Saturday, April 09, 2016

Hundreds protest Westbard plan in Bethesda; police called in (Photos)

Hundreds of residents marched on the Westwood Shopping Center yesterday afternoon to protest the Westbard sector plan, and demand the Montgomery County Council delay its vote on it. They were greeted by two security guards hired by developer Equity One, who followed them around the premises (which are private property, it must be noted).
Photos by Robert Dyer,
except where noted
Carrying homemade signs with that denounced the Council ("Betrayed by County Council," "Dump Berliner!", "MoCo Council = Politburo") and called for limiting growth to a suburban scale, residents ranging in age from children to young professionals to senior citizens chanted slogans and staged a peaceful protest for about thirty-five minutes.
"I need some muscle over here."
Security hired by Equity One
(Photo courtesy Save Westbard)
At that point, four marked Montgomery County Police cruisers approached the protesters. According to witnesses in earshot of the exchange, the officers were cordial and friendly, but informed protesters that they had been called by Equity One.

Participants were told they had to leave the property, and that Equity One was preparing to tow away their vehicles. "Is this how they win support from the community, by bringing in the police, by threatening to tow our cars?" one resident asked, as she carried her sign back to her vehicle.
G&G Towing; first time in
history a tow truck has been
deployed to tow vehicles from what
plan proponents usually describe as
an "underutilized sea of asphalt"
(Photo courtesy Save Westbard)
A tow truck from G&G Towing was prominently parked on-site throughout the protest. Interestingly, signs suddenly appeared overnight on several Equity One properties along Westbard Avenue, which stated that anyone who parks and leaves the premises will have their cars towed away by G&G Towing. This is a very standard and common policy at most retail properties, but was only now put in place here, perhaps to provide the legal pretext to tow vehicles during Friday's protest.
Photo by Robert Lipman
The show of force was absolutely legal and within the rights of the landowner, for sure. But the optics of booting the non-threatening crowd of children, parents and grandparents from the center were not a good look for Equity One in the public opinion realm.
Photo by Robert Lipman
Photo by Robert Lipman
Much of the crowd wiped out by the threats, a smaller group retreated to the public sidewalk on Westbard to continue the protest. A second protest is scheduled for this morning at 10:00 AM, but it may be limited to the public sidewalks.

Anonymous commenters on this blog have laughably claimed the opponents of the Westbard plan are all senior citizens. As these photos prove, the protesters were of all ages and racial backgrounds. A cameraman from an unidentified TV station, and reporters from radio and the Washington Post were there to cover the protest.

It's fascinating that a crowd like this of the fabled "silent majority," whom the Planning Board, County Council and anonymous commenters claim support urbanization, has never been assembled. Where are they? Who are they? When will we finally get to put names and faces to these phantom supporters?

They seem to be a cross between Mr. Kurtz, Bob Sacamano, and Charlie Townsend.

With the number of signs denouncing the Council, and calling for term limits, it seems it might be in councilmembers' best interests to start listening to the stakeholders who actually exist - their constituents.
"We want a neighborhood,
not a city"
"50 feet MAX"
"Modernize, do not
urbanize"







"Dump Berliner!"


"MoCo Vote $tinks"
Only 951 days until
you vote for new
Councilmembers!
"No to 4000 more cars!"
And 3000 other cars
that will start commuting to the
ICC-B campus on Sangamore
this year...
 






The County Council hasn't listened to
constituents, and the result is a
sign reading, "MoCo Council
= Politburo"
















Food trucks for Nationals opening
week celebration. I could not find where
you could get the free baseball cards that
were promised. Did anyone find it?

"Get them before they tow you away!"
Skull and crossbones;nice touch 
Photo: Robert Lipman
Photo: Robert Lipman
Photo: Robert Lipman
Still my favorite sign
of the day - and there's the
Citgo station that will be demolished
in the background, serving local
business Ridgewell's Catering
Photo: Robert Lipman

139 comments:

Anonymous said...

Every head that is not gray, is blond(e). Where is the "diversity" that the organizers were promising?

Anonymous said...

The second sign from the front, in the third picture from the top, looks like it says "Wet People".

And I love the way the photographer just can't show the full height of the Kenwood in the photos.

Robert Dyer said...

5:14: You need to examine the photos again, or get your screen repaired.

Robert Dyer said...

5:19: The Kenwood is a non-conforming height. Only someone ignorant of the County zoning code would keep referring to it as a model.

Poppy said...

I am going to assume red was a rule as far as attire is concerned. Altuzarra has a very smart double breasted day dress in this year's collection, yet not one single protester was wearing one.

If these protesters want to be taken seriously, they need to take a serious look at how they present themselves. Half of them look like they just rummaged through the Starbucks lost and found bin looking for anything red.

Anonymous said...

