Thanks to the strength of our city and residents, College Park has emerged from the pandemic vibrant, renewed, and ready to continue its evolution into one of our nation's best communities in which to live, study play, and pray. I'm extremely proud of all we have accomplished together, and with your help I’m confident that we can together keep our city going in the right direction. However, there are three big goals that I believe we need to focus on in the immediate term to ensure that College Park remains an affordable, fair, livable community which respects our past even while looking to an even better future.
These three goals are:
1. Affordable and accessible housing for all residents. College Park has long prided itself as being an affordable place (by DMV standards) to live, for student and long-term residents alike, and all residents in our city deserve affordable housing that is built to meet their needs at all stages in their life. Quality, affordable housing is a big goal that, with strong leadership and concerted community effort is within reach in College Park. If re-elected I will:
Establish a student housing voucher program for student apartments. Privately-owned dormlike apartments have stepped in to fill a need for student housing in College Park. Unfortunately, the increased supply has not yet proven to be a constraint on price. If re-elected I will seek local and state funds to establish a student housing voucher program for students of modest means so that they can more easily afford to live in our city's growing stock of student apartments.
Push to increase resources needed for aging in place. College Park's our senior residents are among our most valuable assets as a community. Our success as a city is due in large part to our older residents' energy, wisdom, civic-mindedness, and engagement. Through strategic investments in programs and structures to help our elder residents age in place, we can help make sure our residents can stay in College Park and age gracefully. We need resources for programs that help provide home accessibility and safety improvements, case management, and localized care communities. And we need to push the development community to bring high-quality 55-plus housing to our city.
Seek inclusionary zoning in College Park. Surrounding jurisdictions, including neighboring Montgomery County have exclusionary zoning, which requires apartment developers to set aside a proportion of their development for affordable housing. Although not currently the practice in Prince George's County, it definitely should be. If re-elected, I will advocate for inclusionary zoning in our county.
Advocate for purpose-built affordable housing. Many residents, especially graduate students, young families, entrepreneurs just making their start, and young professionals just joining the workforce struggle to find safe, quality, affordable housing. If re-elected, I will seek partners to help bring a range of purpose-built affordable housing options to our city.
2. Public safety and neighborhood quality of life. Our region is experiencing unfortunate increases in crime and disruptive behaviors. While College Park has not seen significant increases in crime, it is imperative that we stay vigilant to the possibility, and continue to invest in our public safety and code enforcement staff, and provide them with the tools needed to do their job well. Additionally, if re-elected I will continue to look for opportunities to address long standing neighborhood quality of life issues, such as:
Seek to un-crowd our dense residential neighborhoods. Density can be a very good, thing, but crowded unsafe conditions from neighbors who don't respect other neighbors' right to peaceful enjoyment cannot be tolerated. This can be addressed by seeking to diminish the overcrowding that is permitted in densely-built single family homes, and by better enforcing the residency limits already in place.
Advocate for automated enforcement of noisy vehicles. Noisy vehicles, especially those with modified mufflers have become a real nuisance in our city. Currently, enforcement can be difficult since police agencies will not engage in a dangerous pursuit to issue a noisy vehicle citation. However, technologies similar to speed cameras now allow for automated photo-based enforcement of noisy vehicle laws. Legislation allowing the use of these devices is currently blocked at the state level, but if re-elected I will lead the city's advocacy effort to permit their use within College Park.
3. Infrastructure enhancement. It is critical that we advocate for and, where possible, make city investments in infrastructure such as trails, stormwater management, roads, and sidewalks. These investments not only enhance our quality of life and the enjoyment of our neighborhoods, but they can also be important sources of strength and resilience for our community as we begin to reckon with the unfortunate realities of climate change, including larger and more dangerous storm events.
If re-elected I will:
Connect neighbors to neighbors through greater investments in sidewalks and trails. College Park's trails and sidewalks are among our most popular amenities. In addition to providing safe havens for walkers, runners, cyclists, and mobility device users, they serve as tangible points of connections between neighbors and neighborhoods. I have been a consistent champion of such infrastructure, such as the Edmonston Road sidewalk project, and am looking forward to energetically engaging members of the community who want to see improved trail and sidewalk access in their community.
Push Prince George's County to invest in better stormwater management. Unfortunately, Prince George's County too often fails our community in building and maintaining stormwater management infrastructure that can protect us during increasingly frequent deluges. Projects -- notably the Calvert Hills stormwater improvement project -- have stalled for years, and communities are fed up. During the next term I will strenuously advocate for the Calvert Hills project and other long-stalled projects in our city, and make sure that construction finally commences.