The Compass - March eNews from Baltimore Planning

Compass Logo with Snowy Street in Background
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

March 2013

A Message from the Director…

The Planning Department is often involved in planning activities and initiatives that aren’t always obvious to those outside of City government. One of those areas is our work with the City’s floodplain mapping, natural hazards, and integration of climate change into city plans.  

The Office of Sustainability, housed at the Planning Department, is currently taking the lead on an innovative approach that ties together floodplain mapping, hazard mitigation, and climate adaptation planning for the City. The Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3) is working with grant funding to produce a plan for the City to help address the adversities we face due to natural hazards and climate change.

This plan stems from recommendations made in the City’s Climate Action Plan and supports our quest to make Baltimore the most livable, dynamic, sustainable & attractive City it can be, now and in the future.

Stay tuned for future updates on this project, as well as future invitations to a Town Hall Meeting, which will give you the opportunity to review these plans and offer feedback and comments.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director

Image of Snow Removal Equipment in Action

The DP3 Vision:

Baltimore will be a city whose daily activities reflect a commitment shared by government, business, and citizens to reduce or eliminate impacts from current and future natural hazards.


TransForm Baltimore Update

The Department of Planning would like to sincerely thank all of the citizens, property owners and community groups who took an interest in and provided thoughtful input into City Council Bill 12-0152:  TransForm Baltimore - a new zoning code for Baltimore City.  

On Monday March 18th at 5 PM, the PC will hold its final public hearing on the proposed new zoning code at the War Memorial Building.  Planning staff will present its preliminary recommendations for amendments, including zoning provisions relating to reducing alcohol sales outlet density, and the Commission will provide one final opportunity for public testimony. 

Then on March 21st  5pm at 417 E. Fayette Street, 8th floor , the Planning Commission will review all amendments and take  its formal vote on the bill.  No further public testimony will be taken at this voting session.  PC will then send the results to the City Council as its recommendation on CCB 12-0152.

A list of comments and suggested amendments has been posted on the TransForm Baltimore website at

The City Council Land Use and Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold their first hearing on Wednesday April 3rd at 5pm in City Council chambers.


Next Month:  An In-Depth TransForm Baltimore Update


What is DP3?

The Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3) is a new initiative by the Department of Planning that will combine three different planning elements to become one final DP3 plan.

Every five years the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires local governments to update their All Hazards Mitigation Plan (AHMP). In an effort to plan for existing hazards and prepare for predicted hazards due to climate change, the Office of Sustainability will develop and implement an integrated program that combines the AHMP, floodplain mapping, and Climate Adaptation Plan to provide the City with a comprehensive system for addressing existing and future impacts.

This project will ensure that adaptation recommendations are included in future decision making on capital and operating budgets and prioritized within planning processes.

Flooding in Fells Point after Hurrican Isabel

What is Hazard Mitigation and why is it important?

According to FEMA, hazard mitigation is sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and their property from hazards. The purpose of mitigation planning is to identify policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and future losses.

Image of Inner Harbor Flooding 2010

Above: Image of Inner Harbor Flooding 2010

In 2000, President Obama signed into law the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000). Part of this act requires local governments to develop and submit a hazard mitigation plan as a condition of receiving mitigation project grants. Hazard mitigation plans are required to be updated every five years.

The City’s AHMP will act as the foundation for Baltimore’s long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses, damage, and expenses. In addition to existing hazards, other climate-related impacts are already affecting Baltimoreans. Heat waves, sea level rise, and flooding due to more extreme precipitation events, will all impact the City’s environmental, social, and economic systems. The City of Baltimore will incorporate adaptation efforts into a plan which recommends changes to better respond to new climate conditions, thereby reducing risk and increasing resiliency 

Image of Derecho storm damage

Integrating hazard mitigation planning which focuses on past events with climate adaptation planning and a focus on what will likely happen in the future is a win-win situation for Baltimore City. Both elements require a detailed inventory of natural hazards, a risk assessment, and a vulnerability analysis. These processes will then inform actions to mitigate hazards and adapt to predicted climate impacts. This process will provide clear guidance and a unified strategy to support Baltimore’s sustainability and resilience 

Monument Street Sinkhole

The Department of Planning assembled a group of experts from around the City and State to help gather essential data and draft recommendations for the DP3. The Advisory Committee consists of city directors from DPW, DOT, DPH, MOEM, Fire, Police and DGS,  community leaders, business leaders, climate scientists and representatives from FEMA, MEMA, DNR, local Universities, the port and BGE. The Advisory Committee will meet four times and members will also participate in subcommittees based on their specific areas of expertise.

image of biker riding through floodwater in downtown Baltimore

The recommendations made will be divided into four sectors: infrastructure, buildings, natural systems, and public health & human services. Committee members will consider recommendations such as new building code regulations to offset sea level rise or planting more trees to help manage stormwater runoff and reduce the urban heat island effect. A full list of recommendations will be available by June 1, 2013.

For more information, please contact Kristin Baja at or (410) 396-5917.

Downtown Baltimore covered in Snow

San Francisco Planning Settles Super Bowl Debt in Style

San Francisco Planners Singing in Front of SF City Hall

Prior to Superbowl XLVII, the Planning Departments of Baltimore and San Francisco made a bet.  Since our Ravens beat their 49ers, this video  is their payment... a fine rendition of "Good Morning Baltimore" from the Broadway Musical and movie adaptation of Hairspray.  ENJOY and GO RAVENS!