The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning


A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

July 2017

A Message from the Director:

This summer, Baltimore's Department of Planning and Office of Sustainability are wrapping up the planning phase of several major projects. The update to the Sustainability Plan should be completed by the end of 2017, and the Green Network Vision Plan should be finalized later this Fall. There are still opportunities for residents to be involved, in these planning projects and several others.

Currently, the Sustainability Plan update is available for review, and comments may still be submitted via email. The plan will be revised and finalized this summer and completed this Fall.

Draft materials for the Green Network Vision Plan are also now available, and residents are encouraged to submit feedback through an online survey.

As the planning processes wrap up for both these projects, the next step will be adoption by the Sustainability and Planning Commissions, with implementation to immediately follow. In the coming months, you will hear more about Green Network pilot projects underway and new efforts to put ideas from the Sustainability Plan into action.

This issue of the Compass also highlights the Resident Food Equity Advisor group. This group was formed to give residents a new opportunity to learn about food policy making in Baltimore City, and contribute to this important conversation. The first group of Resident Food Equity Advisors have recently wrapped up their work, but keep your eyes open for the next round of recruitment early next year.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director 


Provide Feedback on the GNP Vision Plan!

GNP map

Did you miss the May 2017 public meetings for the Green Network Plan? You have another opportunity to review the draft materials for the plan and offer feedback, through a short survey, through July 17, 2017.

The community is invited to review the Vision Plan materials and submit feedback online now, through the survey available via this link.

This quick, ten-minute survey will provide staff with invaluable feedback to integrate into the final version of the Vision Plan.

Please share the survey with friends and neighbors who missed the May meetings, and spread the word!

Housing Development Milestones

As of July 2017, 5,736 additional housing units are under construction in Baltimore City. For more information, visit our map.


Staff Member Honored with Excellence in Public Service Award


Andy Cook, program manager for the Made in Baltimore initiative and a staff member for the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, was recently honored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Urban Studies and Planning with an Excellence in Public Service Award.

This award provides financial support to alumni of MIT's Master's in City Planning program who have chosen to pursue public service careers.

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Baltimore's Food Policy Team Forms Resident Food Equity Advisory Group


The Department of Planning and the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI) have been working to more intentionally include an equity lens in their work. BFPI created the Resident Food Equity Advisor (RFEA) group to include resident voices and perspective in food policy making. 2017 was the first year of the RFEA process and a second cohort of RFEAs will be recruited for January 2018.

Sixteen RFEAs were selected from over eighty applicants, with at least one advisor representing each City Council district. The advisors brought a vast array of expertise and included a former Arabber, farmers, a community organizer, a corner store employee, a cafeteria manager, a restauranteur, and others. The group included members ranging in age from their 20s to 80s; the multigenerational character of the group has contributed to its success. The Food Policy Director, Holly Freishtat, and Joyce Smith, Community Relations Coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and lifelong Baltimore resident, co-chaired the group. RFEAs were compensated for their time as a way to enhance equity in the group structure and value everyone’s time and expertise. 

The RFEAs met once per month for six months. Policy topics focused on the Food Desert Retail Strategy and included: attraction and retention of supermarkets, corner stores, food environment mapping, urban agriculture, and online SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefit implementation. Each meeting began with a briefing from the Food Policy Director and other topic area experts in order to familiarize the advisors on existing policies, strategies and challenges related to the topics above. RFEAs then had an opportunity to provide feedback, pose questions, and engage in a discussion.

Asked to reflect at the final meeting, several residents stated that they felt like they had influence in policymaking for the first time. One resident said, “This group has given me a voice, and I plan to use this as a platform to help make a difference. I have already started to work with other corner stores to invoke changes.”

Advisors said that they have shared a great deal of the information with family, friends and neighbors, and several mentioned they felt like they could now be a “point person” in their neighborhood on food issues.

This was the first year of the RFEA process and a new class of RFEAs will be recruited for January 2018. The next group will focus on different topics such as food resilience, transportation, and/or public markets. BFPI believes this resident advisory board process has been a tremendous success and extremely helpful to their work, and encourages other departments, agencies and organizations to replicate a similar model.


New Sustainability Director, Lisa McNeilly, Joins Office

Lisa McNeilly joined the Office of Sustainability as Director in June 2017. Previously, she was the Director of Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley.

Where are you originally from, and what brought you to Baltimore? 

I grew up in East Tennessee, but have since lived several other places including the Grand Canyon, and, most recently, in the San Francisco Bay area.  I came to Baltimore because of the opportunity to be part of such a well-respected and innovative team of sustainability and planning experts. I’m enjoying exploring the city and the Chesapeake Bay!

As the Director of Sustainability, what are your responsibilities here at the Department of Planning? What projects are you most excited to work on in 2017/2018?

The Office of Sustainability is going to be busy over the next few months.  There will be several new members of the Commission on Sustainability, and we’re planning to roll out the Sustainability Plan update by the end of the year.  I’ve been so impressed with the commitment of the Office staff and am looking forward to continuing to learn about the inventive ways they are working to make the City more sustainable. 

Most recently, you lead the sustainability initiatives for UC – Berkeley. How do you anticipate your experiences there will inform your work in Baltimore?

Over the years of working in sustainability, I’ve had the privilege to work with many smart and dedicated people.  I’ve learned a great deal from them – including how to communicate more authentically, how to shepherd complex projects through a complex organization, how to amplify the work of others, and how to be an effective partner and to work well with others.  But I’ve also learned that it’s important to have fun, even while working on serious and important issues.  It’s also important to take the time to critically evaluate the impact of your work, to be open to mid-course corrections, and to stop occasionally to celebrate success. 

Baltimore City’s Sustainability Plan update process is wrapping up. What’s next? How will the new ideas be implemented?

We plan to release the update by the end of year, after an extensive outreach effort with city staff, community members, and other stakeholders.  With the new year, we’ll be working with many of those same people to start implementing the strategies, laying out a timeline for projects, and measuring the impact of our work.  As we did on the Plan development, I expect we will apply an equity lens to the workplan development as well.  While we broadened the range of voices and the definition of sustainability that formed the basis for the Plan, we will also need to be deliberate in ensuring that strategies and their impacts are evaluated and implemented through a similar lens.

Now that we know so much about your current job, what was your very first job?

My first job was a waitress at Shoney’s restaurant in Gatlinburg, TN.  They were so understaffed that I got overtime (11 hours!) my first day.

Caulkers' Houses in Fell's Point Recognized


On June 19, 2017, a historic marker was unveiled at the Caulkers' Houses located at 612-614 S. Wolfe Street in Fells Point.  These houses date to the late 1790s. Before the Civil War, they were occupied by free African Americans who worked in the shipyards as caulkers.  The houses are rare survivors of light timber-frame houses with brick debris filling the spaces between the timbers, a Medieval construction method, and are now owned by the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fells Point.