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Planning and New Urbanism in Baltimore, MD's Journal
 
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Below are the 3 most recent journal entries recorded in Planning and New Urbanism in Baltimore, MD's LiveJournal:

Saturday, June 21st, 2008
3:29 pm
[stellaverde]
Useless Light Rail
Because I've lived and worked in Boston before, I know what it means to have great public transportation.  You can get anywhere in Boston using the subway and the commuter rail will take you from the 'burbs straight into the heart of the city.  I have to say that I miss Boston a lot since moving to Baltimore.

Last summer, I used the Light Rail to get to work because my husband needed the car to get to a class three days a week.  We live in a pretty high density population area in the city, so it would make sense to have a Light Rail line go through it.  But no, Baltimore only has one line and it's not easy for me to get to from here.  I say "me" in particular because I am a young, thin female.  I tried walking from the Light Rail to home after work and felt uncomfortable the entire time.  It felt dangerous to walk through that portion of the city no matter which street I used.  Men took long looks, women ignored me or asked for change and within one trip I was asked to stop and talk to strange men.  I said, "No" and kept walking.  These were not people with clipboards doing polls.  These men seemed desperate to talk to me.  I felt targeted because I looked vulnerable or naive.  After a few days of this, I had my husband start picking me up from the light rail.  I guess I'll have to go to the gym to get exercise.  There are buses, but after those walks, I don't want to meet the same type of people in a confined space, even if it is public.  Gee, thanks, Baltimore. 

My next complaint is that I have seen no unification of the Metro subway, the Light Rail and the Marc trains (commuter rail).  I have to look at several maps online just to see where they connect to each other or to find out the street address of the stops.  All of the light rail stations should have comprehensive maps of all the places I can reach using rail.  I've just found out that I can get to Owings Mills.  Why the heck would I need to go there, though?

Also, I suppose it's good that people in the city can get to the Hunt Valley Towne Center for all sorts of wonderful sprawly shopping, but in my opinion, the CITY should have plenty of accessible shopping.  It's a CITY! 

Lastly, if they want people to use the Light Rail, every stop must have something at it that a typical user might need to get to.  And there aren't that many types of things one needs.  Just housing, shopping and a job.  Oh, medical facilities would be good, too.  But, follow this link to see what one is brought to at the Hunt Valley stop. 

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
9:24 am
[grandhoser]
Bail Bonds trial.
Yesterday, a trial opened in Baltimore City that promises to be very interesting. Three owners of the 4 Aces Bail Bonds are being prosecuted for conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. The prosecution is trying to prove the defendants used a complex mix of processes that allowed properties to be used as collateral on multiple bail bonds, and allowed the defendants to reap a lot of money.

A couple years ago, the Court of Appeals set up a task force to look into bail bonds process and violations. The task force's draft report is here as a .pdf. In short, the task force recommends licensing bail bondsmen, centralizing the issuance of bail bonds, and creating very clear liens on property that has been put up as collateral.

Some, like the paper, have called the gaps in the current system "loopholes". Loopholes may be a misnomer because the issues sound like poor record keeping and lax enforcement of existing laws.

Now, to the planning part: When these bonds show up as liens on abandoned or vacant property, they will be just as difficult to remove as asbestos in the ceiling or chromium in the soil. Also, there have been many instances of similar liens costing people their property.

I bring this up on a forum about new urbanism and planning because it illustrates some of the hurdles that must be jumped to improve our town. Not only do we have to deal with crime and poverty, but we have to deal with the cobweb of existing legislation and regulations that cross the city.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
10:52 pm
[stellaverde]
Earth Friendliness
I'm trying to be more environmentally friendly. I save all the paper I want to get rid of in paper grocery bags. I wait and wait until the day I can put my paper in the back alley to be picked up. In Baltimore, paper and bottle recycling days are different days and tend to be a couple of weeks apart. Since they're few and far between, I often forget, so there were three bags of paper (quite heavy!) to be taken outside for the morning pick up. I felt so guilt free! It was a relief to know that that paper is destined to become MORE paper. Being an artist, I have a special appreciation for paper. Unfortunately and ironically, this paper recycling day coincided with regular garbage day. Adam happened to catch, from the bathroom window, the garbage men pick up our several months worth of saved paper and put it right into the garbage truck along with the neighbors' regular trash. What were we to do?

I'm heartbroken.

Other thoughts on earth-friendliness:

Plastic bags
Dude, I HATE plastic bags. I've had my fill of them. They build up in my apartment because I don't want to put them in with the regular trash since I don't think of them as disposable. I bring my own heavy duty bags to the store now, and the amount of bags in my apartment has gone WAY down. Cashiers don't seem to mind. I was a cashier and I loved it when people brought their own bags. Adam and I give cashiers the added bonus of bagging items ourselves and they often thank us.

I've found other uses for these flimsy little demons. It's nearly impossible to stop them from ever entering my home, after all. They're good for padding in packages, carrying stuff, enclosing particularly stinky items (by tying up the handles), lining little garbage cans and waterproofing.

I found this amusing/sad image gallery at reusablebags.com

Bag Fence
It's called a bag fence. It's supposed to keep shopping bags from blowing out of the landfill.

I have more thoughts, but I'll post them one at a time when I feel like it..
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