Baltimore City Department of Planning e-News - June 2020

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Baltimore City Department of Planning eNewsletter  - June 2020

A Message from Chris Ryer, Director

Protest image

The staff of the Department of Planning have been deeply moved by the protests this week in Baltimore and nationwide in the response to the murder of George Floyd.  We began the week in sadness and despair, but the widespread protests by the citizens and youth of Baltimore have given us hope that change may come for our City.

Five years ago, shortly before the death of Freddie Gray, our staff began to organize to understand how our roles as city planners intersect with the history of white supremacy and racism in Baltimore. To unravel this system that we are a part of, we decided to change our day-to-day work with communities and the way we develop policy. This work is as urgent and important now as ever.

Over the past week, through small group conversations, our team has been able to reflect and discuss the gravity of the current moment. Next, throughout the month of June, each Division is hosting a separate meeting to collaboratively develop and propose actionable steps we can take to further racial equity within the context of our work together as planners. These ideas will build on and expand the ideas captured in our Equity Action Plan in 2017.

In the meantime, I would like to invite you, the citizens of Baltimore, to send your suggestions to for how we can use our unique (and privileged) positions as city planners for the City of Baltimore, to address systemic racial injustice within our City.  We work for you, and I know we can do more.

Chris Ryer, Director

Census 2020: What's Happening

In June, Baltimore City’s Census 2020 response rate surpassed 50 percent.

This is an important milestone on our way to our 73 percent response rate goal. The Decennial Census is responsible for political representation and boundaries, and allocation of over $900 million dollars to support programs directly benefiting City residents. 

Recently, we coordinated with partners across the City to get the word out by putting Census lawn signs at the primary polls, and by distributing literature about the Census to food distribution sites throughout May. 


We still have work to do! More than ever, the Census matters -- the Census determines how political POWER and RESOURCES get distributed nationally. A more complete count ensures that Baltimore is able to tap into the funding that it deserves - funding that supports critical social and educational programs like WIC, community health care centers, and so much more.

By filling out your form, you are taking an action to demonstrate that you COUNT. 

(Image at left courtesy of the National Urban League and the #makeblackcount campaign.)

Food Response Strategy Distributes 2.9 Million Meals in Baltimore

The Department of Planning is one of the key agencies in the Covid-19 Food Response Strategy. Together, the City has distributed over 2.9 million meals, 35,500 Grocery Boxes and 15,300 Produce Boxes and will continue to distribute throughout the month of June.

Baltimore residents on SNAP can now use their benefits to purchase groceries online at ShopRite, Amazon, and Walmart. Additionally, between now and July, households qualify to receive benefits for each school-aged child in their household through Pandemic-EBT. 

For more information about all of these food resources and more, visit our website.  

We want to thank all our amazing partners on the frontline of this response. The Department of Planning is currently tracking and supporting community-based organizations distributing free food, and placing those that want to be made public on our map of food resources

If your organization is engaged in food distribution, or know of others that are, please fill out or share our survey

Grocery Boxes

New Local Park in Park Heights Opens


Oakford Park, also known as “Parque Oakford”, opened in Park Heights this Spring. This new green space was inspired by the diverse residents of Oakford Avenue located between Pimlico Rd. and Park Heights Ave.

After many conversations with local residents, the Department of Planning collaborated with Planning's Baltimore Green Network, the Department of Housing and Community Development and Civic Works to transform vacant lots into a local park. The improvements include a marked pathway, benches, a dog waste station, and a new community sign.

CIP Equity Analysis Updated for 2020

In 2019, the Department of Planning, working with the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA), released a study assessing the distribution of Capital Improvement Program (CIP) dollars by neighborhood indicators such as race and income.

The CIP distributes funding for physical improvements to Baltimore's infrastructure, including roads, public buildings and parks.

In June 2020, the Department of Planning released an update to the report, using the latest data. Additional updates are planned on an annual basis to track changes over time.

Middle Branch Master Plan Process Launches

Middle Branch

In 2019, the City of Baltimore, Parks & People Foundation, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership and South Baltimore 7 Coalition hosted a design competition to select a team to lead a master planning effort for the 11-miles of shoreline along the Patapsco River in South Baltimore. This design competition resulted in a consulting team lead by West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture.

The Middle Branch Waterfront Master Planning Process will be a multi-year, multi-faceted initiative that will include parks, trails and public amenities as well as ecological and resiliency benefits in South Baltimore. It launches this summer.

