Disappointed…even though it is what I fully expected.
I’ve been advised not to highlight an endorsement I did not get, but, as you can see, I’m ignoring that advice. I was informed by email yesterday that I did not receive the endorsement of the Frederick County Association of REALTORS (FCAR). (For the record, I’ve received the endorsement of every other entity — 7 for 7 — where I’ve filled out the questionnaire and, in most cases, participated in a interview.)
My disappointment stems from the fact that I think it is an endorsement I should get, for a number of reasons…even though I never have.
I wish I had an audio/video recording of the lively and wide-ranging 52 minute interview, or discussion, I had with a panel of folks at FCAR, because I’d love to share it. But, absent that option, I’m sharing the content of my completed questionnaire below.
Thank you very much to all the individual Frederick County realtors who have supported my campaign, with contribution, displaying a yard sign, volunteering, etc.
FREDERICK COUNTY CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE
NAME: Kai John Hagen
OFFICE SOUGHT: Frederick County County, At-Large
PHONE NUMBER: 240-405-2536
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
OCCUPATION: Director: Envision Frederick County
NAME OF CANDIDATE COMMITTEE: Friends of Kai Hagen
CAMPAIGN MAILING ADDRESS:
Friends of Kai Hagen
PO Box 4174
Frederick MD 21705
CAMPAIGN MANAGER/STAFF MEMBER: Cindy Shubin
PREVIOUS PUBLIC OFFICE HELD/SOUGHT: County Commissioner (served 2006-2010)
LIST ENDORSEMENTS FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS YOU HAVE RECEIVED TO DATE:
Frederick County Teachers Association, Career Firefighters Association of Frederick County (MD Local 3666), Sierra Club, Maryland Progressives, Our Revolution, Clean Water Action
CAMPAIGN FUNDS RAISED TO-DATE:
Approximately $52,000.00 [NOTE this questionnaire was completed in early September.]
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL/HAVE YOU PERSONALLY CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR EFFORT?
None, to date. But I am willing to contribute a few thousand dollars if we think it would be helpful at the end.
WOULD YOU ACCEPT FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND/OR RECOMMENDATION FROM REALTORS®?
If I earned and received an endorsement from FCAR, I would have no problem accepting a modest campaign contribution made in support of that endorsement.
FCAR support the protection of private property rights. We believe that property owners should be able to exercise control over their land with a minimum amount of intrusion from outside parties and should not be subject to unnecessary or burdensome regulations on existing uses and structures. Which of the following best explains your views on this position?
• I fully agree with this position on private property rights
• I agree with certain parts of this position on private property rights
• I fully disagree with this position on private property rights
The truth is more nuanced and complicated than this question, or a short response to it, can adequately capture. I absolutely support the protection of private property rights. And I generally agree that property owners “should not be subject to unnecessary or burdensome regulations on existing uses and structures.”
But it should be obvious that doesn’t mean everyone will or does agree about what is a necessary or reasonable “intrusion” on those private property rights. Some people think that zoning is an unnecessary intrusion on property rights, and that anyone, anywhere, anytime, ought to be able to use or develop their land as they see fit, without regard to a broader community plan, or the adequacy of local infrastructure, or the impact on the properties (and property rights) of those around them, and so.
The specific places where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, with be highly varied, and we will always have to have a good public discussion about where to draw the line, or how to fairly and reasonably establish a proper balance.
It’s tempting to dive into and examine all sorts of examples of where we have to work, together, to find that balance. But I’ll leave it for any discussion you’d like to have about the broader issues as part of the interview.
Frederick County is currently drafting a new comprehensive planning document, Livable Frederick, which outlines several approaches to accommodating future growth. A number of entities, including FCAR, have sought clarification on items within the plan, such as sustainability measures, school capacity targets, and property regulation. What is your position on the Livable Frederick Plan?
• I support the Livable Frederick Plan as currently written
• I support clarifying amendments to the Livable Frederick Plan
• I do not support the Livable Frederick Plan in any manner
I have been closely following the Livable Frederick process since the very beginning. I served on the Energy and Environment Working Group. And I attended most of the steering committee meetings. Etc.
