of hospitals in Prince George County and the over flow that would result on our county's medical delivery system, or the need to address the construction cost related to our schools.

I want you to take this serious, not as a joke. It is more important to make sure we have enough toilet paper in our school restrooms, than new sewage lines into Western Howard County. Ask your children about this.

Anonymous said...

It is sprawl. Plain and Simple Sprawl. This is everything Jim Rouse was against and why Columbia was planned the way it was. Coming from someone who claims to be "the one" who knew Jim Rouse and his vison, it is very disturbing.

numbers.girl said...

I don’t even know where to begin. First, a disclaimer, I live in Western HoCo. I have lived there for the past 5 years.

I’ve also lived in Columbia, as a child and as an adult. I work there now. I like to think I have dual citizenship.

I am not against developing the West. How selfish would it be for those of us who owe our current status as homeowners in the Western end to say that no others should move there? I am, however, against “stupid” growth. (I’m copyrighting that term). As Freemarket stated, the shopping centers are poorly designed. Even if you wanted to walk (as I do) from one store to another, without sidewalks, it is dangerous. Secondly, there is no sense of community at the shopping centers. These centers serve as our only community gathering place. Check it out in the summer- parents bring their kids, lawn chairs, radios, and sit in the parking lot so that the kids have someplace safe to play and the parents and sit and talk. But wait- NEW signs posted state “no loitering, no bikes, no skateboards”, etc. i.e. the community is actually prohibited from gathering there.

But why do we choose to gather in a large, unsafe parking lot at a decrepit shopping center? Because the developments have no sidewalks, no shoulders, no community areas. Children who want to walk to a friend’s house in the next development over simply can’t do so without walking down a busy country road, where cars travel in excess of 50 mph. We are reliant on cars to navigate the larger community and execute the daily tasks of living such as shopping. We are also reliant on them to navigate our own neighborhoods. We are isolating ourselves.

One of BR’s arguments for public water is ridiculous. “Large expensive homes … wouldn’t burn to the ground because there wasn’t enough water to put out the fire.” I have no sympathy here. If the people building $1.3 million dollar houses can’t be troubled to spend the extra $$ to install sprinklers and a cistern, tough luck. This is something for the homeowner and the insurance companies to work out. It isn’t up to the taxpayer to subsidize families with million-dollar houses.

Oh, and I LOVE her position that “Oakland Mills already has more lower rent and below market rate apartments than many parts of Columbia…The balance in Oakland Mills would actually be enhanced by including more upscale housing.” So, all those “McMansions” that she’s so against- she wants them built in OM, instead of allowing more of the low-rent folks in. Snotty and NIMBY.

Russell’s proposal is a ridiculous attempt to sway the conversation away from her dismal record as Council rep over the past 7 years. She has absolutely no influence over the development of the Western end. This illustrates perfectly how she and CA have really lost focus on what their roles are.

Anonymous said...

I'd be with Anon above who said they would work towards defeating any candidate who, especially outside their scope of authority, wanted to extend the lines out to the western end.
As a person living in the Western end, I want to have a vote on the people who will represent me and my interests - in no way can I vote for the CA/OM boards. Yet, BR wants to push Columbia's problems/issues onto another jurisdiction. That's the first sign of a poor leader - she's already ducking the hard issues. How will she deal with others? Ship students to different counties to ease overcrowding? Make the elderly move to FL so the hospitals aren't stressed? WOW, the wealth of the paradigm shift she can create...

BR - Represent the people who get to vote for you and stay out of my backyard. I have representation on the County Council already (someone I was able to vote for) and don't need you operating outside the scope of your authority. If you want to be a councilperson - great, run for that job. (And yes, we would work to defeat you there, too)

chris said...

i didnt realize how much of hayduke's readers/commenters come from western howard county. anyone from OM or even anywhere in columbia have thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I'm from OM, and I think it's an irresponsible, poorly thought out proposal. If it were enacted (hardly likely) it would actually harm OM. Right now developers are looking at the possibility of renovating and redeveloping in the older villages. Isn't that what revitalization is all about?