The Middle Branch Waterfront Master Plan is expected to take about 15 months to complete. It will result in design guidelines for a pipeline of capital projects that will connect the waterfront with adjacent neighborhoods and the regional trail network.

Visit this website for additional information on this project.

Woodberry Historic District Approved on June 9


On Tuesday June 9th the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee of the City Council met to conduct a public hearing on City Council Bill No. 20-0502 (Woodberry Historic District). The new Historic District was approved by the Committee, and will proceed to be voted on by full Council on 2nd reader and then 3rd reader.

Cultural Spaces Capital Support Fund Launches

Every two years, the City of Baltimore invites cultural organizations to apply for funding made available through G.O. bonds. These bonds are a small but critical component of the City's Capital Improvement Program.

This year, the fund is being renamed as the Baltimore City Cultural Spaces Capital Support Fund. Awards between $50,000-$200,000 will be made available to support physical improvements to cultural spaces throughout the City. Projects that also promote equity will receive greater weight.

Applications are due August 14, 2020. A webinar will review the application process and be held on June 30, 2020. Additional information is available via this website.

Less Waste, Better Baltimore


The Less Waste, Better Baltimore Solid Waste Master Plan outlines a future vision for improving the City’s solid waste recycling program and operations, with the goal of maximizing waste reduction, reuse/repair, recycling, and sustainable management of materials. A virtual community meeting will be hosted by DPW on June 19.

By Friday, June 12, submit comments on this webpage:

For more information about this meeting, visit DPW's website

New Video Highlights Baltimore's Food Waste Strategy

Food Matters

A new video developed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) highlights work done by amazing community organizations across Baltimore to further advance food waste reduction efforts. 

Food Matters, an effort by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, is advancing food waste reduction, food rescue and food scrap recycling citywide. Since the implementation of the program, Baltimore's Office of Sustainability has committed the city to reduce half of all wasted food generated in the city by 2030. 

Seeking Public Comment for Forest Conservation Code Update

Forest Conservation

Baltimore’s Forest Conservation Program is managed by the Department of Planning, as required by the State of Maryland. 

The purpose of the program is to minimize forest loss by making the identification and protection of forests an integral part of the development planning process.  Updates to the City’s forest conservation code and manual are being proposed to meet updated state requirements, add existing policies to the code, and align the code with other related codes and policies.  The Office of Sustainability is seeking public input on the draft code update through June 16th. You can find the draft updates here.

Seeking Input for Zoning Code Review

Zoning Code

In June of 2020, the Department of Planning began a review of the Zoning Code, adopted in December 2016 with an effective date of June 2017. The goal of the review process is to make updates, discovered through application of the code or due to new circumstances not considered in 2016.

Our changing world provides a good opportunity to review and rethink some of the key policy issues that the Zoning Code presents.   

You may view some of the ideas proposed via this link, and enter your own input on the same site.

You may also contact Laurie Feinberg to stay informed on this topic at

A meeting to discuss proposed changes to parking regulations will be scheduled in the near future.

Upcoming Commission Meetings & Events.


The Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel’s role is to provide the Planning Commission and the Department of Planning design review expertise in the areas of urban design, architecture, and landscape design.

This meeting has been postponed; content will be incorporated into the July 23, 2020 agenda.

6/17/20 - Sustainability Commission 

The Commission on Sustainability is a 21-member body, overseeing the implementation of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan.

Meetings are held monthly and open to the public. The June meeting will be on 6/17/20 from 4-6 PM. The discussion will focus on transportation as it related to COVID-19 and food access.

The Webex meeting may be accessed via this link.

6/18/20  - Planning Commission

The Planning Commission is responsible for maintaining land use plans for the City and reviewing all amendments to the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Commission meets on Thursdays throughout the year.

You may join the June meeting by computer or smartphone at:

Meeting number: 129 183 2410

Event password: Planning

You may join by telephone at: 1-408-418-9388 or 1-646-992-2010 Access code: 129 183 2410

If you are unable to participate, you may submit written testimony to not later than 10am on June 18, 2020.

The schedule, agenda and staff reports are available on this website.

7/14/20 - Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP)

Since 1964, CHAP has enhanced and promoted the culture and economy of Baltimore through the preservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods. CHAP meets on the second Tuesday of each month. 

city of baltimore

Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning

Chris Ryer, Director