The Baltimore Zoning Code: What’s Going On?

The City Council Land Use and Transportation Committee is currently voting on more than 1000 Amendments to the Transform Baltimore Zoning Code.  Many of these amendments are detrimental to the creation of walkable, people-friendly, livable communities in our city. With the exception of some amendments that were deferred, the Committee is going through them in order. As of this writing, they are currently in the middle of Title 15 which covers Site Development Standards.

Thanks to the work of CPHA and our partners, many of the most harmful amendments have been defeated. These include amendments that would have:

  • Redefined the definition of a family from four to two unrelated individuals. This would have had a negative impact on the ability of young people and others seeking affordable housing to room together in a single family dwelling.
  • Removed Neighborhood Commercial, Rowhouse Mixed-Use, and Detached Mixed-Use from the code in its entirety.
  • Severely constrained Neighborhood Commercial’s potential through restrictions on which properties are eligible for this use and by adding parking requirements. (CPHA would like to acknowledge the work of Bikemore and a number of grassroots activists for their support on this issue).
  • Removed the requirement that all parking garages have some active ground-floor uses.

However, there was one significant defeat. The Committee chose to continue the practice of only allowing multi-family conversions via the conditional by ordinance process. This will, unfortunately, have a detrimental effect on the city’s ability to attract millennials and provide affordable housing.

There remain many important amendments to be voted on. These include amendments that would increase parking requirements, remove the proposed ban on parking lots downtown, and make certain uses like Neighborhood Commercial and Industrial Mixed-Use conditional by ordinance.

CPHA is also concerned that members of the Council opposed to Alcohol Outlet Density Reduction will try to rezone liquor stores in impoverished African-American communities from residential to commercial, allowing them to stay open. There is at least one case where this has already occurred. We are working with members of the Council and local neighborhood associations to ensure that all rezoned liquor stores are desired by their communities.

The next voting session will be on Tuesday, January 12 at 10am. This session will include a vote on parking requirements. If these issues are important to you, we strongly encourage you to contact your Council representative.

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Gregory Friedman

Gregory Friedman

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