Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth "more than just an" Hour

Earth Hour happened today, between 7:30-8:30pm, when all are encouraged to turn off their lights and power down their energy-using equipment to support awareness of climate change and energy use. This began in 2004, and has grown world-wide and major cities participate by turning off their iconic landmarks, for at least one hour.

So, this got me thinking. Why don't we do this every night? I'm not saying for just one hour, but rather being more conscious of what we have illuminated at night and what really can be turned off. Take for instance some of our landmarks in Baltimore: the domes of City Hall and Johns Hopkins Hospital or the Bromo Seltzer Tower, why are these lit up all night long when most of the city is asleep? Let's not stop with just city landmarks. The city could encourage business leaders and property owners to turn off their illuminations and signs at a given time, especially after the businesses have closed for the evening. How about the 1 South Street or the Bank of America Building turn off the lights at the top of the buildings or Transamerica or Under Armour extinguish their signs at say 10pm? So many places leave all the lights on long after business hours are over, just think how much energy (and money) could be saved by flicking the switches.

For the sake of energy conservation, reducing light pollution, and saving money on electric bills, why don't we just turn the lights off at a certain point in the night? Seems like perfect sense to me. Are we that afraid of the dark or do we just like seeing all of our buildings at all hours of the day/night? Either way, this should be seriously considered.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Property-tax Reduction Plan on the Move

The Daily Record reported that a city council committee approved the Mayor's plan to incrementally reduce city property taxes by $0.20 per $100 of assessed value over the next eight years. This will drop the rate from the current $2.268 to $2.068 by 2020. The reduction is a part of the Mayor's initiative to get 10,000 more families to move into Baltimore over the next decade. To offset the projected loss of revenue, the new casino in the city (which has yet to be built) will contribute most of its revenue to offset this.The plan still needs to be approved by the entire city council

The idea behind lowering the property taxes is to make living in the city more competitive with living in the surrounding counties which currently have a rate more than half that of the city. Even with the reduction to $2.068 in eight years, this would still by nearly twice that of Baltimore County (currently $1.1) Howard County ($1.014) and Anne Arundel ($0.91) See State Dept of Assessment and Taxation

Will this rather small reduction really make a difference? If you're a current property owner, definitely. Any reduction of the property tax rate will be welcomed. However, is this enough to stem the loss of population to the counties, or justify a potential buyer to purchase in the city over the counties. I, for one, am not fully sold.

Sure it makes the city slightly more competitive, but we need to think serious here for a second. I would argue for the rate to drop below the $2-mark, to make it more attractive. There are booming neighborhoods across this city that need that jump start to get more residents. More residents are going to impact the retail market, businesses, and most importantly schools (which every resident will like).

The Mayor needs to stop making the "politically easy" decision here, and take a more comprehensive approach to making it more affordable and attractive to live in Baltimore City. We have a lot to offer, and a whole lot that could use improvement and development.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Good News for the Superblock?

Baltimore Brew is reporting that the superblock project soon might be finally coming to life. The developers have until the end of next month to reach an agreement with the city on the sale of the property and scope of development. Additionally, the legal suit against the project has a good chance of being dismissed, clearing the last hurtle.

The project is expected to add around 300 apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail to Howard St. and Lexington St. Long viewed as a catalyst for change along Howard St, the Superblock will infuse more residents into the westside of downtown. the recent Downtown Partnership report released yesterday details the need for more residential space, especially rentals in downtown. With more life on this stretch of Howard Street, we could finally see a shift in how this corridor will look.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Let's Dance

The first team to represent the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore in the 2012 NCAA Tournament is, you guessed it, the Loyola Greyhounds...what?

In the 2003-2004 season the Greyhounds were 1-27. Then Jimmy Patsos took over, and in the past eight seasons, has made Loyola a competitive team in the MAAC. The Greyhounds had a career best 24 wins this year on their way to their first MAAC championship in 18 years (or the lifespan of a current Loyola freshman). With the win over Fairfield, the Greyhounds advance to the NCAA Tournament...go Hounds.