"Citgo station that will be demolished in the background, serving local business Ridgewell's Catering"

I don't know why they're getting their gas there. The W and Valero are cheaper. There will still be five gas stations after Hugo Chavez's two Citgo stations are gone.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:14 AM - The only diversity in the picture is the two "security guards hired by Equity One".

Anonymous said...

Where are the pro developer posters this morning? After hearing from the community and seeing the depth of the opposition, I am sure they are trying to come up with a new game plan.

Anonymous said...

So is there a reasonably accurate crowd count for yesterday? It doesn't seem like "hundreds" from the pictures shown.

Robert Dyer said...

6:32: Again, troubleshoot your screen - look how the line of marchers extends into the background and beyond in the wide photos. You're making yourself sound foolish to deny the evidence before you in the photos.

Anonymous said...

Picture #33 seems to show the largest number of protesters - I count 55 in that one. If you believe that my count for that picture is wrong, then let's hear yours. Or, point me to another photo that shows more protesters, and give me your count for that one.

Anonymous said...

@7:18 did you count the dogs in those 55 or not?

Anonymous said...

What were the threats you referenced?

Anonymous said...

@ 7:31 AM - I didn't but I'm sure that Dyer would. In fact, he would count them as two people each, since they have two pairs of legs.

I did count the children, even though they are not an indicator of voluntary turnout.

Anonymous said...

"The Kenwood is a non-conforming height."

I hate these damned undocumented Mexican buildings, stealing good suburbs from the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I support the Berliner plan, but I'm fine if this group wants to protest peacefully. I drove by today for their second day of protest, and they were on the public sidewalk instead of private property - thanks for respecting property rights.

I think they should note more about term limits. Is that going to be on the ballot in November? If not, let's get it on. I'd vote for it!

Anonymous said...

What is the idea behind term limits? Wouldn't theoretically a council member not beholden to voters due to a term limit do more of what he/she wants to do?

Wouldn't this also cut short term lengths for council members supporting existing Westbard residents such as Elrich?

Anonymous said...

I was there on Friday and Saturday: also Black, Latino, Asian and Indian participants. Hair of all colors. People of all ages. And *in the rain* on Saturday.

You're wrong and you're stereotyping. Is that all you got?

Anonymous said...

There were more than 300 people at the protest yesterday. As far as the pictures, well people were walking in a line to peaceably protest. We didn't pose in one group picture with a wide angle lens.

I am happy that you guys were able to do your early morning conference call to decide blog strategy this morning. Nice to see you back on here today.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but wrong, wrong, wrong.

The group included Hispanics, Asians and people from the Indian subcontinent. Also represented: apartment tenants from Westbard Ave, including the HOC-owned building. (How do I know? They told me.)

Next time, get your facts straight: show up or at least look at the photos more closely.

Anonymous said...

There has been an awakening.

Bethesda residents standing up to an out of control Council and Planning Board.

Anonymous said...

I am told that there were about 200. The original forecast was 75-100, and the crowd easily exceeded that.

Last I heard, children are people. The ones I saw were participating enthusiastically.

Anonymous said...

Any Councilmember that votes for this insane plan is disqualified in the next election.

Anonymous said...

"There were more than 300 people at the protest yesterday."

"I am told that there were about 200. The original forecast was 75-100, and the crowd easily exceeded that."

Really? Who did the count?

Robert Dyer said...

7:18: You could make Woodstock seem small if you limit yourself to one photo. That's why I posted so many photos, and some in sequence. Look at all the photos and the different people who are in each one.

Anonymous said...

Sad day! Our elected Council is more interested in serving this developer rather serving Bethesda residents.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 9:30 AM - I see different people in many photos, but I see many of the same people in most. Probably more than 55 overall, but not that much.

Where is all this "green" in Westbard right now? It's 90% old gray asphalt parking lot, with 9% of the remaining 10% taken up with gas stations, fast food restaurants and convenience stores. The trees in the background aren't part of the site.

Anonymous said...

@ 9.27: One of the organizers gave me a ~200 estimate, but I don't know if there was a formal headcount. Having participated, I can say definitively that it was more than the 75-100 originally expected.

I can also say that Dyer's photos captured only a minority of those who turned out. As Dyer points out, the protest was conducted in a (very) long line and the pictures convey only small segments of that line.

Anonymous said...

@5.14, @6.14, @7.18: You folks are just lame. Look carefully and you'll see different hair colors, different races, different generations. In short, a cross-section.

You criticized participants at the Waldorf School meeting for being too old. This event was cross-generational, so you categorize kids' participation as "involuntary".

Your snark is getting old. It's pretty clear that you're all hat, no cattle.

Anonymous said...

@9.26:

*Everyone* agrees that Westbard should be re-developed with new retail space and more green areas.

The disagreement is over building heights and the number of residential units to be added.

No one is advocating for asphalt, including SaveWestbard.

Anonymous said...

200-300 Montgomery County citizens. Not too bad.