If the developers had a chance to go out west and develop new instead, does anyone think they would bother with the older villages? No, the villages would deteriorate rather than be redeveloped, and people would move out farther and farther. We would pay with our increased taxes for new infrastructure in the western county as our older villages fell apart. This is the pattern we are trying to prevent with smart growth policies.

If Ms. Russell wants to see her property values depreciate, she is on the right track.

Anonymous said...

Where is this proposal and how do people know about it?

Anonymous said...

The fact that we are discussing WESTWARD EXPANSION is mindless. This race is for the Columbia Association Board not the County Council. It would be great if the debate was around a central idea, maybe Oakland Mills' current issues...

I live in OM and I will vote

Hayduke said...

Anon 12:12:

Russell handed out the proposal at the OM candidates forum on Tuesday night. In talking with people yesterday morning about the forum, many had already heard about her proposal, which actually kind of surprised me (word travels fast around here, I guess). I'm sure digital copies of it have been made and passed around, but I don't know who has them or how to get to them. Perhaps I'll try to scan my copy in later today.

Anonymous said...

The merits of the case put forth by Barbara Russell are zilch. Certainly, as you say, sprawl is bad, for the environment especially. But the critical issue is that we need as much affordable housing as we can possibly get in Columbia. How else can we hope to attract the best teachers and others who serve in the public sector at salaries well below what's needed by a family, especially when starting out, to buy a market-rate house? Come-on! This is what our community is all about!

PZGURU said...

First, I don't currently live in the County at all, but I do work there. I don't want to comment on the Village elections since I'm not voting in them, but I do want to comment on the "westward expansion" issue.

I don't think there is much chance of public water and sewer extending out west at this time, or within the next 5 years. However, the topic IS already on the radar screens of public officials and developers. Trust me it is, even if the publicly say "no way". The County will be "built out" in a number of years and there will be people pushing for westward expansion. I'm not supporting the idea or condemning the idea, but people DO need to start thinking about it because eventually it will come up.

Numbersgirl - one of the reasons why there are no sidewalks in the west is that the west has different road design standards from the east. The west uses "open section" roads which means no curb and gutter. This allows water to be drained back into the land along the roads instead of being funneled by the roads into storm drains (which also do not exist out west) as I'm sure you already know. It's good for the environment, but obviously conflicts with pedestrian circulation.

The other thing to mention is that out west the density is MUCH lower, so the distances between homes, or between homes and shopping centers is greater. The car dependency is much higher than in the vilalge areas where destinations are much closer and therefore more walkable. A concern about lack of usage for pathways (along the side of the roads instead of sidewalks) may also be to blame for why pathways arenot being added now.

One final thought to consider since the majority of commenters strongly voiced opposition to westward expansion. Many of the homes in Ellicott City and the Columbia area were built on what was once farmland. That development didn't happen overnight, but it did happen, so don't be surprised if 10, 20, or 30 years from now the west looks a lot different than it does now.

Anonymous said...

It's time for change in OM! Ms. Russell had not addressed the issues in her own backyard. Ms. Russell instead concerns herself with western Howard County that are a smack in the fact to revitalizing Columbia's aging villages. Ms. Russell, it's time for change - in OM and on the Columbia Council. OM voters - get out an cast your ballots for Ian Kennedy. Revitaization continues and the Columbia Council representative seat is imperative to OM moving forward.

Anonymous said...

BR has concerned herself rightly with OM's issues, time and time again, to the benefit of residents of OM, Columbia as a whole, and every CA lien payer, contrary to Anon 8:13's claim. Do your homework and you'll see.

I think, however, extending water/sewer westward isn't a necessity and is no more of a good idea than those who'd like to get out the rubberstamp and ok just about every Town Center idea to build skyscrapers, narrow Little Patuxent Parkway to build more buildings along it, litter the heart of Columbia with a grid of red lights, and increase density way, way beyond Columbia's plan causing loss of greenspace, a permanent traffic nightmare for the residents of Town Center, Wilde Lake, Harper's Choice, Clary's Forest, and Hickory Ridge, much more school population without a corresponding land set aside for a school local to them, and developing in part of Symphony Woods and wetlands nearby.

Ask yourself why any of that is really necessary. What problem is really trying to be addressed, why does that problem really exist, and what are really the best solutions.

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