INFORMATION FROM COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER JEN TERRASA

CouncilpersonJenTerrasa

So I have seen this information sent to me from two different sources (neither of those being Jen – I must not have signed up for emails from her yet).  So to do my part…I am sharing the information here:

Downtown affordable housing has finally reached the Council for its review with two very different proposals being heard by the Council this month – one filed by me and the other the result of a joint agreement with the developer which has now been filed by the County Executive.  Along with the County Executive’s proposal for affordable housing, he has also filed several related bills and resolutions, one for $90 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for Downtown.[1]  And the Council needs to hear from you! 

Here is a link to an op-ed I wrote that further explains my legislation: Terrasa Op-Ed on Affordable Housing in DT Columbia (7/7/16).

The Schedule – we need you! 

Both legislative packages and all related legislation were introduced last Friday, and additional hearings and work-sessions are scheduled as shown below. 

I encourage you to come out and testify, and to write the other Councilmembers –

The public can have input by testifying in person on THURSDAY, JULY 14 and MONDAY, JULY 18 at the public hearings (sign-up to testify at the electronic sign-up; or you can sign-up in person starting an hour before the hearing).  You can also give input by writing and calling Councilmembers.

  • July 14 (6pm) – Special Public Hearing(testimony on legislation relating to Downtown only)
  • July 18 (6pm) – Legislative Public Hearing(testimony on legislation relating to Downtown will be permitted this evening but only after all other legislation is heard)
  • July 25 (8:30am) – Legislative Work Session(all July legislation, may include Downtown legislation)
  • July 29 (10am) — Legislative Session(This is the annual wrap-up legislative session to give final consideration to July’s legislation, which includes Downtown-related legislation.  However, this legislation is likely be tabled until September) [2]

(*Note:  For more information about the schedule of hearings and work sessions, please see the legislative schedule)

Councilmember Contact Information –

Councilmembers can all be reached as a group at councilmail@howardcountymd.gov or call the County Council Office at (410) 313-2001 or to find individual contact information click here. 

Two very different proposals:

As you know, the plans introduced on July 8th are very different. 

Terrasa Plan – My plan is simple and implements the original recommendations of the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation (CDHC), the organization, which includes members with a broad range of expertise in the field, that was called for by the Downtown Columbia Plan to oversee affordable housing. Calling for at least 15% affordable housing for all future Downtown residential development, my plan ensures that Downtown Columbia develops with a full spectrum of housing options as envisioned in the Downtown Columbia Plan.  My legislation provides flexibility but ensures that when market rate units are built, so are affordable housing units, and it integrates these affordable units throughout the Downtown community.

County Executive’s Plan – In contrast to my plan, the County Executive’s plan is overly complicated, giving the appearance of delivering a greater community benefit than the proposal actually provides.  It increases density by at least 900 units with no actual limit on densityconcentrates a majority of affordable units in low income housing tax credit projectsreduces the parking requirements, and binds the County to a 40-year agreement with Howard Hughes, in which the County commits not to change the applicable laws for that same time period.  I’ve heard from many of you that these are big concerns.

The County Executive’s Plan also includes a proposal for a TIF – Also troubling is that along with their affordable housing legislation, the County Executive is proposing a $90 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for Downtown Columbia. TIF financing should be used to encourage the revitalization of blighted or economically depressed areas where development would not otherwise occur but for this extraordinary infusion of public financing.  Why are we being asked to use tax payer money to encourage development in Columbia? Downtown Columbia is a far cry from what I think of as blighted or economically depressed.  While making Downtown Columbia more vibrant is a goal shared by many, we are selling ourselves short if we think we need 90 million of public subsidies to make this happen.

Below are links to both legislative packages, which can also be found on my website, along with other information and documents about the Downtown affordable housing proposals.  I urge you to get involved!  Come out and testify!  Write the Councilmembers! Share this information with others, and ask them to lend their voices as well.

The legislation:

TERRASA legislation

COUNTY EXECUTIVE’s Legislation

Come out and testify!

So, please come out on July 14th and/or 18th!  Let your voice be heard on this very important issue!

To sign-up to testify use the electronic sign-up; or you can sign-up in person starting an hour before the hearing. As a reminder for those of you who can’t join us in person, the sessions will be televised on GTv.  In addition, you can watch the sessions live or at your convenience online at Watch Us.  To see all legislation pending before the Council this month, go to our Pending Legislation page.

Of course, written comments are always welcome.  You can send your comments to me directly at jterrasa@howardcountymd.gov  or share them with the entire Council at councilmail@howardcountymd.gov

Hopefully this helps spread the word.

Have an outstanding Monday!

Scott E

Scott did an amazing job on our website.

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