ULI Board Meeting
January 25, 2010
Mayor, thank you very, very much. It’s great to be with all of you. I want to thank Maureen McAvey for having me here. And I also want to thank her for making the choice to be a Maryland resident and for exercising the judgment that comes with that august title by voting for me in the last election. And I hope we do it again in the next one, Maureen.
So it is great to be with all of you. I was Mayor of Baltimore for seven years. And the head of my Economic Development Agency was a man named Jay Goodwin, who is very much a ULI person and understood that our cities can be brought back to life, and if we would only think differently, we can re-imagine that future, if we can see it and put one foot in front of the other towards building that future and rebuilding that future.
I also want to thank my dear friend Tom Murphy, who showed me as Mayor that one person can make a difference that each of us must try. And Tom knows that we must make the tough decisions, but the right decisions, so that the people of this earth can imagine that better future, open up their waterways, the magic that is the connection between the city and its waterways and its future.
So, Tom, thank you for everything you taught me and thanks for your leadership in this organization. (Applause.)
Maureen, Tom and I were talking about a year ago and I said to him, you know, one of my challenges is that I feel like I know what needs to be done and I feel like I’m talking about what needs to be done. But I feel like when I’m speaking – although it sounds like English to me – it sounds like Chinese to the people that I serve.
And he said, there’s a reason for that and it is this. That we do not yet have a common vocabulary within the general public for talking about, understanding, getting our heads around notions like sustainability.
Each of us can probably give a different paragraph to define sustainability. Which is great. If you go out on the street, you’ll get a different paragraph for every person that walks down the street. If you don’t get from most of them a sort of confounded look, as if, you know, what the heck are you talking about?
So, that’s why these are such exciting times, though, aren’t they? You all do this work every day in every way and many of you have done it in important places like our center cities, which are the future of our country. If we are going to be a moral leader in this world, it will be designed and determined very much in terms of the landscape of our center cities and what we do in those places where human beings gather and meet and create. And create synergy, create art, and do all the other things that make cities places of destination.
Let me share this with you. I was taught by a man who did some revolutionary work in organizing and managing people and his name was Jack Maple. He was Deputy Commissioner of Police in New York City under Bill Bratton.
And he taught me something about managing big organizations, which can be summed up in kind of two actions, two rules; one is set goals, the other is measure performance. Set goals, measure performance.
That’s what we strive to do in the City of Baltimore and people work against deadlines, people work towards goals. People find ways to advance towards those goals if they know what they are, if they can see them and if somebody’s keeping score and measuring performance.
And we’ve applied that same style of management, if you will, to what we do in the State Government. I want to applaud Mr. Guzy for all the great work that he and the Obama administration are doing to make our Federal Government performance measured, to set goals and to have the willingness to believe that we actually serve the generous, compassionate, and intelligent people who want to do the right thing and make progress.
That’s the sort of people that I’m able to serve in the State of Maryland. And we have set about 15 big goals across three areas. One of them is security, another one is the skills of our people, and the third one is sustainability.
So on the sustainability, yes, we set goals. We measured them publicly and we proclaimed them and we know that we’ll be measured by them come election or re-election time. Of reducing energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the end of 2020. Increasing our renewable portfolio 20 percent by 2022. Doubling transit ridership by 2020.
These, and also reducing sprawl, poorly planned growth, by 30 percent. These are all goals that we strive towards, that we measure our effectiveness by. And we are making progress on all of those scores.
Some may say that some of the progress is fueled by this downturn in the economy, the inability to borrow dollars to do some of the stalled development that characterizes much of the land consumption in our State.
But other things are absolutely the product of choice. Not of chance, not of the economy, not of the ups and downs of the weather or the wind. We preserved five times as much open space in the State of Maryland these last three difficult years, than we did in four earlier years.
Why is that? Not by chance. It’s because we chose to use those open space dollars to buy open space and when we do that, in the economy that we have had, you get more acreage for it. And we are winning the battle in that race to make sure that we preserve the essence of that ecological body that our State needs in order to be able to function properly. It was not by chance, but by choice that we became the first State to successfully participate in the RGGI auctions. It’s not by chance, but by choice that we’ve been more successful than any state in the PJM grid, in terms of demand reduction and some of those sorts of things. So that’s on goals.
Let me talk to you a little bit about the big goal of reducing that sprawl and some of the individual actions that we’ve taken with regard to those bad uses.
