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  • Councilman Dorsey released his transportation plan, Region-Centered, People-Centered in December 2019. Read it here. 

  • Public Transit

    • Establish a strategic plan for the Circulator and regulate non-profit/institutional shuttles. Baltimore City has not yet demonstrated leadership in prioritizing mass transit. While partnership between the City (BCDOT) and the State (MDOT/MTA) has improved in recent years, and the City has contributed to new bus infrastructure, the City has still not taken a true position of leadership in prioritizing the bus over single-occupant vehicles. At the same time, the City-operated Charm City Circulator operates without a strategic plan, and in a manner that is largely duplicative of MTA service. Further, the City has not taken steps to regulate or consolidate the abundance of shuttles being operated on City streets by untaxed institutions. A plan for greater efficiency and equity are long overdue.

  • Expedite safety improvements

    • Add staff. The backlog of needed safety improvement designs is long. DOT has an severely inadequate number of engineers to meet the need, and must hire more.

    • Add and train staff. DOT must expand its in-house thermoplastic striping operation, train crews on how to install more complexly designed striping, and manage crews for greater efficiency.

  • Towing

    • Reduce the allowable “drop” fee, no more than 25% of towing fee

    • Constrain conditions under which a “drop” fee is allowed

    • Require acceptance of payment by credit card

    • Require crash scenes be broom-swept

    • Require licensure of all towing businesses

    • Expand the scope of the towing board’s oversight to include all forms of towing

    • Allow enforcement of license requirements by civil and environmental citations

    • Task a specific office or agency to staff the board and enforce license requirements

    • Remove dollar amounts (for required bonding, license application fee, etc.)  from the code, allow the board to recommend amounts to the board of estimates, and require regular CPI updates

    • Prohibit and fine for towing from unlicensed and non-compliant commercial parking facilities

    • Update information required to be included on receipts and create parity between receipts and other required records

    • Levy an excise tax on trespass towing

    • Modernize the manner of dispatch of police towing: change from allocation by proximity to the office of the towing company (mapped radius zones); change to allocation by proximity to the nearest available tow truck of a City contractor

      • This is critical to expanding opportunity for smaller and minority-owned businesses.

    • Codify the City interpretation of the State law

      • set a maximum that is $20 below the allowable maximum allowed by that interpretation, and add a $20 excise tax per tow.

  • Commuting/TMD

    • Establish criteria for eligibility for fringe parking benefits

    • Support/fund parking cash-out and alternatives to single occupant vehicles for those City employees eligible to receive fringe parking benefits

  • Nuisance Parking

    • Study misuse and abuse public streets for storage of cars by auto businesses - mechanics, body shops, dealers. Ineffective regulation and enforcement results in neighborhood streets and commercial corridors looking like junk yards, and public space made unavailable for appropriate use by others. This matter must be studied and a workable solution must be pursued.

  • Commercial Parking Facilities

    • Update the rate for the annual licensing fee. The current rate is $5.10 (per 100 square feet). That rate was last updated in 2001. In 1970 the rate was $3.50, which adjusted for inflation would be over $24.00 today. Baltimore is missing out on revenue and suppressing the cost of driving single-occupant vehicles over public/active transit.


  • Single-family/zoning reform

    • Prior to December 5, 2016, Baltimore defined “single-family” as including up to two dwelling units, or one dwelling unit and one commercial unit. The updated zoning code changed this definition to allow only one dwelling unit per single-family use structure, limiting housing opportunity and making most of Baltimore more exclusionary. This should be reversed, and more zoning designations should allow not only up to two apartments, but duplex (semi-detached) structures. But this is just a beginning.

    • Parking minimums are a way of placing a higher priority on space for cars than on space for people, businesses, and community. Baltimore’s zoning code makes requirements, rather than limitations, on cars associated with property uses. This should be reversed.

    • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Carriage Houses are small, secondary housing structures typically located on the same property as larger houses, generally in the rear. Baltimore prohibits ADUs and allows carriage houses to be occupied only if the property is subdivided so the carriage house is a separately deeded parcel from the main house. This limits the type and affordability of housing available to all. ADUs should be permissible, and carriage houses should not have to be subdivided from the houses with which they are associated.

    • To further reverse the exclusivity of single-family zoning, economically diversify neighborhoods, and build communities more capable of attracting and housing residents, businesses, and jobs, greater housing density should exist along business and transit corridors and in areas of economic prosperity. The zoning code should be amended to permit triplexes, rowhomes, and multi-family structures in and within certain proximity to such areas. 

  • Rent Control/Stabilization 

    • Protect against rising costs of living and displacement due to gentrification. As Baltimore continues to improve transportation options, making transportation safer, more accessible, and affordable, communities are strengthened and made more attractive, including for new development. Such improvements must be accompanied by protection against the displacement of legacy residents. Rent control and rent stabilization are key and important tools in this.

  • Inclusionary Housing

    • Repeal and replace the existing inclusionary housing law with one that actually works.

    • The existing law was scheduled to sunset in June of 2020, but in that same month Council Bill 20-0482 was passed, extending the sunset to June of 2022. This was done at the request of DCHD.

    • This law has proven to be entirely ineffective, and the Department of Housing and Community Development has determined to rely on a consultant to provide recommendations for a new law. At the time that DHCD requested the extension of the sunset, they projected that the consulting contract would be awarded before the end of July of 2020.

    • Council Bill 20-0482 included amendments from Councilman Dorsey which stipulated that recommendations for new legislation must be delivered within one year of the date of the awarding of the consulting contract. Had the contract been awarded as DCHD projected, this would have allowed 11 months between the delivery of recommendations and the extended sunset - an adequate time to craft and pass a new law.

    • As of the end of 2020, a consultant has been selected, but still not had the contract formally awarded.

  • Homelessness

    • Establish an Office to End Homelessness, to replace MOHS.

    • Establish a locally funded “move-on” housing voucher program to support transition out of permanent supportive housing for those who no longer need case management but still need housing assistance.

    • Ban the clearing of encampments. Public space is public space. So long as we maintain that we have a collective moral duty to meet the basic human needs and rights of all, Baltimore cannot in good conscience evict from public space those facing homelessness and housing insecurity.

  • Code enforcement and legal action

    • Add staff. The maintenance and conditions of properties impact the health, safety, and quality of life for neighbors and entire communities. Often, poor conditions are due to deceased or absent property owners. Often too properties are in some stage of transition or speculative ownership. While often the time a property remains in such a stage is due to the slow pace of the court/legal system, typically it takes far too long to come before a judge in the first place. The Department of Housing and Community Development needs more code enforcement and legal personnel, in order to take a better managed approach (one that is not entirely dependent on a continuous stream of citizen complaints), and handle a higher volume of cases.

  • Permitting 

    • Baltimore’s permitting office and process has long been a point of frustration for residents and businesses who must engage with them. “Confusing”, “opaque”, “frustrating”, and “grueling” are not uncommon terms used to describe the experience and pace of permitting and inspections. Permitting is long overdue for rigorous oversight and reform.



  • An Honest Living Wage

    • Does $54.50 sound crazier than the Federal minimum wage of $7.25? Probably not if you’re the one working three jobs and still struggling to make ends meet even at $15.00, which still won’t be Maryland’s minimum wage until 2025. Our sense of an acceptable wage cannot be divorced from a commitment that no person should have to work more than 40 hours each week in order to experience a dignified and high quality of life. Before long that will take more than $27.25 an hour in Baltimore. That’s a reality. And what’s crazy is to pay people anything less. If $54.50 sounds crazy, I’m willing to meet you halfway.

Democracy & Governance

  • Licensing, Regulation, and Consumer Advocacy

    • The City has no office, agency, or individual dedicated to the administration and oversight of business licensure and operations. Certain types of businesses are overseen by certain agencies (ex.: food service is overseen by the Health Department, rental housing by the Department of Housing and Community Development, for example) or boards (ex.: Trespass Towing Board) as may be specified in law or by executive order, but many businesses and licenses remain poorly governed.

    • The City employs no consumer advocate ombudsman to whom citizens may bring concerns of wrongdoing by businesses or industries. 

    • This City has no permanently established office or system for managing its many boards and commissions, including fully filling many volunteer member seats requiring nomination by the Mayor and confirmation by the City Council. Boards and commissions may:

      • lack staffing to assist in their purpose

      • fail to convene at least annually as the Charter requires of all boards and commissions

      • fail to comply with requirements of the Open Meetings Act.

    • The City lacks a central place of listing for meetings of public bodies.

    • Establish an Office of Licensing, Regulation, and Consumer Advocacy to address all of the above. This office should not only provide oversight, enforcement, and administrative functions, but also research and recommend policy related to its mission, particularly with respect to consumer advocacy.

