Baltimore City Department of Planning e-News - September 2020

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Baltimore City Department of Planning eNewsletter  - September 2020

A Message from Chris Ryer, Director


This fall, we are trying something new - a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the Sustainability Commission! During this session, the Department of Public Works (DPW) will give a presentation on the Less Waste, Better Baltimore plan (press release here). The meeting will be on September 10, at noon, and accessible via WebEx -- here is a link to the virtual meeting. The combined portion of the meeting will begin at 4 PM. 

Our virtual meetings and work continues this month - for example, we are, for the first time, hosting a cohort of Planning Academy online this Fall! We are modifying the approach to better suit the virtual environment and are hoping that we will learn from the process.

Finally, we have revamped the equity section of our Departmental website, which you can check out via this link: This page includes the summer report from our Mayoral Fellow on applying an equity lens to our recruitment and retention strategies. The webpage also has more information about our progress working towards goals in the Equity Action Plan, and an overview of some of the key equity related work our team is undertaking this coming year. 

Chris Ryer, Director

Census 2020: Neighborhood Canvassing Continues

In September, neighborhood canvassing in support of the 2020 Census has continued in neighborhoods across town.

The image below features Councilwoman Sneed; elected officials joined Census staff and volunteers to canvass in East Baltimore in mid-August. The young man behind Councilwoman Sneed is filling out the Census on one of the iPads acquired specifically for this outreach effort. Each canvassing event is making use of mobile technology to increase the participation rate in the most undercounted neighborhoods.

You may be wondering where we are in making progress towards our goal of having 73% of residents participate in the Census. Right now, we are at 54.5%. This means we have a lot of work to do this month and we need your help. Please help us by spreading the word - you can forward this newsletter via email, or mention the Census in your conversations with friends and family this week. Every person participating counts towards our goal.

Census - Canvassing

COVID-19 Emergency Food Response: Thank You, Convention Center Team!

Since early May, the Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) has played an important role in Baltimore City’s COVID-19 Emergency Food Response. The convention center is the City’s main food distribution center for grocery boxes and produce boxes delivered to resident homes through a partnership with Amazon Flex. To date, over 11,000 grocery boxes and 5,000 produce boxes have been delivered to homes through BCC. That is over 200 tons of food! 

BCC has committed six staff members on a daily basis to operate the distribution center. They have provided 30,000 square feet for the distribution and storage of grocery boxes while also serving as a field hospital throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This vital program serving food insecure Baltimore City residents would not be possible without the support of the Baltimore Convention Center and its dedicated team. Thank You!

Convention Center Action Food

Mary Ellen Hayward, Preservation Activist, Passes in July


It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of Mary Ellen Hayward in late July. 

Mary Ellen was a museum curator, scholar, writer, and preservation activist whose work in Baltimore spans half a century. She produced three popular books on the architecture and development of Baltimore; placed at least a dozen neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places; and ceaselessly advocated for the preservation of Baltimore’s historic resources. 

Her scholarship on the Baltimore rowhouse and the Alley house popularized Baltimore’s most ubiquitous historic resource. She helped all of us see the historic treasures in front of us, helped us understand and appreciate Baltimore’s built environment a little bit better, and galvanized Baltimoreans to come together and celebrate the great city in which we live. 

Below is a list of her most notable books:

  • The Baltimore Rowhouse by Charles Belfoure and Mary Ellen Hayward
  • Baltimore’s Alley Houses: Homes for Working People Since the 1780s by Mary Ellen Hayward
  • The Architecture of Baltimore: An Illustrated History by Frank R. Shivers Jr., Mary Ellen Hayward , et al. 

New Study Demonstrates Value of the Historic (CHAP) Tax Credit

CHAP tax credit

In 2019, the Department of Planning hired PlaceEconomics to analyze the Baltimore City historic tax credit. The study is now available: An Analysis of the Baltimore Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Among its findings:

  • More than 3,500 historic properties have been renovated using the tax credit, representing private sector investment of nearly $1.2 billion.
  • The program creates jobs. Over the last five years an average of nearly 600 direct and indirect jobs, and $36 million in labor income have been generated each year through projects.
  • The credit produces value. The properties whose credits have now expired increased in value from $17 million in 2000 to $211 million in 2019. Income from city property taxes on these properties rose from $1.3 million to $5.9 million.

Over the coming year, a tax credit advisory group will craft a bill focusing on enhancing the equity and effectiveness of the tax credit program. The group will focus on two areas in particular:

  • Increasing the eligibility of the credit to encompass more neighborhoods of Baltimore, and
  • Increasing the value of the credit in Baltimore’s more distressed neighborhoods.