And with one of them – our State was the State that under Parris Glendening really advanced in a very positive way the notion of smart growth. We continue that legacy in Maryland. Our website is labeled Smart Maryland: Smart, Green and Growing.
And one of the things that we did last year was to pass some – you’re always doing these things in increments and steps. And smart growth legislation, which among other things, clarified and reiterated that once a county adopts a comprehensive plan, they need to stick to the comprehensive plan. A novel idea, but we think a good one if they actually do it.
We’ve taken on many projects that, frankly, fall way outside the metes and bounds of what any of us would describe as sustainable and smart growth. And, more recently, we are promoting Smart Sites. That is, actually putting objective criteria to sites that are actually smart, actually sustainable, and then rushing to clear all permitting hurdles so that those sites can actually go and move forward.
Another thing that we’re doing this year is legislation to expand what had been called the Heritage Tax Credits in our State, and we’re now calling them Sustainable Tax Credits, increasing the dollar amount, but also allowing not only for the historic nature of the buildings, but also whether or not they might be part of these new sustainable communities, whether they might be transit-oriented development.
We also passed legislation that made it explicit that reducing miles and doing the transit oriented development is a goal of our transportation investment dollars. And we’re so glad that Secretary LaHood took from us our Secretary of Transportation, John Porcari, to run that department. And we regret that we have no more cabinet to give to our President. (Laughter.)
Let me wrap up by talking about two other important things.
So much of what we do in a government of, by and for the people, is limited in one important sense. We can only go as far as the public we serve is informed. We can only go as far as the public we serve is informed.
So some of the things that I believe, frankly, hold the greatest potential for adoption in other states and throughout our country and, indeed, as CitiStat was adopted by a lot of other cities, are a few of these last few things I would like to talk about.
Along with that truth that we can only go as far as the people are informed – people cannot redesign and re-imagine what we cannot see. We cannot redesign and re-imagine what we cannot see. Maps, GIS maps, the ability to see what human activity on the land is doing in terms of land consumption. The ability to understand how natural hydrology works and what human interaction and development within that does to nature’s ability to cleanse the water.
If you imagine our State – probably 21 percent of our State is preserved, the land is preserved, 21 percent is developed, and our future, the future we all hope to safeguard for our children, is going to be determined and defined by what happens in that remaining 58 percent.
We’ve advanced a few things that we believe can help our people better see, better re-imagine and better redesign the future we choose.
One of them is Green Print. We have done an ecological mapping of every single parcel within our State, every parcel of land within our State. And we are able to map online for all to see. And I encourage any of you – especially if you’re having difficulty falling asleep tonight – to go online and check out Maryland’s GreenPrint. I do believe we’re the first State in the Union to do this on a Statewide basis.
And so now people can click on to their own county and see in a sort of dashboard form how much of our land that we need to preserve has been preserved and how much more do we need to protect through zoning or Program Open Space or other things.
It also allows you to evaluate the purchases that we now make with an objective criteria that ranks and scores open space purchases, so people can click on and see why they bought that parcel. That parcel connects to this other parcel. It makes up part of that minimum amount of green lungs, green liver, green kidneys that this ecological body of Maryland needs in order to filter the water and maintain this balance of health for the future.
So that’s one side of the page, if you will. That margin on one side is GreenPrint.
On the other side of the margin is AgPrint. Where are our most valuable farm lands? Where do they exist now, how do we preserve that connectedness, that continuity? And if we are able to see on the maps where those minimum margins are on either side, then it makes our goal a little clearer, in terms of what we need to develop in the middle.
While our State has been a leader in smart growth, we were required to have a State Development Plan in a law that was passed in 1972 and we’ve never had one. Never had one since 1972. And where we’re going with a State Development Plan? It goes down the middle of that page and it produces in a way that everyone can see, where are those areas where it’s best for us to be able to develop, to rebuild and to recreate this future of ours.
I leave you with this final thought. I think all of us feel that we have an obligation in our own personal lives through the government that we elect, that we pay taxes to support, to first and foremost take actions to safeguard our children’s future. In order to do that we must constantly be about the work of justice, constantly be about the work of security, about the work of job creation, environmental sustainability, and fiscal responsibility.
And as we are about that work I think we also need to recognize that in order to make progress on one of those, we have to make progress on all of those.
This is the dawn of an exciting and new conceptual age when we are going to see and imagine and create a new future – not by reducing things to their finite selves, but by understanding the connections between the connections, the relationships between the relationships. The relationship between making a city safer and protecting open space and making a better world for our kids.
Thanks very much. (Applause.)