Greater Greater Washington

Rollin Stanley's enemies can't stop change in Montgomery

Montgomery County Planning Director Rollin Stanley is not a man known for tact. But he has apologized for referring to some of his critics as "rich white women" in a recent Bethesda Magazine article. The ongoing calls for his resignation are far out of proportion to this offense.


Rollin Stanley. Image from Montgomery County.

Stanley's critics are aiming at his ideas about the future of Montgomery County, and it is those ideas that are the proper subject of public debate.

The critics want to stop change and keep Montgomery County the way it was in the 1950s. They want it to be a suburb of nothing but single-family houses and travel by automobile. People who want urban living, as former County Council­member Rose Crenca said last year, should move someplace else.

The campaign against Stanley uses language more politic than Mrs. Crenca's, but the hostility to urbanism is the same. The county's Civic Federation, in its letter demanding Stanley's resignation, said that the county is "comprised of suburban communities, more densely developed transit centers, and rural areas." Aren't downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring, which have long since turned urban, part of the county too?

Councilmember Marc Elrich charges (in the article that triggered the controversy) that Stanley wants to "make roads so bad people only use transit." This is the language of the "war on cars" that we hear whenever motorists are asked to make the slightest concessions to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The county benefits from open debate over land use, planning, and transportation. Land use policies affect income groups differently. For example, limits on the supply of new housing are more popular among owners who bought long ago than among renters and those trying to save up a down payment.

Focusing on the substance of policy rather than personalities can bring the entire population into discussions that too often include only developers and long-time homeowners. This gives newer and less affluent members of the community a chance to challenge policies that put them at a disadvantage.

Despite the wishes of Stanley's critics, the county is already changing, and it will continue to evolve. The question is, how should the county adapt? Should we embrace demographic and cultural trends that allow us to build more livable communities, or should we stand firm against change until we are overwhelmed by it?

Rollin Stanley's resignation would slow the effort to plan for a better future. But it will not stop change itself.

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Ben Ross was president of the Action Committee for Transit for 15 years. His new book about the politics of urbanism and transit, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, is published by Oxford University Press. 

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Hopefully this can help get the convo. going back to not whether its suburbs vs. cities and back into good design principles. Good suburbs vs. bad suburbs and so forth. Its not as if DC has suburban areas and the surrounding jurisdictions have urban ones. It comes down to the form of each.

by x on Mar 16, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

I live in the Lyttonsville area of Silver Spring and briefly met Rollin Stanley at the purple line meeting held there on Tuesday. From all account, he is a very nice and respectful man. Forward thinking. Approachable. I follow local development. Mr. Stanley policies are the only thing helping Montgomery County keep pace with Fairfax. I hate to say it, but if he is let go, we loose.

by Reza on Mar 16, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

Stanley should survive this. But his travails were largely self-inflicted. He needs to temper his appraoch to make the debate less personal. All sides are entitled to have their voices heard without that kind of rhetoric, whatever label one wants to put on it.

He should also learn the lesson that when you've made a mistake, it's irrelevant whether it's in service of a noble purpose. You make a prompt, unreserved apology to those affected.

by Crickey7 on Mar 16, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

Thanks for the "war on cars" link. It takes the reader to a very informative article on the "Congestion Coalition" and their agenda. After reading it, I think Rollin Stanley needs to go.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

Wow; Mr. Ross seems afflicted with the same hubris as Mr. Stanley. Do they both really see anyone who disagrees with their vision as an enemy? If so, then Mr. Stanley should resign promptly. I don't think the calls for his resignation are out of proportion to his "offense", because his offense isn't just a poor choice of words followed by an insincere apology. His offense is in seeing himself as some sort of development Messiah who is entitled to ignore, marginalize and insult reasonable people who differ with him

by Timothy on Mar 16, 2012 10:51 am • linkreport

Please point out where the word enemy was used or that there is a battle be waged aside from cries of a war on cars.

by x on Mar 16, 2012 10:55 am • linkreport

What his critics don't understand is that todays generation of young highly educated professionals do not want cookie cutter cul-de-sacs that these women had strived for when they were in their 20's and 30's and what has been built in the county up until this point due to demand. However todays generation of young professional wants walkable dense areas, something MoCo is just beginning to realize and is now rushing to develop more of these areas in order to catch up and compete with Arlington & DC 2 jurisdictions that are wildly popular with the young professional crowd. I think Mr. Stanley should take his critics on a bus tour of Arlington and show them that you can have density without the negative traffic they think will come with it.

by Mike on Mar 16, 2012 11:10 am • linkreport

Something I threw together a couple weeks ago:

http://farmoderate.blogspot.com/2012/02/conservatives-argument-for-transit.html

by Bossi on Mar 16, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

Mike, nice way of saying only stupid people live in the suburbs.

Stanley's critics are entitled to advocate for their vision of Montgomery County. They are by all accounts "highly educated professionals" themselves.

by Crickey7 on Mar 16, 2012 11:15 am • linkreport

please remember SUBURBS CAN STILL BE WALKABLE. However the trend in the last 50 years has been to make it harder to walk for any purpose other than exercise. The density may increase but that is just a number. Density statistics are worthless without context. Not to mention that people's overwhelming consumer preference is a SFH where people can walk to places.

by x on Mar 16, 2012 11:21 am • linkreport

Thanks for the "war on cars" link. It takes the reader to a very informative article on the "Congestion Coalition" and their agenda.

If by "informative" you mean on man's opinion that's almost entirely unsupported with facts or data...then yes.

The reality is that the "greens" or "congestion coalition" don't control development. The market is, as always, is the biggest and most important force shaping our land use. The market is reflected in the actions of large, sophisticated corporations like Real Estate Investment Trusts and these REITs have spoken. They are investing most new funds in urban development and divesting suburban properties where possible (or re-developing them into town centers). Here's just one example but there are many more:

CommonWealth REIT (NYSE: CWH) today announced that it has agreed to sell 13 suburban properties for $167 million.

The properties being sold contain 1.3 million sq. ft. and are currently 95% occupied on a combined basis.

The sales announced today are part of CWH’s multi-year process to divest suburban properties and redeploy capital primarily into newer Class A office properties in central business district, or CBD, locations. After the sale of these 13 properties, and including the acquisition of properties since June 30, 2011, CWH expects that CBD office properties will generate a majority of CWH’s current Net Operating Income received from office properties.

by Falls Church on Mar 16, 2012 11:22 am • linkreport

@Crickey7

Just saying not everyone wants moco to remain a bedroom suburb with large single family homes. Alot of todays young first time home buyers want would like an urban version of the suburbs that could be created along rockville pike, bethesda,& silver spring.

by mike on Mar 16, 2012 11:23 am • linkreport

How about just letting the market decide instead of trying to force people out of their cars? News flash--most of us prefer cars to walking, bikes, and public transportation! The people of Montgomery Country obviously like things the way they are, and don;t want a lot of money blown on making their communities walkable, which they don't care about anyway.

by geraldRX on Mar 16, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

I'm all for letting the market decide, but that'd require having motorists pay their full share... something that's not even close to reality today :)

by Bossi on Mar 16, 2012 11:27 am • linkreport

Councilmember Marc Elrich charges (in the article that triggered the controversy) that Stanley wants to "make roads so bad people only use transit." This is the language of the "war on cars" that we hear whenever motorists are asked to make the slightest concessions to pedestrians and bicyclists.

This is straw man vs. straw man. To characterize the roads = good people's position that motorist have been asked to make the "slightest concession" to pedestrians and bicyclist, is a distortion of their position. But then, to portray the transit = good people's position that any transportation improvement funded by gas tax that is not directly related to roads is a "war on cars," is also a distortion of their position.

So bottom line, this article contributes more heat than light.

by goldfish on Mar 16, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

geraldRX, the market has already spoken. Rents per square foot are much higher in walkable urban Bethesda than in a car-dependent office park in White Flint. Similarly, rents per square foot are much higher in walkable urban Silver Spring than up Route 29 in Burtonsville.

Taking taxes from the walkable urban places and using it to subsidize the car-dependent places is what we've been doing since the 1950's and it's now very much against the market.

Just because you personally want something a certain way does not mean that market demand or the most responsible public fiscal choices agree with your vision.

by Cavan on Mar 16, 2012 11:32 am • linkreport

While I agree that Ben using the word "enemies" is a little strong, let's be clear: growth and development have are big issues in Montgomery County, and people aren't always nice when they talk to each other about it.

In the early planning for Burtonsville's village center four years ago, residents open said they didn't want "undesirables" coming into their community. In 2009, opponents of a proposed affordable housing development in White Oak compared it to "an open-air drug market." And as Ben points out, former County Councilmember Rose Crenca told people who don't want Montgomery County to be a totally suburban place that they should leave.

This isn't really about what Rollin Stanley said or even about growth and development. It's about being able to have a civil discussion about an admittedly controversial and thorny issue, which I admit is really, really hard. Those who don't agree with Stanley's ideas can try to take the moral high ground and condemn him for what he said, but they aren't totally innocent either.

by dan reed! on Mar 16, 2012 11:33 am • linkreport

The people of Montgomery Country obviously like things the way they are, and don;t want a lot of money blown on making their communities walkable, which they don't care about anyway.

That reminds me of IBM in the early 80s when they basically said "we like the way things are where everything is based on mainframes and don't want to have to re-orient our company around PCs. We don't care about PCs anyway." And thus began IBM's decade long slide that almost resulted in its breakup.

Unfortunately, MoCo doesn't get to decide the future. The future is decided by individuals and businesses that are increasingly locating in dense, walkable areas. If MoCo doesn't want to get left behind, they'll have to provide what the future market is demanding even if that means dealing with the hassle of a transition. They may not care about walkability today but when jobs and amenities locate away from them and they are unable to sell their house in the future at a good price, they will care.

by Falls Church on Mar 16, 2012 11:38 am • linkreport

News flash--most of us prefer cars to walking, bikes, and public transportation! The people of Montgomery Country obviously like things the way they are, and don;t want a lot of money blown on making their communities walkable, which they don't care about anyway.

Yes, nobody likes change. But the thing about change is that it happens anyway.

by Miriam on Mar 16, 2012 11:45 am • linkreport

"What his critics don't understand is that todays generation of young highly educated professionals do not want cookie cutter cul-de-sacs that these women had strived for when they were in their 20's and 30's and what has been built in the county up until this point due to demand."
----

True.

What these "young highly educated professionals" DO seem to want are densely-packed cookie cutter apartments (call them "condos" and "townhouses" if you want) with a bar on every corner.

Where they differ from the "old biddies" is that instead of engaging opponents they they see anyone with a differing view as someone who is to ridiculed, marginalized and dismissed as an "anti" who is "stuck in a 1950's way of thinking".

not very productive.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 11:55 am • linkreport

@Falls Church

Well said

by Mike on Mar 16, 2012 11:59 am • linkreport

"I'm all for letting the market decide, but that'd require having motorists pay their full share... something that's not even close to reality today :)"
------

So buying, maintaining, and insuring their own vehicles - in addition to paying taxes and tolls to build maintain roads AND subsidize transit - isn't "paying their full share"?

Come back when you're paying the full share of your transit ride. It's currently 70% subsidized. By no means is driving 70% subsidized, no matter what the slogans you've read on the agenda-based websites tell you.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 12:02 pm • linkreport

"What these "young highly educated professionals" DO seem to want are densely-packed cookie cutter apartments (call them "condos" and "townhouses" if you want"

do townhouses now equal apartments? Interesting. Also MoCo has had townhouse for about 40 years now, so having a few more isnt really change, is it? (I would note that they have also had apartments for decades)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 12:04 pm • linkreport

MoCo is welcome to not accommodate high density growth.