How many housing units would this bring again? More, less, or similar amount of retail and commercial? How many more people would this development serve? What's the economic impact?

So 200-300 don't want it versus X?

Anonymous said...

Bethesda residents don't want it. The MoCo Council, Planning Board and the developer desperately want it.

Who wins? Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

@5:19: The sign you mention said "We the people", not (as you surmised) "Wet". The complete sign read: "We the people, not we the Council."

Glad that I could clarify this for you. The sign's commitment to democracy is admirable.

Anonymous said...

"Bethesda residents don't want it."

"Bethesda" covers a very large area, extending south to the District line, north to the Rockville city limits, west to the Potomac, and east to Silver Spring.. You mean, "SOME residents of the Bethesda zipcode area living in Westbard."

Anonymous said...

Bethesda residents were out protesting this the past two days. They don't want it.
How will the Council respond? Will they ignore Bethesda residents or listen to them?

Anonymous said...

I am a Behesda resident and I would love to see this happen.

Anonymous said...

"According to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2013, the community had a total population of 63,374." - Wikipedia

So these protesters comprise between .01% and 0.6% of "Bethesda residents".

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the decimal point was in the wrong place in the first number - should have been "0.1%".

Robert Dyer said...

11:53: Wrong again. 200-300 turned out at 4 PM on a weekday to strongly protest the plan. There's never been an assembly of even a fraction of that size of people strongly in favor of this plan.

Then you go to the communication via email. Only a small fraction of the email to planning board and Council was in favor. Then remove the DC residents, far-flung residents who won't be directly impacted by high-rises and construction and noise etc., and well-meaning folks who were fooled into thinking they were just supporting a new shopping center, and the total "in favor" is pathetic in size.

You just keep rambling on, but the solid evidence proves you dead wrong. Now, when do you plan to present to the public a crowd of actual residents of the size seen at this rally who favor this plan?

Robert Dyer said...

The troll who keeps repeating that it's the same people in every photo, despite me clearly explaining THE SEQUENTIAL PHOTOS SHOW IT IS A LONG PARADE MOVING - you sound like a mental patient. Just repeating something and being belligerent doesn't make it true. Anyone who examines the photos themselves will think you are a complete moron.

Cruz said...

Great reporting and photos Robert. Fantastic!

A couple of favorites pics of mine were the young boy hanging out the sunroof - "No to Greed" also a younger woman with the sign - "More classrooms less bedrooms". Those pretty much say it all!

Not sure what difference age makes to anyone? Westbard is a long-standing, stable, middle-class neighborhood of strong vigilant people who refuse to give in to the "Vision" of councilmembers with unknown motives. It is clear, any Yes vote for the plan as it stands and they will be voted out. Westbarders will make sure of it.

Lastly, calling the police on folks who have spent "millions" at this center over many decades could be a mortal wound to Equity One and turn people far, far away from this center. Safeway, here we come!

Anonymous said...

"200-300 turned out"

Did you count them yourself? On what is this estimate based?

Anonymous said...

12:19 PM Sounds like Baghdad Bob. Your slavish devotion to the Council is admirable. (Greenberger or Hull should interview this guy for a job! Their kind of guy for sure.)

"There are thousands and millions FOR the Westbard Plan. You just can't see them. I can. They talk to me. In secret."

Yeah, that's the ticket. :)

Anonymous said...

@11.53--
This plan is opposed by far more than 200-300 people.

- Councilmember Berliner has stated that he's received over 1,500 communications against the Planning Board-approved sector plan.On April 8 (yesterday), he updated this to report that he's received many communications in opposition to his downscaled plan.
-An online petition opposing the Planning Board-approved plan received over 1,400 signatures.

With respect to the housing units that would be delivered under the plan ( plus very rough estimates of population and traffic impact):
-Planning Board-approved sector plan (this is the version before the County Council): 2,400 new units (~5,000 people, 4.000+ cars)
-Berliner alternative: 1,213 new units (~2500 people, 2,000+ cars)
-Nancy Floreen suggestion to SaveWestbard: 1,380 new units (800 above 580 that can be built under existing zoning; similar impact to Berliner alternative)
-SaveWestbard alternative: stick with existing zoning, which allows 580 new units to be built (~1200 people; ~1,000 cars)
Note: there is some confusion about whether the Planning Board-approved and Berliner versions include or do not include the 580 housing units that could already could be built under existing zoning. This point needs clarification.

Anonymous said...

Delicious that no one has pointed out the irony of a kid hanging out the sunroof of a massive SUV with a 'No to Greed' sign.

Anonymous said...

I love that Dyer put ten pictures of that Ginger family. I guess that's what counts as "diversity" in Westbard.

Anonymous said...

Check out Image #8, with the Ginger kid holding the sign saying "Smaller Is Better".

It looks like the Ginger Family "borrowed" some grocery carts from the Giant.

Anonymous said...

