Howard County APFO – CB61

I had high hopes when I heard about the APFO taskforce, yet after seeing the process and subsequent outcome I couldn’t be more disappointed. Throughout all the community discussions I’ve been involved in over the past several years regarding development, Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO) arises again and again. We are long overdue for strengthening this much needed protection for our residents.

 

Below you’ll find the text of my testimony to the Howard County Council on 7/17 regarding CB 61:

I’m here to ask you today to table CB61 – in part so that more residents can have their voices heard the same way we tabled Affordable Housing for Downtown Columbia last year. But also so that you’ll have time to submit amendments and make a better bill.

As is, CB61 does not address the issue of inadequate public infrastructure – an effect children across our community are facing with mass overcrowding, that every resident experiences on our roads, and has ripple effects throughout our neighborhoods.

This is an opportunity to make real, meaningful, lasting change in our communities.

Public infrastructure has not kept pace with development. In theory we should be able to use the enrollment-capacity data for a true comprehensive county-wide plan to identify areas where school capacity increases could be forecast. Zoning and other regulations could guide growth away from communities where overcrowding is likely to occur.

Please, hear the moms, dads, and grandparents who are here and insert and amend the school capacity limit to 100%. I cannot think of another public building that would be allowed to operate over 120% capacity – day in and day out. The capacity of this room has at times been controlled to stay within fire code. From a safety perspective it is simply unacceptable that we would do this to children in our county.

Allowing development to continue to add students to schools until they are more than 115% to 120% over capacity has been a key driver in overcrowding schools.

Measures that truly benefit communities must be added or amended.

  • If a school is over capacity, it’s over capacity and development must wait. Temporary portables do not count.
  • The APFO school test should be based upon current year enrollment and projections three- to five-years into the future.
  • High schools count as schools.

I’m sure many of you have read the “How Successful are Maryland Counties in Preventing Overcrowding” report. I won’t repeat all the information, but I would encourage you to compare Anne Arundel’s APFO to ours. Only 14% of Anne Arundel schools suffer over state rated capacity – while more than 50% of Howard’s schools are filled to the brim.

Please, table this bill and consider the ways we can make lasting, meaningful change for our residents and create opportunity for all in Howard County.

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