Tax-Incremental Financing and Downtown Columbia

The Howard County government has recently proposed a tax-incremental financing (TIF) plan that would pay for certain amenities in downtown Columbia, including a parking garage. As usual, there are a great deal of discussion about this and whether or not a TIF is appropriate. Part of this focuses on how TIFs are used to improve blighted areas and no reasonable person could call downtown Columbia blighted. And downtown Columbia is not blighted. But just because TIFs have historically been misused for economic development (also, so have port authorities), does not mean it is not the right answer, here. TIFs are

Fix Downtown Columbia Parking Now

Downtown Columbia has become more difficult to navigate in the last month or so. With the summer concert season now in full swing, parking has become a problem. Signs at Whole Foods, the Mall in Columbia, and other locations warn “No concert parking.” At least at Whole Foods on Sunday, they had a guard giving people timed parking passes with threats of towing after 90 minutes. We can discuss how good an idea that is later. Downtown Columbia’s redevelopment will mandate a vision to manage parking. People who talk of mass transit finally coming to Columbia fail to understand the

Public Kanban for Public Administration

Public agencies have difficulties communicating with the public. The standard hearing format provides for adversarial proceedings, especially when it is the public against the agency. But there are few ways for agencies to work collaboratively with the public toward shared goals. Some have used social media successfully, but those are one-on-one interactions. The Trello blog recently listed several cases of public Kanban boards being used to stimulate community discussion.  I like using Kanban boards and have even used one-person Kanban boards for running my classes. The example of the City of Philadelphia stands out amongst those for being a public

Culture and Transportation

Tonight, Dave Bittner hosted “Conversation on Art and Culture in Downtown Columbia” for the Columbia Cultural Plan Advisory Committee. The event was a large-scale coordinated focus group to ask what cultural resources Columbians need and want. A prevailing theme that came out of each discussion was the need for good transportation to and from the cultural attractions. Seniors were interested in transportation options, likely mass transit, for easy access. Those outside of Town Center were interested in better parking throughout downtown for cultural attractions. Everyone was worried about the traffic brought by events at Merriweather. This topic and related genres