More Trees and Less Vacants
In May, Baltimore Oliver Community Association had its 2nd Quarterly Development meeting of the year. The purpose of the quarterly development meeting is to engage residents on development projects happening in and around the community, and to answer any questions residents may have. There were two guest speakers. Darin Crew of
Blue Water Baltimore discussed the upcoming tree planting that is to take place this fall. Oliver will be getting a total of 175 trees! For any residents who want to come out and assist with the planting, you can get a $30 stipend for helping out that day. Click to view an interactive version of the map of the proposed tree planting.
The second speaker that evening was Jenny Guillaume, Director of Planning and Community Engagement for ReBuild Metro (RBM). She talked about
the Whole Blocks, Whole City initiative and model that they have been using to tackle the vacant properties in Baltimore City. This is where a whole block of vacant houses are bought in bulk, and are redeveloped at the same time to transform the block almost immediately. [RBM] says that this is more successful than redeveloping one house here and one house there on a block full of vacants, that could take many, many years make an impact on that block. They say that the stability of that block is much more likely, when there are less than 3% vacants on the block. ReBuild Metro commissioned a study to be done to find a solution to the vacant problem in Baltimore City and claims the study offers "bold and actionable steps for how the crisis can be resolved". According to Jenny, "In Baltimore's weak markets, blocks which had two or more vacant units in 2016, only 3% had zero vacant units by 2022." Download or read the full report.
Abundant Housing Act
In August, Baltimore Oliver Community Association had its 3rd Quarterly Development
meeting of the year. We had a guest speaker, Tanisha Jones of Coalition for Stable Neighborhoods (CSN). She came to speak about her opposition to the Abundant Housing Bill that is being proposed by City Councilman Ryan Dorsey. The bill would allow for property owners, homeowners, investors, etc., to subdivide a 1500 sq. ft. house into a multi-family unit dwelling or a multi-unit dwelling. She says that this bill allows for as little as 350 sq. ft, where right now the minimum has to be a 700 sq. ft subdivided dwelling. Tanisha said that "this bill will remove the ordinance process and takes away the community voice." Her argument was that Baltimore's population is declining and although she says that Ryan Dorsey has admitted that this bill has nothing to do with affordable housing, it will do nothing to address Baltimore's population loss, contrary to what Ryan Dorsey claims it will, she says. Additionally, this bill would not affect property owners in communities such as Roland Park, that have protected covenants. Some argue that although this model may have worked in other cities or towns like Washington, D.C., Baltimore's market is very different and this bill could be very detrimental to the unique character of our beloved neighborhoods. Tanisha believes that this bill will hurt residents. Learn more to act now.
Strategic Plan for Development
At the August meeting, it was announced that the Baltimore Oliver Community
Association was awarded $100k from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to fund the creation of a Strategic and Implementation Plan for development in the community. Woo-Hoo! On July 7th, several of Baltimore Oliver Community Association's team were presented with the award by Mayor Brandon Scott at Open Works. The August Quarterly Development meeting discussed what it means to have a strategic plan and why it is important. This is a monumental moment for the community because the last time the Master Plan was updated for Historic Oliver was in the 1970's! If we don't have a plan, we are planning to fail. Let's work together as a community to design the neighborhood that we want to have. Baltimore Oliver Community Association will be hiring an architectural firm to work with the community to put to paper the vision that we have for the
neighborhood. To demonstrate what a plan would look like, we went over Johnston Square's strategic plan. The strategic planning process will entail a 1. community walk, to do an overall assessment of the community and its characteristics, 2. a SWOT analysis to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for our community, 3. conduct various focus groups, and 4. multiple town hall meetings with the community. Baltimore Oliver Community Association will work with community stakeholders, alongside the various Baltimore City agencies like the Department of Planning DOP, the Department of Transportation DOT, the Department of Public Works DPW, Baltimore City Council and more. At the end, the firm will deliver to us a plan that we can get adopted into the city's master plan for the community.
Once it is adopted, this means that zoning and transportation changes that we included in the plan can be implemented, for instance, new commercial corridors or the expansion of existing ones. Or, for example, converting Harford Avenue into a two-way street to make that area more pedestrian friendly and to slow down traffic along that corridor. Additionally, it makes it easier to attract commercial and residential development projects to the community. In the meeting we did an exercise demonstrating what type of questions might be asked of our stakeholders, residents, business owners, etc. and I have included the feedback from some of our residents, below.
Thanks for participating!
We hope to see you during the strategic planning process.
This is really important!
Our next Quarterly Development meeting will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2023, 6:30-8pm, 1202 E. Preston Street, Sojourner Place