The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning


A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

October 2016

A Message from the Director…

It can be difficult to imagine what the City might look like in twenty years when every day, our communities face challenges that need to be addressed immediately. But through the Capital Improvement Program, the City focuses on the long-term investments needed to ensure a thriving city for years to come.

In November, voters will be asked to authorize the City to borrow up to $130 million in general obligation (G.O.) bonds over the next two years. The bonds will help the City pay for important capital projects, leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in state, federal, and private investment.

It is through this program that the City can invest in its neighborhoods and build on the qualities that make our City a great place to live, work and play. In this month’s Compass, you can read more about the four bond questions that will be on the November ballot. You can also visit our website to learn more about the types of essential projects funded by these bonds.

On November 8, please join me in voting FOR questions A through D to ensure that we continue to make the long-term investments that become the foundation for the future of our City.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director 


What is a G.O. Bond?

With voter approval, the City raises money for specific capital improvements by issuing General Obligation Bonds or G.O. Bonds. G.O. bonds are secured by the full faith and credit of the City. Every two years, including 2016, G.O. bonds (termed as Loans in the ballot questions) are presented to voters for approval on the November ballot. 

G.O. Bonds are loans in the sense that funds are made available to the City at the time that they are issued, and paid back (with interest) over 20 years. G.O. bonds are issued annually, up to the amounts approved by the voters. The City of Baltimore currently has $197.8 million in outstanding bonds, and has attained a rating of AA2 and AA by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s rating agencies (a favorable rating compared to many cities of the same size).

In addition to being approved by a majority of the voters in Baltimore City, these bonds must also be approved by the City Delegation to the General Assembly, Planning Commission, Board of Finance, Board of Estimates and the City Council, before they can be appropriated, issued and spent. The bonds are rated investment grade and provide the City with a valuable inexpensive means to fund projects. 

The 2016 Bond Issues will appear as Questions A through D on the November 8 election ballot and, if approved, will provide capital funds for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Development Milestones: New Housing Units in Baltimore City

As of September 24, 2016, 4,996 additional housing units are under construction in Baltimore City, and 1,832 have been approved. For more information, visit our map and download a chart here.

ConstructionResidential Unit Counts
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City Prepares for Next Six-Year Capital Funding Cycle

In addition to choosing among candidates on November 8, 2016, voters in Baltimore City will be asked to make decisions on several bond issue and charter amendment questions on the ballot.

Questions A through D are bond issue questions, and are directly related to the capital budget. Every two years, voters are asked to authorize the City to issue general obligation (G.O.) bonds, which are debt instruments secured by the full faith and credit of the City. The questions are sometimes referred to as loan authorizations, as voters are authorizing the City to issue debt that will be paid back over time. Each bond issue question refers to a “loan” dedicated to a specific purpose, described further below.

This year, voters are being asked to authorize up to $130 million over two years to fund the City’s capital program. These long-term investments in physical infrastructure will support residents, neighborhoods, and jobs in Baltimore by helping to build affordable housing, improve schools, revitalize neighborhoods, and improve public facilities.

Read below and visit our website to learn more about each loan and see examples of the types of projects each could fund. Don’t forget to vote “FOR” these questions on November 8, 2016 to allow the City to continue to invest in its future!


The new Affordable Housing Loan would allow the City to spend up to $6 million over two years to be used for an affordable housing program, including acquisition, preservation, demolition, rental assistance, and housing counseling (among other related activities). Learn more.


The Schools Loan would allow the City to invest up to $34 million over two years in improving City school facilities. This loan complements the much larger 21st Century Schools initiative by providing funding for large-scale maintenance improvements along with a few new school construction projects.  Learn more.


The Community and Economic Development Loan would provide the City up to $45 million over two years to be used for community and economic development. Potential uses range from renovation of some of the City’s cultural institutions to acquisition and demolition of vacant homes, among other activities. Learn more.


The Recreation and Parks and Public Facilities Loan would allow the City to invest up to $45 million over two years to improve public buildings and land, including libraries, parks, municipal buildings and other city-owned properties. Learn more.

For more information on the capital improvement program or the bond issue questions that will appear on the ballot, contact Kristen Ahearn at (410) 396-8357 or

Green Network Updates

Green Network

There are a number of activities planned and underway throughout the fall to continue to engage community members and other stakeholders as part of the Green Network Plan process.  The Green Network Plan will set a bold vision for reimagining vacant and abandoned properties and transforming them into community assets such as parks, gardens, urban farms, open space and future development sites.

The completed plan will include three major elements:

·         A citywide Vision Plan for creating an interconnected network of green spaces

·         Pilot area greening and development strategies for neighborhoods in East, West, and Southwest Baltimore

·         Recommendations to support short-term implementation of demonstration projects and long-term implementation of the citywide green network. 

The pilot area strategies will include recommendations for demolition, permanent and temporary greening projects, and opportunities for future redevelopment from which initial pilot project implementation opportunities will be identified.  The pilot areas are:

·         East – Broadway East & South Clifton Park

·         West – Sandtown-Winchester and Harlem Park

·         Southwest – Shipley Hill, Boyd-Booth, and Carrollton Ridge 

For more information about upcoming focus area community meetings in October and November, contact Kate Edwards at 410-396-5934 or  

To learn more about the Green Network Plan and find out about other upcoming meetings, visit: