Thursday, February 11, 2016

MoCo Councilmembers drive past blocked Bethesda sidewalks, take no action (Photos)

If you've been a pedestrian trying to walk around Montgomery County since the blizzard ended 19 days ago, you know that the County's vaunted 2014 sidewalk shoveling law has failed miserably. But did you know the Montgomery County Councilmembers who passed it passed by some of those offending snowdrifts and did nothing?
County Council  disembarks
from Ride On bus, directly
across Westbard Avenue from
uncleared sidewalks fronting
MCPS and MoCo-owned
Thanks to the County Planning Department, we know that the Council toured Westbard Avenue on February 5, driving past illegally-uncleared sidewalks along that street - including sidewalks that are the responsibility of Montgomery County, and Montgomery County Public Schools. They were touring the Westbard "sector" ahead of worksessions on the Westbard sector plan.

Yet, days later, the sidewalks were still blocked!

Which theory do you prefer - that the Council saw the sidewalks and failed to act on behalf of their constituents? Or that they were asleep or in a fog while taking the tour, and thereby missed the snowdrifts - and all of the important information planners were sharing about the Westbard area?

Aboard the bus was the law's primary sponsor, Councilmember Hans Riemer, who took several election year victory laps after its passage in the local media, just days before the election. The problem is, the law has been a catastrophic failure.

And to think the law only cost taxpayers $6,458,000 according to the now-defunct Gazette newspaper. Whoops.

Here is a photo sent in by a Sumner resident, showing a dangerous situation where Westbard Avenue meets Massachusetts Avenue about a week after the blizzard ended. Two small children wait to cross the street atop a massive snowdrift where the sidewalk should be, as cars rush by.
Two children stand on a
snowdrift where a sidewalk
should be at the corner of
Massachusetts Avenue
and Fort Sumner Drive,
where Westbard meets
Massachusetts Avenue
Zoomed-in view:
Does this look
safe to you?


Anonymous said...

I walked up Ridgefield Road from River Road to get to the Westwood Shopping Center yesterday afternoon (2/10/16) and found that I had to walk in the street on Westbard Avenue to get to the Center's driveway; that sidewalk is still covered with ice and snow. The sidewalk in question abuts the shopping center parking lot as well as the hedge bordering the corner house. Who should clear it?

Robert Dyer said...

Should be the landowner who abuts each segment. There are additional blocked sections all the way down Westbard, especially on the right side

seth p said...

Well said. It's disgraceful that the county can't even clear the sidewalks in front of their own buildings.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the sidewalks downtown off Wisconsin and willow ln have been blocked for awhile around the county parking lot.

Anonymous said...

that zoom tho

Anonymous said...

This was another "feel good" law passed by Reimer and Leventhal. Sounds and feels good, but no enforcement or way to follow up. Like Leventhal's peace bill when he was gonna make war illegal. Felt great, but the guy was gonna drive out our defense contractors (and JOBS) with his irresponsible rhetoric

Anonymous said...

And once again the innumerate birdbrain Dyer is citing the total annual cost of snow removal, and trying to claim that it is the cost of the sidewalk program.

Quit lying about what the Gazette article actually says.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds and feels good, but no enforcement or way to follow up. "

Are you trolling or have you honestly never heard of 311? Reports of noncompliance are investigated within 24 hours.

Anonymous said...

7:11 AM Dyer still has a rotary phone.

Anonymous said...

7:06, 7:11: if you dislike Dyer so much, just GO AWAY. He provides good information to many people and trolls like you definitely need something else to do! Go be nice to somebody for a change.

Robert Dyer said...

7:11: So you're saying the Council didn't call 311, Patrick Lacefield Larry Bowers and the office that enforces sidewalk clearance along commercial properties?

You mean they saw all the blockaded sidewalks, AND THEY DIDN'T CALL?

Robert Dyer said...

7:27: Do all 9 Councilmembers have rotary phones? The plot thickens!

Anonymous said...

This is an outrage! The parents of those children should fire their Au Pairs immediately! Why are they not being driven to school?

Anonymous said...

"So you're saying the Council didn't call 311, Patrick Lacefield Larry Bowers and the office that enforces sidewalk clearance along commercial properties?

