Monday, May 02, 2016

Poll: Westbard sector plan has only 3% support among residents; 79% want to keep existing zoning; Luxmanor joins fight

Nearly 80% of residents who
took a Save Westbard poll oppose
the Westbard sector plan
Score another one for the vocal majority. A new survey of residents in neighborhoods affected by the proposed Westbard sector plan rewrite shows again that the community overwhelmingly opposes the plan. 79.3% said they prefer to keep the existing zoning, which would allow the Westwood Shopping Center to redevelop but limit new housing units to 580. Heights would be capped at 50'.

Only 3% said they want the Montgomery County Council to approve the plan, which is expected to be voted on Tuesday. The survey required respondents to provide their name and full address, which ensured the results were representative of actual residents. Other recent "polls" produced by development interests have had responses from outsiders everywhere from the District to the United Kingdom (you can't make this stuff up, folks).

In response to the survey results, Save Westbard, the citizen organization that conducted the survey, wrote to the Council:

"Due to overwhelming opposition by the residents, and as evidenced by the survey results attached hereto, SaveWestbard renews its request that each and every Councilmember reject the proposed Westbard Sector Plan (WSP) when it comes before the Council for a vote tomorrow, May 3rd."

79% of residents said they prefer the Save Westbard organization (which conducted the survey) to represent their interests after Tuesday's Council vote, rather than existing citizen associations. Some opponents of the plan have criticized the endorsement of the "Berliner" amendments to the plan by the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, which did not reflect an actual vote by any of the neighborhoods it represents. The changes, which are not yet official, were proposed by Councilmember Roger Berliner. The Berliner Alternative, as he called it, has been soundly rejected by residents, only receiving support from developers and the CCCFH.

73.79% said the sector plan process was "obscure and confusing, dominated by developer interests rather than the affected constituents, and a reproach to the principles of representative government." 66% pledged they were willing to support (financially or by volunteering time) legal action against the Westbard vote.

702 actual, verified residents took the survey. Springfield, Wood Acres, Sumner, Kenwood and Westmoreland Hills were among the most active in taking the poll. Twenty-nine communities participated in all, including Westgate, Mohican Hills, High Point, Crestview, the Town of Somerset, Westbard and Westwood Mews, Green Acres, Spring Hill, Glen Cove, Glen Mar Park, Brookdale, Westhaven, Kenwood Forest and Park Bethesda.

The survey results, as well as the community petition signed by over 200 residents who attended a Save Westbard meeting on April 3, will be hand-delivered to the Council offices this afternoon. Save Westbard's letter concludes by warning the Council that a vote to approve the plan "directly contravenes the will of the people."

Meanwhile, the number of citizen groups across the County backing Westbard residents in their fight against urbanization grew over the weekend. On Friday, the Luxmanor Citizens Association called on the Council to freeze development proposals at Westbard, the WMAL tower site, Rock Spring, Wildwood, and White Flint 2 until adequate public facilities and infrastructure can be provided to support such growth.

Abbe Milstein, President of the LCA, wrote to County officials that Luxmanor has "watched with interest as the County prepares to move ahead with a proposed Westbard sector plan despite overwhelming opposition from residents in that area. We too are dismayed by the County's irresponsible development plans."

Criticizing the County's attempt to urbanize the suburbs, Milstein wrote, "Families in our neighborhood have paid premium prices to live primarily in detached single-family homes on quiet streets under a leafy, tree-covered canopy where our children can attend world-class public schools.  And we’d like it to stay that way.  Recently, however, it seems that our elected representatives and various developers appear to want to take all of that away from us.  Against our will, these forces have apparently decided that our area should be more urban."

In regard to the Council's suggestion that schools such as Walter Johnson and Whitman can be "super-sized" (with no explanation as to where the magic money will come from to do so, by the way), Milstein cites data that indicates large schools negatively impact the quality of education.

Residents and small business owners in Lyttonsville, also facing an urbanization push from the Council and Planning Board, have already joined the Westbard fight. Several marched alongside Bethesda residents in last Tuesday's protest at the Council building in Rockville.


116 comments:

Poppy said...

