Sunday, July 22, 2007

Attitude Adjustment Needed In Ward 1

As I sat through the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, I spent most of my time daydreaming about how awesome it would be to have a mini-golf course over by the EbbTide. (It's a random thought, I know, but how cool would that be?)

Luckily I was able to focus for meaningful periods of time, only to grow sour at the attitudes of many of the Ward 1 Residents. The father of a childhood friend of mine is a lobbyist here in Annapolis, and growing up we used to ask him if he helped to pass any good which he would always respond "I only kill bills". From first hand experience, there is a core group of Ward 1 activists that have taken on this very same personality.

Regarding the 2 am licenses, many Ward 1 residents gave emotional, even sensational testimony about how they and their properties have been the victims of urination, vandalism, and noise nuisance. But all I kept thinking was...these things are ALREADY against the law--if these laws were being enforced then a bar closing at midnight would be no different than a bar closing at 2 am. Disregarding this fact, Ward 1 residents refused to acknowledge that enforcement is a problem.

They also believe that their proprietorship is what makes their properties valuable and makes people want to visit Annapolis. But all I kept thinking was....if you take Ward 1 houses and transplant them in, say, Denton--you have a totally different ballgame. As AP has pointed out before, it is Annapolis' topography, historical context, charismatic citizenry, etc. that makes people want to come here and makes your houses in the Historic District so valuable.

As an astute cohort of mine pointed out, it seems that many residents in Ward 1 have no interest in collaborating. They view themselves as watchdogs--custodians of the charming days of yore. They would rather point out the merits of a study done in 1993 (the Ward 1 sector study, which resulted in the zoning and alcohol restrictions that are currently at issue) than lend their expertise to do a current study. Rather than work with other parties to find a mutually beneficial solution, Ward 1 residents often adopt a confrontational style that forces elected officials to pick sides, resulting in little progress and lots of hostility.

I plead with you--Acton's Landing, Murray Hill, Market St., et. al--try and work with us. The things that you think are problems--we think they are problems too! And we have creative ways to solve these problems without making your lives worse. Remember, Ward 1, the other 7 Wards are important too.