You mean they saw all the blockaded sidewalks, AND THEY DIDN'T CALL?"

No, I'm saying the person who says there's no avenue for enforcement clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. Why the hell would a councilmember on a bus notice where the snow is? If someone is bothered by the snow - which clearly Dyer is - just fill out the damn 311 form and the owner will be warned and then fined if they still don't comply. This isn't hard; why the hell are there 138445 blog posts about this snow mound when there's already a clear avenue to rectify the situation? You're saying the government isn't doing their part when YOU'RE THE ONE NOT DOING THEIR PART. Inform the county of the issue via 311 and the area will be inspected within 24 hours and fines will be issued as appropriate.

Why furiously type and whine behind a keyboard FOR WEEKS when it's 100% within your power to just report the issue to the correct authority so that the property owner is forced into compliance? You go out of your way to not solve an issue just so you can continue whining about it. It's pathetic.

Robert Dyer said...

"Why the hell would a councilmember on a bus notice where the snow is?"


A) That's their job

B) We pay them six figures a year to do that job

C) Uh, they rode right past multiple violations of the sidewalk law

D) Are you saying they had something more important than their job to do?

E) Don't tell me, you're also a big fan of Barwood cab, the monopoly cable company and the County liquor monopoly?

F) You're grasping at straws to defend your sugar daddies on the Council, when this scenario outlined above is indefensible, and hugely embarrassing for them.

Anonymous said...

Way to prove 9:40's point, Dyer. Your singular goal in life is to try and turn every thing - no matter how minor - into some personal fuck-up by the county councilmembers. You're a pathetic, tiny man. Report the offender to 311 and the issue will be investigated and the appropriate county laws will be applied. That's how the system works; the fact you refuse to be a contributing member of the community and part of the solution - all so you have something to whine about (over and over again) on your blog - speaks volumes of your character.

Anonymous said...

What's this "monopoly cable company" of which Dyer speaks? I have a choice of three different cable providers where I live - Comcast, RCN and Verizon FIOS. More importantly, what does cable, taxis or booze have to do with snow removal on sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:57 AM - Dyer needs to go back to Virginia, whence he came.

Anonymous said...

As a journalist, Dyer is reporting on whats happening and shining a light on problems.

Anonymous said...

2:47 PM - Your toadying is just embarrassing. Don't you have any pride or shame?

Robert Dyer said...

4:04: The same question can be asked of your Guy Friday role for the Montgomery County political cartel. Man up.

Anonymous said...

Kind of embarrassing that the Council has to "tour" Bethesda like they were tourists.

Anonymous said...

I see Dyer's point on this one. Riemer really trumpeted this great snow shoveling law. If I was a lawmaker and was really proud of a law I introduced, I'd surely notice when people aren't following it and report them.

That said, I think the sidewalk shoveling law should be abolished for private homeowners. It's unfair and discriminatory to the disabled and elderly. To comply, they have no choice but to hire someone, and they have to hire them and get their sidewalks cleared within 24 hours of the last snowflake falling. Surely snow shoveling rates are going to be high, if someone can even find a person to do it on such short notice.

In my neighborhood, the County couldn't even get a first pass of the snowplow down my street until 3 days after the end of the snowfall. Why am I required, according to the law, to have my sidewalk shoveled only 24 hours after?

I don't blame the snowplows -- they had a lot of work to do -- but why are residents being held to a much stricter standard than the County holds themselves to for clearing the roads?

It's a poorly-written, and poorly though-out law, that's why. It makes no distinction between 1 inch and 24 inches of snow falling -- you must have it cleared in 24 hours in either case. It also makes no provisions for those who are disabled or otherwise unable to clear their sidewalk. Why should they be penalized just because they're elderly and are unable to shovel?

Anonymous said...

"I see Dyer's point on this one."

No you don't - you just described why it should be okay for people not to take care of their sidewalk. Dyer is saying the opposite. I agree with Dyer, but I think he comes across as a complete ass and also a complete idiot for thinking county councilmembers are supposed to be tracking down non-compliant owners. There's a system in place to do that and it doesn't involve councilmembers stopping buses to inspect sidewalks and write down house numbers.