More demand for tysons and other TOD in Fairfax.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 12:06 pm • linkreport

so if the young people want "cookie cutter condos with bars on every corner" and there is a way to do that with lesser impacts on traffic (i.e. put them near metro stations)why is that so ardently fought against?

Also I love the cookie cutter argument when some of the most celebrated neighborhoods in the world feature blocks of like construction. Look at a picture of dupont rowhouses. They're celebrated in part because of their uniformity.

by x on Mar 16, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

@ceefer
Is it the non-inflation indexed gas tax, tolls, your insurance and purchase costs, or something else that pays for the guy filling the potholes on a residential street somewhere? What about the cost of employing police to maintain safety on those roads, or the emergency personnel that respond every time there is an accident?
Just because the government doesn't also pay for your car, gas, and spare parts it doesn't equate to you bearing the full cost.
Though a poor decision I think, check out the Ohio Turnpike for something approximating the full cost of using a particular road (this because it's operated by a private concession not out to lose money).

by bouncinggorilla on Mar 16, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

is there in fact anyway to stop densification in MoCo? IIUC the as of right zoning now in place, will allow for considerable densification, and there is a market for it, at least in Silver Spring, Bethesda, and some areas up Rockville Pike, even if not another penny is spent of transit construction, bike lanes, etc, etc.

On GGW we tend to focus on the policy decisions at the margins - the new transit and bike/ped facilities, and battles over zoning changes. We often overlook how much change is happening with the status quo zoning and transit

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 1:14 pm • linkreport

ceefer66 is right, folks. Driving pays for waaaaaaaaaay more of its costs than does transit. It's not even close!! Check out articles by the writers Randal O'Toole, Wendell Cox, and Joel Kotkin for information about this. Plus, add to that the fact that roads serve many functions that rail/buses never will, such as delivering goods right to your door or to the local Wal-Mart or wherever, emergency vehicles like police and fire trucks, etc. Please stop trying to force Agenda 21 down everyone's throats. We have suburbia and we like it fine the way it, thank you very much, gas-guzzler and "McMansions" and all. Stop demonizing people who want to keep their neighborhoods the way they are and who don't fall for flash in the pan trends like walkibility, bike paths, or light rail or whatnot.

by jim d. on Mar 16, 2012 1:18 pm • linkreport

is there in fact anyway to stop densification in MoCo? IIUC the as of right zoning now in place, will allow for considerable densification, and there is a market for it...

By knocking out the macroeconomic growth of the county; for an example of this, consider the population decline of Detroit. Having lived through similar circumstances, I will tell you that it ain't a pleasant thing to go through.

by goldfish on Mar 16, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

"Plus, add to that the fact that roads serve many functions that rail/buses never will, such as delivering goods right to your door or to the local Wal-Mart or wherever, emergency vehicles like police and fire trucks, etc."

oddly, arlington, which has the most aggressively pro-transit, pro densification, pro bike ped approach in the region, still has trucks delivering things to stores and homes, and still has police cars and fire trucks. If there is someone calling for the abolition of all streets and roadas, I would of course be against it for the reasons you mentioned, as well as others. However no one is calling for that.

That you need to resort to the most absurd straw man to make your point does not lend your argument credibility.

"We have suburbia and we like it fine the way it, thank you very much, gas-guzzler and "McMansions" and all."

Im not sure how rezoning a small part of the county prevents the county from having mcmansions and gas guzzlers. Arlington still has both. However if MoCo would like to stop rezoning (I seriously doubt there is a majority to stop it, but I dont know) thats okay. here in Fairfax county we will continue to have gas guzzlers and mcmansions, but will be happy to have folks move into condos in Tysons Corner, where their property taxes can pay for our excellent (and mostly unwalkable) suburban schools, while MoCo's schools go into relative decline.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

If highways truly were self-supporting, then the suburbs might not be such a drain on the rest of the county.

But they are not. In these tight times, Stanley is quite right to emphasize building that creates a denser - more efficient - footprint for the taxbase. One acre of apartments gives taxpayers a better bang for the buck than a one acre, stand alone, house.

That's basic mathematics and the conversation and its vocabulary needs to reflect that.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 16, 2012 1:36 pm • linkreport

I tune out people who use "Agenda 21" in a serious manner in their arguments.

by watcher on Mar 16, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

How about just letting the market decide instead of trying to force people out of their cars?

How about we have no zoning whatsoever? Also, how about all roads be privately owned and the "market" can build the sidewalks, roads, and bike lanes that the "market" demands.

by JustMe on Mar 16, 2012 2:56 pm • linkreport

"How about just letting the market decide instead of trying to force people out of their cars?"

It's called 'Houston' and we don't want to live there.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 16, 2012 2:59 pm • linkreport

It's called 'Houston' and we don't want to live there.

Surely you're not under the impression that real estate in Houston is free from numerous regulations on land use and development.

http://marketurbanism.com/2008/12/10/is-houston-really-unplanned/

by Alex B. on Mar 16, 2012 3:10 pm • linkreport

Houston had almost no regulation in the 1970s and early '80s.

The damage is done.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 16, 2012 3:14 pm • linkreport

so if the young people want "cookie cutter condos with bars on every corner" and there is a way to do that with lesser impacts on traffic (i.e. put them near metro stations)why is that so ardently fought against?

Because ultimately, this is about a culture war rather than a practical policy issue.

The fact that there is a demand (and need) to build densely around metro stations and that this need will not make it harder for anyone who wants a SFH in a large lot in an exurb to buy one is hardly the point. The point is, for the opposition, that the very existence of denser, more transit-friendly development is considered an offense. There is no such thing as "preferences" for the culture warriors-- by doing something other than what the culture warriors want, you are committing an insult and offense to them and their families, and you have to be stopped.

For those trying to stop transit-friendly development around metro stations, it's not a matter of policymaking-- it's a war over who "wins" and gets "validation" in the public sphere, and who "loses." And darn it, they want to make sure you "lose."

Anyone who doesn't acknowledge the reality of this dynamic is foolish. They hate you, they hate your condos, and they hate the fact that you bicycle to work... not because there are fewer unwalkable suburbs for them, but your presence is considered an insidious influence.

by JustMe on Mar 16, 2012 3:18 pm • linkreport

@Capt Hilts - It's called 'Houston' Not around here. Its called 'DuPont Circle'.

See historic plans for an expressway through Dupont Circle (and other neighborhoods in DC) and the market demand, i.e. human desire demands, to stop it, successfully.

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 3:28 pm • linkreport

...or what @cavaan said at 11:32

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 3:30 pm • linkreport

And a similar expressway on Spadina Ave. in Stanley's Toronto was stopped in the era.

In Toronto and DC, people can sometimes win, in Houston, "the market" always won.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 16, 2012 3:30 pm • linkreport

Isn't the definition of the "market" = "what people want; willing to fight for or spend money on"?

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 3:43 pm • linkreport

If everybody had the same amount of money, yes. But industries get involved. The market made it possible for the tire, gas and auto industries to buy and scrap public transit.

But the minimum price to get involved is prohibitively high for many individuals. Citizens competing with business interests is rarely a fair fight and in Houston, business won more often than not.

As a result, Houston is tied tightly to automobiles. I'm grateful to live somewhere that citizens were not only able to get involved, but received some support from government.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 16, 2012 3:49 pm • linkreport

@Capt. Hilts -I don't disagree with that.

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

"If highways truly were self-supporting, then the suburbs might not be such a drain on the rest of the county."

Suburbs are a "drain on the rest of the county"? You mean like the cities with their large proportion of residents on public assistance, Section 8 housing, subsidized transit, public services they can't pay for, etc, etc.?

Thanks for clearing that up.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 4:32 pm • linkreport

"Also I love the cookie cutter argument when some of the most celebrated neighborhoods in the world feature blocks of like construction. Look at a picture of dupont rowhouses. They're celebrated in part because of their uniformity."
-----

So, to put simply, the suburbs aren't the only places with "cookie cutter" development.

Thanks for making my point.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 4:36 pm • linkreport

"Suburbs are a "drain on the rest of the county"? You mean like the cities with their large proportion of residents on public assistance, Section 8 housing, subsidized transit, public services they can't pay for, etc, etc.?"

I think thats about income level, not location.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 4:48 pm • linkreport

@JustMe,

You couldn't be more wrong.

The urbanists generate resentment not because others "hate" their lifestyle or their agenda.

It's because many of the urbaists come off as hating any other lifestlye than their own, It's the smug attitude propagated by many urbanists that "their" choice is the ONLY choice. It's the constant demonization of the suburbs among many urbanists and a general tendency to dismiss suburbnites as not "getting it" as if we are somehow behind the times and not as intelligent as the "chosen ones".

Not to mention the demonization of the automobile and the single-family home. And the insistence on perpetuating the gross lie that driving is "subsidized" and the suburbs (which happen to contain most of the joibs and taxpayers) are somehow a "drain on society".

Lastly, the broad-brush painting of suburbanites - and anyone else who doesn't adopt and support the "walkable, transit-oriented density" agenda - as somehow less enlightened. Calling people "antis" and saying we're all "stuck in the 1950's" and our ideas reflect "a 1950's way of thinking" come immediately to mind.

The "hate" and disrespect are coming mainly from your side, my friend. I can't believe you seem to find it notable that some of us take exception.

by ceefer66 on Mar 16, 2012 4:52 pm • linkreport

"So, to put simply, the suburbs aren't the only places with "cookie cutter" development.

Thanks for making my point."

mike made his point inelegantly. Personally I think there are few areas in MoCo or Fairfax for that matter, where the repitition of housing styles has quite the positive impact that it does in a place like DuPont Circle. That however is irrelevant to the gist of Mikes point - that large numbers of young people want housing that differs from traditional suburban patterns. I think thats certainly true. Where I disagree is the belief held by people on both sides that the current policy questions will determine if MoCo changes or not. Once again, the existence of heavy rail metro stations means there will be more high density TOD in MoCo, and much of it can be built under current zoning. Whats at issue is not if it will come, but how much, where, and how well it will be done.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 4:53 pm • linkreport

"It's the smug attitude"

Ie it all about attitudes, opinions, words, etc. You are reinforcing what JustMe said - that its not about policies or the tangible results of policies. We could prove that TOD makes it easier for you to keep your SFH, and to drive your car - that wouldnt matter, cause hipsters sneer at you, and their sneering, their hubris, drives you batty. Its not about your lifestyle being threatened, or even being made more costly - its about it being culturally delegitimized.

I dont (for the most part) share those hipster opinions - or at any rate, Im aware of the exceptions. I can't control the hipsters freedom of speech though - other than censoring them, Im not sure how to convince you to accept good policy despite its support from the sneering set.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 4:59 pm • linkreport

@ceefer99 -It's because many of the urbaists come off as hating any other lifestlye than their own, It's the smug attitude propagated by many urbanists that "their" choice is the ONLY choice.

You, and others, keep repeating that but there isn't anyone saying that. In fact in these comments its those who prefer car-dependent suburbs who keep asserting that "everyone" wants to live like they do. Others are just objecting by saying, "no, everyone doesn't want to live like that and here is some eveidence".

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 5:00 pm • linkreport

@AWitC -you might be onto it. The disproportionate objection is not driven by reason but by an emotional reaction to feeling "rejected". I put rejected in quotes b/c of course its only rejection if someone personalizes and internalizes the different prefences of strangers.

