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Pugh must turn transition report into a comprehensive plan

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh outlines her vision for the city in a transition report developed since November. She was joined by members of her transition teams at a news conference at City Hall this month. (Yvonne Wenger / Baltimore Sun)

Mayor Catherine Pugh just released a transition report that includes recommendations for the Baltimore City administration to focus on Women and Minority Business Enterprise procurement, seek relationships with the surrounding counties on transit and separate the Department of Housing from the Housing Authority ("Pugh says wide-ranging transition report lays out her vision for Baltimore," March 4). These and many other recommendations in the document are smart. But for this administration to be transformative, Baltimore demands more than individual recommendations. We need one comprehensive plan for our future.

In 2007, New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg prepared a single guiding document to build the economy, combat climate change and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. "PlaNYC" brought together nearly 30 city agencies to work toward the vision of a greater New York. Since then, they have made serious progress toward long-term goals in housing and neighborhoods, parks and public spaces, transportation and a host of other areas critical to growth, health and quality of living in New York City.

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With a comprehensive zoning rewrite now passed, the Pugh administration should gather all agencies, non-profit partners, private sector, and elected and citizen leaders to stitch together the city's many existing reports and single-issue plans including this transition document. This will refine the precise vision for the city's future into one that moves beyond "Making it the greatest city in America." The mayor should then direct her cabinet to inventory all active plans across every neighborhood and determine which are most critical and timely, where there are overlaps and gaps, and how they fit into the vision.

Finally, the mayor should release a single guiding plan for Baltimore City, one with ambitious, attainable and data driven goals. The document should be referenced across every agency website and used by elected officials, businesses and citizens to assess agency and administration progress. The plan must be referenced in key agency decisions, updated and expanded as new challenges and opportunities arise, and accompanied by an annual action agenda for implementation. Most importantly, this plan should be implemented with the muscle of the mayor's office, not the planning department, and it should be tracked by CitiStat.

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PlaNYC didn't appear out of thin air. Its timing wasn't accidental. New York City was undertaking a major rezoning initiative and having serious policy conversations around mega-development, affordable housing, and sustainability policy. Sound familiar? Mayor Bloomberg and his leaders realized that for effective implementation, agency efforts would need to be managed under an overarching strategy; the synergies of their efforts would need to be fully coordinated.

Mayor Pugh has been working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and has met with the former NYC mayor and agency leaders to discuss issues from housing to crime ("Baltimore to assemble Bloomberg-funded team to tackle a city problem," January 17). Why not also follow their example of agency coordination and executive management?

Baltimore is at a crossroads. It is hard to think of a time in recent history when our challenges and opportunities are so clear, and right at a major turnover in city government. All our plans and reports need to be coordinated by design so we can tackle the hard decisions of what matters most, where we put our resources, and how we track our progress. The last mayor gave us a vision to grow by 10,000 families. Will the new administration be bold enough to refine that vision and put forward a plan that shows us how we get there? As Daniel Burnham advised: "make no little plans."

Richard Eberhart Hall and Michael Snidal

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Richard Eberhart Hall and Michael Snidal

The writers are, respectively, the executive director of Citizens Planning and Housing Association and the president of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association in Baltimore.

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