Monday, April 04, 2016

Residents ready to go to war over Westbard plan, incorporation on the table

More than 225 Bethesda residents turned out for a short-notice community meeting at the Washington Waldorf School Sunday afternoon, to strategize how to stop the runaway train Westbard Sector Plan before the Montgomery County Council can approve it this month. Organizers had to open the stage curtain to allow some of the overflow crowd to find seating.
Post on Save Westbard Facebook
page after the meeting showing the
packed room
The meeting was hosted by Save Westbard, a volunteer organization of residents who oppose the urban-style makeover being proposed for the squarely-suburban neighborhood. To give some context, the plan would bring more residents to Westbard Avenue than are in all of National Harbor, which the Washington Post described this morning as "a mini-city."

This was the most-energized crowd I've seen since the last public meeting - and that's partly because there hasn't been a mass public meeting on Westbard since early last year. All gatherings since then have either been very controlled public hearings, or smaller civic association meetings. Residents are raring to take action, with a Council vote expected perhaps as soon as two weeks from now.

The prime targets? Councilmembers' taxing and zoning authority, and Council seats from which they wield their power.

"If that means voting for term limits, if that means running someone against Roger Berliner...you can write that down," resident and Save Westbard volunteer Jeanne Allen told a reporter in attendance. A resident gathered signatures for a ballot question that, if successful this November, would prevent Berliner (D - District 1) and his at-large Democratic colleagues Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich from running again in 2018.

Elrich, who has condemned the plan as "a naked real estate ploy for somebody who's got land, and wants to get more money out of that land," was the only elected official in favor with yesterday's crowd.

Ultimately, participants voted on a series of action items, with the votes being recorded on video so there can be no question that these are majority opinions of actual residents (not DC residents buying groceries on a Saturday afternoon being asked if the Westwood Shopping Center needs sprucing up). Names and addresses were also collected to record the votes.

Attendees agreed overwhelmingly or unanimously on the following:
  • Residents demand the Council delay its vote
  • The 1200 housing units of Councilmember Roger Berliner's "Berliner alternative" plan are too much, when the adjacent Springfield and Sumner communities combined have less homes than that
  • Height limits must be 50' throughout the plan area
  • Residents demand the release of all email communications between County officials, residents and developers regarding the plan and proposed development (County officials first refused to release the emails, then demanded $1000 from the resident who requested them; the public information law requires the fee be waived if a request is in the "public interest")
  • Consider incorporating the area and having their own Mayor and Council with planning authority
Allen noted that the plan area is within the highest-taxed part of the County. Loss of the southwestern Bethesda cash cow via incorporation would deal a mortal blow to councilmembers' political play-money revenue. Heck, if you're going to have a "town center" rammed into your neighborhood, you might as well have a town government. They asked for it, not the residents!

Several councilmembers appeared smugly confident in not only the passage of the plan at a worksession last month, but also in their belief that they would survive the electoral fallout of their actions. They might want to reassess that position, based on the intent of yesterday's crowd.

"We will vote against members at-large, and [Berliner], who do not agree to postpone this vote on the plan," one resident said during a question-and-answer segment of the meeting. Berliner's compromise plan has never garnered much public support. And, while no one would choose the Planning Board's version over his, it is still considered way too much for this already-developed area with crowded schools and roads. And based on the critical comments of residents (a.k.a. voters), it doesn't seem to have helped him politically at all.

Allen made the point that the Berliner alternative is not even a sure thing; no official vote has been taken yet on the plan, so it is only a recommendation. The Council could go ahead and approve the Board's version.

A statement Berliner made to some residents in the last few weeks has been brought up repeatedly at meetings and in community emails. Berliner told them he lives in a mixed-use community himself, and promised Westbard residents would like it, too.

"What does Berliner understand about the depth of opposition in this community," resident Bob Weaver asked. One resident informed the crowd that Berliner lives more than seven miles from Westbard. "He's not anywhere near our community." No member of the Council lives in Bethesda.

"They cannot vote in two weeks to destroy our community," another resident proclaimed.

Resident Bobby Lipman recalled Councilmember George Leventhal's patronizing sermon against residents at a recent Westbard worksession. Leventhal reminded them "how lucky we are to live here, as if we're the Crawley family on Downton Abbey," Lipman said. Describing his own modest beginnings, he added, "we worked to get here." Along with Leventhal's dismissal of "insistent" citizen requests for a scale model of the full Westbard build-out, the speech has rubbed many in the wrongest way. "Councilman Leventhal, that is ridiculous. That is patronizing," Lipman said.

Stan Wiggins, a Save Westbard volunteer who was engaged in redevelopment battles before when he was a Silver Spring resident, told the crowd he has "seen this movie before. It's ugly." Even Leventhal admitted during a recent worksession that the cost of County services for new development exceeds the added revenue it generates, a dagger to one of the great canards of the MoCo political cartel borne out by the latest in a string of budget deficits this year. Whatever the County can't pay for at Westbard beyond current funds is "coming out of your pockets," Wiggins reminded the audience. 

Referring to the control of most councilmembers by developers, Wiggins termed the current donations-for-profits system as the "dispossession and privatization of your political rights. This is not what the founders had in mind."

"We still have the vote," Wiggins continued, "and that's ultimately what you have to threaten them with." 

Overconfident councilmembers might do well to consider that following the development battle Wiggins engaged in decades ago, "five councilmen were thrown out of office, including the County Executive."

With all of the targeted councilmembers - who also include at-large member Hans Riemer, a vocal supporter of the plan - mulling either a run for County Executive or continuing to "age-in-place" on the Council, they might want to heed Wiggins' historical lesson.
Stan Wiggins of
Save Westbard
Check out the size of
this crowd - on a Sunday,
no less
Mad as heck...
...and not gonna take
it anymore
The Council's greatest fear...
...an informed and mobilized
electorate

Darryl Trupp, whose Fashion Craft
Cleaners is one of several
popular small businesses in the
Westwood Shopping Center threatened
by redevelopment, makes a point at
yesterday's meeting
Got to show you every part of
the room here
Not just a "vocal minority"

156 comments:

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...