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 5:07 pm • linkreport

@JustMe, all the roads ARE privately owned. Take a real close look at the White Flint plans. the place that is going to be just like Singapore. oh wait, I mean, Arlington, no I mean Toronto, or no, I really mean, Paris. Those roads are private. Is this urban? no library. no parks. no public spaces. no post office. no police station. Your choice -- you voted for this county council. and, the developers own them, bought and paid for. Ahh, life in a one-party county.

by Paula Bienenfeld on Mar 16, 2012 5:09 pm • linkreport

ceefer, thanks for proving my point-- the fact is that you throw a fit simply because of the existence of people who aren't living the same lifestyle as you are. What offends you is people who have a certain preference and don't feel shy about asking for it, not that it takes anything away from you. I'm willing to acknowledge that we're in a war and that you look at us and consider us the enemy. Denser development near the White Flint metro station isn't going to make it harder for you to buy a SFH in Germantown. It will, however, allow people who want to live in or near denser, more transit-efficient developments get what they want, and that, more than anything, is what the culture warriors are angry about.

Not to mention that you yourself admit that what's motivating you is the rage you feel when you see a bicyclist and think to yourself, "that person is sneering at me."

As dan reed says, he wants to have a civil discussion about development and growth. The other side wants to "win." In a contest between those two sides, the one that wants to "win" is the one that's going to come out on top. I don't see why we shouldn't acknowledge that this is the dynamic.

The forces opposed to smart growth aren't going to be happy until ever last middle class worker shuts up and moves to a SFH on a cul-de-sac.

by JustMe on Mar 16, 2012 5:11 pm • linkreport

You're right, ceefer66. Ever see that episode of "South Park". Large clouds of 'smug' over the area!

Seriously, it's really rich to hear urbanists talking about the suburbs being a drain on society and the treasury. Check out the unemployment numbers of suburbia vs. "the inner city". Look at what's needed just to keep cities alive: Section 8 housing, TANF, SNAP, WIC, homeless shelters, free HIV testing, free this, free that, subsidized this, subsidized that, and Lord knows how many other assistance programs. Cities and their residents a net drain on the country. The 'burbs are where the money is; they create the wealth and the jobs and suburbanites can take care of themselves, unlike, apparently those who live in the "dense, walkable, mixed use" cities that the centralized planners love to go on and on about.

Driving largely pays for itself whereas public transportation is massively subsidized. This nation would grind to a halt without the interstates, delivery trucks, and cars but if public transit disappeared tomorrow it would affect maybe 3% to 5% of the population of the country. In the grand scheme of things the much derided low density 'burbs are what makes America "America". Cities are historical relics that have managed to drag on past their time on life support from the American taxpayer (largely suburban).

It's largely the Democrat party that continues to push for the insanity of re-urbanization. They do this because they know city dwellers are necessarily more dependent on government and Democrats (and RINOs) love government dependency and big government, except when it comes to the military. The Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians largely understand that the suburban lifestyle has been the most free, wealthy, comfortable lifestyle in human history and they have no desire to see us return to the squalor and poverty of the cities.

by T. Gordon on Mar 16, 2012 5:17 pm • linkreport

ceefer66 says
Suburbs are a "drain on the rest of the county"? You mean like the cities with their large proportion of residents on public assistance, Section 8 housing, subsidized transit, public services they can't pay for, etc, etc.?

then ceefer66 says:
It's because many of the urbaists come off as hating any other lifestlye than their own, It's the smug attitude propagated by many urbanists that "their" choice is the ONLY choice. It's the constant demonization of the suburbs among many urbanists and a general tendency to dismiss suburbnites as not "getting it" as if we are somehow behind the times and not as intelligent as the "chosen ones".

Pot, meet Kettle.

by JeffB on Mar 16, 2012 5:23 pm • linkreport

@T. Gordon Wow! So thats not at all hateful! But its someone who'd like to be able to ride a bike 5 miles to work instead of feeling forced to buy a car who is hateful and smug!

@JustMe - I was skeptical but now I see, yes, you're right.

by Tina on Mar 16, 2012 5:24 pm • linkreport

rich to hear urbanists ... are necessarily more dependent on government

Hm...

The Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians largely understand that the suburban lifestyle has been the most free

And they're going to enforce it at the point of a gun!

by JustMe on Mar 16, 2012 5:26 pm • linkreport

Clearly, there is some demand for dense urban development and lifestyles. That kind of lifestyle appeals mainly to affluent young childless professionals who are willing and able to pay high prices for small apartments and condos, who attach a lot of value to living in close proximity to bars, clubs, coffee houses, restaurants, gyms, etc., who are fit and healthy enough to walk or ride bikes a lot, and who don't really mind the noise and crowds and lack of privacy and other aspects of dense urban living that other people dislike intensely.

But most people are not affluent young childless professionals and don't share their lifestyle preferences. So dense urbanism is unlikely to become more than a niche market in the forseeable future. On-going advances in technology are likely to make dense urbanism even less attractive in the future than it is now. Cars keep getting better. Self-driving cars will make car travel even easier and available to even more people than it is today. Electronic communications technology keeps getting better, making it easier to work and socialize remotely. And renewable energy technology, especially local solar power installations, are much more conducive to low-density urban forms than high-density ones.

by Bertie on Mar 16, 2012 6:00 pm • linkreport

of course lots of people BECOME healthy and fit by walking and riding bikes alot. Including some folks who are not that young.

But the demand is more than a niche - is 20 or 25 or 30% a niche? and of course lots of people who dont want to go fully urbanist want to go part way there - if youve spent time on a RE discussion site youve seen people coming to NoVa or MoCo who want village like suburbs like they have in greater NY or New England. There are also lots of suburbanites who value transit (as you will find in MoCo, in fairfax, in PG, and even, god bless em, in Loudoun)

You speak as if the only choices were a SFH on 1/4 acre lot relying on autos to get everywhere, and living in a condo and never using an auto. the people who want the latter are certainly a niche, and probably a smaller one than those who want the former. But this is a la carte and always has been. There are townhouse and low rise apts in unwalkable suburbs, there are ones in walkable suburbs, there are greater and less degrees of modal choice. Those who will give up SOME space and privacy for modal choice and other features of more walkable areas are not few at all.

I dont know why we neglect the

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 7:13 pm • linkreport

@ T Gordon

You do know that poverty is increasing in the suburbs, and its doing so fastest in the least walkable ones?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 7:15 pm • linkreport

@Paula M

I do need to look at the white flint plans, but my impression is its modeled on Arlington, VA as much as any of the places you named. You should come and visit Arlington, its very nice.

I dont know about the public facilities in the plan. I do know Rockville Town Center has an excellent library. Im not sure what concession MoCo gets from developers. I know here in Va people want lots of things - affordable units, education proffers, transportation funding, etc. All in exchange for the above as of right development - which in some places isnt that much.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 7:19 pm • linkreport

I just looked at the white flint sector plan, and there are several public spaces, and the CIP includes a library.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 7:28 pm • linkreport

Urban space should be about getting lost."

"Urban spaces are places we can all go."

"Public spaces should be fun."

"Public spaces should lead people to something."

"Public spaces should create discussion."
'
'
If you guys fire this dude I'm going to call Sharon Bulova and see if we can hire him.

Or maybe we can arrange a trade. You get Centreville.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 7:38 pm • linkreport

Seriously, it's really rich to hear urbanists talking about the suburbs being a drain on society and the treasury. Check out the unemployment numbers of suburbia vs. "the inner city". Look at what's needed just to keep cities alive: Section 8 housing, TANF, SNAP, WIC, homeless shelters, free HIV testing, free this, free that, subsidized this, subsidized that, and Lord knows how many other assistance programs.

You've spent more than a half century now erecting gates (both literal and figurative) that keep poor people out of the 'burbs, and now you're blaming them for the condition of the pen you've put them in.

Suburbs are a drain on society and the treasury for all the reasons folks have pointed out above. But beyond that, the suburbs are arranged intentionally to make life difficult for poor people--to offload a disproportionate burden of society's most vulnerable onto cities. It's just more shirking of responsibility. And the fact that many, many suburbanites see "homelessness in DC" as a "DC problem" rather than a regional problem is a fundamental injustice.

Fortunately that's changing. Google "suburbanization of poverty". The best thing about the coming decades is that the suburbs will finally be forced to take responsibility for regional poverty--poverty which up til now has been the sole responsibility of city dwellers. The successful cities are going to see their poverty rates continue to fall, and their suburbs will continue to rise.

The free-ride is slowly coming to an end.

by oboe on Mar 16, 2012 8:48 pm • linkreport

You do know that poverty is increasing in the suburbs, and its doing so fastest in the least walkable ones?

The greatest hope for DC's poor is that they become coupled with a wealthy state like Maryland or Virginia (whether through retrocession or natural migration) and that they become a powerful constituency in one of those states' governments.

by oboe on Mar 16, 2012 8:51 pm • linkreport

Suburbs are a drain on society and the treasury for all the reasons folks have pointed out above

No one has shown that suburbs are "a drain on society" at all. Simply saying something over and over again doesn't make it true.

by Bertie on Mar 16, 2012 9:04 pm • linkreport

Im pretty sure Rollin Stanley never said suburbs are a drain on society, but that having some dense development near the red line stops would make things better for all of MoCo including the suburban parts.

I think we have gotten off topic.

What has Mr Stanley done that y'all object to? Paula complained about the white flint plan, which if I read her right, lacks parks and public facilities (though based on skimming the plan itself I see the exact opposite). Other than that I see nothing in this thread about what Mr Stanley has done. Just lots of abstract stuff about who subsidizes whom nationally, and who sneers at whom.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 9:23 pm • linkreport

Im pretty sure Rollin Stanley never said suburbs are a drain on society

I didn't say he did. Oboe and Capt. Hilts said it. No one has presented any evidence that it's true.

by Bertie on Mar 16, 2012 9:30 pm • linkreport

http://urbanhabitat.org/node/2742

by NikolasM on Mar 16, 2012 9:49 pm • linkreport

having some dense development near the red line stops would make things better for all of MoCo including the suburban parts.

But it would make lots of pro-exurb advocates feel bad, and they would get angry that a class of people they don't like "won."

by JustMe on Mar 16, 2012 9:49 pm • linkreport

@Bertie

he did so in response to Jimd's post, about so called "Agenda 21"

Now that we've traced the beginning of the off topic discussion, can someone tell me whats wrong with white flint sector plan?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 9:55 pm • linkreport

"Hopefully this can help get the convo. going back to not whether its suburbs vs. cities and back into good design principles."

evidently not

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 9:57 pm • linkreport

he did so in response to Jimd's post

Who did what in response to that post? And what does that have to do with what I wrote?

by Bertie on Mar 16, 2012 10:22 pm • linkreport

What does have any of this have to do with Rollin Stanley?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 16, 2012 10:54 pm • linkreport

@Bertie, here is one glaring thing that is wrong: WF is happening now and the over-the-top density has no support infrastructure for the huge number of people expected to live and work there. When this conversation about this plan began, there was a lot of happy talk about how it would be supported by lots and lots of public transit. Royce Hanson told us there would be 8-car trains with 2-min headways. I don't know how many of you take metro, but that is not going to happen. There is so little money and what there is has been so badly mismanaged that we are still riding in the 1000 series cars. On many days the headway during rush hour is 6-7 minutes. I assume all of you, like me, ride metro everyday to work as you are all so passionate about public transit. What has your experience been? In my own case, I have stopped taking metro to the airport b/c it is too unreliable. In his staff report to the council Glenn Orlin said there had to be 5 things that had to happen to have traffic not
'fail.' but the council refused to do any of them. Read his report. And back off from the nasty comments. Many of us have been paying very close attention to what is going on on MoCo. We have read the plans, we have gone to the PB, and in the end, we have seen how what first appear to be good innovative plans end up being a license to let the developers do whatever they want. That is not planning. The name calling just makes people think you are being paid off by the developers. So stop it.

by Paula Bienenfeld on Mar 17, 2012 7:53 am • linkreport

"WF is happening now and the over-the-top density has no support infrastructure for the huge number of people expected to live and work there."