People derisively refer to those of us who support high-end retail at Westbard as 1%'ers. Turns out they are wrong, we're actually 3%'ers! ;)

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

Many thanks for publishing the survey results, Robert Dyer. Before the comments here deteriorate into the usual mud-slinging, SaveWestbard states upfront that we have the names of the survey respondents and we are able to unequivocally prove that the survey respondents live at/near/in/around Westbard. If the media would like to inspect the names, they may do so, under strict conditions of confidentiality and non-disclosure. The names/addresses will be reviewed in my presence, or in my representative's presence, and will not be available for publication and/or reproduction. Contact savewestbard@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

6:01 - Back to the double-wide for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see other neighborhoods joining together. Westbard is just the tip of the iceberg.
Kudos to LCA- "We too are dismayed by the County's irresponsible development plans."

Robert Dyer said...

Poppy, wouldn't you agree that high-end retail doesn't require several apartment buildings to be constructed? I assume you shop at the Collection at Chevy Chase - the most expensive retail around, and a 1-2 story retail-only structure. Nobody opposes retail at Westbard.

Anonymous said...

Westbard NIMBYs "part of the Trumpification of America"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/in-montgomery-cos-westbard-anger-and-resentment-over-a-less-suburban-future/2016/05/01/4c53e5e0-0d5e-11e6-a6b6-2e6de3695b0e_story.html

Anonymous said...

"702 actual, verified residents took the survey. Springfield, Wood Acres, Sumner, Kenwood and Westmoreland Hills were among the most active in taking the poll. Twenty-nine communities participated in all, including Westgate, Mohican Hills, High Point, Crestview, the Town of Somerset, Westbard and Westwood Mews, Green Acres, Spring Hill, Glen Cove, Glen Mar Park, Brookdale, Westhaven, Kenwood Forest and Park Bethesda."

And what is the total population of all these "twenty-nine communities"?

Poppy said...

You have a very good point Robert. Honestly, I don't particularly have an opinion about what the apartment situation is with the new development, as long as the high-end retail is involved. Honestly, if someone proposed a new plan with no new housing and even more high end retail, I would be even more in support of the development!

Wrol said...

Selection bias much?

It's not just the residents polled whose opinion or perspective counts. County has to consider potential/future residents, businesses, and the current landowner had a perspective too.

I wonder what the percentage would be like if you took into account the square footage owned by the landowners. :). See how the data can easily be presented to modify different opinions and wants?

Anonymous said...

Save Westbard and, to a lesser extent, Robert Dyer, have minimized their impact by the positions they have taken and the tone in which they communicate them. Local citizens have a voice, but not a veto which some appear to believe exists. As a result, their views are now largely on the periphery and they have lost credibility. As a supporter of the project, it has been interesting to watch this unfold.

Wrol said...

Dyer, didn't the Collection at Chevy Chase say they are modifying their approach because it wasn't working?

Anonymous said...

As an opponent of this project I have to agree with 6:55 sadly.

B said...

@Robert and @WCC - What was your methodology in surveying the residents of the area? Did you just poll everyone on the SaveWestbard mailing list? Did you go door to door? I'm just trying to understand who those 702 residents actually represent.

Anonymous said...

@6:56

The Collection at Chevy Chase is not a good example. It is NOT working and will be going away soon.

Poppy said...

@7:02 I certainly hope you are wrong. The only other place to find that collection of retail is 5th Avenue. Are we really such backwoodsers here that we are willing to force residents to go to New York City for fashion essentials?

Anonymous said...

Poppy-you and your ridiculousness just popped into this discussion about a month ago. As an astroturfer you are especially offensive. Sorry, you have not even come close to capturing the voice of a progressive or a native Bethesdian.
In reality, we hope your view from your office on Lake Shore Drive offers you all the retail you are looking for!

Anonymous said...

In other news, the NRA took a poll among their members and 98% were against repealing the second amendment.

This survey means nothing. I live 2 miles away, but not in an adjacent neighborhood. I'm affected by Westbard as I drive past it and shop in there every day. I'm in favor of redevelopment. They need to poll all people affected, and not just send the poll out to people in favor of their cause, who live across the street from the redevelopment.

Robert Dyer said...

6:55: Sorry if the community isn't capitulating as you expected. Local citizens don't have a voice. We had to sit quiet during the worksessions. Barbara Sears, Equity One's attorney, donated great quantities to the Council, and - surprise - was allowed to address the Council for unlimited time at those same sessions.

Equity One has a veto - why shouldn't we, the taxpayers?

We've got one more thing out of town developers don't have - a vote in November 2018 on these councilmembers. A "YE$" vote Tuesday = a NO vote in 2018 - or term limits even sooner. #ThrowTheBumsOut

One of the last-minute desperation talking points is that the residents are so rude and unruly!!!!! Too bad it's being delivered by developer stooges who are being quoted saying nasty things about the residents. Oops. Who was it again that called in muscle, a tow truck, and 4 cop cars to chase kids and grandparents out of the world-class, "welcoming" shopping center? Oops.

Anonymous said...

Poppy @ 7:11 AM - Here is an article about the challenges that the Collection is facing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/digger/wp/2015/06/01/luxury-shopping-arrives-downtown-and-friendship-heights-braces-for-departures/

Robert Dyer said...

7:18: The reality is that those directly impacted by the development - everything from rats, noise and dust during construction to buildings towering over homes when finished - naturally should receive greater weight than those further away.

B said...

@7:18 I agree. Maybe if they even polled current patrons of the businesses in and around nighborhoods it may paint a clearer picture. I'll still wait for a response from Robert or WCC though...

Robert Dyer said...

I never said the layout of the Collection was ideal, inspired or appealing to make people hang out there. But it was financially possible for CCLC to build without residential. It's possible to create appealing public spaces without residential. How does residential make you want to shop or dine? Unless you plan to break into an apartment, they're off limits to shoppers and diners, so what's the point (other than developer profit)?

Robert Dyer said...

"I need muscle over here."

Anonymous said...

@7:21.

AKA the Collection is going away.

Robert Dyer said...

7:23: Patrons don't have to live next to it. Moreover, it doesn't require residential to get good retail. So unless they are very odd people, why would a distant patron of the shopping center oppose a revitalization that didn't include multiple apartment buildings?

Robert Dyer said...

6:31: Isn't it pretty dumb to call a majority Democratic neighborhood "Trumpian" - is that what happens when you're from out of town and don't know the political demographics of the community?

B said...

@Robert 7:32 - Your point isn't invalid, but I was more getting at the question of who the surveyed residents were (6:59). How were the 702 people surveyed selected?

Anonymous said...

I agree, if you are a shopper in a retail space, why would you care residential upstairs?

It is a non factor to the experience. The only impact is the difficulty it adds to the parking situation.

Anonymous said...

@Dyer

"I never said the layout of the Collection was ideal, inspired or appealing to make people hang out there. But it was financially possible for CCLC to build without residential. It's possible to create appealing public spaces without residential. How does residential make you want to shop or dine? Unless you plan to break into an apartment, they're off limits to shoppers and diners, so what's the point (other than developer profit)?"

Honestly, if that is your opinion - you have a fundamental lack of understanding of the development process. Also, if you are using the assumption that CCLC is a financially viable project for CCLC...well, that is a pretty big assumption. The issue with that block is the mix of retail and lack of supporting residential.

Look at Ward 3...Woodley Park/Tenleytown and other areas. Retail is struggling to say the least. One of the biggest reasons by is because of the lack of high density residential. The NIMBY's over there have made it largely impossible to redevelop any of the areas along Wisconsin and Connecticut - that is where density belongs. I guarantee you the lack of high density residential in those areas is a large reason why several of those corridors struggle.

Anonymous said...

I find poppy refreshingly funny. Able to take a humorous look at the situation while others simply froth.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us where it says that is a requirement?

And why does this survey data data prove valid to you while say the county school data does not?

Anonymous said...

"Save Westbard, the citizen organization that conducted the survey"

Poll conducted by X shows outsized support for argument asserted by X.

Lol this means absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

"Poppy" is only here for traffic to their blog.
The antithesis of progressive and spouting the elitist greed-speak. distasteful.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:19

Good comedy though.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

In the same manner 8:18, EO petition pushed by EO and its PR firm means absolutely nothing, wouldn't you agree?

B said...

@WCC - I agree with you. So, will you answer my first Q? What was your methodology in surveying the residents of the area?

Anonymous said...

How does a five-story building "tower over" a home that is a quarter-mile away?

Robert Dyer said...

7:42: While I am puzzled as to why CCLC didn't take advantage of proximity to Metro to add density to that site, the Collection is right across the street from one of the highest-density urban areas in the County, and walking distance from Chevy Chase MD/DC single-family homes. So I don't think a lack of live bodies is the main problem.

