Follow by Email

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Could tiny homes ever come to Howard County?

      Recently I came across another story about the tiny home movement that is gaining momentum around the United States and the World.  Homes like the one pictured above seem to adequately meet the needs of more and more people.  The idea of a "McMansion" just seems so ostentatious to more and more people.
     I am not sure where this trend fits into the future for Howard County.  The McMansions seem to have a stronghold on new construction here.  Are the construction costs and opportunity for developer profits too attractive to ever see tiny homes in our County?  Have you seen any housing being built these days for under $500,000?  The days of Ryland and Ryan building starter homes of 1500 square feet seem long gone.  This maybe one reason why we seem to have trouble keeping young people who grew up in Howard County but now find they are priced out of much of the housing in the County as they begin their careers.  Many find more affordable housing just over the Howard County lines.
     So I am not sure if this type of housing would ever be viable in Howard County but I would like to see land somewhere in Howard County where a tiny home community could be established.  Maybe marketed to singles and retired people.  Dream on, dream on!


   Along the same lines I wonder if the Granny Flat concept would ever catch on here.  From what I understand granny flats could be constructed in Howard County.  Zoning laws apparently don't outlaw them outright.  I wonder if any have ever been constructed in Howard County.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Homeless in Howard County?

   It is becoming increasing common in Columbia to see people panhandling.  What used to only be a sight in Baltimore City has long since moved to suburban communities such as Columbia.  Most of us non panhandlers are unsure how to respond to the panhandlers showing up at our local shopping centers.  Surprisingly many of the panhandlers we see locally are women and often young.  Not exactly what you see in Baltimore.  The young man shown above uses a dog with a bandanna around his head to motivate the animal lovers to give.  We may not be as concerned about the motives of the young man but how could we overlook a dog?

   So the questions of giving to any of the panhandlers are they homeless and do they use the money given to feed an addiction?  According to a U. S. Department of Justice study " most panhandlers have places to live, and most homeless people do not panhandle."  
        But what about a truly needy panhandler?  “Every study around says that cash handouts don’t help, says Linda Kaufman, Field Organizer of 100,000 Homes. A better way of responding to this issue in Howard County is to give a donation to Grassroots or Bridges to Housing Stability rather than giving to our local panhandlers.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

One drug commercial I would like to see


       Many of us boomers are saturated with commercials asking us to "ask your doctor about .........  drug."    The side effects of these medications makes one wonder if the condition they suffer is worse than the side effects of the proposed medication.   The United States is one of only two countries that even allows the advertising of prescription drugs.  Never doubt the power of the American drug companies.
     Here is one commercial you will probably never see but might be a better health choice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pictures of Snow Storm Jonas in HoCo


   The storm of the past week will soon be forgotten as the warmer temps this week melts much of the snow from this historic storm.  A photo story was created by Seth Hoffman at Howard County Recreation and Parks  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Case for Maryland being the first state primary


       As we wait tonight to hear how the caucus vote goes in Iowa after the candidates have been spending thousands of hours of campaigning in that state it always brings up a question.  How did Iowa get to be first for picking a president?  A state that doesn't come close to representing the Country as a whole.  A state that chose Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee in its last two caucuses.   A state that is 97% white and mostly rural where supporting the production of ethanol seems to be the major economic issue.
    I know that some of the rationale for having Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two tests for candidates running for president is that they are small states that force candidates to meet the voters on a one to one basis and not rely on political ads in choosing a candidate.  So I get that you might not want to have the first tests in California or New York but how about Maryland? With just around 6 million population we rank around the middle of the pack in state population or about twice what Iowa has.  We are a manageable size state geographically coming in 42nd on geographic size or 16 places smaller than Iowa.  We have a nice mix of urban, suburban and rural sections.  Racially we are a better representation of the Country with about 25% African American, 4.5% Asian and 4.0 Hispanic.  We also have milder climate (this past week the exception) than either Iowa or New Hampshire in which to campaign in January.  I haven't even got to the better restaurant choices in our State!  In Iowa fine dining involves anything you can put on a stick.  I'll take blue crabs and Smith Island cake any day.
      OK so I will get to why Maryland will never be allowed to replace Iowa or New Hampshire.   We are seen as a deep blue state with a lot of federal employees. What maybe lost is that a fair number of those employees are military personnel and not liberal bureaucrats.  Heaven forbid that having a highly educated population with an intimate knowledge of government should ever been seen as a positive quality.  On the question of being too "blue" in our voting pattern I would point to the fact that two of the last three governors have been Republican and liberal Howard County has two of our last four county executives as Republicans.   Having Republican candidates run in Maryland would probably be a boon to the more moderate candidates than you get in Iowa and that might be more beneficial to the Republicans than what we have seen lately.
      So I will sit back tonight and enjoy the circus that the Iowa caucuses have become and wait again to see Maryland discounted as a place in which candidates should ever step foot except to raise campaign money.  The only consolation we have is that once one of them is elected president we are always a convenient place to visit to highlight one of their programs because we are close enough to DC that they can visit and still be home for dinner.

   Maryland should be an interesting test in the Democrat primary this year as my sense is that we are an even split between Clinton and Sanders.  Our former governor doesn't seem to be getting much love from his former constituents.

P.S. 1
     Another question is how is South Carolina the 3rd state to vote?  If you want to get a real test of the new South voters it would make more sense to have North Carolina be that test for candidates.