I skimmed the WF plan and there's much discussion of infrastructure. Do you mean its not there now? You never build all the public facilities first. Given the time for the development to take place, that wouldn't make sense.

As for metro, I do take it every day (not the red line - I live in Va) Its not overcrowded usually. Its far from perfectly reliable, but then the drive in isn't either. I look forward to its improvement.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 17, 2012 8:44 am • linkreport

over the top density? The top density allowed is a floor area ratio of 4. that means if a building takes up one third of the lot, it can be 12 stories tall. over the top?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 17, 2012 8:50 am • linkreport

A map of public assistance in the US (its not just the urban areas).

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/02/12/us/entitlement-map.html?src=me&ref=general&gwh=D294D24CFE9C0807A0FC2B3C37067894

Since this blog is getting more trolls, it is worth pointing out that these are discussions about how to make the areas we live in better, not schemes to grow the "Democrat" [sic] party.

Final rant: As someone who has lived in both areas, I have personally noticed that the greater antagonism seems to be from the burbs directed towards the city, rather than vice-versa.

by watcher on Mar 17, 2012 11:38 am • linkreport

kewl map watcher.

Note that entitlement income is a higher pct of total income in PG and Charles cties in MD than DC. Stafford is the highest in Va (above Alex) and is not much below DC

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 17, 2012 1:00 pm • linkreport

@AWalker, that is right. There is not the supportsble sustainable infrastructure there now. It is all pie in the sky promoted by pro-development folks and their PR people. As a reminder, one of the developers hired the Sam PR group that the Clintons use (see Miranda Spivack's article on the post for the back-up data). So yes, righti now, there is no school to accommodate the ~450 new elementary age school children predicted by Bruce Crispell, the MCPS demographer (who, as an aside, predicted the no. of children who would be going to the brand new Clarksburg elementary school - he did such a poor job that there was a 'portable' installed there within a year afterit opened). I could go on of course. The best thing I could recommend is, why not take the metro here, get off at the White Flint metro stop, and take a look with the plans for all the developments in hand. I would really encourage people posting here to come and see for yourself, and to read the plans and the real numbers and then come back here and post how this is going to work. Stop calling names and stop smearing people who know what's going on, have spent hundreds of hours on these plans, and live in these actual neighborhoods. Come down here, look around, and then post and explain how this is going to improve our quality of life.

by Paula Bienenfeld on Mar 17, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

"There is not the supportsble sustainable infrastructure there now"

but it doesnt make sense to have it all there in advance of development. You pay interest on the bonds right away, but dont start getting the tax revenues from the new development till the construction is complete. Makes more sense to time the support infrastructure so its built as the new development is built out. It sounds to me like thats what they are planning. A

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 17, 2012 3:39 pm • linkreport

What does have any of this have to do with Rollin Stanley?

I don't know. Capt Hilts said that "suburbs are a drain on society." Oboe repeated that assertion. I pointed out that no one has produced any evidence to support that assertion.

by Bertie on Mar 17, 2012 4:01 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by ceefer66 on Mar 18, 2012 1:16 pm • linkreport

Compare the tax footprint in Silver Spring to those out past Briggs Chaney Road.

It's simple math.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 18, 2012 1:27 pm • linkreport

I love the assumption in this article that the development supported by Rollin Stanley is guaranteed to lead to a better future. Then again, that depends on whose future is being improved. Under Mr. Stanley, the future for developers looks quite promising (along with the future of the local politicians then so generously support). MoCo citizens? Maybe not so much, although, that can only change for the bettter if the arrogant Mr. Stanley is shown the door.

by Nick on Mar 18, 2012 6:35 pm • linkreport

@Nick: "MoCo citizens? Maybe not so much, although, that can only change for the bettter if the arrogant Mr. Stanley is shown the door."

How are you so sure that the things will be better for MoCo residents without Rollin Stanley?

by Gray on Mar 18, 2012 6:45 pm • linkreport

Gray, presumably if Mr. Rollins is removed from his position, his replacement will remember that he or she is a public servant who should consider the views of the public in a respectful and fair-minded manner, and not view them as an annoyance, as Mr. Rollins seems to. But you're right: his replacement could be as arrogant and pro-developer as Rollins.

by Nick on Mar 18, 2012 6:57 pm • linkreport

@Gray, of course we can't predict the future. However our experience as citizens under Stanley is that any attempt at transparency and open government one would expect in a working democracy went away when Stanley arrived and laid down the law to his staff (who, as I have pointed out before, really are the Planning Board's staff) and totally reconfigured the planning process. Now many more things are sone in secret behind the scenes. A good indication of how this works is that at Planning Board meetings, Stanley makes a beeline to his developer friends and ignores people representing the neighborhoods under review. To most of us who live here, things will be better just because we may start to approach a functioning democracy again. Here is another example of what I mean: compare the 1992 NB/GP master plan with Stanley's WF Sector master plan. The 1992 plan has lots of words. Lots of specific descriptions of what is planned. The WF Sector Plan is missing any of that. The focus seems to have been design rather than substance. Yes, the fonts are really, really cool and there is lots of white space on the page. But where are the data to back up any of the assertions in the plan? When we citizens asked for citations or any backup at all for what is asserted in the plan here is what we were told: master plans don't have that. When we asked staff for data to back up their traffic assertions, we were told, it's more of a black box. At one point the developers' traffic consultants told us, 'it's magic.'. So, we are thinkin' yea, things will get better without this approach to the citizens of the county.

by Paula Bienenfeld on Mar 18, 2012 7:06 pm • linkreport

"When we asked staff for data to back up their traffic assertions, we were told, it's more of a black box."

Sounds like a reference to a trip generation/traffic model, which can be complicated. Not something where they could easily cite what led to the number. If thats being claimed as a lack of backup, Im not surprised Mr Rollins finds y'all annoying - considering not only that, but the other unfair rhetorical attacks on the WF plan (like the complaint about infrastructure not all being in place before development occurs) if I were in his place, I would have lashed out far more harshly.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 18, 2012 9:34 pm • linkreport

To most of us who live here, things will be better just because we may start to approach a functioning democracy again.

we have seen how what first appear to be good innovative plans end up being a license to let the developers do whatever they want.

WF is happening now and the over-the-top density has no support infrastructure for the huge number of people expected to live and work there.

First, can we please stop the victimization here? Stanley can't repeal democracy.

Second, isn't part of Democracy giving people like Stanley power to make decisions? I'm a Montgomery County resident and I fully support Stanley's drive for what you call "over the top density." That's what I voted for. If anything, I think he's not supporting density enough, and not steamrolling his opponents enough.

by WRD on Mar 18, 2012 10:33 pm • linkreport

@WRD: Doesn't democracy mean that I get everything I want?!? Well, "functioning democracy," at least. I suppose there could be a non-functioning democratic system where I don't quite get everything I want at all times.

by Gray on Mar 19, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

Rollin Stanley looks like a doppleganger for someone else. Is it Don Imus? Or is their a better comp?

by Paul on Mar 19, 2012 1:19 pm • linkreport

if Mr. Rollins is removed from his position, his replacement will remember that he or she is a public servant who should consider the views of the public in a respectful and fair-minded manner

The NIMBYs love to dish it out, but they can't take it.

by JustMe on Mar 19, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

Mr. Rollins dismisses voting, taxpaying residents as "rich old white women". And people think that's OK.

I shudder to think of what Mr. Rollins and his supporters would call poor minorities who he thinks are "standing in the way" of his priorities.

by ceefer66 on Mar 19, 2012 3:06 pm • linkreport

Opps, I meant Mr. Stanley.

by ceefer66 on Mar 19, 2012 3:07 pm • linkreport

The NIMBYs love to dish it out, but they can't take it.

So anyone who expects public servants to treat the public with respect and who dares to question the build-build-build, public be damned, attitude is naturally a NIMBY? Please.

by MarkInSS on Mar 19, 2012 4:29 pm • linkreport

@MarkInSS

Treating people with respect: absolutely.

But I don't see how disagreeing with someone's opinion is inherently disrespectful.

A planning director like Stanley has a lot of different interests they must balance, including a view towards the future that no one resident must take. If a resident doesn't get what that individual wants, that doesn't mean that democracy has been thwarted...

It reminds me of the moving-goalposts definition of 'activists judges,' which seems to be if the judge rules in accordance with your beliefs, then they're upholding the law. If they rule against them, then they're activists legislating from the bench.

by Alex B. on Mar 19, 2012 5:00 pm • linkreport

But I don't see how disagreeing with someone's opinion is inherently disrespectful.

A planning director like Stanley has a lot of different interests they must balance, including a view towards the future that no one resident must take. If a resident doesn't get what that individual wants, that doesn't mean that democracy has been thwarted...

I do not disagree. The problem is that Mr. Stanley obviously views his critics with contempt. The public cannot have any faith that they will get fair consideration from him.

by MarkInSS on Mar 19, 2012 5:07 pm • linkreport

The problem is that Mr. Stanley obviously views his critics with contempt.

Who are 'his critics?' And why is it obvious that he views anyone with a critical opinion with contempt?

by Alex B. on Mar 19, 2012 5:15 pm • linkreport

@JustMe, regarding the 'NIMBY' label, it is worth noting that the developers are never referred to as 'NIMBYs,' even though all they do is advocate for their own property. On the other hand Planning Dep't. staff and the Planning Board refer to the developers as 'landowners,' leaving the neighbors, who are hundreds of landowners, to go hang. This language is carefully crafted, don't kid yourselves. The Planning Board working with the developers frames the discussion deliberately in this fashion.

by Paula Bienenfeld on Mar 19, 2012 7:56 pm • linkreport

@Alex B, check out the latest Bethesda Magazine which answers both your questions.

by Paula Bienenfeld on Mar 19, 2012 7:58 pm • linkreport

@ Paula--

Most people on this site disagree with you. I can't speak for everyone, but here's how I see the situation.

You and "the neighbors" have issues with Stanley's approach. You don't like it. Your side objected, and raised the issues you see. These issues include road congestion, development speed, "too much density," not enough schools, and others.

Note that there are other objections to this project and Stanley's plan. Stanley's plan is itself a compromise.

Notwithstanding your side's objections, the Planning Board is moving forward. The Planning Board has read your objections. The Board has considered them. The Board has rejected them.

Having lost on the merits, you seek to raise an issue with how Stanley "treated" you and your political allies. You hope to use Stanley's stupid public comments to force the Planning Board to reconsider their decisions.

But this does not change the fact that your objections have failed to persuade those who oppose you. People like me, for example. Or, you know, the Planning Board.

But now it's not about winning on the merits, because your side can't. It's about raising a "process issue" about "how you were treated" or attacking Stanley for "what he really thinks."

Regardless of Stanley's public comments, the decisions you oppose are supportable with the record in front of the Planning Board.

Let's be transparent about it--I don't care about Stanley and neither do you. I'm sure we're all shocked, shocked!, there is bad blood between you two. You want to win on this issue and others, myself included, want you to lose.

by WRD on Mar 19, 2012 11:16 pm • linkreport

WRD +1,
I'll try to explain why what Stanley is doing is exactly what our county needs. Most Montgomery County suburbanites have sited traffic congestion as the main reason for the lowering of their quality of life. The reason for the increased traffic is the continued sprawl through out Montgomery County and beyond. The best way to deal with all these new drivers clogging your local streets is to provide another way to accomodate these new households while not adding the cars to our streets. Building smartly in this case means building up around metro stations.