There are things about the current Livable Frederick draft that I would change, if it were up to me. But, overall, I have considerable respect for the process that led to this point. I like and appreciate the largely successful effort to obtain and consider highly detailed information, in a broad range of categories, about where key aspects of our community may be or are headed over the coming years and decades. I think it is good for a comprehensive plan to thoroughly incorporate these categories into the planning process, and the development of a broader and dynamic vision of our community, and as a significant part of the foundation upon which future land use designations and zoning decisions will be made…as our community grows.
I certainly don’t have any problem with the desire of some engage stakeholders to get “clarification on items within the plan, such as sustainability measures, school capacity targets, and property regulation.”
The Monocacy River Plan has faced its share of controversy over the past two years, pitting environmental protection against restricting landowners’ property rights. Following many contentious hearings and several attempts to clarify the Plan’s intent, the County Council voted to approve amendments concerning land use in the corridor and to return the Plan to the River Board. What is your position on the Monocacy River Plan and the Council’s actions?
• I support both the amendments to the River Plan and its return to the River Board
• I support amending the River Plan but not its return to the River Board
• I support the River Plan as originally drafted and believe that version should be approved
I think the entire process has gradually devolved into a giant mess, which is unfortunate. And it has been distressing to see good science and legitimate property rights concerns take a back seat to an often misleading and highly politicized (and at times, ugly) attack on the plan, staff members and others. (None of which is to suggest that all the responsibility or blame for the deterioration of the process is on one “side.”)
I was not opposed to some of the amendments and clarifications. But reasonable efforts to modify the original draft, and respond to some reasonable concerns, was replaced by an all out effort to reduce the process and plan to something meaningless…EVEN though there is nothing in the plan that compels riverfront property owners to do anything. If you read the recommendations, they are heavily about prioritizing the programs and potential funding in entirely voluntary ways, for landowners who are interested in taking advantage of them.
Anyway, this is also a far more complicated issue than one can adequately address in a few sentences or paragraphs here. But I look forward to forthrightly discussing it with you.
The County has considered several approaches to addressing housing affordability in recent years. These initiatives include additional developer contributions under the MPDU program and reduced fees and permitting requirements for Accessory Dwelling Units. FCAR has expressed concerns that relying solely on increased developer contributions merely shifts the housing affordability problem by raising the cost of market-rate dwellings. What types of initiatives do you favor to provide additional housing options for the County’s workforce?
• I support more developer contributions to address affordable housing
• I support a mix of developer contributions, incentives and reduced fees
• I support using only incentives for affordable housing creation
No offense, but if we are going to take a serious and effective approach to affordable housing, these questions are inadequate to get at the range of real choices we have.
I was a member of the Affordable Housing Council for four years. I have continued to attend many meetings since then, and, generally, to pay great attention to this important issue in our community.
I support individual and productive steps such as the recent Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation. It’s a positive step, but just one of a great range of things we can consider to have a significant and meaningful impact on affordable housing in our county.
The combination of things we could and should consider is a lot bigger than whether or not “developer contributions” are sufficient (should be higher or lower, etc.). And I absolutely appreciate the impact that impact fees, etc., have on the overall cost of housing. In a more perfect world, we wouldn’t rely on impact fees at all, but on a better overall model of housing and business development, that would, among other things, provide more “missing middle” housing (smaller units, multi-family buildings, etc.), cost considerably less for necessary and desired infrastructure, and produce (without high rates) sufficient revenues to support and sustain our community (and not only new infrastructure, but the long term maintenance and replacement of existing and new infrastructure).
Again, complicated and highly nuanced. Look forward to talking more about it with you.
What do you see as the most significant issue(s) facing the Frederick County, and what specific steps do you plan to take to address it/them?
There is not single or start answer to this.
Broadly speaking, we are growing and changing, and that growth presents us with challenges and opportunities. Some of the “most significant issues” are related to how we plan and manage growth in the county, and how our approach enables us to maintain outstanding public schools, excellent public safety facilities and services, a vibrant and resilient economy as we face many changes (not just from growth, but from the word around us — technology, the environment, etc.), a health natural environment with clear air and water, and much more.
Hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to paste my responses to the League of Women Voters questionnaire below, since I think it is a relatively brief summation that responds to this question:
Why are you running for this office?
To work for Frederick County’s Future: Vibrant. Affordable. Sustainable! Citizen leader, former county commissioner, dedicated to public education, genuine Smart Growth principles, affordable housing, forward-looking economic development, environmental protection, agricultural preservation, citizen engagement and ethical government that cares about everyone in our community.
What do you think are the three most important issues facing Frederick County and how would you address them?
Good planning: More people will live and work here. how well we plan for that will affect everything. Applying genuine Smart Growth principles is key. Affordable housing: Use planning tools and strategies to create more decent, safe and attractive housing options. Economic development: We need a forward-looking economy that is diverse and resilient, supports small businesses, and is sustainable.
SENIOR ISSUES: Does the County have a responsibility to help meet the needs of low income senior citizens? Explain.
Yes! As commissioner, I was a strong supporter of the Department of Aging, Senior Centers, Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center, Meals on Wheels & more. As vital as these and other facilities and programs are, however, with a rapidly growing senior population, we have to better address other issues, too, such as affordable housing, better transit options, tax breaks for low income seniors, etc.
GROWTH/HOUSING: What is the role of County Government in assuring adequate affordable housing in tandem with growth?
As the county has grown, the problem of affordable housing has grown even faster. There are laudable efforts, but they barely begin to address the problem. Local government has a variety of available planning tools that haven’t been used, or used well, that could generate a much better mix of affordable housing options in safe, attractive communities with good schools, parks and transit options.
TRANSPORTATION: What is the role of county government in making sure road infrastructure keeps pace with development?
Transportation isn’t just about roads. If we think so, there won’t be enough money and we’ll never “keep pace with development.“ Good transportation (and reduced congestion) requires good planning, based on Smart Growth principles, that creates more walkable communities and efficiently provides a range of transit options. Sprawl means spending more, having fewer options and falling farther behind.
EDUCATION: Do you think that the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding standard for education adequately meets the needs of Frederick County students? Explain.
MOE does NOT adequately meets the needs of our students. Any vision of a thriving future for Frederick County has to include excellent schools. I’m proud to be endorsed by the Frederick County Teachers Association again. Based on my solid record and sincere commitment to achieve and maintain system-wide excellence, FCTA recognized that I’d strongly support that vision as a county council member.
What is the role of the County Council in addressing the Opioid Crisis in Frederick County?
This is a critical issue and top priority. We must treat it more as a public health crisis than a tough law enforcement problem. More public education, early intervention and addiction treatment, training for first responders, safe drug disposal options, support for families, resources for county treatment facilities and programs. Assess our needs and options. Listen to and support the experts.
ADDENDUM: I have completed the FCAR questionnaires and participated in the face-to-face interview twice in the past (2006 and 2010). I have not received the FCAR endorsement (even though I was made aware that there was a pretty “lively” debate about that among the decision-makers in 2010).
I have been engaged in land use and planning issues for decades. I probably read as much about it and related subjects as much or more than anything else. I genuinely appreciate how important it is to our community and its future. You can see some of these issues and ideas as content I publish as the Director of Envision Frederick County: https://envisionfrederickcounty.org/
I look forward to speaking with you in person about all this.
But I also have to say I am a little surprised, given all that is related and important to land use and planning and development (and affordable housing, good infrastructure, a health environment and more) — or all that affects the quality of life for existing and future residents in our community — that the questions FCAR would ask were generally not the sort of questions that would reveal one’s understanding of a broad panoply of important issues and concerns and possibilities that I assume matter to the industry, short and long term…as much as they matter to our county.
Affordable housing, transportation and transit-oriented development, senior housing, gentrification, mixed use development, planning and zoning principles, form-based zoning, sustainable economic development, aging suburbs, green infrastructure, and so much more to talk about.