OPEN LETTER

To: Sheila Dixon, President
Baltimore City Council

EDITOR'S NOTE: As of Nov. 25, 2003, no response had yet been received to this letter, which was sent to Ms. Dixon on Nov. 3.

Dear Madame President:

On Friday, October 31st, I was present along with several members of the community when City attorney Sandra Gutman argued in Circuit Court that Bill 1219, a measure requested by the defendant, the Zoning Board, was "going to pass." Furthermore, Ms. Gutman argued that by merely introducing this bill, the City Council had demonstrated "legislative intent."

As you know, Bill 1219 is a proposed amendment to the City's Zoning Code to reduce the scope of the special Parking Lot District regulations. You may not be aware that the same amendment was proposed in 1970, but failed in the City Council at that time.

In the past several years, the scope of this statute has become an important issue within the northern Parking Lot District. The Zoning Board and its attorney, Ms. Gutman, disagree with the community about the Parking Lot District regulations, refuse to enforce them, have lost on the issue in Circuit Court, and are now asking the current City Council to conform the regulations to their preferred practice-hence the introduction of Bill 1219 on October 20th.

Bill 1219 has not been heard; therefore, the interested public has not had an opportunity to testify as to the potential impact on the community if the regulations are relaxed. Yet Ms. Gutman, on behalf of the Executive branch, is actually instructing the Judicial branch that you, the Legislative branch, will pass this bill, and that you have already shown an intention to do so, merely by introducing it.

This is certainly not the Legislative Process as the community understands it. I would appreciate an indication from you that the "done deal" described by Ms. Gutman is not what the community can expect, and that there will be a fair hearing and debate on the relevant issues pertaining to this proposed bill.

As you know, the City Council was criticized before the recent Primary for being a "rubber stamp" of the Administration. Whether or not one agrees with this criticism, it is clear from Friday's episode in Court that the Administration regards the City Council as its "rubber stamp."

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,        

Joan L. Floyd    

Joan Floyd is a founding member of the Remington Neighborhood Alliance.


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This story was published on November 26, 2003.