The idea that developers are in a secret cabal with the planning department is just paranoid. The idea that our planning director actually meets with developers is a good thing becasue it means we might actually have a say in how our communities will look as they get built up. Most people know that economic growth in our day and age is a good thing, the only question is how best to do this while preserving our open space and our ever threatened ecology. We need to stop sprawl and accomodate for growth, might as well get some cool people spaces built while we're at it. Mr. Stanley is trying to get us there hopefully without getting too frustrated that some have a hard time seeing the larger picture. Maybe a macro smart growth tutorial is in order?

by Thayer-D on Mar 20, 2012 7:58 am • linkreport

The reason for the increased traffic is the continued sprawl through out Montgomery County and beyond.

(Can't let this one go) -- No. The reason for the increased traffic is unbounded population growth. Many new people have settled in MC in the past 20 years, but Rockville Pike is pretty much the same. The county is at a point where the traffic has become intolerable, and to relieve it will require making tough decisions and a lot of money to improve to the infrastructure. The building of new houses out in Clarksburg -- that is, sprawl -- is not what caused the bad traffic on the Pike, because these people live far from Rockville and probably do not go there all that often. Rather, it is the new King Farm houses -- that is, nearby infill development -- is what has caused this. This is what some people call "smart growth", except that in this case it is not smart, because the infrastructure has not kept up. Building new roads seem to be out of the question. This is huge, huge problem -- converting the suburbs to the city. I think it is reasonable that some to call for slower growth.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 9:46 am • linkreport

So if they just kept building in clarksburg then the problems on Rockville Pike would just go away? And they wouldn't migrate elsewhere? At the risk of tautology, it is crowded where there are a lot of people.

The form of development at kings farm will ultimately make it easier to build the infrastructure and control its costs since its more compact and not so far away. And this is a place where there is an explicit plan to put infrastructure right there. I don't see how the county is at fault here.

by Canaan on Mar 20, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

Whether those new residents are living in Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, or King Farm, they are driving down Rockville Pike to shop and work in Bethesda, Tysons, and DC. The reason they built those new houses is population growth, unbounded or not. Ergo, sprawl has caused the traffic problem. Used to be twenty years ago you could drive down Rockville pike on off hours to do some shopping, where as now, even at 12:00 in the afternoon, you're bound to get stuck sitting in traffic. It's perfectly rational to call for slower growth, but that's only somewhat realistic and shouldn't get in the way of addressing the growth that's coming intelligently, regardless of the reason. Even if we converted every older suburban center into a city, we are still going to need good public transportation between them all to allow for the mobility and versatility our economy seems to thrive on. See every other model of ever expanding peripheral communities like London or New York. You can call for slower growth, or you can change with the times and become an even Greater Greater Washington.

by Thayer-D on Mar 20, 2012 10:39 am • linkreport

So if they just kept building in clarksburg then the problems on Rockville Pike would just go away? And they wouldn't migrate elsewhere?

Clarksburg has little to do with the problem. At the risk of stretching my analogy, there are lots of people that live in Baltimore, but that will not cause the traffic problem on Rockville Pike to go away.

The problem is that the infrastructure has not kept up with the planned infill development. That is, "smart growth" really was not smart. The solution? (1) Either convert the suburbs to the city by building new infrastructure -- obviously very difficult and expensive, because this was planned as a suburb and there is no grid; or (2) Freeze things the way they are.

It sound like Mr. Stanley does not recognize that there is an issue that others do. I never go there myself anymore because it became too crowded. As the traffic was caused by unbound population increase, slowing or halting the growth is a given. The question is, will this be temporary while the county has time to fix things, or permanent?

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

"Smart Growth" sounds great in theory, but developers cynically use its arguments to maximize their profits, i.e., build as much as they want while pretending to care about progressive issues.

Ever see the advertisements in support of frakking or "clean coal," where they rave about energy independence, when what they're really doing is selling us a bill of goods to distract us from the environmental harm they are causing? "Smart Growth" is to developers what "energy independence" is to the natural gas and coal companies.

And like money-hungry politicians everywhere, some in our County government are eager to swallow the shiny lure.

by MarkInSS on Mar 20, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

Whether those new residents are living in Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, or King Farm, they are driving down Rockville Pike to shop and work in Bethesda, Tysons, and DC.

No. People there don't like driving in heavy traffic any more than anyone else does. The people that live in Clarksburg shop in the new strip malls in Germantown and similar places, and avoid the mess of Rockville Pike.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

@goldfish

How exactly would you achieve "slower growth"? If you restrict growth in MoCo people will move elsewhere - which often will mean further out. Then they will still drive to Rockville, Bethesda, etc. to work/shop/play.

Alternatively, you can try to accommodate that growth and expand travel options for new AND current residents so that people don't have to get in their cars and clog up Rockville Pike for every little errand.

by MLD on Mar 20, 2012 10:50 am • linkreport

@goldfish

To what extent is congestion on Rockville pike related to congestion on I270, which would seem to be a natural bypass. To the extent that growth in Clarksburg congests I270, it might well impact Rockville Pike, albeit indirectly.

As for creating new infrastructure, IIUC there has been extensive discussion right here on GGW on how to do that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

And what do you think will happen if you freeze things? They won't stay the way they are I promise you. People still build things in other places where its crowded. I fail to see how "let's build in a way and location where people don't need a car for every trip" is more unreasonable than "we need to halt all development and prevent population growth in montgomery county"

by Canaan on Mar 20, 2012 10:54 am • linkreport

"The people that live in Clarksburg shop in the new strip malls in Germantown and similar places, and avoid the mess of Rockville Pike."

how do they commute? Do they all work upcounty of Rockville?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 10:54 am • linkreport

@MLD: Take a drive to Germantown. It seems like every major intersection has a new strip mall development, with an enormous new Giant and a Loews and a Starbucks, and full parking lots. Nobody will fight the traffic for an hour to get to RP when they have better, closer options.

It is the infill development that has cause this problem.

Regarding accommodating growth: it may be that MoCo has started to touch its limits. PG county has vast amounts of land that is closer to the urban core and is cheaper.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 10:58 am • linkreport

MoCo is in direct competition with FFX. If MoCo fails to attract people with relatively high incomes, but few or no children, who are net contributors to the budget, MoCo faces an increasingly stretched school budget at the same time its aging housing stock (especially the farther out stock in germantown, montgomery village, etc) attracts families with few resources and significant educational and social service needs.

I doubt that no growth is really an option for MoCo, unless they choose to accept a certain level of socio-economic and educational decline. The cost benefits of doing that, versus building the infrastructure to support infill, are something that the County must decide.

It wont be just developers and urbanists with a stake in the pro growth side though, I imagine.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 11:04 am • linkreport

how do they commute? Do they all work upcounty of Rockville?

The jobs in the metropolitan area are widely dispersed. Some go to No. Va. Others stay in the county. A few hardy souls get up and drive to DC, leaving by 5:30 AM to beat the traffic -- the ones that I know who do this cherish their suburban neighborhood.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

And what do you think will happen if you freeze things? They won't stay the way they are I promise you. People still build things in other places where its crowded. I fail to see how "let's build in a way and location where people don't need a car for every trip" is more unreasonable than "we need to halt all development and prevent population growth in montgomery county".

There are neighborhoods in Chevy Chase and Rockville that have not changed at all since they were built in the 50s and 60s. They have been frozen.

You are beginning to appreciate how hard this problem is.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 11:11 am • linkreport

I live in Arlington close to a very busy grocery store. I could go out to falls church or fairfax where the store is less crowded but I don't because its farther for me and wouldn't actually save me any time overall. I don't see how thats different from your example. People shop where its convenient for them. For a lot of people that is obviously still RP whereas for you and others its not. I don't see how thats a failure of planning for the county at large.

by Canaan on Mar 20, 2012 11:13 am • linkreport

clarksburg to DC means passing through Lower Moco. Clarksburg to NoVa means passing through lower Moco.
Clarksburg to work in Bethesda means passing through lower MoCo.

only clarksburg commuters who can avoid lower moco are ones who either 1. work up county of lower moco or 2. Work somewhere in suburban Md to the east, where the ICC works as a bypass.

Seems to me that Clarksburg (et al) commuters could very well be impacting congestion in lower MoCo.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 11:13 am • linkreport

Cool so things stayed the same for chevy chase (which they didn't because people from chevy chase sometimes have to leave the neighborhood) I'd like to see how this could be applied to the entire county and actually solve any of the problems (or rather, the problem of traffic) while keeping the county competitive.

by Canaan on Mar 20, 2012 11:19 am • linkreport

@AWitC: clarksburg to DC means passing through Lower Moco. Clarksburg to NoVa means passing through lower Moco.

These people all drive down 270 -- trust me, nobody takes RP for these trips. Also it is clear that the limits on growth in Potomac are contributing to this problem.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

@Canaan I'd like to see how this could be applied to the entire county and actually solve any of the problems (or rather, the problem of traffic) while keeping the county competitive.

Me too. But something has to be done, because gridlock on RP is a real impediment to growth along that corridor.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 11:31 am • linkreport

excuse me, I was being facetious. I think the unintended consequences of freezing growth would only exacerbate the problems as they are. Then again uncontrolled growth would also be bad (you could solve some problems by taking away the Ag. reserve but you'd create others) that's why its important to pay attention to design, form and use which is what Mr. Stanley is trying to do recognizing that floating to either extreme probably won't solve much. Making it so that rockville pike is more attractive to transportation besides auto use is probably the best way to address. To get to there you have to create the right conditions which is what things like the white flint plan is trying to do.

by Canaan on Mar 20, 2012 11:56 am • linkreport

"Nobody will fight the traffic for an hour to get to RP when they have better, closer options. "

If you're comparing strip malls in Germantown to the Urban Design of a Bethesda, Silver Spring, or even new DT Rockville, then I can see where we won't find common ground. The reason these people don't shop exclusivley at their local strip malls is becasue thier experience is soo much better in a nice town atmosphere. Just follow the money.

"A few hardy souls get up and drive to DC, leaving by 5:30 AM to beat the traffic -- the ones that I know who do this cherish their suburban neighborhood."

And they drive through everyone else's cherished suburban neighborhoods that surround office buildings, including in and around Rockville.

"You are beginning to appreciate how hard this problem is."

And beginning to solve this problem. It's nothing new, it's called the history of cities and there are plenty of examples as to how best to do it. I may not love Mr. Stanley''s glass and steel Vancouver towers, but he's just another sign of a market that know's we'll have to become more neighborly with eachother if we're going to prosper.

by Thayer-D on Mar 20, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

"These people all drive down 270 -- trust me, nobody takes RP for these trips."

but does the congestion on I270 induce trips that could go either I270 or RP to shift to RP?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 12:18 pm • linkreport

This is what I wrote to the planning board (and I urge those who support Rollin to contact the county as well):

I'm writing to say that as a citizen I fully support Rollin Stanley. While his comments were hasty and unwarranted, they should detract from the great work that he has done to modernize Montgomery County.

And make no mistake about it, Montgomery County needs to continue to modernize to stay competitive with other jurisdictions. I'm a Millenial homeowner in the Downtown Silver Spring area, and while I'm pleased with how the area is shaping up, there is still much work to be done. My generation is looking for different living arrangements than my parents and what many of the older residents of Montgomery County want.

This county needs a plurality of voices. It needs more urban areas to along with its established suburban and rural areas. If other jurisdictions present a more desirable place to live, many people in my generation will flock to those areas. We're not married to Montgomery County. You have to fight to keep us, and you need to listen to our voices and our desires.