Robert Dyer said...

9:03: They're not a quarter mile away - one will be right across the street from single-family homes on Ridgefield Road.

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

Do you think we care what about what the people in Westbard think? We will never lose an election. The demographics of the county are changing and we don't need white senior citizen votes.

Anonymous said...

Was it a random sample or an unscientific survey?

Anonymous said...

What prevented people from voting more than once?

Anonymous said...

How do the demographics and geographic representation of respondents compare to the population?

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

9:02 Methodology? Please state your qualifications upon which you demand to examine the methodology of our survey. Did I demand to know how EO distributed its fake petition? No, I did not. Despite your rudeness, here is the short answer: we surveyed area residents and we have the names and addresses of the survey respondents to support the survey results. It was a community survey, broadly distributed among the community neighborhood distribution lists. The fact that we were able to reach 702 residents in a three-day time frame is impressive; many residents forwarded the survey freely among themselves. We did not control to whom the survey was sent and it was linked as "open to the public" (as opposed to open by invite only). There was ONE catch: In order to prevent fraudulent hi-jacking of the survey, survey respondents were required to identify their Westbard-area neighborhood and then state their name and address to prove that the respondents were actually Westbard-area residents.

Anonymous said...

Wish we'd have the same level of scrutiny when Hands Reamer does a survey monkey or when Planning does a survey about downtown Bethesda in which folks in Northern VA and DC were weighing in on the future of our downtown :\

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who want to know the source of the list/s used to conduct the Save Westbard survey.

I did hear that the first stage of the survey, which polled the Sumner neighborhood, was based on a list serv of Sumner community association members, but I can't confirm that, nor do I know how the remaining respondents were selected.

Here is what I can verify, however:

1. The Save Westbard survey gave respondents meaningful choices. Respondents were asked if they favored 1)the sector plan before the Council (3%); 2)the Save Westbard alternative (79%); or 3)an alternative negotiated outcome with the Council (18%). 702 people responded in roughly 3 days.

2. The petition circulated by Equity One did not address a range of specific alternatives. Rather, it discussed the benefits of a renovated shopping center-- not the residential components of the Westwood redevelopment plan. The petition received only 182 signatures-- that is, only 26% of the number of people who participated in the Save Westbard survey-- even though the Equity One petition was circulated over a 9 day period (that is, a 3 times longer period than the Save Westbard petition).

3. The CCCFH, an umbrella association of community organizations, posted an online petition urging neighborhood scale development at Westbard in January 2016. That petition received over 1450 signatures, including names and addresses. The petition was circulated via community association list servs.

4. I asked Councilmember Berliner at a community meeting over the winter whether the County could survey residents to ascertain community sentiment on Westbard. Councilmember Berliner replied that this was unnecessary, because he and his staff had a strong understanding of community sentiment.

From the quantitative evidence that has been developed to date, it appears that Westbard area residents overwhelmingly favor a redeveloped shopping center and lower height/density redevelopment. It is unfortunate that Montgomery County did not conduct a survey.

Anonymous said...

Can Reamer whip up a questionnaire in surveymonkey?

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

I will send the general survey results to anyone whom asks (without the actual names). If a person is intent upon seeing the actual names, they may do so in my presence or in my representative's presence. The document with the actual names is not for publication and/or reproduction. Contact info above.

Anonymous said...

10:24 AM - It is clear there is broad dissatisfaction with the current plan. The county and the developers have not taken these sentiments into account.

It is funny that Berliner and others tout the "green" aspects of the project yet don't reference the fact that Equity One has already said "they don't have the money for the stream project" now.

None of those things probably make a difference, the county is just going to do what they want to do.

Anonymous said...

Westbard Concerned Citizens: It would be a good idea to detail your methodology and asking about it is a fair question.

Your survey was well-designed and gave residents meaningful choices to respond to. That you received 702 responses in 3 days is impressive. I think that you did a great job.

If the survey could be made more representative through broader distribution, that would be helpful for the future. If needed, it would be a good idea to cooperate with CCCFH and its 19 neighborhood associations on this front.

Save Westbard should be commended for circulating the survey. CCCFH and the neighborhood associations should have done this, but took no action. I suggested a community survey to 2 neighborhood associations in Fall 2015, to no avail.

Anonymous said...

"many residents forwarded the survey freely among themselves"

i.e. "many Westbard NIMBYs forwarded the survey freely among other Westbard NIMBYs"

What a joke.

Anonymous said...

10:37 AM - What is a joke is that supporters of this project have not been able to produce any demonstrable support for their project in the community.

No evidence of support despite the full weight of the Montgomery County Council, Planning Board, and Equity One and their public relations team.

Anonymous said...

Many are saying that CCCFH, the alliance of 19 neighborhood groups in the Westbard area, supports the revised sector plan before the Council. That is not true. CCCFH, in an April 2016 letter to the Council, has stated that the revised Westbard plan is better than the original, but that it would prefer still lower heights and densities.

CCCFH's statement is not an endorsement of the revised plan. Rather it says "the compromise plan is better than no compromise." Pretty tepid.

It would be nice if the community organizations, CCCFH and Save Westbard could collaborate. The Westbard community is opposed to the revised sector plan, and there is still much work to be done.

Anonymous said...

All this hoopla and for what? Move aside senior citizens of the Dyer blog because Westbard is here to fuck shit up! But don't worry, it's not like you'll be around to see the Millennials that move in.

Get ready for some nightlife articles Dyer because we'll be partying like its 1999 in Westbard before no time!

Anonymous said...

@10.37: I forwarded the survey to others and I had no idea how they were going to respond. I just wanted Westbard residents to be able to report their views.

So far, there is no evidence of a "silent majority" in favor of the revised sector plan. I have attended meetings with Equity One, the Planning Department, and my community association, as well as the Planning Board and County Council hearings. Community sentiment has overwhelmingly favored lower-rise/lower density redevelopment.

Equity One circulated a petition in support of the plan from April 13-22 (9 days), and came up with only 182 signatures of support. By contrast, the Save Westbard survey generated 702 responses (including names and addresses) in only 3 days.

The Save Westbard results are consistent with the opinions expressed at public meetings and County Council hearings. Those in favor of the sector plan, if they exist, have had equal opportunity to express their views. I suspect that this is because support for the sector plan is indeed low.

B said...

9:02 here, thanks for responding. Not sure how I was being rude though - I'm not 8:18, if you thought I was.

I'm not demanding anything from WCC, and I'm not sure I really care for EquityOne's fake petition, either.

The fact that you received 702 survey responses in three days is impressive! That's not easy.
Also, good work on the address opt-in, to make sure all respondents were Westbard-area residents.

I suppose the root of my question lies in the "community neighborhood distribution lists". What are those? Who is included on those lists? For example, I live in the Westbard area, but didn't receive a survey link. Why is that?

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

10:37 jokester: No, there is no joke; is that your only response? As stated, it was freely distributed on neighborhood distribution lists over which we have no control; to whom it was sent was not controlled by SaveWestbard. Anyone in the area was welcome to take the survey as long as they stated their neighborhood, name and address. Why don't you run your own survey since you don't like ours since the results did not comport with your position ... The truth is hard to dodge; this community rejects the proposed WSP. As 10:42 points out, we are still waiting for ANY evidence that a majority of the residents want this plan. Waiting ... waiting ... it's never going to happen.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

@10:55 I have no idea why you did not see the survey. What neighborhood are you located in?

Anonymous said...

1051- you are a prime example of what is wrong with America. Respect your elders for heavens sake! That said- As an aging citizen of Bethesda- your quality of reporting is also evidence of fading American journalism. I get showing your opinion, but you are so one-sided in reporting it shows lack of education and experience. I want to follow your blog but it is really getting tough to deal with these days.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

I'll add here, too, that AFTER I closed the survey at NOON on Sunday, as I said I would do ... then, many people contacted me to say they wanted to take the survey and could I re-open it and why was it not working? Answer: Because I told you I was closing it at Noon on Sunday, and I always do what I say I am going to do. I'll add that many of the ones who missed the opportunity to take it wanted to state their opposition to the proposed WSP, and I did not let them because they were too late.

Anonymous said...

How much of the total population got and responded to survey? Who did not get the survey?

B said...

@WCC Not sure what neighborhood Park Bethesda is officially in, but I just call it Westbard.

Anonymous said...

