In the bright sunshine of a May morning, the blazing azaleas look glorious. That's why it's so shocking to see 10 "For Sale" signs in the 3600, 3700 and 3800 blocks of Kimble Road.
When the Edward J. Gallagher Co. started building rowhouses on a portion of the Montebello estate after World War I, he named the community after his sons, Edward and Norman. Over the past eight decades, well-built Ednor Gardens rowhouses of varied architectural styles have been among the best buys in the city.
The sight of 10 "For Sale" signs in a three-block area, though, suggests some homeowners are losing hope. Any talk about increased taxes will not reassure them or their jittery neighbors, who are wondering whether they have a future in the city or should join the flight to the counties.
Elected politicians seem to think that most Baltimoreans, who shoulder the state's highest property taxes, don't mind paying higher local income taxes. Instead of seeing the anxious reality of Ednor Gardens or other Northeast Baltimore homeownership neighborhoods, those politicians choose to look at a single "For Sale" sign in Guilford, where a mansion that four years ago changed hands for $370,000 is on the market for nearly $1.4 million.
In the end, the future of Baltimore will not be decided in a few wealthy enclaves but in the ordinary rowhouse neighborhoods where properties often have not appreciated for a decade or more.
Fiscal options are stark for a city with a declining tax base. But Baltimore's elected officials are just plain wrong if they think that the remaining homeowners and wage earners will keep paying the freight while the mayor and the City Council take no significant steps to downsize the city's bloated workforce.
In a metropolitan area as big and varied as ours, people have choices. Just think about Kimble Road. Its departing homeowners are buying somewhere else.