The following information was provided by Howard County Council Member Liz Walsh (District 1):
Thank you, County Councilmember Deb Jung, for your support of this bill and every single one of the compromise amendments D1 put forward to earn just the one more vote on the Council it needed tonight. Our colleagues—again—proved unwilling to advance one desperately needed change in our County’s #APFO law, supported in its original form by the #HoCoMd Board of Education, The PTA Council of Howard County, Howard County Citizens Association – HCCA and The People’s Voice – Ethics Ballot, among many of our own individual constituents.
This year, the damage is to D1 schools. Next year, D2: 230 new apartments at Dorsey Center feeding into Hanover Hills, Thomas Viaduct (projected to be at 119% by 2021/2022) and Long Reach (115%).
Council member David Yungmann provided this information on social media about his vote:
After asking for CB-1 to be tabled two months in a row, I voted against the bill tonight. This does not indicate a change in my belief that the systems we have in place to create sufficient school capacity and prevent overcrowding are not working as well as they could. The new APFO utilization limits passed in 2018 have reduced development activity dramatically, but it’s still possible for a project to eventually open into an overcrowded school. The answer can’t only be slowing economic activity and impairing property values though, especially with a potential downturn around the corner. I voted NO for two main reasons.
First is the real potential of an economic downturn. I am unwilling to support anything that costs Howard County jobs right now given the imminent threat to our economy. People can debate the long term fiscal impacts of residential development, but it’s clear that the positive economic activity happens on the front end through jobs, school surcharges, impact fees and transfer taxes. These will be critical sources of revenue during this next fiscal year, yet the same people who will criticize my vote on CB-1 will be leading the charge for more school funding next month.
The lack of an in-depth public work session with all parties at the same table hearing the same information and debating the same ideas also led to my decision to vote NO. I believe the solution lies in a combination of changes to DPZ policy, land use goals, APFO, school planning and construction funding, all codified in a coordinated strategy. It requires a joint commitment between county government, the school system, the Council, the BOE and the public, along with a higher level of innovation from our school system that continues to manage growth the way it did in the 1970s. I have zero confidence that the situation would be any different if HCPSS had 2 more years to create capacity. The answer is not a change to one narrow part of the system that again places the entire burden on our economy and property owners. Unfortunately, despite the two extra months, we never had an in depth public work session with all these parties in a room collaborating on how things are done now, what combination of changes will address the issues and what each party must commit to contribute. We spent less than 3 total hours on the topic over several different sessions, none of which with all parties at the same table, and which also failed to provide a valuable opportunity for the public to understand the facts. While the shutdown of the past 3 weeks may have cost us a last chance to have this discussion, there was plenty of time to schedule a dedicated work session with all parties prior to the onset of the current situation.
I hope addressing these challenges will remain a priority when operations return to normal so we can work together on effective long-term solutions to these issues.
No other updates that I have seen on social media from the other three members on the council as of this morning.
Back in 2019 when similar legislation failed (CB17-2019) Council member Rigby noted:
So we had a pretty significant HCPSS redistricting effort in 2019 moving around more that 4,000 children in that school system. No one at the end of the day was happy with the final plan (meaning it was probably as successful as possible with a move that big). So I wonder this morning what it will actually take to slow down development in areas of this county that are SIGNIFICANTLY over developed today and in areas where schools are BUSTING at the seams? I say this as a resident and voter in District 3.
One thing is very clear to me…developers, people that support developers and politicians that get money from developers are all probably rejoicing and celebrating after this legislation once again is shot down in our county (my personal opinion).
The school system and parents with kids in over crowded schools all lost with the vote yesterday afternoon / last night (my personal opinion).
Here is the video of the meeting last night: https://howardcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=4205 (watch the discussion on this around the 40:19 mark of the video).
The votes on everything (the bill and amendments) were: (I believe)
- Yes – Walsh and Jung
- No – Jones, Rigby and Yungmann
Looking forward to reading through the next round of campaign finance reports…to see who is taking money from developers and who voted yes and no on this legislation (because that is a thing I do now).
Councilmember Walsh and I have not always agreed on everything and I did support her opponent in the last primary election…but I supported this legislation and am a little bummed that it once again failed.
Have thoughts…let me know in the comments.