Friday, August 4, 2006

blogging in the big time

I have been picked up by Free State Politics, a collaborative blog featuring a number of our area's best and covering local politics. In the short run, that means you can read relevant Just Up The Pike pieces both here and on Free State Politics. In the long run, it means I'll have to watch both my back and my front for NIMBY attacks.

Speaking of NIMBYs: Check out this editorial from the Falls Church News-Press. Man, if only the Gazette had that kind of courage. (Thanks to BeyondDC for the heads-up.)


Josiah Gilbert Holland said...

It's terribly simplistic/misleading to attempt to conflate the very real concerns of those who want a more balanced approach to growth management in Montgomery County with the reactive, self-interested "NIMBY" folks. What's NIMBY-esque about wanting new developments not to exceed public school capacity? What's close-minded about believing that those who make money off the land should pay their fair share in taxes to create new roads and schools? It's not NIMBYism to not want to see your elected officials be wholly owned subsidieries of special interests. The reason there's such antipathy towards pols like the End Gridlock slate isn't that wants they want the County to grow, it's that they want it to grow in a way that is more convenient/profitable to their financial backers than to the County. To conflate NIMBYism with the call to better balance growth in Montgomery County is to misunderstand both philosophies.

Rfustero said...

Bravo Mr. Holland,, Bravo

Dan Reed said...

I think that the behavior of many NIMBYs is more than inexcusable, however, and that was probably what motivated that paper to publish the editorial.

Two years ago, a developer proposed putting up twelve houses on a four-acre lot in my neighborhood. Hardly high-density and hardly a burden to the roads three blocks away from the massive Route 29 reconstruction. But the neighbors came out, crying about the loss of quality of life, the light and noise pollution, the traffic. Even the proposed sidewalk was not left unscathed.

A few people put together their own proposal for the property with only eight houses. One of their comments read "these houses must cost more than $600,000." That sounds like fear and greed to me. There's nothing about sensible growth in a statement like that.

Josiah Gilbert Holland said...

Dan, I'm not contending that "NIMBYism" doesn't exist. Peoples' desire to preserve their communities, often to a fault and at the expense of progress, has existed and will continue to exist just about everywhere. I'm trying to help you understand that the decisions that have been made by the current County Council, and that have often been spearheaded by Mr. Silverman, are made at the behest of campaign contributors and at the expense of the community. This is not NIMBYism, this is BAD GOVERNMENT.

Dan Reed said...

Regardless - the NIMBY crowd and the sensible-growth crowd, regardless of their intentions, do get mixed up. I'd like to see a better distinction between the two - more like what you're saying and less of the mindless Silverman-bashing that these local blogs are dominated by.

Personally, I'm far more concerned about the type of development we get than the pace of it. It seems to me like 'x' amount of land in MoCo will be developed or re-developed each year and lowering the rate of growth across the board would mean less development in the areas that need it - the Downcounty, for instance. If the APFO worked I would be all for it as it might ensure that development happens where it can and where it's most needed.

Josiah Gilbert Holland said...

I think when we speak of the "pace" of development we're actually talking about more than just timing. More than just "pace" in the traditional sense of the word. It's the concept of just being a little more deliberative in the way we approach this because it's so important. Conversely, the concept of "rapid" growth refers to more than just actual speed. It refers to the reckless irresponsibility, the lack of proper caution, that was exemplified by Clarksburg.
This argument that has played out in different forms, particularly in the political races we're seeing, isn't an argument about whether we're going to grow but how we're going to grow.
To bring it back to politics even further, Mr. Silverman's approach to growth has proven itself largely unacceptable and unsustainable. Now he wants to lead our County. Ike Leggett is a superior candidate in many respects, including his ability to independently manage the County's growth going forward. And yes, the independence is important. The County Executive is charged with overseeing growth and development . . . in what world is it acceptable for his interests to be so intertwined to the interests of developers? And this is not to demean developers, it's just to lament the disproportionate influence they have over some of our elected decision makers. It's that old cad about special interests that's playing itself out on the national level with Haliburton and DMZ and retiring Congressmen and all that fun.
A lot of us, whether you see us as NIMBY'ers or sensible growthers or whatever, just don't want those kinds of special interest problems here in Montgomery County. Maybe it's not the houses we're afraid of in our backyard . . . maybe it's corruption.

Anonymous said...

jgh -

Yes, money corrupts our political process. You need to direct your denunciation at Ike Leggett, who votes against development in Friendship Heights, where the local NIMBYs have lots of money and contribute to his campaigns, while voting for sprawl development elsewhere.

Do think the approval process for the development on the old Giant site in Bethesda, which has finally broken ground after five years of squabbling, should have been "a little more deliberative"?

You're correct that this "isn't an argument about whether we're going to grow but how we're going to grow." If we further empower NIMBYs as you suggest, we will drive development into the areas with fewest neighbors. It is a recipe for sprawl.

Dan Reed said...

Thank you. The point of the matter is - mal-intentioned NIMBYs make the planning process more convoluted, preventing both bad and good development from happening. The revitalization of Silver Spring happened because of a) a community that understood the need for growth and b) an expedited approval and review process. Wheaton, on the other hand, continues to languish because the County took its sweet time to relax development restrictions.

It's clear that people take the issue of development in Montgomery County very seriously. We need to educate them more about this issue - not just how to become involved in the process but how to make reasonable demands of our planning board.

Clarksburg residents said builders should tear the roofs off of houses that were built too tall. Is that reasonable? No! And it gives citizen-activists a bad name.