Baltimore City Mayor, Council Agree to Fund Affordable Housing Trust

Baltimore City’s Mayor Catherine Pugh and City Council Members have agreed on a plan that would generate approximately $20 million for the City’s  affordable housing trust fund.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Pugh and City Council leaders agreed to levy two excise taxes on certain real estate transactions and other allocations to fund a trust to create, rehabilitate and preserve more than 4,100 affordable housing units in the next decade.

The agreement calls for excise taxes on the transfer and the recording taxes on real estate sales exceeding $1 million. The excise taxes are estimated to generate $13 million a year. On top of that, the mayor has agreed to allocate $2 million to $7 million annually that, by fiscal 2023, would provide a total of $20 million a year to the trust.

As previously covered on Conduit Street, the affordable housing trust fund was approved in 2016 but had no designated source of funding. Council Member John Bullock introduced a bill earlier this year proposing to raise taxes on certain property sales to help fund the trust.

The Sun article notes that parts of the agreement reached between city officials are likely to be amended into Bullock’s bill. Council President Jack Young intends to pass the bill by the end of the year with an expectation that it would go into effect January 1 following the Mayor’s signature. Additional details will be worked out in the meantime.

Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more

Prior coverage from Conduit Street:

City Council Introduces Bill to Fund Affordable Housing

Climate Change Recommendations Provoke Robust Discussion by Mitigation Working Group

The Mitigation Working Group had a robust but respectful discussion on proposed climate change recommendations at its August 2, 2018, meeting, including proposals that would directly affect county governments. A cap and trade program for carbon emitted from transportation, the full electrification of the state’s school bus feet, mandatory energy efficiency retrofits to existing buildings, upgrading the Forest Conservation Act, and ending the permitting of landfills and moving to zero waste are a few of the recommendations under consideration.

The Working Group is part of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and is tasked with producing recommendations to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in the state in order to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from their 2005 levels by 2030. Maryland is general on track to meet a prior emission reduction goal of 25% by 2025. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp is the county representative on the Working Group. Prince George’s County Council Member Deni Taveras is MACo’s representative on the Commission.

The proposed recommendations included a draft “straw-man” version prepared by the Maryland Department of the Environment and a series of additional recommendations submitted by various stakeholder groups. The Working Group is seeking consensus on as many recommendations as it can and will then focus on recommendations where there is majority support. The list of Mitigation Working Group recommendations contains numerous proposals that remain under discussion. The following recommendations would directly effect counties:

  • The Commission should urge MDE to include in the 40 by 30 plan a section that is specifically focused on identifying and assessing longer-term greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies. This section should explicitly address steps that can be taken to insure that proposed 40 by 30 programs and strategies are compatible with achieving zero net emissions in the 2050 to 2060 timeframe.

  • The Commission should urge MDE to include in the 40 by 30 plan strategies and programs that will insure that the state meets and accommodates its current EV goals and projections (60,000 EVs by 2020; 300,000 by 2025) with continued vigorous increase after 2025 that is compatible with longterm net zero emissions two to three decades after 2030. As part of this process, we further recommend that the Commission urge MDE to specifically assess the following strategies: setting a goal to fully electrify bus transport in Maryland by 2035, including aggressive targets for the rapid deployment of EV school buses, as well as provisions for low-interest financing.

  • The Commission should urge the General Assembly to implement stricter building code and other energy efficiency upgrades, including the establishment of annual residential and commercial building retrofit targets (e.g. 100% commercial building compliance by 2040), the requirement that all new residential and commercial buildings be carbon neutral by 2030, and an expansion of government and utility supported efficient electric heating and cooling system policies and programs.

  • The Commission should urge the General Assembly to enact, by 2020, a sustainable agricultural land preservation law which permits/facilitates the deployment of joint renewable energy and regenerative agriculture development, in order to simultaneously maximize the reduction and sequestration of carbon emissions while improving soil health.

  • The Commission should urge the General Assembly and the Governor to require net forest and tree canopy gains in Maryland by 2025 through the enactment of various forest management and tree planting programs and initiatives; including a strengthened Forest Conservation Law.