^^^It's not Westbard you moron

birdbrain

Anonymous said...

Expect to see an uptick in troll activity here as the vote on the plan approaches.
Standard tactic.

Anonymous said...

The amount of uneducated people on the matter is only a matter of the author of this blog. 1102 put it best - what a birdbrain

Anonymous said...

"Standard tactic"

sureeeeee...get a life, birdbrain

Anonymous said...

I live in Arlington and did not receive the survey.
I can see Bethesda from my front porch and deserve a vote!

Anonymous said...

Funny how no one is "trolling" Hans Riemer right now...

Anonymous said...

How much did Dyer pay you to write that? He probably had to offer "favors" since he already spent his allowance money his mom gave him last week.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

11:00 Park Bethesda was listed on the survey as an option and I believe no one from that building chose that as their place of residence; therefore, we had no Park Bethesda respondents. If we are given the opportunity to take an even larger area survey, I will personally make sure that it is sent directly to you and then you may share it with your neighbors in Park Bethesda. Will be given that chance for an even larger survey? ... we shall know tomorrow, I guess.

Westbard Concerned Citizens said...

I meant, no one among survey respondents chose Park Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

Don't only expect high volume of troll comments here, but they'll be nastier as well. It's all about the vote coming up on the Westbard plan. Standard tactic to create noise/disruption :)

B said...

Not sure I get 11:02's comment, but anyway...

Thanks WCC for both clearing up my question, and for shining some useful light on the survey. So it's safe to say that although selecting Park Bethesda was an option, we can probably assume that no one in that building took the survey.

Anonymous said...

Personally- I dont give a rat's ass about Westbard. I just find it comical all the uproar of Bethesda citizens against the project. Do the people commenting here, including Dyer, really have a clue of what it will do to traffic in the area? People acting like they know everything are so frustrating and make it embarassing to call Bethesda home. Bethesda is supposed to be one of the most educated cities in the US, yet the lack of progressive, forward thinking evident here really does not support that hypothesis.

Signed,
A Worried Citizen

Anonymous said...

"Why don't you run your own survey since you don't like ours since the results did not comport with your position ... The truth is hard to dodge; this community rejects the proposed WSP. As 10:42 points out, we are still waiting for ANY evidence that a majority of the residents want this plan."

I couldn't care less whether the Westbard residents keep their slum of a commercial district. I only comment because the raucous behavior, racism/ageism, and blatant ignorance of the NIMBYs (who can't even manage to have a civilized conversation) is at such odds with the reputation of the majority of the county.

If the NIMBYs want to keep their hub of liqour stores, auto repair shops, run-down gas stations, way out-of-date supermarkets, storage facilities, McDonald's, etc. More power to them.

Of course I'm sure most residents would like to see improvement, but the vocal NIMBYs just pretend they don't exist.

Last I checked, possession of fradulent "evidence" isn't superior to a lack of sound evidence.

Anonymous said...

11:26AM (the 1st one)- Good call. Didn't take long, did it?
Devolving into ad hominem arguments, misattribution of views.

Anonymous said...

Required reading:

"No one is coming for your single-family house."

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/m/post/30664/montgomery-county-isnt-really-waging-war-against-suburbia/#comments

Anonymous said...

Amazing that the Post article this morning made the Save Westbard folks look like nasty, selfish ignorant fools for having the audacity to protest this insane plan.

Meanwhile, the Post ignored the nasty attacks that the Pro-Westbard Plan folks (Equity One, their PR firm and council) engage in here. Far nastier stuff than protesting outside the council building.

Anonymous said...

"which ensured the results were representative of actual residents [who responded]"

fixed that for you. Claiming 550 residents are the "vocal majority" is cute, though.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of those 550 residents will actually be alive to see any construction, anyways. Sector Plans are for 30+ years; the council's duty is to the county as a whole and the goal is to make Westbard attractive to future residents of future decades, not today's octogenarians.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, the voters will decide. If enough are against the plan, we'll see change on the Council.
If people don't care, then we'll have the same council back.

Anonymous said...

Westbard should secede from the county. It is the only way. MoCo's budget will be busted without their taxes.

Anonymous said...

12:04 - The only racism and ageism on display is from the supporters of the Westbard project.
Also, we don't have to pretend the supporters of the project don't exist. We haven't met any.

Anonymous said...