Rolling Stanley may sometimes come off as too direct and brash for some residents, but he knows what he is doing. Please keep him on board.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 20, 2012 12:38 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: but does the congestion on I270 induce trips that could go either I270 or RP to shift to RP?

Rockville Pike is not an alternative to 270 for through traffic.

This question makes me think that you have not driven on RP lately -- if your destination is not close to it, you avoid it. Even in the worst traffic, 270 beats RP.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

@Thayer-D: Making it so that rockville pike is more attractive to transportation besides auto use is probably the best way to address.

The tough question is how to do that, when everything in this part of town has been built with the auto in mind. To turn that around to something more pedestrian friendly will take a lot -- the heavy rail corridor is reasonable, but anything much off of that spine is inaccessible to anything except a car. A friend once lived in Grosvenor and worked at NIH, a single stop away on the red line. She drove because the metro did not fit her needs.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

RP may not be an alt for 270, but is 270 an alt for RP? So that if 270 were less congested, more short haul traffic would divert to 270? Are you saying that RP and 270 are not at all substitutes for each other?

"A friend once lived in Grosvenor and worked at NIH, a single stop away on the red line. She drove because the metro did not fit her needs."

seems to contradict the notion of utter gridlock on RP

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: Other people would know better than me -- but I see RP as a local shopping road with its congestion spreading to all the streets that approach it. 270 is 1.5 - 2 miles away, and it has exits every mile or so, which means that to go from RP to 270 and back is a minimum of 5 miles. To use 270 as alternative to RP only makes sense if the endpoints on RP are much further than that -- like 10 miles. 270 is an not alternative for RP unless the the distance is pretty far.

seems to contradict the notion of utter gridlock on RP
Not really, because there are no alternatives to driving if you need to go more than a short distance away from the red line.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 1:43 pm • linkreport

I might as well comment on how Rockville Pike needs OBVIOUS signs noting that the Metro is nearby and including the name of the station.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 20, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

My generation is looking for different living arrangements than my parents and what many of the older residents of Montgomery County want.

When you get older and/or decide to start a family, you'll start looking for living arrangements that will probably be very much like your parents and the older residents of Montgomery County. And when that happens, and your mindset is one of an occupancy spanning decades, not years, you'll appreciate why many people are disgusted with Rollin Stanley's arrogant and dismissive attitude toward the residents of Montgomery County.

by MarkInSS on Mar 20, 2012 2:00 pm • linkreport

@mark

I made it through childbearing to the empty nest years, and I STILL don't appreciate the attitudes of those who hate and fear urbanism.

by AWalkerInTheCIty on Mar 20, 2012 2:22 pm • linkreport

When you get older and/or decide to start a family, you'll start looking for living arrangements that will probably be very much like your parents and the older residents of Montgomery County.
Moves and house purchases are a frequent topic of conversation among my 30-something friends, who are raising families and starting businesses. Curiously enough, my friends are settling down in neighborhoods like Petworth, Columbia Heights, and inside-the-Beltway suburbs. A large portion of the younger Gen-X folks and Millennials are handily rejecting the living arrangements of their parents.

Not everyone. Some of my friends continue their housing searches farther away from town. They have bitter words about the price of walkable, transit-accessible housing in the DC area.

by David R. on Mar 20, 2012 2:23 pm • linkreport

@MarkInSS

I grew up on 1.5-2 acres of exurban land that required a car for everything. I'm never going back to that. If I want to live in the country, I'll live in the real country and do actual country work, like running a farm.

My wife and I may eventually trade up from our two-bedroom condo to a townhouse when we have kids, but we have no intention of living somewhere far from stuff that matters to us. We love being able to walk everywhere. I love the idea of my children being able to walk everywhere.

Walking is healthy and natural and a good way to stay in good shape. Americans should do more of it.

I also live less than a mile walk from Rock Creek Park. That sure beats 1.5-2 acres of land. And no upkeep and grass to cut every week.

Many in my generation did not enjoy being stranded for much of our lives. We don't want that for our children. Some still do, and that's fine, but many Millenials won't be moving back to suburban and exurban living just because we have kids. I certainly wouldn't take my chances on the long-term housing prices of exurban living.

The suburbs of the 20th century were an aberration. They are an aberration even in the Western world. We're beginning to see more people live in denser living arraignments, even those with means and children.

And why not?

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 20, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

To Walker, David, and Patrick: My family intentionally purchased a house within a short walk to public transportation, so you're preaching to the choir. Those inner ring suburban neighborhoods are a vital part of Montgomery County. The problem with Mr. Stanley is that he does not seem to care about preserving and protecting those kinds of neighborhoods.

by MarkInSS on Mar 20, 2012 3:21 pm • linkreport

@MarkInSS,

I don't think areas of our country should get special protection from market demands, and I also don't think Stanley is trying to get rid of the neighborhoods you describe. He does want to put density around every metro stop, which is pretty logical. After about a .5-.75 miles, you start to get into the SFHs that can walk to public transportation. That makes sense.

Condos, apartments, townhouses and SFHs can all coexist within inner ring suburbs. Adding denser, walkeable cores with shopping, businesses and housing benefits the entire county and doesn't mean that all SFHs are all of the sudden going to go away. Those of us who live in condos, and pay a ton of taxes per sqft, subsidize the rest of the county, especially those in SFHs.

Does this mean that some areas like the Chelsea School in Silver Spring should become denser? Yes. The zoning should change. That's land that the market should get to dictate, not those who only want SFHs in this county.

There should be 0 metro stops that aren't surrounded by density. You'd never see that in other major cities in the U.S.

This county does need a lot more density to keep up with market demand. That doesn't mean SFHs are going away, but it does mean that we do need to change the zoning and allow the market demands to have some sway.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 20, 2012 3:41 pm • linkreport

I should amend my last post to read taht one of the problems with Mr. Stanley is his disregard for inner ring suburban communities. I highlighted that because I live in one of those, but MoCo residents who live in fully urban environments or fully suburban environments deserve to have their views treated with respect as well, and not bulldozed over by Mr. Stanley, figuratively if not literally.

by MarkInSS on Mar 20, 2012 3:50 pm • linkreport

I don't think areas of our country should get special protection from market demands, and I also don't think Stanley is trying to get rid of the neighborhoods you describe. He does want to put density around every metro stop, which is pretty logical. After about a .5-.75 miles, you start to get into the SFHs that can walk to public transportation. That makes sense.

But the new residents have put a lot a pressure on infrastructure, which has not been improved to keep up. This is the unintended consequence of infill development.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 3:51 pm • linkreport

I suspect a lot of people in Montgomery County don't like Stanley because he is right.

We see where the demographic trends are headed. We see how the population in this country is exploding towards 500 million (and the DC area in particular is gaining a lot of population). We see how there is renewed demand for walkability and gas prices will only continue to rise to levels making car-dependent living less and less affordable.

Many in the county want something different than what the future demands we build and can't bring themselves to see the truth. The Silver Line is going to bring all kinds of competition to Montgomery County for Millenials and Boomers looking for walkability. Will Montgomery Count be up for the challenge?

Montgomery County needs Millenials with money a lot more than Millenials with money need Montgomery county. Stanley gets that. Too many people in Montgomery County think the status quo can continue.

The county won't be able to support its seniors without more young people moving into the county. The county won't be able to close its budget gaps if it can't get more young people living in apartments and condos, paying a lot of taxes and subsidizing those who live in SFHs. The county has a huge budget shortfall, a massive infrastructure crunch awaiting (replacing water lines and sewers costs a ton of money, especially to less dense areas) and ballooning public spending obligations.

The status quo simply cannot continue in this county. If denial forces people to hate Stanley, so be it. And if he is fired because of it, so be it. Better to be fired and tell the truth than keep your job and tell people only what they want to hear.

Stanley's job is to serve us with the best advice he has. He has done that.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 20, 2012 3:52 pm • linkreport

"But the new residents have put a lot a pressure on infrastructure, which has not been improved to keep up. This is the unintended consequence of infill development."

what are the taxes paid by all the infill development built in the last 10 years in MoCo? How many school age children live in that infill, and allocating the school budget per child (ignoring economies of scale and special costs for disadvantaged kids) whats the net revenue from those areas after school costs? Unless theres something going on in MoCo very different from say, Arlington, the money for the infrastructure improvements should be there. That the county has not made them is another question. And not really the logical consequence of the infill.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

" My family intentionally purchased a house within a short walk to public transportation, so you're preaching to the choir"

thats very nice, but basic geometry means that few people can live near metro stations if we zone them at 1/4 acre per lot.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 3:59 pm • linkreport

@Patrick Thornton: I suspect a lot of people in Montgomery County don't like Stanley because he is right.

This is very smug and off-putting and if he presents his views in this fashion it is not surprising that he makes enemies. There were people saying much the same thing in the 1960s about Capitol Hill, that denied the importance of preserving older (historic) buildings. The need to balance continuity of the neighborhoods must be balanced with the need to build more.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 4:07 pm • linkreport

" There were people saying much the same thing in the 1960s about Capitol Hill, that denied the importance of preserving older (historic) buildings. The need to balance continuity of the neighborhoods must be balanced with the need to build more."

where is there a proposal in MoCo tear down a historic building?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 4:16 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: Keep in mind that in the 1960s, the houses in Capitol Hill were about the same age -- about 50 years -- as the houses are now in Rockville.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 4:20 pm • linkreport

The kind of building done in Post-WWII America is by and large junk. Comparing some of the gems of Capitol Hill to most of what was built in Montgomery County in the past 50 years is laughable. The same care and quality did not go into the MoCo buildings.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 20, 2012 4:28 pm • linkreport

@Patrick Thornton:The kind of building done in Post-WWII America is by and large junk.

Again, there were people saying much the same thing in the 1960s about the architecture on Capitol Hill, ...

Wow, you just do not know when to stop. What do you think the present owners of these houses, especially those that have lived in them for many years, perceive what you wrote above?

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 4:34 pm • linkreport

@goldfish

for the sake of arguement I will grant you that 60 year old ramblers are as architecturally worthy as 19th c townhouses.

I ask for the SECOND time - what MoCo proposed redevelopment projects involve would tear down historic buildings?

Are you suggesting that every existing building, including car lots and parking lots and garages, should be treated as a historic landmark? I dont think anyone in the historic preservation movement in the 1960s envisioned that. Thats rather an extreme bias towards stasis, dont you think?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 4:39 pm • linkreport

Are you really saying that people in Rockville really consider their 50-year-old homes to be historic? That seems a bit presumptuous.

No one is suggesting that we tear-down homes that people are occupying. But the bar for something to be considered historic is and should be high.

Almost everything in MoCo, including the condo building I live in, aren't exactly the greatest buildings in the world. There isn't much left in MoCo that isn't currently designated as historic that I would protect. That doesn't mean that there aren't some more buildings that should be protected, but historic preservation is a tool that must be used judiciously.

It's not my job to sugarcoat things. MoCo isn't home to great buildings, and 50 years from now, I'll be the first one to say that the building I live in isn't historic and shouldn't be preserved forever. It's just a place to live, as most homes are, and one day future generations may choose to build something else here. And I'm fine with that.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 20, 2012 4:43 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: I do not think he is going to tear down swaths of the city as they did in DC in the 60s. However, the sentiment is the same and this still will cause (lesser amounts of) damage, mostly to commercial buildings, which are the bulk of what will be lost. By not balancing new development with neighborhood continuity, and by offending older residents, he compromises his effectiveness.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 4:46 pm • linkreport

"I do not think he is going to tear down swaths of the city as they did in DC in the 60s. However, the sentiment is the same"

Im not interested in the sentiment. If we are to judge sentiment, some of the opponents of redevelopment are folks who believe they face a UN socialist conspiracy. We must judge actions, not sentiments.

