A Bridge to the Future (The Villager 2017-10)

A Bridge to the Future

This article was published in The Villager of River Hill Community Association, October 2017 Issue.

After the first village, Wilde Lake, was built 50 years ago, Columbia has become a very large city with more than 100,000 people, 2000 business and a very vibrant community. The Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA) made a documentary film about the last 50 years and challenged the community to think about how Columbia can continue to be built for a bright future.

To ensure a bright future of Columbia for the next 50 years, we need a planned and visionary development in both education and housing aspects.

First, our educational system must adapt to the changes we anticipate. With fast advancement in automation and artificial intelligence, future life and work will be quite different from today’s. Manual labor and tedious work will be replaced by the computer and robotics. Computer literacy will be a must for many future workers. So, our education system will need to adapt to educate the workforce of the future. We need to ensure our school system is guided by student-focused principles:

  1. motivate all students to achieve their full and diverse potential
  2. expanding learning opportunities to all students by utilizing all available resources

Second, all housing and commercial developments should provide the infrastructure needed to support the uses, especially the need for schools. This can partially be regulated by tightening the Adequate Public Ordinance (APFO) which is currently being debated by the County Council. I testified on behalf of myself at the County Council and made the following points:

Three loopholes should be removed:

  1. Include the high schools in the capacity test. I am not sure why high schools were not included in the test more than 10 years ago.
  2. Remove the waiting time for development. Now, when a development does not pass a capacity test, it will automatically pass after waiting for four years (in reality, three years) without a second test
    . This practice should be abolished.
  3. Include the Medium and Low Income Housing (MLIH) units in the development unit cap. For each new development, it is required that 15% of the units be MLIH. However, this 15% (i.e., around 300 units) is not presently counted in the annual cap of 2000 new residential units.

Two Numbers should be revised:

  1. The school capacity limit should be set at 100%, not 115%.
  2. The developer fee should be raised substantially. For comparable housing units, the developers in Howard County are paying less than 10% of the development fee in Montgomery County. Housing prices in Howard County are not cheaper than those in Montgomery County to justify this huge fee difference.

I support development since only continuous economic, housing and social development and improvement will solve many problems we face today. However, the development should be planned with a long -term vision. Unregulated development will lead to chaos. Tightening APFO now will give our legislators a rare opportunity to address the problems created over the last 15 years.

Some neighborhood news:

County Executive Allan Kittleman proposed a new site for the High School 13 on Landing Road in Elkridge and asked the Howard County Public School System to delay high school redistricting until this high school is built in 2022. Previously the proposed location for High School 13 was on Mission Road in Jessup.

The school redistricting process has created many heated debates, anxiety, and expectations in the county. I encourage everyone to be civil and respect others’ opinions during this difficult time. The superintendent, Dr. Martirano, will provide his final redistricting recommendation to the Board of Education on Oct. 3.

Columbia Association (CA) is developing the FY19 and FY 20 budgets. The CA Board has heard from residents and villages about their funding needs. We will continue work on our budget until early next year.

CA Board Members also looked at the Lakefront Core Design Guidelines during the September board work session and will provide feedback to the Department of Zoning and Planning on the development.

The River Hill Village Board is working with CA and residents to upgrade two existing tot lots to meet residents’ needs. The Village Board will solicit resident feedback on upgrades.

Thanks for reading. I am looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: chaowu2016@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.

The picture was taken on 10/1/2017 morning at the Centennial Lake while I joined the Centennial Runner Group for Breast Cancer Awareness fund raising event.

 

Tightening APFO, helping schools

After this school redistricting cycle, many people may come to the same conclusion: if any politicians who do not support or vote for tightening APFO, do not vote for them. Just so simple!

Here is what are my talk points on September 11, 2017. Three loopholes, two numbers: https://chaowu.org/2017/09/12/my-county-council-testimony-on-tightening-apfo-now/

Here is a picture: ChaoWu APFO Sept 11 speech

Here is what I spoke at 1:57:25. After it was done, it was around 11:30 PM that night.

HCCA Presents: Columbia at 50 – A Bridge to the Future

HCCA Presents: Columbia at 50 – A Bridge to the Future

I love what Representative Elijah Cummings said in his speech: “We are one”. We should embrace each other and move forward together. How to achieve it will be a difficult task and everyone should think of it. Different opinions will help us to find a common ground using common sense.

Columbia Association will still play an important role towards the future. It is important to have a great relationship between County Government, County Council, Columbia Association and the communities. A well planned development with a vision for the future is essential to keep Columbia as Columbia. Columbia will be a vibrant and important part of Howard County.

