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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 12/16/2009

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11, 2010 at 5 p.m.

On the agenda for Dec. 10

The City Council's last meeting of the year was a busy one. Four proposed ordinances and two resolutions concerned rights, and rights-of-way, for cyclists--and that's not even counting the brewing controversy over mountain biking around Loch Raven Reservoir (Councilmania, Dec. 2, 09-0429 proposes requiring bike parking in new or expanded commercial buildings. The 10-page bill, which like the others was introduced by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District), spells out in detail what bicycle parking would look like (generally, two bike spaces for every 10 car spaces). Bill 09-0430 calls for the creation of bike lanes on city roads, and 09-0431 specifies "bike-safe grates" be installed over storm drains along roads and bike lanes. 09-0433 calls for "complete streets" design principles to be applied to "all new City transportation improvement projects." The idea is to create streets that can be used safely and efficiently by drivers of cars, riders of bikes, and pedestrians. On the resolution side, 09-0175R calls for an informational hearing with police officials so they can explain their procedures for dealing with bicyclists; and 09-0176R reaffirms the council's support for a "Cyclists' Bill of Rights." "These all came from the mayor's bicycle task force," Clarke said in introducing her bills. "I hope they came out the way that you had hoped."

Bill 09-0427 Planned Unit Development--Designation--Wylie Funeral Home.

Would grant planned unit development status to a planned funeral-home expansion on the block to the west of Barclay Elementary/Middle School.

The Read: The Wylie Funeral Home, at the corner of Harlem Avenue and Gilmor Street, needs to expand, but it is located in a residential district. The solution is to award a "planned unit" designation. The rowhouses on the block have already been demolished, according to the minutes of the June 24 Site Plan Review Committee meeting; the plan is to consolidate those lots with a city-owned park to create a 1.7 acre development site, on which the expanded funeral home and a 68-car parking lot will stand.

Bill 09-0432 Parking, Standing, and Stopping of Vehicles--Obstructing Alleys.

Would clarify the laws regarding alley parking.

The Read: Councilwoman Clarke introduced this bill after hearing complaints from constituents in Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello (CHM) who, she said, "are getting tickets for parking in alleys behind their houses where they have parked for 44 years." She says parking-enforcement folks, following calls to the city's 311 complaint line, are possibly misinterpreting the ordinance against obstructing alleys. Her proposed ordinance says a vehicle should not be ticketed if it is situated so that it "leaves a 10-foot wide or wider travel lane through the alley for another vehicle." Clarke asked her council colleagues to co-sponsor the bill: "I hope you will join me," she said, "before our entire CHM neighborhood is in traffic court."

EA09-0213, 0214 and 0217.

Executive nominations of Robert G. Ginyard, Charles U. Smith, and Melvin G. Mercer to the long-moribund Cable Communications Advisory Commission.

The Read: Citing Comcast's monopoly hold on the city's cable service, and the alleged superiority of Verizon's FiOS service, Councilman William Cole (D-11th District) offered a bill last spring calling for the commission's revival (Councilmania, Mar. 25. three nominees are the first sign that this might happen, and of the seriousness with which the council--or the Dixon administration; it's not clear who nominated these folks--is taking this commission. Mercer is a social worker and vice president of the Greenmount West Community Association. Ginyard lives on the 2400 block of Madison Avenue, according to online court records, which also indicate he has three open cases in which he is being sued. Smith's name is familiar to Baltimore political junkies, as he has run (sometimes as a Democrat, sometimes a Republican) for City Council, council president, mayor, governor, U.S. senator, comptroller, and, in 2008, Congress. In a bio published in The Washington Post before the 2008 election, Smith claims to be a retired general with the U.S. Army Maryland National Guard. In September, he filed a lawsuit naming the city of Baltimore as a defendant.

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