12.18, 12.19 and the first 1 PM:

1. Crowd counts seem to be estimated (like what the Park Police do for demonstrations on the Mall, by the way). Whether the number of protestors was 200 or 300, the line of demonstrators wrapped around the perimeter of the Westbard I parking lot. That's an impressive number of people, especially for a weekday at 4 pm. The Saturday AM protest was also well-attended, which is especially noteworthy in light of the rain and temps in the 30s.

2. If there is indeed a "silent majority" in favor of the Planning Board's Westbard redevelopment, they've yet to appear in any significant number. Supporters of the plan have never been more than a handful at any of the public meetings or hearings on the plan. Funny how developers have failed to mobilize significant public support, despite an extensive PR/outreach effort. The largely unused food trucks at Equity One's Westbard I Nationals celebration (brought in to counter and coincide with the Friday, April 8 protest) illustrate this point compellingly. 200 to 300 people ignored free food to protest the Westbard sector plan. And the plan's supposed supporters didn't even bother to drop by to enjoy a free snack.

Looks to me like public opinion is firmly against the current sector plan. County officials should take note.

Anonymous said...

Yep...voting for this plan is disqualifying.

Anonymous said...

"Crowd counts seem to be estimated"

Crown counts don't estimate themselves. Who is doing the estimation here?

Anonymous said...

2:12 PM - Great points. Also, if there were so many supporters of Equity One's Nationals event, I don't think they would of been threatening to tow cars.

Weren't people invited to attend the parking lot and wear red? Why were they threatening to cars.

Also, I didn't get my baseball cards! I had to buy a pack at Anglo Dutch.

Anonymous said...

2:12 I don't doubt there's a huge protest from Westbard residents. No question about that. I actually don't even question the reasons and think it makes sense.

Consider though that this type of discussion is generally biased. A majority of those against it are likely to speak up. Those who aren't against it don't necessarily not exist simply because they aren't speaking up.

Consider 200-300 people, which is certainly impressive, is quite a small portion of the county's population. If more people were against it, that number would be larger. So at 200-300 people against it, by no means is that anywhere close to a majority of montgomery county residents are against it. It's a tiny but vested percentage of the population

Anonymous said...

4:40:

300 represents many, if not most, of the immediate area residents. Why would you expect residents of Poolesville or Damascus to be concerned in a suburban neighborhood down county? This area mainly of single family homes is facing 1000's of new high-rise apartments in an area with limited roads, near capacity schools and limited public transportation. It is becoming apparent that this was a sweetheart deal that the residents of the county had limited or no input, contrary to county laws and regulations.

Anonymous said...

What's the size of the surrounding Westbard area? What percentage of residents are there opposing it?

Anonymous said...

Trolls are very active today, lots of questions, seems they've never actually BEEN IN Bethesda?

Way to go Westbard! And the votes are in:

Pottersville = NO

Bethesda = YES

Anonymous said...

Go to the SaveWestbard.com page on Facebook. There is a good wide angle shot that gives a better idea of the number of demonstrators. I didn't count heads, but observed that the line of protesters wrapped around all or most of the perimeter of the Giant parking lot. That's a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:40 PM: "Consider though that this type of discussion is generally biased. A majority of those against it are likely to speak up. Those who aren't against it don't necessarily not exist simply because they aren't speaking up."

Thank you. Anyone who has held a position of leadership in any community understands this principle. You can't just assume that a handful of loud voices speak for the majority, solely by virtue of their loudness.

@ 5:05 PM: "300 represents many, if not most, of the immediate area residents."

Wrong.

According to the MCPC's Westbard Sector Plan Briefing Book, Fall 2014, page 36:

"In 2010, approximately 1,970 people resided in 1,190 households in the
Westbard Summary Plan Area."

http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/westbard/documents/westbard_briefing_book.pdf

The estimates of the crowd at this protest range from a low of 50, to a high of 300. The low number represents approximately 2.5% of the population of the Summary Plan Area; the high number represents approximately 15% of the population. "A majority of the immediate area residents" would be at least 1,000 protesters.

Anonymous said...

People who attended.

Anonymous said...

And 1,500 area residents have signed a petition against the scope of the plan.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:52 PM - are you referring to the photo with the Rite Aid sign right in the middle?

Anonymous said...

5:55: Wrong. If you lived here, owned property here, paid taxes here, shopped here, you would understand the overall Bethesda community. Glaringly obvious that you do not. We don't want more McRetail, and support local small and medium sized businesses, not more bland national (yawn) retail chains.

Anonymous said...

4.40: Here's the thing: Montgomery County is a big place. As is the case for all development, the people who have an opinion are those who would be affected by it, which is generally those who live nearby. People who live in Silver Spring or Gaithersburg, for example, probably don't care one way or the other about Westbard.

