The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning


A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

November 2016

A Message from the Director…

The month, we are pleased to announce that Baltimore's Food Policy Initiative received top honors at the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact awards, an international win for Baltimore City and for our Food Policy Director, Holly Freishtat, and her team.

The Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI) was founded in 2010, and is an intergovernmental collaboration between the Department of Planning (DOP), Office of Sustainability (BOS)Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD), and Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC).

Since 2010, the Food Policy Initiative has worked to establish personal property tax abatements for supermarkets to locate or renovate in or near food deserts; Launched Homegrown Baltimore Employee Wellness CSA; and released an urban agriculture plan, among many other accomplishments.

The Department of Planning is excited to see the work of the Food Policy Initiative honored, and looks forward to additional efforts to expand the initiative's work in years to come. 

Thomas J. Stosur, Director 

Public Meetings Scheduled for Green Network Plan

The next series of public meetings for the Green Network Plan are coming up this month!

There are two meeting dates to provide more than one opportunity for people to participate. 

Green Network Plan Meeting – East

Wednesday, November 16

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

American Brewery Building

1701 North Gay Street


Green Network Plan Meeting – West

Wednesday, November 30

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Lillian Jones Recreation Center

1310 North Stricker Street

Click on the image below for more information.


Baltimore Passes Major Zoning Code Overhaul


On Monday, October 24, City Council gave preliminary approval to the City's new zoning code, Transform.

Overall, more than 800 amendments were considered and 290 approved.

A final vote and the Mayor's signature on Transform are expected on December 5.

A recent editorial in the Baltimore Sun provides additional background and a perspective on the impact of the new code.

The new code can be viewed on the City Council's website.

Planning Staff Assist in Building a New Playground

Park Hts

On October 30th, several Department of Planning staff helped at a KaBOOM! playground build in Park Heights.

Sinai Hospital collaborated with the Park Heights community to build a new playground, and it only took six hours to do it because of the many volunteers!

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Sustainability Plan Meeting Highlights Progress and Plans Next Steps

On Wednesday, October 26, the Office of Sustainability hosted a public meeting to review the progress of the Sustainability Plan update. The event kicked off with a video created by New Lens. The video highlights the philosophy underpinning the Plan: that every story counts. The video also focuses on the extensive outreach and engagement process currently underway.

The video was followed by a report on the preliminary results of an ongoing community-wide survey. The survey asks residents to share what is most important to them in their community, and asks them to share ideas on how community institutions and individuals can better work together to improve the City.

Sustainability Plan1

In order to gather feedback and distribute the survey throughout the City, the Office of Sustainability recruited and trained 126 community residents as Sustainability Ambassadors this year to lead the engagement process. The ambassadors distributed the survey at recreation centers, farmers markets, at their dining room tables, and at other community events. Through this process, the Office of Sustainability hopes to record and integrate the voices that represent our City.

During the second half of the meeting, attendees formed small groups to discuss outreach strategies for the Sustainability Plan, including successes and challenges faced. The focus of the Sustainability Plan update this year is equity. The Office of Sustainability hopes to hear the voices of all Baltimore residents, especially those in disinvested communities whose voices are not often heard. The lively discussion turned to this issue – how to ensure that the equity goals of the plan are met.


Next, the Office of Sustainability plans to continue resident engagement and stakeholder meetings for the next few weeks to gather additional feedback and determine priorities for the Plan. The draft of the updated Sustainability Plan will be released for public comment in early 2017, and a final plan will be released in the Spring of 2017.

Have your voice heard by taking the survey, and stay informed as the draft plan is prepared, or join us as an implementation partner.  Email for more information and to get connected.

Baltimore Food Policy Director Honored for World Food Day

This year, Baltimore received top honors at the inaugural Milan Pact Awards. The awards were announced October 14 in Rome at the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Mayors Summit. Baltimore Food Policy Initiative was recognized for its intergovernmental collaboration that has transformed a set of food systems recommendations into action and has used that momentum to create a movement much bigger than just one City agency, establishing Baltimore as a national leader and model to address healthy food access and local food systems.


More than 30 cities were assessed by an international committee of experts. The criteria that guided the selection of winners included: 

  • Adaptability: capability for replication or adaptation of policy in other cities.
  • Integration: degree to which the policy has been integrated with other categories of food policy or practice.
  • Innovation: the level of innovation compared to the known state of urban food systems development.
  • Impact: the degree at which the practice or policy substantially addresses social and economic equity for vulnerable populations in the target jurisdiction.
  • Inclusion: policy or practice developed with active participation of actors outside of local governments such as civil society and private sector.

Several other cities were recognized for innovative food strategies:

  • Mexico City’s “Community Dining Rooms Program” has set up more than 200 canteens throughout the city to offer affordable meals.

Mexico City and Baltimore were the two cities honored with monetary prizes to further their work.

Six additional cities worldwide received special mention for their work:

Vancouver for the Vancouver Food Strategy; Birmingham  for its projects to fight childhood obesity; Lusaka for the “Women Groups economical empowerment”; Quito for the AGRUPAR programme on urban agriculture; Toronto for “Grab Some Good”, a collaborative initiative aiming at bringing healthy food to underserved communities; and Riga for an innovative method to treat and reuse food waste.

The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact is the first international agreement on urban food policies. The non-binding pact, signed by 120 cities in 2015, encourages cities to develop sustainable local food systems and to share their experiences with other cities.