  • The Commission should urge the General Assembly and the Governor to enact, by 2022, more aggressive and explicit compact development and sustainable growth incentive and management programs and regulations.

  • The Commission should urge the General Assembly and the Governor to enact the following zero waste policies: ending the permitting of solid waste landfill capacity by 2019; requiring large producers (more than 2 tons per month) of organic waste to compost or anaerobically digest all of their waste by 2020; and increase state government and local jurisdiction recycling rates to 60% by 2020 and 80% by 2035.

Only the first two recommendations listed above were discussed at the August 2 meeting. Knapp joined with several other Working Group members in objecting to the inclusion of a regional transportation sector carbon emissions cap, noting that the proposal received little discussion or study during the Working Group’s 2018 meetings. Knapp suggested that the proposal be further studied as part of the Working Group’s 2019 agenda. Knapp also expressed concern about the school bus electrification recommendation, noting that the assessment should not be tied to an explicit date and that counties and local boards of education be part of the discussion.

The Working Group’s next meeting will take place on August 30. At that time, the Working Group hopes to finalize its recommendations.

Useful Links

Maryland Commission on Climate Change

Local Governments Across the Nation Respond to Airbnb & Short-Term Rental Challenge

A Sustainable Cities Network article (2018-07-18) highlighted the actions some local governments have taken across the United States in response to the burgeoning growth of Airbnb and similar short-term rental models. Short-term rentals, such as those offered through services like Airbnb, offer both positives and negatives. They can encourage tourism and provide homeowners with extra income, both of which can help a local economy. However, they can also attract commercial investors and when the concentration of short-term rentals reaches a tipping point, actually destabilize residential neighborhoods, reduce long-term rental options, and threaten jobs in the local hospitality industry.

MACo has supported addressing both the regulation and taxation issues posed by short-term rental properties. The Maryland General Assembly has considered legislation on short-term rentals for several years but nothing has passed to date. The article looked at how several local governments in other states have tried to address this challenging and complex issue.

Boston (Massachusetts)

The article focused on the efforts of Boston, which saw a dramatic spike in commercial investors purchasing residential properties to use as short-term rentals starting around 2013. The issue was brought into focus after a coalition of advocacy groups provided research from the University of Massachusetts showing the increasingly negative effects the short-term rental trend was having on the city’s workers and residents.  After being presented with the data, the city’s elected officials took action:

In June 2018, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance eliminating investor unit listings and regulating other short-term residential rentals. It established a registration and data collection system that will allow the city to more effectively monitor the impacts of this industry on its residential housing supply. “At the same time, it continues to allow owner-occupants to rent out extra rooms on AirBnB for as many as 365 days, or their entire home while on vacation,” the ordinance explains.

[Fenway Community Development Corporation representative Colleen] Fitzpatrick says that having data about who owns properties and how they are managed as rentals is a very important piece of the puzzle for city leaders to possess. It would be helpful, but not practical, to access the databases of companies such as AirBnB, which has a very sophisticated registration platform. Without access to information, it can be difficult for communities to move from registration to enforcement.

Fitzpatrick also noted in the article that the purpose of the ordinance was not to eliminate short-term rentals but rather find the balance between allowing short-term rentals and having stable communities and housing/long-term rental options.

Miami Beach (Florida)

The article discussed how Miami Beach has struggled to enforce its short-term rental regulations, which limit the location of short-term rentals based on tourist appeal and neighborhood character. For rentals less than six months and one day, homeowners must: (1) submit an affidavit stating that their home is located in an approved short-term rental area; (2) obtain a business tax receipt and resort tax account; and (3) if part of a condo association, show that the association allows short-term rentals. Single-family homes are prohibited from engaging in short-term rentals. Violations result in the eviction of tenants and fines for the owner starting at $20,000.

Denver, Estes Park, and Larimer County (Colorado)

The article noted that Denver has imposed both regulations and taxes on short-term rentals, which generated $1.1 million in the first eight months of 2017. The property registration rate is estimated at around 70 percent.

Nearby Estes Park and Larimer County jointly developed short-term rental regulations to ensure consistency within their jurisdictions. All short-term rental property owners must register and pay an application fee of $200 plus $50 per bedroom. The joint ordinance: (1) sets caps on rentals within residential zones and limits occupancy to eight people per home unless exempted after a review process; (2) requires the designation of a local representative of property manager to handle complaints; and (3) prohibits employee housing, attainable housing, and accessory dwelling units from being registered.

Walla Walla (Washington)

The city of Walla Walla passed a controversial ordinance that prohibited short-term rentals for properties that were not owner occupied for at least 275 days per year and limited rentals to 29 days at a time. Owners must also register short-term rentals as a business and pay applicable taxes. The article described the controversy surrounding the ordinance and the implementation challenges as many short-term renters could not meet the short timeline for the registration and taxation requirements.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Airbnb Issues

 

 

Tool Helps Counties Measure Access to Federal Community Development Funding

A new Community Development Financial Flows data tool created by the Urban Institute helps show how counties fare in accessing federal community investment funds.

From The Urban Institute:

We measured federally sponsored or incentivized community development capital to all US counties with populations greater than 50,000 (which accounts for 88 percent of the US population) using data from 2011 to 2015. We tracked funding in four dimensions—housing, small business, impact finance, and other community development—and created a combined measure that averages those four categories.

To see how your county fares in accessing federal community development funding check out the Community Development Financial Flows data tool. For an analysis of top and bottom ranking counties as well as what the rankings suggest about capacity read The Urban Institutes blog Urban Wire.

White House Releases Government Reform Proposal

On Thursday, the White House released a 132-page report detailing specific opportunities for reform of the Federal government. The comprehensive report lists 32 recommendations for organizational realignments, reassignments, consolidations, privatization of certain government services, disposition of government-owned assets, technology upgrades, customer service improvements, process reform, and more.

The report contends to address the federal government’s inefficiencies. It does not make recommendations for reducing the federal workforce – another goal put forth by the Administration.

The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic and inefficient.

– Mick Mulvaney, Director, White House Office of Management and Budget

silhouettes-81830_1920The report, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations,”  comes out as most of the country focuses on immigration policy and reform. In fact, it appears few news outlets have picked up the report release at all.

But, Route Fifty did – with focus given to potential affects on local governments

One noteworthy change would shift the $3 billion community development block grant program, or CDBG, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to a new Bureau of Economic Growth under the Department of Commerce. …

The reorganization plan would also move the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, out of the Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

Other noteworthy recommendations include:

  • Merging the Departments of Education and Labor into one Department of Education and the Workforce
  • Moving the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works out of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • Reorganizing the Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection
    Service and the food safety functions of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into a single agency within USDA
  • Merging the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) National Marine Fisheries Service with DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service, centralizing dam permit review
  • Selling specific transmission assets owned by the Department of Energy (DOE), and generally, focus on disposing unneeded or undesired federal real estate
  • Either wholly restructure the postal system or privatize it altogether
  • Reorganize the Department of Transportation
  • Limit federal support for home purchasing:

….ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reducing their role in the housing market, and providing an explicit, limited Federal backstop that is on-budget and apart from the Federal support for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

Read the full report here.

 

Montgomery to Regulate Short-Term Rentals

County to regulate short-term rental platforms — Airbnb, Craigslist, FlipKey and HomeAway — and rental property owners. 

Montgomery County’s short-term rental law will go into effect July 1, 2018. Owners who rent their properties or rooms online for less than 30 days will have to register and license their rentals.

A Montgomery County news release explains:

A short-term residential rental is a unit/room in a single-family home, apartment or condominium that is available for a fee for less than 30 consecutive days through online sites such as Airbnb, Craigslist, FlipKey and HomeAway.

Property owners who rent their property, or part of their property, for short-term lodging must also pay the County’s Room Rental and Transient Tax, through the Department of Finance, Division of Treasury, a requirement that went into effect July 1, 2017.

As the news release notes, Montgomery joins the ranks of jurisdictions across the country that require licensing or regulation for the burgeoning industry.

During the 2018 session MACo supported two bills to require short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, and individuals who act as hosts on those platforms to be registered with the Comptroller and regulated. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 1081 did not make it out of committee and House Bill 1604 was given an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee.