So the relevant metric is not what Montgomery County residents think about the project (most probably don't have an opinion), but what people from the affected communities think. This probably can be equated to the voters in Roger Berliner's Council district. Public opinion in nearby communities and in Councilman Berliner's district is overwhelmingly against the sector plan.

By the way, Jeanne Allen, one of the organizers of SaveWestbard has posted on either Bethesda Beat or the Save Westbard Facebook page (sorry, I forget which) that her group has received copies of the emails to the County Council on the Westbard plan. According to Allen, over half of the households in the affected community (granted, I don't know how Allen is defining community) has written the Council to oppose the plan. If this is correct, it shows an overwhelming level of opposition,

Anonymous said...

5.19 pm: the size of the surrounding Westbard area can be roughly equated to Roger Berliner's Council district. I suggested to Councilmember Berliner that a poll be conducted. Councilmember Berliner responded that he and his staff had taken "the pulse" of the district, and that the sector plan was heavily opposed. I assume that means that a majority of the voters in Councilmember Berliner's district oppose the plan: Mr. Berliner has proposed an alternative that scales down the Planning Board's recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Councilmember Berliner has stated that he has received over 1,500 communications opposing the Planning Board's approved version of the sector plan, and revealed on Friday, April 8 (yesterday) that he is receiving many expressions of opposition to his proposed downscaling on the basis that it is still too dense and too high. All of the quantitative evidence points to a single conclusion: area residents oppose this development.

Anonymous said...

5:05: Go to Change.org, find Search (menu on top right) and search Westbard. You will find a petition opposing the sector plan as approved by the Planning Board. The petition has been signed by 1,454 people. There are also hundreds of signed comments opposing the plan. I think it's pretty clear that the opposition to this plan is broad and deep.

Anonymous said...

See more info on the online petition below, under 6.39 pm.

Anonymous said...

Online petitions aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Anonymous said...

"The size of the surrounding Westbard area can be roughly equated to Roger Berliner's Council district."

Given that Berliner's district stretches all the way to the southeast corner of Frederick County, and includes areas as diverse and distant from Westbard as Dickerson, Poolesville, North Bethesda and Kensington, I take this claim with a very large grain of salt.

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/district_map.html

Anonymous said...

Most of these questions have been very civil. You seem to be misunderstanding trolls and constructive conversation.

Anonymous said...

@6:27. 1500 communications. That could be 1500 unique people or 1 person writing 1500 times. Incomplete data that isn't terribly useful for any metric purposes.

Anonymous said...

@6:13 a counterpoint might be that by only counting the opinions of the current surrounding residents, that discounts the opinions of potential future residents that would like to live there and potential future shoppers who would like to shop there and potential future employers and employees who would like to own businesses and work there.

Anonymous said...

Not sure it makes sense to say only the 300 affected residents' opinions should count and then also highlight petitions of 1500 people. If only 300 count, then are those extra 1200 signatures not important?

Anonymous said...

@7:12 Your definition of "civil" (no pun intended) and mine differ widely. Just haven't seen the "constructive criticism" you refer to, but feel free to up the game and elevate the conversation if you're so inclined.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if that's a joke or not. There are plenty of troll type comments and plenty of civil constructive legitimate questions asked here. Just because a question or opinion doesn't pair with yours doesn't make it trolling.

Anonymous said...

1. I'm all in favor of people who care enough about something to protest, but:
2. Saying there were "hundreds" of people there is an extreme exaggeration. "Dozens" is more like it.
3. 90% of people in attendance were senior citizens/not representative of the actual population of Westbard and not representative of the people who matter in this discussion. These master plans are for 30+ years; the county and Planning Board shouldn't care what someone who's 80 thinks. Their opinion isn't relevant as they won't be alive to see the plan come to fruition. Their opinion is just as useless as someone from 1916 or 1816. Times change and the county is tasked with having foresight when it comes to land use policy.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sad to see the NIMBYs out (all of the exact same demographic) fighting to keep their crappy Giant, McDonald's, gas stations, and storage facilities.

Anonymous said...

Roger Berliner & Casey Anderson tell Westbard residents they're old and to drop dead. lol. These guys have great tact. How'd they ever get in power?
I know Leventhal is always an ass.

Anonymous said...

"Roger Berliner & Casey Anderson tell Westbard residents they're old and to drop dead."

Except facts exist. This is why no one cares what idiotic NIMBYs think. They can't win on the merits of their argument so they just make crap up.

Reagan said...

Any Yes votes for this plan will be considered a No vote in the next election. Our county council is not representing us the Citizens of Westbard WITH THEIR BULLSHIT MADE UP VISION!!!! Put Leventhal and Berliner and Floreen out to pasture, too much developer campaign money in their pockets. Bought and paid for... Clearly, sold out on us the citizens.

Please consider a conservative leader in the future....Things could have clearly turned out differently without a 100% bought and paid for Democratic council...






Anonymous said...

@ 7.53 and @ 8.13:

1. I very much doubt that Councilmember Berliner would take on the development community and his pro-development colleagues to downsize the Westbard plan if he had received 1,500 communications from a only handful of people. Councilmember Berliner has stated that many/most of his constituents oppose the Westbard sector plan. I take him at his word. I think we can fairly assume that the 1500 communications are from numerous constituents. This judgment is further supported by the Change.org petition, which received 1454 unique signatures.

2. The characterization of the Westbard demonstration as being conducted primarily by people over 80 is a crock. I was at the protest, and can assure you that the crowd was made up of diverse age groups ranging from elementary school through teens, millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers and members of the Greatest Generation. The photos posted to this blog and to SaveWestbard's Facebook page demonstrate this amply. In any case, ageism reflects badly on you and your cause.

3. Your defensiveness raises a great question: where are the "silent majority" of residents who support the up zoning of Westbard? I suspect you'd be far less defensive if you actually had verifiable support. But we've been hearing about this "silent majority" for two years and it has yet to materialize. No wonder you're challenging the provenance of 1,500 communications to Roger Berliner in opposition to the Westbard plan, questioning the significance of over 1400 online signatures against up zoning Westbard, and stooping to inaccurate and ageist taunts about participants in a highly effective anti-Westbard protest. In sum, you've got nothing, so you're resorting to invective.

Anonymous said...

8.53: I don't have the exact count of demonstrators, but hundreds is more accurate than dozens. I was there and was surprised to see the line of protesters extending around the perimeter of the Westbard parking lot. That's a very large parking lot (it holds hundreds of cars)and a substantial number of people. Your belief that a majority of participants were over 80 is just plain wrong, and both ageist and offensive in tone. Take a look at the photos on this blog and on SaveWestbard's Facebook page. You'll see a mix of all ages. And let me add: the seniors who came out are worthy of praise, not condemnation. Same thing to all who joined in.

TrollWatch said...

*Don't feed the trolls*

Anonymous said...

@ 6.59: OK, the Westbard area corresponds only to *part* of Councilmember Berliner's district. That segment Is still numerous enough to have caused Councilmenber Berliner to attempt to downsize the Westbard plan. I think we can therefore surmise that a substantial number/most of the residents of that sector oppose the sector plan.

Anonymous said...

7.16 pm:

You forgot to add that the views of the unborn and all generations to come are important, too. Add their views to those of your "future residents, future shoppers, future employers and future employees," and you'll have a landslide in your favor. Especially if you add the views of the often remarked-upon but never seen "silent majority" said to support the Westbard sector plan.

It looks like our imaginary friends are 100% in favor of the Westbard sector plan. Unfortunately, actual people (the ones who testify at hearings, attend public meetings, contact their Councilmembers and vote) are against it. : )

(Seriously, I've been waiting since 2014 to see significant public support for the "new Westbard." Despite the best efforts of Equity One's community outreach/public relations team, it hasn't materialized.)

Robert Dyer said...

4:40: Your strategy here is absolutely hysterical, and your troll comments make clear you lost this argument a long time ago. All you do is just keep jabbering on and on, repeating the same lies.

When you get hundreds to turn out to march for any cause at 4:00 PM on a weekday, that is impressive. That is enormous in that context. You then try to use that impressive number to somehow represent the sum total of those opposed. In fact, the petitions, emails, public hearing numbers, etc. show responses from 1000s of actual residents.

The people who live outside of the immediate "Westbard" community DO NOT TRUMP THE THOUSANDS OF ACTUAL RESIDENTS who oppose the plan.

You really do sound like Baghdad Bob.

You believe you can say that a never-seen, never-heard from "silent majority" would actually trump the opinions of 250 or 1500 or 5000 ACTUAL PEOPLE who have spoken, written and marched against the plan? And you expect any of us to believe your IQ is higher than your belt size?

We already know that those who didn't show up or speak don't care about it either way. People who care, especially in a wealthy, educated community like this, come out and speak when they are passionate about an issue. A lot of those folks aren't even paying attention, and still believe this argument is about whether we get a new, spiffy shopping center.

6:53: And so your position is that the online position signers' opinion will now be set aside for a fake sentiment of support you project onto invisible phantoms you claim exist? On what planet does that argument make sense? And have you picked up Hans Riemer's dry cleaning and coffee yet?

7:16: Saying that people who aren't born yet, or live in other jurisdictions, would have more leverage with the Council than the residents who pay the Council's salaries, pay high taxes, and put their life savings into purchasing a home in this area leads me to question your sanity.

8:53: You're a liar, and anyone reading this knows it because they can see the photos for themselves.

You're the same guy who defends and touts Barwood Cab and the MoCo liquor monopoly. You probably enjoy spending 2 hours renewing your license at the MVA, too. What a nut job.

10:00: You just described yourself, making stuff up and repeating it, and posting it below text and photos that disprove every word you typed.