" and this still will cause (lesser amounts of) damage, mostly to commercial buildings, which are the bulk of what will be lost."

Are you seriously opposing the tearing down of ANY commercial building? again, that seems rather biased towards statis. Also your emotional point to Patrick was rather based on it being houses. Do people in MoCo feel all dissed when someone tells them the store they used to shop at is junk? rather thin skins, I think.

" By not balancing new development with neighborhood continuity,"

But what evidence is there its not balanced - it seems to me that far more land will stay as it is than will be changed. Really just small areas around metro stations will be effected. Much as in arlington, where most of the county looks like it did before redevelopment.

" and by offending older residents, he compromises his effectiveness"

Yeah, he shouldnt have been honest and called those rich old folks what they are, tis true.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 4:55 pm • linkreport

"Are you really saying that people in Rockville really consider their 50-year-old homes to be historic? That seems a bit presumptuous. "

no hes saying that one should not insult them by saying the diner they liked is not historic.

See http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/the-power-of-plutocratic-pettiness/

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 4:57 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: You have exaggerated my position. I never advocated things like "opposing the tearing down of ANY commercial building" nor that I am "biased towards statis". I am pointing out that the lack of balance, and Stanley's clumsy presentation creates enemies and compromises effectiveness.

by goldfish on Mar 20, 2012 5:05 pm • linkreport

You have not specified which commercial buildings are historic and endangered by WF or other plans. You state that (unspecified) commercial buildings will be damaged, and hence that this is equivalent to tearing down historic rowhouses in georgetown. I can only read that as seeing all existing buildings as worthy of preservation.

You have stated a lack of balance, but have presented no evidence for the same. AFAICT the land area impacted by all proposed TOD zones in MoCo is a very small part of the built up area in MoCo.

As for his clumsy presentation, yeah, thats been pointed out. he called some people "rich old white ladies" Certainly nothing in this discussion has convinced me that their wealth or their age is not relevant.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 20, 2012 5:13 pm • linkreport

The construction in Montgomery County houses, especially after about 1970, is of a very poor standard. My parents do not speak well about the company that built their house, nor do they harbor any illusions about the quality of the work. Some number of these houses won't make it another fifty years.

by David R. on Mar 20, 2012 11:18 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: You have not specified which commercial buildings are historic and endangered by WF or other plans. You state that (unspecified) commercial buildings will be damaged, and hence that this is equivalent to tearing down historic rowhouses in georgetown.

You are looking for specifics where clearly there are none, and using that to exaggerate my position. Obviously I do not know which buildings will be razed in the next decade or longer based on the policy of increasing density near the metro. The point is, some will be.

Most historic houses in Georgetown and Capitol Hill are cookie-cutter workforce housing very much like those in Rockville, albeit of a different style. They are not architecturally distinctive. In the 1960s Georgetown and Capitol Hill had suffered years of disinvestment and many places were seriously run down; these neighborhoods were blighted and had very little appeal. Using the faddish thinking of the day, many advocated wholesale slum-clearing of such outdated housing -- and this was carried out in SW. Appalled be the destruction, the residents fought back and these neighborhoods were deemed worthy preservation, when most of the buildings were about 50 years old.

This is exactly the same attitude presented here when some suggest that the housing built 50-60 years ago is "junk" and is not up to the current standards -- in this case, higher density -- and justify changing these neighborhoods using the current "smart growth" fad. Some residents do not want the sweeping changes brought on by density, but this does not suggest that they want stasis. A part of the reason for the success of these places is that people like things the way they currently are, and to change that will kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

by goldfish on Mar 21, 2012 9:24 am • linkreport

Apparently Mr. Stanley realizes he has a problem, even if his diehard defenders do not: http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/department/news_releases/documents/retraction.pdf

by MarkInSS on Mar 21, 2012 10:11 am • linkreport

@MarkinSS

Stanley's 'diehard defenders' are not defending his off hand comments about those who oppose his work, but rather they are defending the content of his professional work.

by Alex B. on Mar 21, 2012 10:16 am • linkreport

The "content of his professional work" is properly cast into doubt by the bias displayed by his remarks, which was evident to the many Montgomery County residents who had to deal with him.

by MarkInSS on Mar 21, 2012 10:30 am • linkreport

"Using the faddish thinking of the day, many advocated wholesale slum-clearing of such outdated housing -- and this was carried out in SW. "

using the faddish thinking of the day, NYC bulldozed lots of old law tenements.

Using the faddish thinking of the day, many cities have bull dozed public housing projects.

Many folks think that the townhouses in SW were a superior urban form to the hirises that succeeded them. Those folks generally give reasons WHY they think that. Sometimes replacing an old urban form is a mistake. Sometimes it is not a mistake.

Your argument APPEARS to take the form that because some replacements of urban forms in the past were mistakes, ergo all future ones are. That reasoning is fallacious.

If you think that replacing low rise commercial structures, parking lots, car lots, etc, etc with hi rises is a mistake, make that case, by all means. Then people can respond and say why the replacement may make sense. But do so based on the functional or aesthetic qualities of the buildings to be torn down, not by saying "well some time in the past tearing something down was a mistake, ergo it is is now"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 21, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

@AWitC: Your argument APPEARS to take the form that because some replacements of urban forms in the past were mistakes, ergo all future ones are. That reasoning is fallacious.

Your counter-argument exaggerates my position, once again. You have done it over and over and please stop. I never said that all forms of urban change were a mistake; to the contrary, incremental changes within the zoning law are completely acceptable.

by goldfish on Mar 21, 2012 10:57 am • linkreport

"Your counter-argument exaggerates my position, once again. You have done it over and over and please stop. I never said that all forms of urban change were a mistake; to the contrary, incremental changes within the zoning law are completely acceptable."

I'm having trouble pinning down your position. What is it that Stanley has done that is not acceptable, and why?

You make statements about what was done or proposed in the 1960s and do not explain how it follows from those that specific actions taken today are mistaken. In the absence of such an explanation, I can only surmise what you mean.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 21, 2012 11:15 am • linkreport

@AWitC: repeating myself here: Some residents do not want the sweeping changes brought on by density, but this does not suggest that they want stasis -- that is, incremental changes are acceptable. A part of the reason for the success of these places is that people like things the way they currently are, and to change that will kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

by goldfish on Mar 21, 2012 11:41 am • linkreport

"Some residents do not want the sweeping changes brought on by density, but this does not suggest that they want stasis -- that is, incremental changes are acceptable. A part of the reason for the success of these places is that people like things the way they currently are, and to change that will kill the goose that laid the golden egg. "

how would any of the proposed changes kill the goose that laid the golden egg? The only thing i can get from the all of the above posts is that increased density will lead to increased traffic congestion, which will reduce the value of existing units. Thats conditioned on the County not using tax revenues from the new units to pay for transportation infrastructure. The experience in , again, arlington, is that increasing density near metro stations does NOT lower the values of nearby SFH's. And that in addition to the nearby SFHs retaining their values, the incremental revenue from the new developments ends up being a huge net contributor to the county budget.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 21, 2012 11:48 am • linkreport

@Goldfish,

You're comments are all rhetoric and no substance. "To change that will kill the goose that laid the golden egg" means nothing. One can only assume that your lack of substance is why you really so heavily on cliched rhetoric.

You essentially are saying, "Some people like how things are so we shouldn't change, despite the fact that many other people want change. And change would make this fairly nice place less nice." But you have no evidence to suggest that change would harm Montgomery County, whereas evidence does point to the fact that Montgomery County's reliance on SFHs has caused massive budget issues and will leave the county without the money necessary to repair its aging infrastructure. The evidence points to the contrary, that mixed-use development attracts wealthy professional types that contribute a lot in tax revenue and use little in services. These people will help the county's massive budget issues. These people will also attract more businesses that will bring in a lot more tax revenue.

But the reality is that he Golden Goose is the federal government. That's why Montgomery County has money. That's why Fairfax has money. That's why Arlington has money. That's why DC is a wealthy city. Montgomery County would be nothing without the federal government and its halo effects.

Updating zoning laws in Montgomery County to attract more professional workers -- many of them here because of that Golden Goose -- will not in fact kill the federal government. Those zoning laws are prohibiting some of the most profitable development from occurring and prohibiting Montgomery County from attracting some of the premiere new professional talent in the area. I don't want to see us continue to lose this talent to Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia and to new developments in DC.

The most expensive places to live in DC region per sqft feature mixed-use zoning (and thus the places that bring in the most tax revenue). This zoning does not mean that SFHs cannot be built, but they do allow for a popular form of development to occur. What proponents of updating zoning are asking for is for multiple living arraignments to be able to coexist together.

I'm all for choice. If some people want SFHs, let developers build them for them. If some people want mixed-use, walkable development, let that be built as well. Many of us Montgomery County residents support walkability and denser development. All we are asking for is a level playing field.

The problem that many opponents of updated zoning have is that the way they live is not market supported. They need restrictive zoning to push away market demands. Let the market decide. Let the people decide.

What will happen with this new zoning, in reality, is that areas around metro stops will get denser, while most the county will continue to be suburban SFHs. And that's fine.

Those us supporting updated zoning understand that the county serves many different kinds of residents. Some want apartments, some what condos, some want townhouses, some what SFHs on small lots, some want SFHs on large lots. The opponents of updating zoning regulations cannot bring themselves to admit that this county has many voices and desires.

Our desires should not be limited by those who want homogeneity. If Montgomery County doesn't update its zoning ASAP, it will continue to fall behind other jurisdictions.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 21, 2012 12:00 pm • linkreport

If you look in Arlington, you'll notice that making the areas around metro stops denser, particular with mixed use, makes the value of nearby SFHs skyrocket. You'll also notice that Arlington, despite being denser than Montgomery County, has a lot less traffic. People who live near metro stops, particularly in areas with good walkability and mixed use, do not do much driving. Updating our zoning laws to allow for more mixed use will bring us more residents, more businesses, more tax revenue and without gaining traffic.

Triple win.

"One would think that growing from 160,000 people in 1960 to about 206,000 today would bring a huge spike in traffic.

Yet Arlington managed to add thousands of new people, shops, offices, and other destinations into this corridor, and actually reduced traffic on Wilson Boulevard at the same time. The average daily traffic on Wilson Boulevard shrank, from 19,785 in 1980, to 18,873 in the year 2000. 73% of the trips to Metro in this corridor are on foot, and almost half of the residents in the corridor take Metro to work each day."

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/2009/05/08/arlington-virginias-story-of-smart-growth-the-movie/

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 21, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

I don't know about traffic on Wilson being good. On the 38B, it has sometimes taken me 40 minutes. Memory serves that it was a lot better in 2001-2004 -- a lot of the development around clarendon had not happened yet.

by charlie on Mar 21, 2012 12:19 pm • linkreport

Charlie, traffic has not kept up with the growth in residents and businesses in Arlington because people move to Arlington to use transit.

by Capt. Hilts on Mar 21, 2012 12:20 pm • linkreport

I worked in Arlington for awhile on Wilson, and I live close to Georgia Ave in Downtown Silver Spring. The traffic and road situation is significantly worse on Georgia. Montgomery County has too many people making trips in cars, because they pretty much have to do to poor zoning, which is why the traffic is so bad in many places in Montgomery County. Arlington has more people and more jobs and less traffic than Silver Spring or Bethesda. That's true smart growth.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 21, 2012 12:39 pm • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] development is good, truly smart smart growth is good, but overdevelopment is not good. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.] , but regardless, what draws people to Montgomery County is its high standard of living, and part of that is a being a livable area that is not overly dense. If you follow Rollin Stanley's path of paving over as much as possible and cramming in as much as possible, you destroy the quality of life that brought people here in the first place - the "goose that laid the golden egg," in goldfish's words.

by MarkInSS on Mar 21, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

@ Patrick Thornton ; I'd be glad to give you that assertion a few years ago. But Wilson is turning into a mess. There are some bad decicions (whole foods in particular) that can be remedied, as an Arlington resident I've given up driving down wilson.