We encourage interested parties to explore the document in its entirety. Any questions can be directed to Stacy Montgomery at

INSPIRE Updates: Mary E. Rodman Celebrates Ribbon Cutting

Mary Rodman

COVID-19 couldn’t stop the ribbon cutting celebration of Mary E. Rodman Elementary School, the latest school to be redeveloped as part of the 21st Century Schools construction program.

Even though the in-person festivities were limited, the excitement was not. Watch a video of the celebration here and take a virtual tour (starting at 29:44 minutes in). The INSPIRE Draft Recommendation report for the area is expected to be released in September. Watch here for updates.

Park Heights Mosaic Makes its Debut

Park Hts mosaic

A bold, new mosaic made its debut in the Park Circle neighborhood of Park Heights this August. The public art transformed a concrete wall at the edge of a vacant lot on Park Heights Avenue into a vibrant community mosaic.  

Pam Curtis, the Park Circle Community Association leader and a graduate of the Baltimore Planning Academy, was the visionary leader behind this project. Ms. Curtis worked closely with James Ashford, NW Community Planner, and Kim Knox, Greening Coordinator, on all the necessary approvals.

The mosaic was created by Herb Massie, a community artist, organizer, teacher, sculptor, and mosaic artist. He received the Sue Hess Maryland Arts Advocate of the Year Award in 2016, and you can read an interview with him from that time.

You can also read an interview with Pam Curtis and her work in the Park Heights community in the Afro, found here.

Torbin Green is Baltimore's Most Recent #EveryStoryCounts Community Leader


Baltimore's Office of Sustainability believes that you don’t have to be a climate scientist or city planner to create sustainability + resilience. Everyone has a story to tell about making Baltimore a stronger, fairer and safer place for all of us. The #EveryStoryCounts campaign demonstrates this message.

Torbin Green is Baltimore's next #EveryStoryCounts feature! Torbin started out as a classroom volunteer at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Baltimore's Reservoir Hill neighborhood six years ago. Today, he is the center's Operations & Program Director. When COVID-19 hit Baltimore in March, he came up with a plan to make sure that none of the children in the center's after-school program lacked the ability to learn. Through the close relationships with families they serve, staff quickly realized that even more support was needed to weather the crisis. Now, Torbin and his team are distributing hundreds of free boxes of produce each week, and he has become an advocate for fresh food access in West Baltimore.

You can read a complete interview with Tobin via this link.

Nuisance Flood Plan: Please Read, Comment, Provide Input in September!

The City of Baltimore is in the process of identifying nuisance flooding locations and developing a Nuisance Flood Plan, as mandated by the State of Maryland, House Bill 1427 (2019).

As part of this effort, please fill out this short survey and share your experiences with nuisance flooding in Baltimore. We also kindly ask you to review our Nuisance Flood Plan draft. We will be collecting public input through Sunday 9/20.

Additionally, we have a virtual public information session scheduled for Thursday 9/24 at 4pm to present the final draft of the plan. Please visit the Baltimore Office of Sustainability website for meeting details.

Nuisance flooding, also known as “sunny day flooding,” is defined as high tide flooding that causes disruptions to daily activities. It can occur with or without precipitation and is expected to increase in the coming years due to anticipated sea level rise, particularly in areas like Fells Point. Our Office of Sustainability is documenting the impacts of this type of flooding and identifying actions to mitigate this hazard.

Study of Transit Usage During COVID-19 - Please Share!

morgan logo

The Urban Mobility & Equity Center at Morgan State University is researching via survey how those who use public transit are affected by COVID-19. All are welcome to participate in this brief survey. Those who drive are also encouraged to participate.

The survey link is:

September is National Preparedness Month


National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning.

As our nation continues to respond to COVID-19 and recent hurricane threats, there is no better time to be involved. The 2020 NPM theme is: "Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

Opportunities include joining your Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or making a plan with your family.

And keep an eye on the Baltimore Office of Sustainability social media pages for weekly updates.

Upcoming Commission Meetings & Events.

9/8/20 - 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. 

Information and an agenda for the upcoming meeting is available here.

9/10/20 - Sustainability Commission *Combined with Planning Commission this Month!*

The Commission on Sustainability is a 21-member body, overseeing the implementation of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan. Here is the link to the meeting this month.

Meetings are held monthly and open to the public. The September meeting will be combined with Planning Commission and feature a discussion of DPW's new waste reduction plan.

09/10/20  - Planning Commission *Combined with Sustainability Commission this Month!*

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. The September meeting is unique in that it will be combined with Sustainability Commission, as explained above.

Agenda and WebEx information is available via this link.

If you are unable to participate, you may submit written testimony to

9/24/20 - UDAAP *please note, September 3 meeting date is cancelled*

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.

The agenda for UDAAP meetings will be made available here.

city of baltimore

Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning

Chris Ryer, Director