And just for the record, your arguments against having to clear sidewalks range from nonsensical to erroneous. It's discrimination to require people to maintain their sidewalk? wtf? If your'e too feeble and too poor to maintain your property then you shouldn't own said property - duh. That's just a basic tenet of living in a community; you have a duty to maintain. And the county gave over 24 hours to comply with the law because they have common sense. Ended up being 72 hours prior to taking action against those reported to be non-compliant, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Lol. 7:30 wants to throw old, handicapped, and/or disadvantaged people out of the homes THEY own, because they can't shovel their sidewalk. Whatever. There should be a number to call if you are unable to do it and Hans can come do it for you with his golden shovel. I'd love to see that.

Anonymous said...

@7:30pm I compare it to how you have to keep your front lawn maintained or face a fine. The difference is, you know well in advance and can schedule routine grass cutting for a reasonable rate. You also can get a reasonable rate, since it's not like everyone in the area needs their grass cut on the same day.

Meanwhile for snow shoveling, it's unpredictable when it's needed, but when it IS needed, everyone else wants that service also, at the same time. On top of that, the people who can provide that service may have difficulty even getting to your house, due to unplowed streets.

So how is it fair to require elderly and disabled homeowners to pay exorbitant fees to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours?

Yes, the county said they will be lax on enforcement due to the huge amount of snowfall, but why didn't they write a good law in the first place, like to set a longer enforcement time in the case of larger amounts of snow?

Anonymous said...

@ 6:44 PM - Kind of funny that you don't seem to realize that the County offices are in Rockville, and that most of the Council members don't live in Bethesda, or even in southern Montgomery County.

@ 6:51 PM & @ 7:54 PM - Most jurisdictions in the country require homeowners to shovel snow on the sidewalks fronting their homes, and also require a certain level of maintenance one's home (e.g. mowing one's lawn regularly). Is this news to you?

Robert Dyer said...

5:28: In how many jurisdictions do the elected officials drive past illegally-blocked sidewalks and just ignore it?

Unlike some on the Council, I don't need a GPS to find my way around the County.

By the way, NONE on the Council live in Bethesda. That's part of our problem.

Anonymous said...

"I live in Bethesda" /= résumé. LOL

Robert Dyer said...

6:35: Have you examined the Council record on Bethesda? Mass bar closures, unshoveled sidewalks, War on Pedestrians, post office scandal, violation of U.S. Flag Code, Betco property decision, underground fuel spill::: "LOL", indeed. We need a new Council. Fast.

Peter said...

Bobby Boy, if you think Bethesda is going into the crap-hole like you constantly say it is, what are you proposing to fix it so that we can be relieved of your incessant Sloth-Energy-Level Moribund Whininess ???!!!???

For example:

"My proposed solution to the perception that the Council is neglecting Bethesda, would be put a resolution on the ballot that, if approved, would allow Bethesda to incorporate as a city with similar rights/responsibilities/taxing authorities as the City of Rockville or the City of Somerset. I believe that by allowing Bethesda to incorporate and elect leadership with oversight of the appropriate devolved responsibilities from the larger sphere of Montgomery County, it will allow Bethesda to focus more tightly on the local areas of concern of: (name your items such as policing, snow removal, business improvement districts, etc.)."

See, there Bobby. Just did your job for you. Of course this will not help you ever get elected, but still...

Anonymous said...

I blame Hans Riemer for the closing of the 930 Club, Chef Ike's Mambo Room, the Marrakesh and the DC Eagle.

Anonymous said...

Incorporating Bethesda is pretty much the WORST solution.

Anonymous said...

11:56. If you were a regular reader, you would know Robert has provided many ideas to make improvements in the county, and is very active in attending and speaking at local meetings as well.

Peter said...

Re: Anon @1:12 PM -- actually I AM a regular reader. Maybe I need to read harder, but I very rarely see any Sloth-Level-Energy Ideas from The Moribundly Sloth-Level-Energy Dyer.

And by "ideas" I actually mean identifying a problem, and what's the concrete steps he would take in order to solve them. Maybe he needs to have a section on this here blog that actually talks on-record about his policy proposals....maybe it would get him more than 5% of the vote-get that he's gotten so far.

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