City Posts September Calendar

Calendar_Clipart.jpgThe city of College Park has posted to their website their September calendar of events, and posted agenda information for the three city council meetings scheduled this month. The meetings, to be held September 5th, 13th, and 26th, includes discussion of development plans and a pedestrian overpass for the Greenbelt Metro station (9/5), and proposed changes to parking restrictions in two neighborhoods (9/26).

The city is also holding a “landlord forum” this Wednesday the 6th, the Advisory Planning Commission meets this Thursday the 7th, and the Committee for Better Environment will meet Monday the 25th.

Byrd Stadium Naming Rights Sold

Chevy Chase Bank has purchased, in a 25-year $20 million deal, the naming rights to the field at Byrd Stadium. The money, combined with $35 million from the Board of Regents will herald in a 2,000 to 3,000 luxury seat expansion on the Tyser Tower side of the stadium as well as roughly 500 Mezzanine-level seats. Signs conveying the new name: Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium were immediately spotted on I-95. Expected Completion: 2009-2010 season.

Know Your Rights as a Tenant

The new school year means lots of students will either be living in residence halls or off-campus rented housing for the first time. Taking a few minutes now to familiarize yourself with the applicable laws and regulations can help make your year safe, fun, and as stress-free as possible.

If you are living on campus the Department of Residence Life website has a variety of information about residence hall life. Dorm residents should check out the Community Handbook, a set of rules specific to residence halls. Of particular interest is the section on staff entry to dorm rooms. The Department of Residence Life also maintains a seperate Alcohol Policy about rules, sanctions, and resources related to alcohol.

House ClipartLiving off-campus? Before moving in be sure you’ve examined the lease and have all your landlord’s contact information. It’s their job to repair routine maintenance problems that arise, so don’t hesitate to contact them if you notice problems with your house or apartment. In general, it’s best to communicate with your landlord in writing – either by letter or email – so that you have a record if there are any problems later. The University’s Off-Campus Housing Services website has housing listings if you are still looking for a place to live. If you have trouble with your landlord the Undergraduate Student Legal Aid Office or Graduate Student Legal Aid Office can provide you with free advice about housing or a variety of other issues. The City of College Park website has information about parking permits, trash collection, and other city services. Chapter 138 of the city code describes the rules relating to excessive noise, which can result in a $500 fine.

Taking a few minutes to review some of this material now can eliminate headaches later. We’ve added some of these links under “housing” on the right.

This Week in the Gazette: Paperworks Closes, Vendor Restrictions Proposed

This week’s College Park Gazette has several articles of note. The city has restricted on-street parking to residents only on a portion of Narragansett Parkway where commuters were parking for the Greenbelt Metro station. The City Council will decide in their September meeting whether to adopt a number of restrictions on solicitors and vendors, including requiring ice cream trucks use bells instead of recorded music.

Finally, College Park business Paperworks Balloons and Gifts is closing after 21 years of operation. The Gazette profiles owner Lisa Holt, who was forced to close the business when her landlord increased her rent form $4,500 a month to $7,000 a month. According to the state’s real property database, the property was assessed at $479,600 in 2004 and is owned by “College Park Center, LLC” with an address listed at “3701 SAINT BARNABAS RD, SUITLAND MD 20746-3211.”

Also, the state will be modifying signs directing motorists to the university campus in an effort to reduce traffic on Route 1, the Diamondback reports. The article also mentions Sen. John Giannetti’s “Terrapin Trails” project to install signs decorated with Testudo to direct fans to sporting events.

UMD to Build its Own Downtown District

The University has begun courting developers (website) for an ambitous public-private partenership to redevelop its landholdings between Paintbranch Parkway, Route 1, and Frat Row. The project has been left relatively open-ended, but it will certainly be mixed use (both retail and student housing) and cause a dramatic shift northwards of College Park’s commercial core. It is the “single largest private development opportunity on Route 1.” The site’s central location to many parts of campus as well as its proximity to the north campus high rises, the new research park, and the proposed purple line make it an ideal location for such a massive project.

East Campus Map

The University will conduct a developer information session on September 14th and choose between competing proposals in the coming months. The selected developer’s final architectural plans will be available May 2007. We’re encouraged by the University’s continued commitment to invigorate downtown College Park and we look forward to a public and open process as the project moves forward.

Baltimore Sun Predicts Regionwide Housing Shortage

A Baltimore Sun analysis in a pair of articles forecasts that Baltimore City and its five suburban counties (including PG County) will be 20,000 homes short in four years and 100,000 by the year 2030. This provides significant concerns over affordable housing and fears that workers will be pushed further into the outskirts; lengthening commutes or pricing out workers from the area all together. These trends in large part, according to Sun researchers, are because of continued economic expansion brought on by the area’s proximity to the nation’s capital and concurrent residential growth restrictions.

The study, likely brought about by the UMD Center for Smart Growth’s Reality Check Plus, adds to a growing body of awareness that much of the land in the Washington-Baltimore area is already developed. Local planning bodies have to balance often-revenue losing residential developments and revenue generating commercial development with traffic, jobs-to-housing ratios and affordability concerns. Local political pressure to limit growth only compounds the greater regional problem.

 Here is a quote from the article:

“There seems to be an assumption that metropolitan growth patterns are the result of a free market,” said Robert Puentes, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “Nothing can be further from the truth. It’s the regulatory regimes in place that are actually causing this development and growth to happen. … There is a real opportunity to do something different.”

>Baltimore Sun(7/26/06): “Searching For Solutions

>Baltimore Sun(7/23/06): “The Coming Housing Crunch