  • Eliminate the Board of Estimates

    • The Board of Estimates as an administerer of the City’s financial decisions was established with the explicit intention of drastically imbalancing the financial powers held by the Mayor and City Council, leaving unchecked power for the former, absolutely none for the latter. A variety of proposals, both formal and informal, to modify the Board have been made over many years, while the best solution is to eliminate the Board entirely.

  • Restructure the City Council

    • 10 members elected by district

    • 5 members elected at-large

      • No more than three at-large members from a single party

    • Chair (Council President) elected by and from among the district and at large members

      • Chair elected every two years

      • Chair may not serve consecutive two-year  terms

    • Similar pay for district and at-large members

    • Existing staff positions can be redefined and reorganized to better support the restructured council without added cost.

  • Allow conditional budget constraints

    • “Budget language” is utilized by the State legislature each year in the State budget, to place conditions on the release of certain funds to certain entities for certain purposes. The Council, however, lacks comparable authority, and is only allowed to place such constraints on funds to be released to entities other than a City agency. This power should be expanded to allow the City Council similar authority with City agencies.

      • Charter Art. VI §7(b):  “If the carrying out of a particular program, purpose, activity, or project depends upon action by a body other than the City, the City Council may insert a specific provision in the proposed Ordinance of Estimates making the appropriation for the particular program, purpose, activity or project contingent upon such action.”

  • Democratize benefits and employment conditions

    • Grant the City Council the authority to legislate on such matters as whether the City may screen prospective employees for marijuana, and setting policy regarding fringe benefits such as paid parking. Such authority lies currently with the Board of Estimates. 

      • Charter Art. VII §97(k): The Department of Human Resources “shall administer employee benefits and pre-employment screening programs as directed by the Board of Estimates.”

      • Note: The City Council is already empowered to legislate on such matters with respect to private employers, but the above Charter provision bars the exercising of the same powers with respect to the City itself as an employer.

  • Clean up the Charter

    • The City Charter is a document intended to establish the basic structure and framework of our local government, establishing certain entities, roles, apowers, and duties, but not intended to include operational details. Despite this, over many years much has been added ina included in the Charter that goes well beyond this intended scope, elements which are more appropriately determined in the Code. Such language should be struck and re-worked accordingly.

      • Note: As of December 3, 2020 the Charter requires the convening of a Charter Review Commission for this purpose every ten years. However, the Commission is empowered only to make certain recommendations, while the City Council retains the power to take action, and the City Council should not feel any less compelled to take up matters independent of the Charter Review Commission.

Democracy & Governance

Big Ideas

  • Municipal Broadband

  • Dorsey Transportation Plan

  • Legalize Drugs, Vacate Convictions, Safe Use Space, Increase Access to Treatment

  • Zero-Waste

  • Tenant Unions

    • More than half of Baltimore’s population is renters, and far too great a number of tenants face unaffordable and substandard conditions. Whether in large multi-unit buildings, townhouse communities like Dutch Village, or rowhomes throughout the City, renters, if banded together, would have enough collective power to demand more and demand better of landlords.

  • The non-profit property tax problem

  • Land Value Tax

  • Build a new B&P tunnel

  • Tear down the JFX

Big Ideas

State & National Issues

One of the most valuable ways local policy-makers can use their experience, knowledge, and position is by advocating for change at higher levels of government, especially to allow greater flexibility at the local level. Most local legislative efforts involve some level of learning the limits of one’s own authority, and local government officials can be important allies to advocates and legislators in other levels of government.

  • Towing

    • Certain key provisions of Maryland’s laws on towing are so poorly written that there can be no agreed upon interpretation of them, yet further regulation and oversight responsibilities are passed down to local jurisdictions to enact. This contributes to the creation of political hurdles in controlling towing fees and predatory practices. The unclear language needs revision.

  • Police Reform

    • LEOBR Repeal

    • Local Control

    • MPIA Reform

  • Transportation Safety

    • Speed cameras are effective at reducing speeds, and with that the frequency and severity of auto crashes. THE State law that allows their use limits where and when they can be used, and at how many miles per hour over a posted speed limit they can be triggered. The State law should be amended to give local governments flexibility and control over all three factors. Additionally, ticketing revenue should go exclusively to making roadway changes to the immediate areas around individual cameras, so that cameras become unnecessary.

    • Speed limits defaults for City streets are set in state law, but they can be altered by the City. To do so, however, unnecessary and unhelpful conditions must be met. State law should be amended to remove these conditions, allowing the City to more quickly and easily change speed limits based on its discretion.​​

  • Reparations

  • Medicare-for-All

  • Green New Deal

  • Senate, Supreme Court, etc.

Annapolis & National
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