Thursday, January 24, 2019

here are seven ways montgomery county is changing

Since 1990, Montgomery County has fewer families, more renters, and more working professionals. And while some parts of the county are experiencing major demographic and physical changes, others haven't changed much at all. Those are some of the findings from county planners studying how the county is changing.

I love summertime in #silverspring because we get so many awesome street musicians—no schedule, no county program—and they can draw a crowd with a cover of "she will be loved." #dtss #busking #maroon5 #igdc
Crowds watch a street performer in downtown Silver Spring. Image by the author.

More than 50 years ago, Montgomery County created a grand vision for how it would grow, called On Wedges and Corridors. It laid out the basic structure of Montgomery County, with development clustering around the Red Line and I-270, a big network of parks and open spaces, and a large agricultural reserve beyond that. Many of those ideas from that 1960s plan were carried out, and seem prescient now.

However, our county looks very different than it did back then, and this year the Montgomery County Planning Department is working on an update for that plan to carry us into the next 50 years. But first, planners have been researching how the county has changed to understand how our needs have changed. Here are seven things they found:

Friday, January 18, 2019

why is marc elrich resistant to building homes for millennials?

One-fifth of Montgomery County’s residents are Millennials, or adults between 23 and 38, and the county has been working to attract and retain them so they’ll build lives here. But new County Executive Marc Elrich recently suggested that he’s not that interested in building homes for them.

Elrich, who was elected in November, made the comment Wednesday night at a town hall in Silver Spring responding to a resident who asked what the county would do to address rising rents. Montgomery Community Media broadcasted the event on Facebook Live, and the exchange starts at 1:40:30. You can also see a transcript here.

“I am going to be dead set opposed to anybody who proposes knocking down existing affordable housing to build housing for Millennials, people making $60,000 or $80,000, and I’ve got people who can’t afford the houses they’ve got now,” he told the resident.

When the resident added it might be better for her to buy a house, he replied, “Good luck buying a house at that price!”

Monday, January 7, 2019

here are 13 reasons why Montgomery County has to make budget cuts this year

Montgomery County will soon start working on its budget for next year, and officials already expect that they'll need to make big cuts. While the county's population is growing, its tax base has been shrinking, which means that we're trying to pay for more services with less money. How did this happen? Here are several reasons.

1) 6116 Executive Boulevard

6116 Executive Boulevard
This Montgomery County office building has been totally vacant for five years. All photos by the author unless noted. 

This eight-story building, built in 1989, has been totally vacant since the National Institutes of Health left in 2013. As a result, its value has fallen 64% over the past decade and the building went into foreclosure in 2014 because the owners weren't collecting rent. It's one of 19 office buildings in Montgomery County that are either fully vacant or will be soon, all of which are outside the Beltway.

2) One Discovery Place
Discovery Communications' soon-to-be-former headquarters.

Twenty years ago, Discovery Communications moved from Bethesda to Silver Spring and helped usher in downtown's revitalization with a huge new headquarters that consumed four blocks and employed 2,500 people. However, they've slowly been shedding workers, and will move from Montgomery County to Tennessee and New York next year, with about 200 people remaining in Silver Spring. While the building has a new owner, no new tenants are on the horizon.

3) White Flint Mall

This was Montgomery County's fanciest mall, and it was slated to become a fancy open-air town center until department store Lord & Taylor sued the Lerners, which own the mall, for knocking it down–and they won. More recently, the county offered the 45-acre property for Amazon's new headquarters, and we know how that went. Today it's a big pile of dirt, though Lord & Taylor is still there.

Monday, December 31, 2018

a brief look back at 2018

The week between Christmas and New Year's is one of my favorite times of year, one in which everything quiets down and we can take a moment to reflect on the past year and make plans for the future as well. Or at least, that's the plan, right? This year has been exhilarating and productive and sometimes frustrating, and I'm grateful for the adventures I've had and the great people I've gotten to work with.

However, I am wiped! Here are some of the things I did this year:
My goals for 2019 are simple: there are only so many hours of the day, and I want to spend them with the people I love, projects I'm passionate about, and all while taking care of myself. I know all of you had a big year, and I hope you take care of yourselves in the coming year too! I'll see you in 2019.