Tuesday, February 02, 2010

About Last Night

There was no way I was going to sit at home last night and watch this historic council meeting on my laptop. I had to be there to witness it in person.

I wasn’t the only one.
Ilana Bittner was there doing a video report for HoCoMoJo. She told me that her ten year old son wanted to come too. He had to settle for watching it at home with dad. It was a school night after all.

David Yungmann got his mom to watch the kids so he could come, at least for a little while. I think he was there for the vote on CB58 but by the time CB59 came up for a vote he was home tucking his kids in for the night. It was a school night after all.

I soon as I walked in I saw Tim Sosinski and he was all smiles. Apparently the council members, the housing advocates and General Growth Properties worked through the weekend and right on up to last nights council meeting on an eleventh hour compromise on affordable housing. They essentially agreed to go back to the housing trust that GGP originally proposed and drop the MIHU requirement that replaced it.

There are lots of details that still need to be worked out with this housing trust but the basic deal seems to have made the housing advocates happy. I couldn’t help but think that would also make them less than enthusiastic about any referendum drive to further delay the development. At least three of the council members used the words “full spectrum housing” when describing the benefits of the trust. Full spectrum housing is the big thing in affordable housing circles these days. It sounds pretty psychedelic to me.

And speaking of pyschedelic, the eleventh hour housing dealing seem to take its toll on Jen Terrasa. She often appeared dazed and confused with the proceedings. While Calvin, Greg, Courtney and Mary Kay seemed to be able to move through the amendments with relative ease, on more than a few occassions Jen appeared to have trouble keeping up. This caused a little open friction between her and the council chair. Courtney runs a pretty tight meeting and her patience wore thin at times with her council colleague.
I felt a little sorry the staff at Ellicott Mills Middle School. They were being honored by the council for their recent recognition as a Maryland State Blue Ribbon School. The last minute deal on housing caused a one hour delay for the start of the meeting. Thankfully they were at the top of the agenda and were out of there by nine o’clock.

It was a school night after all.


Tom said...

Boy it must be over. Not a single comment.

Bob O said...

Disclaimer: I don't live in Columbia and never will. I'm an EC resident who thinks that the bridge over the Patapsco should be demolished, and EC's historic downtown should be made an automobile free pedestrian zone.

Further Disclaimer: Wordbones does a great job of aggregating the news. I read TOTC everyday. Thanks, DL for your coverage, although I don't always agree with your slant. Well done.

Turning downtown Columbia into an urban center will bring all of the problems associated with an urban center to that area. Good luck.

I'm all for growth and development, and I think you can't stop progress. You do, however, need to control progress or it will control you. This decision about residential development in downtown Columbia just gave away the keys to the kingdom...you lost control of your town.

As an uncontrolled experiment, this will be interesting to watch. I'll just stay outside the blast zone, thank you.

Have you ever read "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman? It's a great novel in and of itself, and a great read, but the relevant observation is that it features Columbia, MD, a couple of hundred years in the future. Well worth reading. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Let's see how you or anyone else can keep up with more than fifty proposed amendments to complex and very detailed legislation.

Maybe four of the five Council Members can fake it, but Jen Terrasa is earnest in her work and wants to understand things fully.

Anonymous said...

Nonesense. I read every word in every amendment all the way up to what was changing as we walked in the door Monday night. And I have a full time job! Most of those amendments hadn't changed in weeks and very little was still moving this past weekend. Twice Jen seemed confused about amendments that had been merged into the bills weeks before. I agree that Jen is very earnest and is a dynamite person who works very hard. She cares deeply about the community and wants to do a great job. She does seem overwhelmed in this job though.

Tim Sosinski said...

Thanks for your accurate description of my joy in seeing the County adopt a meaningful housing amendment. After a 82 hours of seeing vast changes in amendment wording it was a pure pleasure to see the Council line up solidly behind a real housing breakthrough. I do take exception to the comment on Jen Teresa. Actually participating in the final Council legislative tweaks, I was amazed that any of them had any energy left to ask insightful questions. There was a lot more happening than the public ever saw. I am grateful that Jen was honest and strong enough to make one last public attempt to get it right. Her sincerity and strong heart are much appreicated from my close up view of the weekend debate.

Evan said...

Jen Terrasa was more engaged and worked harder on downtown Columbia and the Columbia Village Center zoning bills than any other county councilperson or the county executive. They all know it in their hearts even ones who post here anonymously. I would think it would be wise for them not to try to make this a pissing contest.

Every citizen of the county who has been involved on these major zoning changes knows that Jen Terrasa was willing to meet with any county resident and work one-on-one with them or in a group of residents and council members to find the best improvements to these zoning amendments. I am proud to have her as my councilwomen. Though the ultimate zoning changes that were passed were not as I would have written them (and at least on building heights it is clear Jen Terrasa would have preferred different language since she fought for a 15 story height limit that would be similar to heights of the tallest buildings in DC rather than GGP's 20 story height) there is no doubt in my mind that Jen Terrasa understood these issues in immense detail.