Thank you, Robert Dyer, for reporting on this impromptu meeting; it was standing room only. Residents have long felt shunned at public meetings (remember how the developer was called to the table for some extra testimony at a recent public hearing; not so for residents) and consequently, their views and their disgust with the size of this plan (even as modified) are routinely ignored and down-played. The crowd has a message for the County Council: heed us now or suffer the consequences.

Anonymous said...

I see a bunch of old white people trying to keep younger people (of all races) from moving in.

I guess Dyer doesn't "covet" the Millennials.

"heed us now or suffer the consequences."

You might be able to un-elect Roger Jelly-Doughnut. But you don't have anywhere near enough votes to change the four at-large seats, and you can't even touch the other four seats.

Nice little fantasy, though.

Robert Dyer said...

5:35: Your ageism is showing; probably not the best look for someone playing a prejudice race card, the last one in the deck when you've lost the argument.

How do you figure that five councilmembers and the County Executive were toppled by "enough votes" in Silver Spring?

It's been done before, and it can be done again. Term limits might wipe them out before a 2018 vote is even cast.

Anonymous said...

More on the term limits thing please. Isn't this a referendum Ficker is trying to put on the ballot. Does he have enough signatures? I'd vote in favor of it.

As we see, the effort to end the DLC alcohol monopoly via referendum failed (it's not even going to be on the ballot), so that's why I ask if this is a done deal or not.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Dear Anonymous 5:35:

Pulling out the race card as an "argument" is truly abominable and shows that you have nothing to add to this discussion.

If the residents who went to a meeting on a Sunday night happen to be Caucasian, why does that matter to you? We happen to live here; do you hate all white people? What is your point exactly, except to self-congratulate yourself on noticing that white people live in Bethesda?

Further, since you weren't there (or were you there as a troll for the developer?), you might have missed that there were more than just white people in the room; not that it should matter to you, in any case, since you're not racist, right?

No one is trying to keep "younger people (of all races) from moving in." We are fighting for the character of our community. No one cares, at all, WHO moves in; just that the overall density involved in the development is reduced. This has nothing to do with race. The fact that you have only the race card to play is shallow and craven.

I have no idea if we can or cannot unseat several Councilmembers in 2018; but we can vote against them and let the chips fall where they may. If they retain their seats, so be it. That doesn't mean that I personally have to vote for them. Term limits might be on the ballot, too, which would help unseat a few of them. So, it doesn't feel like "nice little fantasy," although you might think so. I have my opinion, you have yours.

Anonymous said...

Were young people allowed into the meeting? Based on the photos, I don't know if this is representative of all the residents of Westbard or the area at large.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Dear Anonymous 5:55:

Are you young? Did we keep you out? Do you even live in Westbard, and if not, why do you care? Or are you on this blog due to your job duties for the Rockville PR firm?

This was a public meeting, widely advertised among the community as such. Since you're so familiar with it, you probably already knew that. Or maybe you're not on distribution since you don't live here?

In fact, I do recall young people in attendance; but that's because I was there, and you weren't.

Any other comments on a meeting at which you were not present?

Anonymous said...

Berliner still live on the Pike in Rockville?

Anonymous said...

Very impressive! Thanks again for the "you are there" reporting.

Many of us who live in other communities where similar one size fits all sector plans are being pushed on an unwilling small suburban community by planners applaud Westbards efforts and hope the County will finally stop the urban steamroller long enough to listen to what consituents are really saying. Certainly, Planning Department and Planning Board are not getting it (they are also both not elected).

In our community, West Silver Spring, we are a majority minority diverse income population, with 50/50 ratio of single family homes to apartments. Planning proposal would completely overwhelm community with mega apartments surrounding small community, with growth even larger than Westbard, approximately 5X our current population. And while we have an enormous amount of naturally occuring affordable housing, proposal to expand low income housing by 50%, even more dramatic than Westbards 15%, with density incentives for developers, promises to obliterate the stable and long time historic African American Community which has survived here since 1853.

So no, you don't have to be wealthy nor white to be appalled by the wholesale destruction of communities and small local businesses by the cookie cutter mega urbanizing plans that seem driven more by misguided development theories and developers than by actual and practical community needs. We are ethnically diverse, middle to low income community that is APALLED. So throw out that race card cannard, and oh, yes, we have a lot of young people because we are affordable and have a great location.

It is time to vote out everyone of these smug over paid politicians that do not consider the needs of their consituents, but go all weak and deferential at the sight of a developer. It is also shameful and disrespectful the dripping contempt and condecension the council members displayed towards residents.

We pay their salaries, they work for us, we can and should fire them. They have been steamrolling over communites long enough.

Anonymous said...

This says it all...check out the video making the rounds...

"INSIDE BASEBALL" OF URBAN PLANNING...MADE SIMPLE

Play Ball with MoCo County Council!

http://www.reallife20910.com/bonus.html

Anonymous said...

Those people left the city years go in the 60's to avoid the riff-raff this plan brings in now. Show respect!

Anonymous said...

Love seeing the Lexus Liberals of Westbard getting defensive about the fact they they actively have built a non-diverse community. But they probably all talk in their book club about social issues so it is okay.

Anonymous said...

This meeting was widely publicized. If there were fewer young people than some might like, it only reflects (1) their obligations on a Sunday evening to child care and getting ready for the post-Easter week, and (2) their lack of awareness. I have encountered neighborhood residents who believe the redevelopment proposals are limited in scope to Westbard Avenue (WRONG), or who think the SaveWestbard group is opposed to any redevelopment (WRONG). No, just opposed to a high-rise canyon and incredible traffic congestion that is allowed under the 'urban' designation dropped on us by Planning Board.

