Eliminate fee in lieu development loophole

My short comment on The Business Monthly

I appreciate Mrs. Lisa Markovitz’s article “Can we get affordable housing more affordable”.

I totally agree with that: “this “fee in lieu of” has created a concentration of AFUs in areas with lower-priced housing”. I am seeing a few low-incoming housing projects are being proposed in the low-incoming neighborhoods now. Our advocates on affordable housing either from the community, the county council or the county government should work to remove this “pay as you go” approach. The county has the legal authority to set the criteria for the new development to meet both the affordable housing requirement and APFO standards. We should not allow developers to set this policy. 


There are several  key questions to be answered. What is a reasonable level and distribution of affordable housing units in the whole county? How much more development the county can consume in each area considering APFO? Please take consideration of the cost of infrastructure (school capacity, for example) as another key parameter. What is the highest percentage of affordable housing which will prevent developers not building houses in Howard County anymore? 
I hope this kind of information is publicly available for our county residents to see and understand and guide our policy-makers on new housing developments. 

Columbia Development Tracker 2020-02

The document is developed by Columbia Association. I used to update the community pretty often on this when I was on CA board. Tonight I took a look and found many new development changes. https://www.columbiaassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/vers-2-Development-Tracker-February-2020.pdf

There are several big developments:

  1. Dorsey Overlook development has 82 units. I thought it was originally designed for 55+ community. Now it did not mention that.
  2. Columbia Downtown development asks for extra 300 units.
  3. Erickson Senior Living rezones 62.116 acres from B-2 & RC-DEO to CEF-M.
  4. Robinson Overlook moderate incoming housing (48 units) keeps moving on.
  5. River Hill Square ( River Hill Garden Center) submitted a commercial variance request to reduce the setback from a residential district from 30 feet to 0 feet.

HoCo development mystery

I talked about Howard County development mystery before. One tiny example is that developers provide their own traffic study to mitigate traffic problem. Then almost all traffic study is green-lighted. In my view, the County should charge a fee and hire an independent third party to conduct traffic study. In that way, the study is more objective. How do we think a developer paid traffic study can be impartial?

Here is another article on today’s Columbia Flier: developer’s donations should be branded as conflict of interests.