The fact that a plan like this could pass with proponents' sole effort being trolling a local blog all day just shows how corrupt the County Council is. The fix is in, and all you have to do is just keep repeating "Everybody's old! Silent majority!", while the money buys the Council vote.

That's why we're going to #ThrowTheBumsOut in 2018, and you're going to be on the unemployment line with them.

Anonymous said...

You're right no one voice should trump the other. Every one vote has the same value.

Anonymous said...

Wow, another rant at 2:40 PM.

"you're going to be on the unemployment line with them."

Are you sure you want to go there, Dyer?

Anonymous said...

Dyer, it seems rather self-defeating to shriek about "Hans Riemer" and "throw the bums out" on the eve of the critical vote when you need to persuade at least five councilmembers to vote your way.

Anonymous said...

10:26am mentions the trees that "are not part" of the issue. You couldn't be more wrong.Those trees belong to Kenwood Place Condominium, where the residents and board are increasingly frustrated by having their property being treated as a walking trail and dog park by the neighborhood. Understandably they fear it will only get much worse if this insane amount of development goes through. Once they lock the gates the school fields will have to take the brunt. There is no plan to provide any other rec space. The developers and planners seem determined to proceed with no thought whatsoever to intelligent planning. No wonder they are so hated.

Anonymous said...

Look at the pictures - it's almost all senior citizens. I didn't say said seniors should be "condemned." But of course facts don't matter to you.

Anonymous said...

"Those trees belong to Kenwood Place Condominium, where the residents and board are increasingly frustrated by having their property being treated as a walking trail and dog park by the neighborhood."

Sounds like Westbard residents are assholes who have no respect for private property.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many of these pro-developer/insult-driven commenters will still be around after the Westbard project is decided, one-way-or-another.

Robert Dyer said...

8:24: They'll just move on to their next assignment, to harass the good citizens of Aspen Hill and whatever other suburbs they plan to demolish in the next Council term.

Robert Dyer said...

8:16: Are you going to "call in muscle" to chase the kids and grandkids around the parking lot again? Public relations disaster.

Anonymous said...

Insult driven commentors? Pretty much everyone here, author included.

Anonymous said...

The only one who said "call in muscle", was you, Dyer.

Anonymous said...

"pro-developer/insult-driven commenters"...they'll go back to insulting Robert Dyer after they're done with the Bethesda residents who are protesting this insane plan.

Notice how nasty planners/Council staff/developers get when people like these Bethesda residents or Dyer don't agree with them. They go right to personal attacks.

Dyer has been standing up against bad development planning for awhile.

Irresponsible planning decisions like this impact everything: schools, traffic, housing values, quality of life.

Anonymous said...

The County Council plans to demolish Aspen Hill? What???

Anonymous said...

Memo to Westbard: We're dumping massive quantities of cramped overpriced housing on you, taking your parking lots and gas stations, we've booted the real "seniors" by getting rid of your nursing home. Next we're on to destroying your library, trees and other green space. Sorry no metro, but OH LOOK, there's a Panera, McYoga salon and a Grasping Grape wine store. If you run for it, you can catch the last bus out of town if you need to go anywhere.

No thanks. After this development clusterf--- and others like it throughout Bethesda, it is obvious that incorporation of Bethesda may not just be needed but required.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I love how the NIMBYs pretend to get all sentimental about that tiny, crappy old library.

Anonymous said...

4:52 and 4:56: Trolls who won't be fed. Wah.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous: My wife and I were there Friday and again on Saturday morning. The line of people there on Friday was longer than the distances between the two entrances. Why don't you stop being such a jerk and go back to your job with Equity One.

Robert Dyer said...

12:07: I'm not the one who called in 4 cop cars, private security muscle, and a tow truck to chase kids and grandkids, and parents and grandparents around a shopping center parking lot. That was your guys.

"I need muscle over here!"

Robert Dyer said...

12:15: Yep.

Anonymous said...

Well that's not as jerk to imply those for development work for equity one. Without proof too.

Nor is it constructive or civil.

Anonymous said...

Finally! It's about time

But isn't it private property? So how is the council planning to do it versus the land owner?

Anonymous said...

*dont feed the shills*

Anonymous said...

Funny thing. It's not even theirs. It's not a right. It's not their land. It's not their businesses. Not by a long shot. Talk about a sense of entitlement!

Anonymous said...

Wrongo. It said: "We the people, not we the Council."

Anonymous said...

"Wet People". LOL

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 7:30 PM - Got any documentation of that claim?

#DodgingDyer

Anonymous said...

I'm not big on conservatism, but I agree that the current Council isn't listening to the voters. I hope that new candidates-- and I'd be happy with progressives or centrists-- run for Council seats. I think we all can agree that we want Council members who respect and listen to all their constituents, not just developers.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any "Police" in the pictures provided, unless you are referring to the Paul Blart, mall security rent-cops.