Young parents with children should consider how likely their kids are to be bussed to another school district with less-overcrowded schools should this take effect. If the affected parents had attended county council work sessions they would understand that they have no entitlement to attend school in the district they reside in. And note that WoodAcres will be at capacity when it reopens. School bussing to support
developer profits. What a concept.

Anonymous said...

"high-rise canyon"

LOL. And the "bussing" [sic] dog-whistle.

Anonymous said...

If these people want to be taken seriously, they should put more thought into how they dress. I don't see any Bethesda progressives in those pictures.

Anonymous said...

The fact that you use "Lexus Liberals of Westbard" shows you know nothing of which you speak. Your envy is showing.

Anonymous said...

If these citizens organize, change can come to the Council.

Anonymous said...

225 people who live in Westbard don't like what's happening. How many thousands more do want it?

Anonymous said...

"promises to obliterate the stable and long time historic African American Community which has survived here since 1853."

Please explain. Who is proposing to tear down their homes? Who is proposing to tear down ANY single-family homes?

Anonymous said...

Who really wants it? Seriously. Who?
Where are all the residents/future residents who want this? Where are their meetings and vocal support for the plan?
All I see are developers and politicians looking to cash in.

Anonymous said...

Why do our planners and Council hate Bethesda residents so much?

Anonymous said...

Good luck Save Westbard citizens. As someone who lives in Huntington Terrace behind Suburban hospital, we fought for years on Suburban's expansion and the council approving it. Our success was that we got the hospital to make many changes to the plan so that it better fit in with the neighborhood. Instead of a 10 story parking garage, it will be just a few stories with the majority underground. Instead of razing 23 homes, only 10 were lost. The others will be used by the hospital for various housing purposes. We still have to fight (currently they are trying to change the way the houses are going to be used against the approved plan). Just keep it up. The work will never end. (and as someone who has come to the barber shop for over 50 years, I support you!) I don't want to see the small businesses pushed out.

Anonymous said...

7:28 "225 people who live in Westbard don't like what's happening. How many thousands more do want it?"

I seriously doubt any of them really want it. It is being pushed by the developers. Who would want more traffic and congestion in their neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Mr. Dyer's coverage of this important matter. With the decline of the Gazette, it is very difficult to get good coverage of controversial development matters throughout the county. I don't know why there are so many trolls on this site.

Other neighborhoods have chimed in above, and I think the county council and Ike Leggett should take note that informed citizens think the planning process is broken. There is complete distrust for the county; it is easier to get concessions from developers than a neighborhood-friendly plan from the county. Even in the case of a better plan from the developer, the county can change it in a way that is detrimental to the lifestyle in the neighborhood. Traffic increases, it makes it harder to get to where you need to go, stress increases, unhappiness increases and the greater community suffers because people have less and less time to dedicate to activities outside their own family.

Our schools are becoming increasingly overcrowded due to these ambitious development plans, and the developers are charged only pennies on the dollar per student, while county taxpayers are now expected to step up and fund the kitty. The developers must be expected to pay their actual fair share and be required to build new schools.

If the elected representatives are not actually representing the desires of the constituents - out they should go!

Anonymous said...

@ 7:51 AM - Fuck you very much for blocking critical medical facilities for our community.

Anonymous said...

I'm just going by the photos Dyer posted. I don't see a lot of young people in that crowd. So either Dyer intentionally only took photos of older people (doubtful) or the crowd is not an accurate representation of the actual residents.

The median age of 20816, according to census data, is 45 years old, meaning half the residents are under 45. How many under-45's attended the meeting?

Anonymous said...

@8:20 AM - The developers and Council have paid staff and lobbyists whose job it is to put obnoxious, anonymous comments on blogs. They are using office equipment and their location is known by the bloggers. This is a well known tactic of government agencies. It's not a secret.

Anonymous said...

FYI - The millennials still want to live in D.C., not Montgomery County.

D.C. has an active rental market, MC has vacancies.

Anonymous said...

@7:33 AM

"Who is proposing to tear down their homes?"

The initial Greater Lyttonsville Draft Plan actually did propose to tear down two historic homes (and a third house) so that an apartment building could be expanded and a driveway could be built on the land the two houses presently occupied. After much much push back from various community groups, that part of the plan was dropped. The residents of the 57 modest homes do not want to be surrounded by large mid rise apartment buildings. Of course it will erode the small intimate sense of community when you are surrounded on all sides by large apartments towering over small homes.

And historically in other African American communities in MoCo, attrition has happened as land became more valuable and developed, little is left of Hawkins Lane for example off Jones Bridge.

ALSO,as mentioned in above () a THIRD home was proposed for demolition to make way for more apartment expansion on another street within a block of the other 2 houses targeted. Needless to say, that was fought as well.

So yes, I would say planning department has 0 respect for single family home owners when their visions of apartment expansions are obstructed by these little houses.

Shameful really.

Anonymous said...

The people in the photographs are young people, just with a few years on them. You see, it is impossible to build a community for only one generation of people. The young get old, they love their homes and want to stay. Montgomery County, however is on a path that says everyone over 45 must move out of the county. Only under 45 shall live here. Is not that age discrimination?

Anonymous said...

@ 8:59 AM - "a THIRD home was proposed for demolition"

Not exactly "obliteration".

9:00 AM -

"The people in the photographs are young people, just with a few years on them."

No, they're not, you're hallicinating. The median age of the people in that audience is well over 55.

"Montgomery County, however is on a path that says everyone over 45 must move out of the county. Only under 45 shall live here. Is not that age discrimination?"

Again, who is forcing anyone to leave?

Maybe you could stop engaging in ridiculous hyperbole?

Anonymous said...

