A lot of attention has been given recently to the so-called workforce housing bill that was passed in Anne Arundel County last night.
You’ll notice in the Sun/Capital story about the passage of the bill a common theme: wealthy horseman Steuart Pittman and his band of bobbleheads on the County Council railroaded a bill through without listening to Republicans or the community at large:
Among a mixture of outcry and support, the Anne Arundel County Council passed workforce housing legislation and postponed the fair housing bill after its Monday meeting ran past the window of time for votes on legislation.
With a 4-3 vote, the bill that will create incentives for workforce development and expand zoning districts from two residential zones to nine in residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use, was approved.
Council members Nathan Volke, Amanda Fiedler and Jessica Haire all voted in opposition to the bill after attempting to pass eight amendments. Only one amendment introduced by Chairman Andrew Pruski was approved.
“This council has been known to, generally, work together without super partisanship,” Volke said. “Frankly, there have been valid concerns raised by the community and I am not going to support the bill in this current form.”
More than 30 residents and advocates testified on workforce housing legislation to either offer support or ask for more details that at moments turned heated with booing and cheering in packed county council chambers.
Haire remarked that there was work that needed to be done on the bill before she could vote in support.
“I wish we had the opportunity to work together and do a little more,” she said. “I am sad about the lack of willingness, I am going to have to vote no.”
The bill itself is, of course, not great news for Anne Arundel County. While some, including John Grasso, want to focus on the socioeconomic nature of the inhabitants of this housing, that’s not really the issue here. The bill itself creates high-density housing (up to 22 units per acre according to the legislation, with no height restrictions) in mixed-used and industrial areas that have “direct access from a collector or higher classification road.”
The end result of this legislation? More traffic congestion, more school overcrowding and more environmental impacts on our communities. It’s not a coincidence that community groups opposed the bill. Pittman and the County Council seemed to not take that into consideration when railroading this bill through the Council in order to once again make sure that Pittman’s union allies and supporters get exactly what they ask for.
It’s as if when unions yell “Jump!”, Pittman’s reaction is to ask “How High?”
The interesting thing about all of this is the fact that the end result of this new “workforce housing” is the fact that it ends up in even more development in Anne Arundel County. You may be thinking back to the election and say “Wait a minute, didn’t Steuart Pittman run opposed to new development?” And you would be right. He was endorsed by the League of Conservative Voters for his commitment to curb development.
“County Executive Schuh came into office with a pledge to spur growth. He did so with taxpayer-funded incentives and little regard for the development plan we had in place. The accelerated growth has stressed our schools, traffic flow, and county services.”- Steuart Pittman, Baltimore Sun questionnaire.
“The plan that we approve will shift priorities to infrastructure improvements, resource conservation, and community benefit.” – Pittman campaign website
So Pittman, after running an entire campaign on the idea of curbing development in the county, rammed through a workforce housing plan that expands development in the country.
Pittman’s broken promises are becoming a trend in his administration; don’t forget that the betrayal of his anti-development rhetoric comes on the heels of massive and historic tax increases that Pittman said were not needed to fund his increased spending.
So what do we make of all of this? Well for one, Steuart Pittman is ushering in a new era of uncontrolled development in Anne Arundel County; just this time development will be high-density development that’s even worse for the envrionment and worse for traffic that the development that he supposedly ran against. But it also shows us that Steuart Pittman doesn’t have campaign promises…at least not any that he intends to keep.
He betrayed voters on development. He betrayed voters on higher taxes. Which campaign promise will Steuart Pittman break next?