Bill Turque of the WAPO covers the Montgomery County Council regularly. He clearly wants to stay on their good side.

Anonymous said...

We know we have the votes in the county to do what we want. We can't lose a county wide election. After this is over, it will be fun for you to see what we have in store next.

Taking the homes along Westbard so we can build more townhomes on the Manor Care site is next.

Anonymous said...

1:59 PM Hasn't this already been discussed re: the Manor Care site?

Anonymous said...

Save Westbard is really a misnomer - there really isn't much to save, if you think about it.

Commenter @1:18 makes a big point everyone here is failing to realize. Sector Plans, just like the Comprehensive Plan in DC, are LONG term planning mechanisms that are designed to help guide future development in the smartest way possible. Natrually, they aren't perfect - but if you moved to Westbard thinking that the area isn't ripe for change sometime in the next 20-30 years...then you are ignorant. I mean, the area is essentially within walking distance of a metro stop, downtown bethesda, the district etc. In it's current state, Westbard is hardly an attraction. The new plan, with some tweaks, will surely increase the property values of surrounding properties. It just will.

Anonymous said...

Westbard should secede? Who do you think we are? Texas? That is absolutely idiotic

Anonymous said...

Dyer- lets be serious- this isnt really a news blog, its more of a post a thought forum where everyone else can argue and babble on about whatever they may please.

Anonymous said...

2:15

I was referring to the single family homes next to the Manor Care site. Once EYA starts building the townhomes on the Manor Care site, the residential homes will be frustrated by the construction.

Then the neighbors will be looking to sell their single family homes. If not, other means will be available to expand the footprint.

Anonymous said...

2:48 PM I'm skeptical about that. Lots of teardowns/new homes being constructed around Bethesda. Do neighbors move because of it?

It would cost EYA a fortune to buy those existing homes. The cost of the land itself would be exorbitant.

Anyway, that's a small plot of land. Let's talk big picture. What are the big plots of land left close in? Would Kenwood Club ever sell all, or part of its golf course? They could build a city within Kenwood Club.

Would one of the big private schools (Holton, Landon, etc.) ever sell and move up county? There's dwindling interest in churches, so would they sell their land for a development?

Anonymous said...

3:02 PM

I think EYA could certainly afford to buy those homes. Especially if they make living there unpleasant for the current residents.

Good point about Kenwood, Holton and Landon. There is lots of land there for mixed use development.

I think Planning and Zoning could make it easier for Equity One and EYA to expand their footprint.

Anonymous said...

In 200 years people will be excited to visit the historic Village of Westbard. They will learn how people lived in the 20th century in a perfectly preserved area of Montgomery County.

Kids will look fascinated at the gas stations and take pictures in an antique "mini-van." A popular feature will be the Drive-thru the restored McDonald's the long defunct chain. Imagine driving a car to a place that serves food.

Tourists will gape at the great parking lot imagining every space filled with fossil fueled powered cars. How was it possible that these cars that did not drive themselves maneuver into these spots?

Robert Dyer said...

12:29: Required reading:

Article on that same website by former George Leventhal staff member advocating turning the large homes of suburban MoCo like 20816 into boarding houses (without explaining what mysterious fate the current occupants would meet to place the County in possession of their homes - scary). Yes, Leventhal is a radical. No, GGW is not a trustworthy site when it promises it wants to retain the suburbs. Asked what his source of revenue is to run the expensive ggw site, David Alpert refused to identify his angel investors.

Robert Dyer said...

1:16: 702 residents, not 550. The survey results are completely consistent with the community feedback since November 2014.

Robert Dyer said...

2:35: If this isn't a news site, how do you explain that this is the only local news outlet in MoCo to ever expose illegal and unethical activity by elected officials, environmental disaster cover-ups, and other stuff the MoCo political cartel would rather you not know about? Comments do allow people to post thoughts, but the actual content is hard news as well as coverage of nightlife, restaurants, real estate, etc.

Robert Dyer said...

2:17: Westbard is not "essentially within walking distance of Metro" - it's not even close. You just abandoned smart growth with that statement.

Equity One and Capital Properties will begin construction within the next two years - how is that a 30-year plan?

Property values will continue to rise without the redevelopment. Property values rise in Spring Valley even with mustard gas in the soil! But if overcrowding continues in the Whitman cluster, or if the area is redistricted to another cluster as the Council threatened in a Freudian slip, yes, that could impact home values.