Achieve Success Together

2017 Fall AST Registration

Hello,

Welcome to the online registration for the Achieve Success Together (AST) Fall 2017 classes! We offer public speaking, writing, and math classes to 2nd-5th graders. All classes are taught by high-achieving high school tutors that are chosen through a competitive selection process. Each class is only offered once a week for 10 weeks.

Classes will be held on the weeks of 10/02, 10/09, 10/16, 10/23, 10/30, 11/06, 11/13, 11/27, 12/04/, and 12/11. Make-up classes will be held on the week of 12/18 if necessary. Classes will take place at Centennial Elementary School.

Registration link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfySqBCvR6l700elSG0N16tr6K-WlCkbJ1ch9754jzi-q_XHg/viewform

The tuition is $80 for CAPA senior members, $100 for CAPA general members, and $120 for non-CAPA members. You can become a CAPA member here: https://www.capa-hc.org/all-membership. Tuition will be collected either by cash or check in the first class by the tutor.

This form needs to be completed by Sunday, September 24, 2017.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact us at astMKTC@gmail.com.

Thank you for your interest in us and our program!

Best Regards,
Tess Yu
President
AST
tessyu662@gmail.com

achieve success together 2017-2018

 

My County Council Testimony on Tightening APFO NOW

I testified in front of Howard County Council around 11:00 PM last night. It was a special night. It was 9/11. A terrorist group bombed the World Trade Center, Pennsylvania, and Pentagon in the US 16 years ago. I wore a yellow coat to support our tighten APFO cause. The coat was bought 16 years ago when I graduated from college. We were asking the legislators to tighten APFO (Adequate Public Facility Ordinance) .

Here are my talking points to ask our county council to tighten APFO NOW.

Three loopholes should be removed:

  1. high school should be included in the capacity limit test. I just could not image why high school was not included in the first place.
  2. waiting time should be removed. Right now when a development did not pass a capacity test, it will pass after waiting for four years automatically ( in reality, three years) without a second test.
  3. Includes the Medium and Low Income Housing (MLIH) in the development unit cap. For each new development, it is required there are 15% of MLIH. However, this 15% ( i.e.,around 300 units) are not counted in the annual 2000 unit cap.

Two Numbers should be looked at:

  1. The school capacity limit should be set at 100%, not 115% nor 120%
  2. The developer fee should be raised substantially. Look at my previous post (https://chaowu.org/2017/09/10/unbelievable-low-fee-on-developers-per-house-unit/), for the same housing unit, the developers are paying less than 10% of development fee in Howard County than that of in Montgomery County. The housing price in Howard County is not cheaper than that in Montgomery County either.

I support development since only continuous economic, social and housing development and improvement will solve many problems we are facing today. However, the development should be planned with a long term vision. Unregulated development will lead to chaos such that nobody will be able clean the mess. Tightening APFO now will give our legislators a rare opportunity to clean the mess created more than 10 years ago.

Unbelievable low fee on developers per new housing unit

In Howard County, it costs 50,000 dollars to add a student seat in the school and each new house will produce 0.5 student and generates $1240. I just could not see we will be able to raise enough revenue for new schools over the development. We need tighter APFO. https://chaowu.org/2017/08/31/voice-your-concern-about-apfo/

The following figure was obtained from Facebook and could not get the source now. It is showing a striking difference:

Source: http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc5300/sc5339/000113/014000/014507/unrestricted/20120343e.pdf
Page 6

Voice Your Concern About APFO

I went to an APFO seminar organized by Brent Loveless, Judy Fisher Gorge and many others at the Miller Library tonight. There are two Howard County Bills (CB 60 and CB 61) related to APFO. Considering so much anxiety created by the current HCPSS school redistricting, concerned parents should write or testify in front of the county council and county executive. I am providing a sample email you can modify accordingly.

If you don’t want your kids to be redistricted again in five years, you should ask them to tighten APFO.

If you don’t want your tax to be raised by the county government, you should ask them to tighten the APFO.

If you don’t want your service to be downgraded by the county government, you should ask them to tighten the APFO.

To: County Executive Email: akittleman@howardcountymd.gov
All County Council Email: councilmail@howardcountymd.gov

Sample Letter:

Dear County Executive and County Council:

We have concerns on the current county bills CB 60 and CB61. I would like these two bills consider the following items:

  1. Set school capacity limit at 100%.
  2. Include high schools in the school capacity limit test
  3. Mitigation effort should begin when a school reaches 95% capacity
  4. No reduction to the current wait time for housing allocations or school tests
  5. APFO needs to be reviewed frequently, maybe every five year.
  6. Count medium and low income housing units in the yearly total housing limit . Right now, yearly limit is 2000, but 15% of MLIH is not counted to that limit. That means the total number will be 2300.

The next county council meeting is on September 11. Be sure to send out your email before than or sign up to testify there. We want to have a well regulated and planned housing development in our county.