Read the news release for more information.

Frederick: Tiny Houses, No Impact Fees?

Bill would allow county to waive impact fees on homes smaller than 800 square feet as a means of increasing affordable housing. 

The Frederick County Council is considering a bill that would allow impact fees to be waived for “tiny houses” to help diversify the pool of housing types and increase affordability.

These one-time fees — which support expansion of facilities such as libraries and schools for new developments — typically range from over $6,000 for a condo to a little over $15,000 for a single family home.

The Frederick News-Post reports:

“This comes from the general need to diversify our housing types” and address affordability gaps that linger throughout the county, Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) said at the workshop Tuesday.

The county felt that waiving the impact fees for these units was appropriate because these units are unlikely to have schoolchildren living in them.

While the bill is still being workshopped, the article notes that eligible dwellings would still have to meet certain requirements and annual inspections.

Read the full article for more information.

Reinvest Maryland 2.0 Unveiled

MDP logo

A Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) press release (2018-06-05) announced the release of Reinvest Maryland 2.0. The report is an update of the original Reinvest Maryland and provides a toolkit for assisting local governments in infill, redevelopment and revitalization projects. The report also includes studies that are applicable in urban, suburban, and rural areas.  From the press release:

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission (Commission) and the Department of Planning (Planning) today released Reinvest Maryland 2.0, a report that provides resources for all levels of government to work together, strengthen collaborative efforts to support revitalization and reinvestment, and engage stakeholders in supporting Maryland’s communities to improve the quality of life.

The report examines redevelopment in Maryland and identifies tools, case studies and best practices that support redevelopment and revitalization in existing communities. …

Reinvest Maryland 2.0 addresses all aspects of the redevelopment process, including: Promoting Reinvestment; Regulatory Reform; and Financing Tools and Programs. It also includes a set of Policy Recommendations.

The Commission and its workgroups collaborated closely with Planning, which staffs the commission, as well as other state agencies, to: identify best practices in Maryland communities; identify, review and refine the recommendations; and communicate with local officials and practitioners to identify and share the most effective planning tools and resources.

The extensive research provided insight into the best ways to create vibrant places with a range of housing, employment and transportation options in Maryland, as well as identifying strategies to overcome the challenges that communities face with redevelopment. “We must continue to provide technical assistance and resources that support reinvestment initiatives in Maryland’s great communities,” said Commission Chairman Susan Summers. “Reinvest Maryland 2.0 outlines recommendations to help us grow smarter and improve quality of life.”

Planning will build upon this work with the Reinvest Maryland website, as a onestop source of redevelopment information in Maryland, and solicit additional case studies and information from local communities and practitioners to support the educational efforts of the Commission’s workgroups.

“This has been a great team effort and the new Reinvest Maryland 2.0 website provides an interactive experience for Maryland’s stakeholders,” said Secretary of Planning Robert McCord.

Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters noted, “With Governor Hogan’s leadership, we are continuing to assist communities and change Maryland for the better.”

The report includes a series of policy recommendations broken down into several categories. The categories include:

  • Establishing a Vision for Reinvestment
  • Creating and Better Funding Innovative, Effective Reinvestment Programs
  • Identifying and Addressing Regulations and Policies that may Impede Reinvestment
  • Deploying Targeted Financial Tools
  • Promoting Equitable Development
  • Encouraging Excellence in Community Design and Preservation
  • Using Metrics to Gauge Success and Drive Reinvestment
  • Accelerating Transit-Oriented Development

In addition to the basic report and case studies, MDP has created an interactive website that provides further information on case studies, contacts for technical assistance, and a toolbox that allows users to navigate and connect with more than 100 state and federal redevelopment and infill programs.