Robert Dyer said...

8:13: They are not pictured, but 4 cruisers were called in. These calls are public record, easily confirmed with the police department.

Robert Dyer said...

10:02: Yep. The last two planning board chairs handpicked by the County Council both spoke on the record about specific properties they thought should be demolished in Aspen Hill, to make way for town centers. Which was an ethics violation in that office, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Not arguing, just wondering how it's an ethics violation?

Anonymous said...

When your best remaining arguments for the development are about the number of people attending and who sent in emails, you've kinda already lost the battle. Time to move on to Aspen Hill or the next big dollar boost to the developers.

Anonymous said...

56 photos in one "article?" This goes way beyond OCD & poor journalism. Get a life (and an editor.)

Anonymous said...

@5:05 seriously. NIMBYs are pretty much trolls.

Robert Dyer said...

10:04: The Planning Board and chair are not supposed to weigh in on a sector plan until the staff delivers it to them. You have a public input process, and then the planning staff is supposed to translate that into a formal draft plan, at which time it is the board's turn to comment

Robert Dyer said...

1:08: This sounds like the sour grapes of a competitor who slept through both protests. If I didn't show the whole crowd, you'd say nobody was there. You get a life, punk.

Anonymous said...

"planning board chairs handpicked by the County Council"

Yes, they're all appointed by the Council, which in turn is elected by the people of Montgomery County. Sucks to lose elections, doesn't it?

"both spoke on the record about specific properties they thought should be demolished in Aspen Hill, to make way for town centers."

That's not the same as "demolish the suburb of Aspen Hill", as you said @ 8:40 AM.

"Which was an ethics violation in that office, by the way."

How so?

Anonymous said...

@ 9:26 PM - I counted about ten pictures of the same ginger family. That's not reporting on the crowd, that's just redundant redundancy.

Anonymous said...

@9:43 - Dyer answered my question about how it's unethical with this answer. It seems Dyer thinks that no one on the planning board is allowed to have or voice an opinion before the staff delivers their recommendations. How exactly is that unethical again?

"The Planning Board and chair are not supposed to weigh in on a sector plan until the staff delivers it to them. You have a public input process, and then the planning staff is supposed to translate that into a formal draft plan, at which time it is the board's turn to comment"

Anonymous said...

12:25 PM - What's hilarious is that Dyer's position is just the opposite of the "transparency" that he claims to want to encourage. No public discussion of any kind until a decision is made.

Robert Dyer said...

12:25: You obviously don't understand the chain of command at Park and Planning, nor the planning process. Neither does Casey Anderson, given his repeated appearances at public meetings and charettes where he weighs in on what the outcome should be before the process is finished. He is legally and ethically out of order.

Planning commissioners are NOT supposed to reach a conclusion on a matter before it goes before the Board. PERIOD.

Robert Dyer said...

7:57: They can't do it without Council approval via the Aspen Hill sector plan rewrite.

Anonymous said...

You are using the phrase "reach a conclusion on a matter" in a manner completely different from what every other English-speaking person understands that phrase to mean.

Robert Dyer said...

7:03: How so, Mr. Dumass?

Anonymous said...

Who is funding Casey Anderson?

Robert Dyer said...

8:33: That's hopefully one of many things an FBI investigation of the Planning Department could examine. Start with Farm Road, kind of like Whitewater, and things start gathering steam on their own as people are offered immunity to offer up info on higher officials.

Anonymous said...

So have you contacted the FBI yet?

Anonymous said...

Not supposed to? Is that a rule? Or a law? Is it an ethical rule?

Anonymous said...

"kind of like Whitewater"

You remember that the Republicans' Whitewater investigation was a fishing expedition that came up with nothing, don't you? One would expect someone who calls himself a journalist, to know this.

Robert Dyer said...

8:09: Your poor memory aside, Whitewater was the start of Ken Starr's investigation THAT ENDED WITH IMPEACHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT.

Lesson: Investigations often find something even bigger after they begin digging around, threatening lower-level suspects, and implicating the big shots.

Anonymous said...

So how is it unethical again? Your explanation doesn't answer the question.

Anonymous said...

Bob, any idea if those spiffy signs used by the Westbard protesters are available for re-use by those of us getting hosed by the Downtown Bethesda Plan? That would be Chevy Chase West, Chevy Chase, Edgemoor, Battery Park / Battery Lane, East Bethesda.... Maybe the County Council is going to replace us voters with robots who can vote. That way we won't get run over by the cars zooming down Wisconsin when downtown DOUBLES in population. Oh, wait...no one will have cars. Just because only 2% of Bethesdans work in Bethesda now doesn't mean that won't change!

Robert Dyer said...

10:57: They'll probably still be in use, but at least they give some ideas for other neighborhoods to use on their signs.

To top off everything, the Metro that is supposed to support development downtown is now completely unreliable and also dangerous to use.