8:29am, there was nothing blocked. The hospital facilities went unchanged you moron. But there original plan was contested so that it would fit into the fabric of the neighborhood, not obliterate it with the County Council bending over for them. FYI, you may want to get your facts straight on the 'needed' medical facilities. Suburban is wasting a whole bunch of space that could be used for that by having doctors offices in the building and switching to private rooms. There is no increase in the number of beds at the hospital. Still no maternity practice. How does that really better serve the community if a pregnant woman in the neighborhood can't even have her baby there?
But thanks anyway for your intelligent and informed comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Save Westbard organizers. We are all very grateful. I have been predicting this for some time and tried to vote Berliner and Floreen out of office. Unfortunately others went to the polls, picked up the union backed Apple ballot and voted for whoever unions told them to vote. That's how we ended up with Berliner.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:36 AM - "I tried to vote Berliner and Floreen out of office. Unfortunately others went to the polls..."

One person, one vote sucks, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

@8:54 I would like to know WHICH Council Members and WHICH paid lobbyists are trolling this blog.

I think they're just people picking on Robert Dyer. Personally, I think he performs a much needed service.

Anonymous said...

Dyer caught the lady in the sixth picture from the top, picking her nose. LOL

Anonymous said...

10:00 AM Random people aren't spending their time trolling Dyer. It's folks with vested interest in this: MoCo government, PR firms, etc.

It's an established PR tactic to disrupt in this way.

Anonymous said...

The proof will be when all of the housing units lease out quickly.

Anonymous said...

Good point!!

Anonymous said...

How in the world would you go about having any shred of evidence to back up that claim?

Anonymous said...

Proof? Anything? Evidence? Anything?

Anonymous said...

What we know 100% for sure is that the vast MAJORITY of residents impacted by this plan are AGAINST it.

Margie Eulner Ott said...

Anonymous 10:54am - Look around at the vacancies on Westbard Avenue already - neither Park Bethesda nor Westwood Towers are fully leased. Why would housing units lease out quickly when there is no metro or transit infrastructure?

Anonymous said...

What are the occupancy rates for Park Bethesda and Westwood Towers?

As a realtor we are seeing really high absorption rates in the area. Housing supply just sucks right now and can hardly keep up with the demand. Just look at the quickly rising housing prices in Bethesda and a couple miles around it. IMHO if they did build lots of housing in West Bard they would fill up without much issue.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. But that doesn't mean it is a bad (or good) idea.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't any proposed term limits also keep the supporting council member from being back to help the cause/situation?

Anonymous said...

If there are term limits, then they should also state that candidates whom the voters have rejected two elections in a row, cannot run again for the same office.

Anonymous said...

And "Margie" repeats the talking point that "buses aren't 'transit'".

Anonymous said...

2:07 PM Are you sure?
The national association of Realtors points to the absorption rate when it says that 6 months of home inventory is a balanced market.
When the absorption rate falls below 6 months, there's a shortage of homes and it's said to be a sellers market. The sellers have the upper hand and can ask more for their homes because prices are on the way up.
When the absorption rate grows higher than 6 months, there's a surplus of homes. Buyers have the upper hand having more homes to choose from and declining home prices.

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

It's true...Park Bethesda is always leasing...plenty of availability. Affordable too! Relatively speaking.

Anonymous said...

2:17
You don't understand. The only transit decision a Westbard resident makes is whether to drive the Beamer, Lexus, or the Benz. If one must take the dog to the groomer then the Range Rover or Porsche Cayenne must be utilized.

Using a shuttle bus during gridlock traffic (River Road = 17, 000 cars daily) to eventually get to a subway stop to then really begin your travels is not a solution but rather contributing to the problem even more ....

Agreed, any Council vote not to delay the project without further public input is considered one final slap-in-the-face to all Westbard residents!

Robert Dyer said...

3:04: And the troll denies a competing website is spamming on here! They just posted about 5 links to their site on this post.

Robert Dyer said...

2:17: Smart growth and transit-oriented development center on rail transit stations, not buses. Buses don't qualify an area for urban development.

Rachel Meima said...

How about putting you name on your comments rather than hiding behind "Anonymous"? Perhaps it's because you don't actually live here and/or would expose yourself and your motivations.

I am one of the "younger" members of the Westbard community who has a great interest in this issue and is also APPALLED at the intentions of the developers and county council members. I had a desire to attend the meeting yesterday but was unable to do so. I was, however, comforted by the fact that I knew we had a strong representation of concerned citizens, my neighbors, representing me and my position well in my absence. I suspect there are many others in my position who were also unable to attend and who feel the same way. Bet they too are "younger" members of the Westbard community!

Expose yourself if you care to comment!

Margie Eulner Ott said...

A single ride-on bus goes down Westbard - service ends at 9 pm weekdays, 7 pm sat and no service Sunday. Density at this level needs to have a subway station within .5 mile. Try revealing yourselves "anonymous" - btw I drive a Kia with 100k miles on it.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Dear Anonymous 5:17:

I live in the Westbard area and I drive a 13 year old Suburban with 142k miles on it; special effect? The taped on bumper. I don't own a dog.

Now for the big reveal ... do tell us what car you're driving? and your name? You have so much to say, we would like to know you better.

This is our community, not yours.

Anonymous said...

Your driver's license says "Westbard C. Citizens"? Somehow I doubt it.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Anonymous 7:01:

Here's the larger point: If you lived in this community, you would be on my distribution list and you would already know who I am and what my driver's license says. Robert Dyer knows my name, too. However, since you're not a community member, you don't know who I am; it's that simple. The residents who comment here regularly already know me.

Again, our community, not yours. Your name, please? You've ignored all of us.

Anonymous said...

@7:05 We know who you are Bobby L. The Monopoly board guy.

The claim about the Ride-On bus (not made by 7:05, I realize) is misleading. The T-2 bus goes down River Road and operates 7 days a week. I drove past it this past Sunday, and there were a few people waiting for it at the stop across from Whole Foods.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

LOL, sorry 7:57, but I will certainly share your amusing guess with Bobby. We are still waiting for your name; this is a rather tiresome game, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Westbard Pompous Putz demands to know everyone's name but then says "if you don't know my name already, then I'm certainly not going to tell you."

Anonymous said...

Ha yeah. It's a waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what the post you deleted said but are you saying that any link to any other site is spamming? So references to any other site will get deleted?

Anonymous said...

I don't think Westbard Concerned Citizens understands the 5:17 commentors type of humor that's been used repeatedly on this site. Ha.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any skin in the game but that point you make at the end about "our community, not yours" highlights a critical selfishness. Why can't others join the community? Why do other opinions not count? Are other voices only valid for the immediate area one lives? Etc.

Anonymous said...

7:57PM has driven by the T2 bus, but I but he/she never had to wait an hour for the T2 bus at Friendship Heights. Yes, the T2 runs once an hour later in the evening and has reduced hours on the weekend. AND when you finally get to Friendship Heights Metro on the weekend, the trains are on reduced schedules for track work.

Not exactly practical to wait an hour for a bus.

Anonymous said...

I love how the angry anonymous person lashes out at Robert and other community members here. Real class act!

Anonymous said...

@ 8:52 PM - So you're in favor of increasing the frequency of the T2? Good for you.

Trump said...

Lets face the facts people we (not me) voted for these people.. This is a 100% Democratic/Progressive/Liberal Council. There is not a shred of conservative thinking or any thinking really in the bunch and here we are screwed. Throw in large amounts of arrogance and we know what's best for you mentality and we the citizens are in deep trouble with this vote.

Everything is at stake- property values, quality of life, shopping needs, school overcrowding, mobility, increased crime & drugs, to name a few.

Please consider a more conservative alternative in 2018! We can do much better!

Anonymous said...

If the issue is transit, why don't the concerned citizens of Westbard push for increased frequencies of the T-2, and additions to Ride-On service. Certainly that will be justifiable with the all the new residents moving in, as that will increase demand.

Anonymous said...

@8:52 Is wrong about the T-2 bus. Here's the schedule directly from WMATA:
http://www.wmata.com/bus/timetables/md/t2.pdf

It runs every 30 minutes 7 days a week. The only time there is an hourly service is the last bus of the night on weekdays, around 9-10pm.

It sounds like 8:52 never rides the T-2 bus. I do.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:24 AM - I'm noticing a pattern here. People who never actually ride the bus or the subway:

1) Don't know when and where the buses actually run.

2) Claim that nobody in their community rides the bus.

3) Claim that buses are not "transit".

4) Argue that apartments should only be built "near transit". Thus not in their community because #1, #2 and #3.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:32 PM - It's really funny hearing a Trump supporter complaining about "arrogance".

"increased crime & drugs"

Too-WEET! goes the Dog-Whistle...

Wrol said...

Everyone arguing against Westbard / supporting Dyer's positions does realize that much of the opposition in his comment threads is not always for the other side but attempting to show perspective and draw out logic based arguments and supporting evidence.

Robert Dyer said...

5:22/5:47: You are repeatedly, and intentionally, confusing old-fashioned bus service with rapid transit like Metro.

Smart growth is NOT based on traditional bus routes. It is based around subway or commuter rail stations, and within 1/3 to 1/2 mile of said stations.

Westbard is not even close to qualifying under "smart growth" for urban density.

5:50: Ask people in King Farm, Damascus and Clarksburg about the "increased crime and drugs" from low-income units. They've also got agencies and organizations using low income units in those places to operate halfway houses and drug rehab houses. And a higher share of registered sex offenders, as well. Then remember that the only homicide in the last 40 years I'm aware of in the Westbard area was in the HOC building a few years ago. No dog whistle. Just the facts. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

5:24 AM Wonderful that you work 9-5 when the T2 runs regularly. What about folks working later? Retail and other jobs don't close at 5.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:38 PM - Where is this "Bible of Smart Growth" to which you keep referring?

Anonymous said...

@ 6:41 AM -

Add the following talking point to the four listed in @ 5:47 AM above:

5) "Buses don't run often enough for folks who need to use them. But don't dare suggest that they should run more often. That will bring 'drugs & crime' to our community!"

Anonymous said...

http://smartgrowth.org/smart-growth-principles/

Anonymous said...

http://uli.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/TP_SuburbanFringe.ashx_.pdf

Anonymous said...

@ 6:47 AM - Under "provide a variety of transportation choices", the word "rail" does not appear anywhere, however the photo at the top of that section shows a picture of a street with bike lanes and buses.

Anonymous said...

I'm just giving you links to smart growth principles.
For those too lazy to look on their own.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:51 AM - "[T]oday the majority of development occurs 25 to 35 miles from urban centers. To address this rapid growth 'on the fringe'..."

Westbard is 1.3 miles from Friendship Heights, 1.4 miles from the proposed Elm Street entrance to the Bethesda Metro station, 1.7 miles from the Tenleytown Metro station, 5.5 miles to downtown Silver Spring and 6 miles from the Zero Milestone at the center of downtown Washington DC.

It's not "fringe" in by any stretch of the imagination. 25 miles = Clarksburg. 35 = miles = southern Frederick County.

Anonymous said...

Westbard should become a retirement community like Leisure World. There is no room in the schools for new young families to buy houses from our rapidly declining senior base. Plus a nice wall around the community will do wonders for the peace of mind of concerned citizens.

Anonymous said...

6:47 AM You're putting words in my mouth. I don't oppose more T2 service. Considering I use it, why would I oppose more frequent buses?
I never said it wasn't transit either.

There's maybe one other person waiting for a 23 or T2 some mornings other than me.

Anonymous said...

7:08 - That's why they're called principles not requirements. Did you look at the bottom of page 12? MCC seems to be missing those.

Robert Dyer said...

7:08: Importantly, none of the distances mentioned from Westbard fall into the smart growth consensus distance from rapid transit, which is 1/3 to 1/2 mile. Therefore, Westbard fails to qualify as a smart growth center. It is also not recognized as an "activity center," which is where MWCOG says regional growth should occur.

Smart growth is not about options, it is about development oriented around Metro stations. Buses are not rapid transit. You're acting like a 5 year old to just keep repeating the lie that 1960s bus service equals rapid transit.

Anonymous said...

I think it's nonsense to expect that all high-density (apartment buildings?) growth will be within 0.3 miles of a subway station. There simply aren't that many subway stations with property nearby, that isn't already developed.

There's lots of low-income housing in Gaithersburg, and none of that is 0.3 miles from Shady Grove station. There is also plenty of bus service, and that seems to work fine.

Anonymous said...

Gaithersburg is also served by MARC trains. Westbard is not. Just a bus.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I didn't attend your meeting but I do live in the neighborhood, very close to the current shopping center. I support the project and think it will create new vitality and energy for our community -- a truly walkable place for community and new options for restaurants and shopping. I also hope the developer will work with the current small businesses. We deserve more than the eyesore that we presently have. The Council has heard your calls and responded by significantly reducing the size of the project. At this point, the Save Westbard effort is starting to look petty and small.

Anonymous said...

Saith Dyer: "Loss of the southwestern Bethesda cash cow via incorporation would deal a mortal blow to councilmembers' political play-money revenue."

Dyer seems to not understand how local taxation works in the state of Maryland. Also, it's not clear if he understands the process for incorporation, or if he understands what portion of Montgomery County's population the Westbarders comprise.

Anonymous said...

Please read this Baltimore Sun article of 3/15/16.

"Baltimore County to curb housing segregation"

(More Hussein social engineering experimentation to further destroy our country's successful neighborhoods)

"The county is to spend $30 million over the next decade to entice developers to build
1, 000 homes for low-income African-American families in prosperous county neighborhoods"

"The county also pledged to help 2, 000 families on Section 8 rent subsidies to move from poor, predominantly African-American communities to better-integrated neighborhoods with stronger schools, lower crime and minimal clusters of subsidized homes"


Robert Dyer said...

3:26: Restaurants and more retail could have been added 30 years ago. They don't require residential to make a profit, as Equity One has acknowledged. Visit the Osborn Shopping Center in Upper Marlboro, where the existing strip mall was demolished and replaced with a gleaming new shopping center anchored by a large new Safeway. No residential was added.

Nobody opposes updating the shopping center. A new city is not required to do it, nor is the loss of the existing mom-and-pop retail.

I don't think homeowners trying to protect the character and quality of life in their neighborhood can be called "petty", and the photos above indicate the opposition is anything but "small."

Robert Dyer said...

6:02: I've always wanted homes in Beverly Hills and the Hamptons, too.

Alas there is no Constitutional right to a mansion. This is a reinterpretation of "fair housing" that Chairman Mao would support.

Robert Dyer said...

4:54: Go back and review how scared and reactionary George Leventhal was during Rollingwood's bid for incorporation, and you'll realize I know exactly what the situation is about.

Robert Dyer said...

11:21: You do have to acknowledge that your opinion is not in line with smart growth best practices.

Apartments built in another era of planning can't be used to justify poor choices today, although few of the buildings you are referring to in Gaithersburg are high-rise. The majority are garden apartments, which are what should be the maximum proposed at Westbard, assuming the transportation and school capacity was added.

It doesn't sound like you drive through Gaithersburg in rush hour if you think it "works fine.'

Anonymous said...

Please read this Baltimore Sun article of 3/15/16.

"Baltimore County to curb housing segregation"

(More Hussein social engineering experimentation to further destroy our country's successful neighborhoods)

"The county is to spend $30 million over the next decade to entice developers to build
1, 000 homes for low-income African-American families in prosperous county neighborhoods"

"The county also pledged to help 2, 000 families on Section 8 rent subsidies to move from poor, predominantly African-American communities to better-integrated neighborhoods with stronger schools, lower crime and minimal clusters of subsidized homes"


Anonymous said...

"More Hussein social engineering experimentation"

Talk-radio word-salad. Try writing in coherent English if you expect to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm demanding access to the Palisades! I want a home there, with a Potomac River view. AND we need to tear down the Safeway and the CVS on MacArthur. Clearly, much too old school.

Anonymous said...

"To give some context, the plan would bring more residents to Westbard Avenue than are in all of National Harbor, which the Washington Post described this morning as 'a mini-city'."

More bullshit from Dyer. Washington Harbor will have 2,500 homes when it is complete. And several times that number of hotel rooms, including time-share units. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 3,788. And it's several miles from the nearest Metro station.

Anonymous said...

If you use the same logic, WES should not be allowed to develop. If not, you are all hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

It's not pretty, sure, they want to protect their interests in their backyard.

Robert Dyer said...

7:15: Language. You're dead wrong. The number of residents that would be brought to Westbard under the plan would indeed be more than those in National Harbor today. You've got to use the actual number of residents in the Peterson development, not a general Census figure. I've never seen a "Pike & Rose" or "Crown Farm" Census breakout before.

National Harbor is directly off an interstate exit ramp, and capacity was increased via the new Wilson bridge. Not comparable road capacity-wise to Westbard whatsoever.

Robert Dyer said...

7:40: Residents oppose redevelopment of WES. I don't understand your point.

Robert Dyer said...

7:50: You're right - citizens understandably oppose more traffic congestion more school overcrowding, more noise and air pollution, higher crime and urbanization of their suburban residential neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Current residents oppose redevelopment. Future residents and those who would use the retail support it.

Anonymous said...

So it's just as poor planning then that they dumped thousands of new residents on the highway system...

Anonymous said...

So, if I understand Dyer, "Smart Growth" requires location next to a Metro station... except when it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"You've got to use the actual number of residents in the Peterson development, not a general Census figure. I've never seen a 'Pike & Rose' or 'Crown Farm' Census breakout before."

National Harbor is a Census-Designated Place. You would know this if you had bothered to research it.

Robert Dyer said...

4:16: You obviously don't understand - I never claimed National Harbor was "smart growth." In fact, it's been heavily criticized for not having a rapid transit connection.

4:20: Great, that still doesn't change what the point was, which is that more residents will be coming to Westbard than a place the Post refers to as "a mini city."

4:11: In general, yes. The main difference is that commuters don't have to travel local roads extensively to reach the Interstate. That's not the case at Westbard.

4:09: You mean the future residents "who aren't even born yet," to use the words of one planning commissioner who voted for this dumpster fire of a plan?

People who aren't born can't vote! We can.

Robert Dyer said...

More reason for concern about the low-income housing dump at Westbard - new Obama administration rules will not allow landlords to reject applicants who have criminal histories:

http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/04/obama-admin-tells-landlords-they-cant-refuse-to-house-criminals/

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Dear Anonymous 4:09:

Thanks for repeating the meme that "current residents oppose redevelopment."

You've provided us with yet another opportunity to educate the public: Current residents emphatically do not oppose re-development; they never have.

Residents are very united in their desire to overhaul and update the Westbard shopping area. However, we are strongly opposed to the density dump of thousands of new residents - which will affect our schools, our roads/traffic congestion, and the environment (they're coming with their cars).

Reasonable re-development is a plus; gross over-development which adds thousands of new residents to Westbard Avenue, however, is a big negative.

Anonymous said...

I'm 4:09 - that rhetoric was Dyer's, not mine. Read his statement I relied to. :)

Anonymous said...

As usual, Dyer @ 5:34 AM gets it wrong.

There is no prohibition on "rejecting applicants who have criminal histories". Even the article from Daily Heckler to which he links makes this clear:

"HUD says that landlords may be allowed to bar those with criminal records from living in a facility, but they will have to prove that such a policy is necessary for protecting the safety of other tenants, and designed to avoid illegal discrimination. The new guidance recommends that landlords consider factors such as the severity of the criminal history and how long ago it occurred. It is never illegal, HUD says, for landlords to block renting to those convicted of manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs."

In other words, you can't reject a potential tenant simply by asking them, "have you ever been arrested?"

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Got it 6:09; still, it's important to clarify the larger point, always, since the residents who oppose the massive density dump on Westbard Avenue are routinely painted as troglodytes. Thank you for being polite.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh looking at the photo - is anyone who attended that meeting under the age of 60? That doesn't look like my Bethesda neighborhood! I am sure the nanny or au pair could have stayed with the kiddies.......

Anonymous said...

6:56 - Why are you laughing at how people look? That's vile.

Flynn said...

I try to always be polite in this comment section. Kind of hard sometimes from both sides it seems. :)

So a few questions and thoughts.

Understandably current Westbard residents would like to see something they deem more fitting. A question might be how much weight does the opinion of the this one group who will be impacted from their current way of life hold versus other stakeholders. The land owners, potential residents, county, etc. I think it would be fair to say that while those in opposition are quite vocal, there are many unspoken proponents for. And how much do we balance a long view with the current and past?

Which is where we stand today with a huge resistance to change. Is the change for the better? That's answered differently from every perspective...

Anonymous said...

Flynn,
I'd like to live in the Palisades neighborhood in DC.
Should my opinions now outweigh those who live there already?

Anonymous said...

Those that are planning millennials' future, are so out of touch with how we think.
Sad.

Anonymous said...

Do you own a lot in the Palisades? Is there a developer building a house for sale that you could buy? Then one might surmise that yes, your opinion counts. As does the opinion of current homeowners.

Anonymous said...

Those that aren't planning for Millennials and beyond are perhaps also "so out of touch"?

Anonymous said...

Millennials want the same things as everyone else: nice house, safe neighborhood for their kids, amenities, etc.
Same thing as any other neighborhood in MoCo.

Anonymous said...

@10:37 AM - Your biases betray your age.

Anonymous said...

10:36 AM I don't own land in the Palisades, but I see myself as a future resident.
Should my opinions be the same as current residents and property owners? :)

Developers can buy land, but they don't automatically have authority to maximize every square foot for profit. That's why there's a planning board and a planning process with input and thoughtful consideration.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. They have the already agreed upon rights and could certainly just build that without any fuss. If they ask for more, they have to provide a good case to the planning department, who barter for concessions in exchange and consider the current and future needs. Sometimes those decisions don't jibe with the current residents, but the planning board has more than just those residents' desires to consider.

Look at Westbard. They asked for a ton and as we understand it have been scaled back a bunch already. Current Westbard residents need to compromise too. Just like the land owners and county council and planning board and potential residents and potential shoppers do too.

Again not having anything to do with Westbard myself (other than bystander opinions and a personal desire to shop there and see a nicer area), I personally don't have enough data to pass opinion on whether this compromise is fair for all parties.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:58 AM - Your biases betray your age too? I'm a young 52 perhaps. ;) or I'm thinking of my teenage kids maybe and what they will be inheriting from our decisions?

Anonymous said...

Sure that's a baseline most people want regardless of demographic. Certainly there are quite a lot of similarities but also differences in preferences between groups. Some people like density and others don't. Some people like cars while others prefer mass transit or biking or walking. Late night bars may or may not be your preference. Lots of people hustling and bustling in the streets isn't everyone's bag. Live music emanating in the streets is one person's lack of sleep and another's idea of a great environment. So it's hardly identical needs and desires.

Anonymous said...

when the meeting is set at 5pm, it's easier for older people to attend than those with young children. the people with young children in our community that i've spoken to, however, are equally concerned with the proposed development, particularly because it will likely overcrowd the schools. re: diversity, i welcome more, and i'm sure a large chunk of the community does as well. i don't think that issue is really at the heart of this project, however. the developers aren't trying to build tall buildings so they can sing kumbaya -- they're here to make a profit. and most of us aren't resisting their efforts for any reasons other than the ones we've been discussing -- overcrowding of the schools and roads. probably best to take accusations about this issue off the table.

Anonymous said...

11:07 AM why have a planning board and process then? Just check the box that a plan is legal and say the hell with the neighbors and community. Not a great way to go, right?

The most successful projects are win-wins for the developer and community.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what by right development is? An agreed upon set of standards that everyone has already agreed to. So yes, in that case the neighbor is out of luck for what the neighbor might prefer.

Robert Dyer said...

11:07: The good-cop/bad cop routine is standard procedure for the Montgomery County political cartel. Developers ask for more than they need, and a "good cop" like Berliner will save the day with a lesser amount. The Council will then say they wisely scaled back the plan. It's purely Kabuki theater, and developers and politicians win while residents lose.

Robert Dyer said...

8:23: What rights does a person who isn't born yet, or doesn't pay taxes here have in deciding the future of Westbard?

Hint: Zero!
Flynn, would you say that the opinions of those who don't vote in this November's election should carry more weight than those who actually vote?

If not, why would the opinions of those who chose not to participate in the sector plan process - and there is a process - trump those of us who did participate?

The "silent majority" canard is a serious threat to the future of democracy in Montgomery County.

Robert Dyer said...

6:40: Hopefully you recognized the several legal loopholes embedded in the statement you quoted, with which a jailbird may threaten and intimidate landlords with legal action.

Anonymous said...

What would you rather the rules and process be? What might work better?

Anonymous said...

Having a meeting at 5pm is a similiR tactic to splitting up a hearing with a large break in between. Biased audiences that can attend.

Robert Dyer said...

5:42: Wrong again. Since the process started, there have been meetings held at all hours, as early as 7:00 AM in November 2014, and as late as 7:30 PM.

At EVERY ONE of those meetings, the overwhelming majority of attendees clearly stated they wanted low-density development of no more than 45-50', and have consistently opposed the plan that was drawn up which did not include any of the wishes or opinions expressed by the residents who wasted time attending day-long charades, er, charettes in 2014.

The "silent majority" audience you claim favors the plan DOES NOT EXIST. It would have turned out to speak and participate. There's as much evidence of its existence as there is of the Man in the Moon (maybe less).

Robert Dyer said...

4:37: Rules and process for what?

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer hit the nail on the head. Developers routinely come in with outrageously excessive proposals (Chevy Chase Lake for example) and then through the dog and pony show called charrettes they scale back and rework the proposal to some thing more reasonable, which of course is still way bigger than community wants, but whew! we sure dodged that crazy big plan!

It is pure Kabuki and the good old fashioned ploy of "ask for the pony, settle for the dog".

Anonymous said...

I would be ecstatic for a new development there. I can stop by only drive back from work.

Anonymous said...

How would you make a better planning and permitting process?

Anonymous said...

What's a proposed alternative? Not arguing, just asking.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Dear Anonymous 5:42

In reference to your statement that "Having a meeting at 5pm is a similiR tactic to splitting up a hearing with a large break in between. Biased audiences that can attend", I assure that it was not set-up at 5:00 p.m. to pander to "biased audiences."

An impromptu meeting means you take what you can get; the organizers had several schedules to accommodate and this was the consensus timing for the benefit of those who organized the meeting on short notice. Did the timing affect your ability to attend? It wasn't easy for me to be there; but when something is important, if at all possible, one drops other obligations (to the extent possible) and shows-up at the meeting.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't easy but I also was able to attend the session that was split up by a few hours too.

Robert Dyer said...

6:16: The proposed alternative is 589 total units, with heights of 45-50'. Which is more than necessary, as many shopping center are built or redeveloped without adding residential. So the various developers would already be getting a massive concession with almost 600 housing units. It would also encourage a better mix of retail and restaurant structures, as opposed to "blocky apartment building here, blocky apartment building there."

And everyone was very clear that they wanted at least one gas station to remain on Westbard. That was completely disregarded by the PB and Council as well. Lots of folks will be losing their jobs as a result. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

@RobertDyer

How did the Planning Board vote break? Was unanimous or was there disagreement?

Anonymous said...

Does the planning board or council have any legal right to dictate type of business like a gas station?

Robert Dyer said...

10:20: Yes. D.C. has a board that rules whether or not a gas station can be redeveloped as something else.

8:52: It was unanimous.

Anonymous said...

But current MoCo/MD laws do not allow such discretion by the board or council?

Anonymous said...

11:53 AM is correct in noting that DC is not MoCo.

And the only result of laws restricting future use of gas stations, is abandoned gas stations becoming even worse eyesores on our landscapes.

Robert Dyer said...

5:36: I don't think that noting the MoCo Council is more corrupt than the D.C. Council is a good argument for getting rid of needed gas stations.

Anonymous said...

So Robert it sounds like you are pro government dictating private land owners usage.

Robert Dyer said...

6:35: If landowners are putting the public interest at risk, such as by closing all gas stations in a particular area, it's entirely appropriate for government to step in. Perhaps you get around by magic carpet?

Anonymous said...

So Robert, are you for more government I see?

I don't know if I agree. A landowner shouldn't be forced to put his land to certain uses (outside of zoning restrictions, which can change by master plan or appeal if I understand it). Imagine the government tells you that you have to operate a gas station on your land? That's some un-democratic perspective there.

And MoCo apparently agrees, which is why there is no such rule.