Useful Links

Reinvest Maryland 2.0 Report

Reinvest Maryland 2.0 Interactive Website

Growth Commission Presents 2018 Sustainable Growth Awards

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission presented its 2018 Sustainable Growth Awards in Annapolis on June 4, 2018. The awards highlight individuals, groups, programs, or projects that further the principles of smart and sustainable growth. From a Commission press release (2018-06-04):

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission today presented awards for leadership, community planning, and conservation at its sixth annual awards ceremony at the Maryland State House in Annapolis. The awards recognize individuals, organizations, and programs that exemplify well-planned economic and community development initiatives throughout the state. “These award recipients from across Maryland represent creativity, innovation, and passion – traits that we see in leaders across our great state,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “My administration is proud to celebrate their contributions and their commitment to helping change Maryland for the better.” The six winners are individuals and organizations that demonstrate their commitment to sustainable growth – development or redevelopment that is compact, walkable, and takes advantage of existing infrastructure while preserving the rural landscape – in Maryland. “The commission and I are thrilled to recognize these outstanding Maryland projects,” said Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission Chair Susan Summers. “These awards are the highest level of recognition for well-planned economic and community development and sustainability in the state.” “Today’s recipients characterize the resourcefulness, imagination, and originality that makes Maryland a leader in cultural preservation, community and economic development, and environmental stewardship,” said Wendi Peters, Special Secretary of Smart Growth. “I join the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission in celebrating today’s award winners who demonstrate what can happen when great ideas and local vision come together in the spirit of creating economic opportunities, robust communities, and a superior quality of life for Marylanders.”

From Left to Right: Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters, SGC Chair Susan Summers, Rock Hall Mayor Brian Jones, Maryland Delegate Jay Jacobs, Maryland Delegate Steven Arentz, Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and Maryland Senator Stephen Hershey

This year’s award winners included the following (award category is in parentheses):

  1. Rock Hall Mayor Brian Jones (Leadership & Service)
  2. Anacostia River Trail, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Segment (Sustainable Communities)
  3. Havre de Grace Opera House (Sustainable Communities)
  4. Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre Baltimore City (Sustainable Communities)
  5. R House in Baltimore City (Sustainable Communities)
  6. ECO City Farms (Preservation and Conservation)

Useful Links

2018 Sustainable Growth Award Winners Web Page (includes videos for each award winner)

SGC Web Page

Next Week’s Infrastructure Week!

Next week is Infrastructure Week! Celebrating its sixth year, Infrastructure Week is a national week of events, public education and advocacy to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting America’s economy, society, security and future.

NACo is getting involved with a number of interesting advocacy events throughout the week. Highlights include:

BROOKINGS FORUM: THE INCLUSION CHALLENGE

The three-part forum, hosted by Brookings Institute, will be to investigate how infrastructure policy can help address broader societal challenges, especially economic inclusion.

NACCED CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING: HOUSING AS INFRASTRUCTURE

A panel of experts will discuss their various perspectives of housing as infrastructure, featuring topics including the economic impact of a housing shortage, the backlog of public housing maintenance, private activity bonds as a tool for a wide range of infrastructure needs—including housing—and the importance of enhancing affordable housing resources.

NACO/NLC/US WATER ALLIANCE PANEL: C-SUITE PERSPECTIVES ON THE VALUE OF WATER

Businesses are reliant on access to safe, reliable water and wastewater. Water is also a main ingredient in our products and the processes we use to build them. Businesses rank water as a top corporate concern and a priority investment for a secure supply chain. As our water infrastructure ages, businesses are finding creative ways to use, reuse, and manage water safely and sustainably. Join the Value of Water Campaign and senior private sector executives for a discussion on how companies are driving innovative water management practices and navigating the challenges of today’s complex water landscape.

COLLABORATE TO BUILD: MODERNIZING INFRASTRUCTURE POLICIES TO ADVANCE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

A changing economy, society, and natural environment are placing new stresses on the country’s infrastructure systems. The rise of a digital economy, continued population growth, and a changing climate combine to introduce new demands for real estate, where essential infrastructure services should operate, and how to protect both our built and natural environment.

Governments carry an enormous burden to modernize infrastructure systems to promote shared and sustainable prosperity. Central to that effort is to develop deeper partnerships with the private sector around the design, construction, operation, and financing of infrastructure projects. However, doing so is often easier said than done. Many of the country’s public policies are woefully outdated relative to private sector innovation, ranging from procurement around new business models to more flexible financing arrangements.

See NACo’s full calendar here.

Learn about counties’ numerous roles in infrastructure development here.

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