Conversely, the bike lanes feel very safe in stopped traffic. Clarendon (except by Whole Foods) is also not as bad, which suggests it is lot of people driving back from DC.

by charlie on Mar 21, 2012 12:47 pm • linkreport

@MarkSS,

How do you know my life experience? I've lived in exurban, suburban and urban environments in five different states. I'd say that as far as this debate goes, I have more life experiences in different situations than most people in the county.

Montgomery County is not in danger of being over developed. Adding more density around metro stops will not impact the suburban parts of the county. I certainly am not advocating, nor have I seen anyone else, Manhattan levels of density. Smart growth's focus on walkability will mitigate many of your concerns about increased growth. Traffic will not come with true smart growth.

Many people do not come to our county for any other reason that the job situation in the DC region, which Montgomery County lags behind other jurisdictions in. That's why I am here, and that's why many others are here. There are places in this country where people move to for the life, say Boulder, CO, but Montgomery County is one that people move to because its part of the hottest white collar job market in the whole country.

Quality of life is subjective, but recent reports and trends indicate that younger generations, along with new retirees, find walkability a quality of life issue. I certainly do. That's why I live in Silver Spring, and have no intention of ever moving north in the county, unless those areas got more walkability. I may one day move to Arlington County, because I consider the quality of life higher there. I'm not alone in believing that NoVa often does things better than MoCo.

Denser, more walkable Arlington County has a family income almost $20,000 higher than Montgomery County. I'm promoting Arlington's vision of smart growth for the metro accessible parts of MoCo, while, like Arlington, also have a healthy amount of SFHs. This model has worked incredibly well for Arlington, and if we do not act, we will continue to lose ground to them.

Arlington also doesn't have the debt issues that Montgomery Count has. Apartment and condo dwellers subsidize the suburban parts of our counties. While a 1 acre piece of land in Silver Spring might be able to support a $1,000,000 house, that same piece of land could support $30 million n condos. One of those generates a lot more tax revenue. It requires a lot less roads, sewers and water lines to support condo dwellers versus people spread out in SFHs as well.

DC and Arlington, the areas with the most mixed-use and walkability, recovered the fastest from the housing collapse because their housing is in demand: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2011/09/parts-area-housing-market-almost-back-pre-recession-levels/118800

I welcome data and facts that prove your predictions right, but what I'm seeing shows us with competitiveness issues, largely due to our lack of walkability and mixed-use.

by Patrick Thornton on Mar 21, 2012 1:09 pm • linkreport

Patrick Thornton: The problem that many opponents of updated zoning have is that the way they live is not market supported. They need restrictive zoning to push away market demands. Let the market decide. Let the people decide.

The people != the market. You are blurring the distinction between "the market" and "public policy": in the former the amount of money decides things, giving the advantage to those that have a lot of it; in the latter, nobody gets more than a single vote. Because the market cannot function without the courts to enforce agreements, it is subordinate to government. Particularly in real estate this may seem like a shortcoming, but in fact it a strength, because much of the property value derives directly from zoning. You cannot have it both ways, to rely on zoning to allow for orderly and profitable development, yet cast this aside when certain people see an opportunity that zoning denies.

Zoning enables people to assess the long term prospects when they make a real estate purchase; hence it is the very definition of stability. Without this assurance the willingness to purchase property in a developing city diminishes dramatically. Of course, zoning eventually becomes outdated, and revising it is where things get interesting.

The population of MoCo has grown by 69% in the past 30 years. That is huge. Because of proximity to DC and agriculture reserve restrictions, the development to accommodate this growth has been crammed into small fraction of the county. It has reached the point where more people can be added only by urbanization. Of course, people that bought long ago with the expectation of living in the suburbs are resisting this. You can be sure that they will exercise their rights, and thwart some of the market pressures.

by goldfish on Mar 21, 2012 3:36 pm • linkreport

At least in Montgomery, with a "down" economy, it is all about increasing county tax revenue, nothing else. Are any new parks or other cultural amenties a part of these grandoise plans? No. How much taxpayer money is projected going into White Flint to bailout private developers? There is a limited supply of high income "Twenty Somethings" and they are voting for DC. "Urban planning" only works when times are prosperous.

by Jim Simmons on Mar 21, 2012 4:33 pm • linkreport

"Are any new parks or other cultural amenties a part of these grandoise plans? No."

see page 66 if the white flint plan. It lists the parks and cultural amenities including a library.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 21, 2012 4:54 pm • linkreport

@Goldfish--

Your most recent comment raises a number of issues which cannot be rebutted in a mere counter-comment. Here is a partial response. I think the points you raised are addressed directly and convincingly by Avent, Yglesias, and Glaeser, amongst others.

The weight of economic evidence is against you. Firms in plenty of industries get by without zoning or equivalent protections. You said "Zoning enables people to assess the long term prospects when they make a real estate purchase; hence it is the very definition of stability." I think this is wrong; instead, property rights drive stability. Zoning is not a property right.

Finally, nobody here is arguing for dystopian land-use deregulation. To an extent, you depend on this straw man to make your point.

by WRD on Mar 22, 2012 12:10 am • linkreport

@WRD: 1. Every industry has its peculiarities, and comparing the economic landscape between them may not be possible or enlightening. 2. Visit a city that has evolved without zoning, like Fairbanks AK, to see the alternative. It ain't pretty. 3. To characterize my point as counterargument to "dystopian land use regulation" is an exaggeration (notwithstanding the immediately previous sentence). The thrust of what I am saying is that the zoning in MC is outdated and needs revision, and there are competing visions and many challenges ahead. Because the long stretch of prosperity, economics will be trumped by politics. (In other places where hard times have dominated, this is reversed.)

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2012 8:17 am • linkreport

@goldfish

Who is saying "no zoning! Get rid of zoning!"? I don't see that opinion here.

The proposal is that places that can support higher density (because they have transit) should be allowed to have more density. That is it.

The thrust of what I am saying is that the zoning in MC is outdated and needs revision, and there are competing visions and many challenges ahead.

"Come into my big tent, where I don't actually express an opinion!"

It's tiring to have to deal with strawmen and fake arguments like "go to Fairbanks, AK and see a place w/o zoning, that's what they want!" Nobody is proposing that.

by MLD on Mar 22, 2012 8:36 am • linkreport

It's tiring to have to deal with strawmen and fake arguments like "go to Fairbanks, AK and see a place w/o zoning, that's what they want!" Nobody is proposing that.

Plus, it's not like metro DC would look anything like Fairbanks if it didn't have zoning, either. Quick history lesson: most of the beloved DC neighborhoods were built before zoning (and yes, I realize this discussion is focused on MoCo).

by Alex B. on Mar 22, 2012 9:00 am • linkreport

Folks, please bear in mind I was responding to the charge that I have erected a "dystopian land-use deregulation" straw man. I have not, but nevertheless I think the comparison is useful.

@Alex B: Quick history lesson: most of the beloved DC neighborhoods were built before zoning

And I'll bet that if you were to transport yourself back to those times you would hardly recognize them. The intervening years with zoning has brought profound changes, and the worst mistakes of those times have been reversed.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2012 9:11 am • linkreport

And I'll bet that if you were to transport yourself back to those times you would hardly recognize them. The intervening years with zoning has brought profound changes, and the worst mistakes of those times have been reversed.

Doubtful. What mistakes were those? Allowing corner stores? Allowing apartment buildings interspersed with rowhouses? Allowing alley dwellings?

If Georgetown or Capitol Hill or any one of DC's cherished neighborhoods burned to the ground in a large fire, it would be illegal under current zoning to re-build them exactly as they are today. You don't need to travel back in time - the entirety of the current neighborhood is non-conforming.

by Alex B. on Mar 22, 2012 9:29 am • linkreport

Fairfax is not abolishing zoning. Its not even doing all the things alex b wants. It IS attempting to take advantage of all its metro stations - the new silver line stations, the Dunn loring station, after much sturm and drang the vienna station, and against all kinds of layout difficulties, the huntington station (I think eventually the WFC station as well). That has involved significant changes to the zoning. MoCo can follow, or it can attempt to compete without doing that. Fairfax won't wait though.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 22, 2012 9:39 am • linkreport

@Alex B: The remaining grandfathered corner stores are but a small fraction of what was...there were taverns and police stations and brothels and coal and fuel sellers and fish mongers and factories and foundries and boarding houses interspersed with the regular houses, each with its attendant odor mixing in with smoke and horse manure and sewage and rotting garbage in the street. The excessive drinking and the arguments and the whoring led to all sorts of bad events. I think zoning was put in place to calm these waters, and made the city much more liveable.

it would be illegal under current zoning to re-build them exactly as they are today

...and that is what makes them precious. The path to get here will can not be repeated.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2012 9:43 am • linkreport

Im pretty sure the proposed white flint sector plan continued to implement zoning restrictions - still banned coal storage and other industrial uses, and probably even had density restrictions. The debate about the costs and benefits of abolishing zoning, a la 19th c america, or fairbanks, or houston, is not relevant to the current debate in MoCo, or, AFAICT, any jurisdiction in metro DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 22, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

The remaining grandfathered corner stores are but a small fraction of what was...there were taverns and police stations and brothels and coal and fuel sellers and fish mongers and factories and foundries and boarding houses interspersed with the regular houses, each with its attendant odor mixing in with smoke and horse manure and sewage and rotting garbage in the street. The excessive drinking and the arguments and the whoring led to all sorts of bad events. I think zoning was put in place to calm these waters, and made the city much more liveable.

And yet today, in the age of zoning, there's still a lot of drinking and whoring on our streets. What's your point?

You're right, we don't have much horse manure on the streets these days. The reason we don't has very little to do with zoning, of course. Same with rotting garbage.

Don't confuse zoning with other kinds of public nuisance regulation. Don't confuse zoning with other kinds of public policies (like municipal trash pick-up). And don't confuse the effects with unrelated technology shifts (like how we don't rely on horses much anymore).

Likewise, don't confuse broad-based use zoning (which kept factories reasonably separated from houses) with today's application of zoning that zealously keeps yoga studios away from apartment districts.

Point is, a lot of these things changed, and not because of zoning. DC's code as it stands today wasn't law until 1958. Pretty sure they had the horse manure problem figured out by then, and without the use of a Euclidean zoning code.

by Alex B. on Mar 22, 2012 9:59 am • linkreport

Likewise, don't confuse broad-based use zoning (which kept factories reasonably separated from houses) with today's application of zoning that zealously keeps yoga studios away from apartment districts.

I could not agree more, that a lot of the zoning is too zealous, and I agree that this is something to consider when the zoning is changed in Montgomery County. However, I do not think that is were the controversy is regarding Mr Stanley and smart growth and all that.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

@goldfish

Thats the problem. I can't find the source of the controversy. I still don't see what he has proposed - I mean specific plans in black and white - that are creating the controversy. I see folks saying that there are no plans for parks or cultural facilities in the WF sector plan, but when I actually read the plan, I find them to be incorrect.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 22, 2012 11:28 am • linkreport

This was sure to happen because MR. S. has stepped on a few people with his insolence. Sure, he's got great and wonderful ideas. But so do the rest of us. Also, he should not be scolded for just on gaff, he's had many.

by blaster on Mar 23, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport

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