Anonymous said...

"702 residents, not 550. The survey results are completely consistent with the community feedback since November 2014."

Yes, 702 residents responded, of which roughly 550 were in favor of keeping the current zoning. Of course those who care to fill out a poll are the same who care to provide feedback at hearings and protests.

Anonymous said...

100!!!

Anonymous said...

Only 3% support the New Westbard plan, that's about 3% more than I expected...

Robert Dyer said...

You're right - those who engage in the public process, who care enough about their neighborhood to speak out, are the ones with credibility. Those who don't bother to participate have no credibility.

Anonymous said...

So you polled everyone you knew didn't want it and the results unsurprisingly showed everyone didn't want it.

What a great poll.

Anonymous said...

B from 11.26 AM:

I appreciate your thoughtful questions. You are correct to ask who was included in the survey and how the community lists are compiled.

To get Park Bethesda residents surveyed by Westbard Concerned Citizens, it would be great if you would contact WCC. You can also give your e-mail to Save Westbard (even if you do not share their views on the sector plan) by e-mailing savewestbard@gmail.com. Getting your name on either or both of these lists will include you in any future surveys. Again, you can sign up whatever your views on Westbard sector plan.

With respect to the e-mail lists for other communities: there are about 19 community associations in the Westbard area and they maintain e-mail lists of everyone who has joined the association. People typically are invited to join when they move into the neighborhood. I am not sure if Park Bethesda is included in a community association or not. Geographically, you fall between the Springfield Community Association (contact predelman@gmail.com) and the Westbard Mews Community Association (sorry, I don't have the name of a contact person.) It might be that Park Bethesda needs to start its own community association-- I'm not sure.

I believe that the Montgomery County Planning Department has developed an e-mail list based on people who attended their planning meetings/charrettes on Westbard. I have read online that this was the source of the e-mail addresses used by Equity One in circulating its petition, although I can't confirm this.

The bottom line is that there is no single e-mail list of Westbard area residents, and some of the e-mail lists overlap. To get on a list or lists, you need to sign up. To do a survey, many lists need to be consulted. The Save Westbard survey went to a mix of community association e-mail lists and the e-mail lists of Westbard Concerned Citizens and Save Westbard. As mentioned above, the name and address opt-in was used to make sure that no one was counted more than once in the final survey.

In light of the challenges in doing a Westbard community survey, I think that Save Westbard did a great job. As you mentioned, getting 702 survey responses in 3 days is quite a feat. It would be great to have Park Bethesda included in the next survey, so I hope you will follow up with Westbard Concerned Citizens or savewestbard@gmail.com.

So far, Montgomery County has declined to do an official survey about residents' views on the Westbard sector plan. Residents have suggested this occasionally at public meetings about the sector plan. CCCFH did a survey about 10 years ago, but that survey has not been updated. (At that time, Westbard area residents wanted more/better retail and restaurant space.)





Anonymous said...

@ 6.37:

The Save Westbard survey was drawn from a variety of community lists-- not just members of Save Westbard.

You are grasping at straws.

Interesting that the petition circulated by Equity One only received 182 signatures between April 13 and April 22. And that petition did not mention building heights and residential densities-- only the benefits of retail redevelopment (which even Save Westbard wants.)

Again, where is the vast silent majority that supposedly supports this sector plan? They remain missing in action, despite Equity One's best efforts to identify them.

Anonymous said...

"Again, where is the vast silent majority that supposedly supports this sector plan?"

They live in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, DC, Arlington, etc.

The point is to make Westbard attractive to people who will live in the mixed use buildings, not to placate current residents who will have nothing to do with Westbard 10-30 years from now when it's finally built out.

Anonymous said...

Even if Westbard is developed to the max, I don't see why someone would rather live there over downtown Silver Spring or downtown Bethesda.
(No offense to Westbard folks).
They may get a few chain restaurants (think Chopt) but there won't be much appealing to younger folks.

Anonymous said...

The county should have conducted an impartial professional survey before things reached this pass. A continued failure to do so will show both lack of integrity and evident
disregard for constituents.

And some of you really need to get your basic facts straight. You look ridiculous when
you confuse the Westwood shopping center (22 acres) with the Westbard sector plan (181 acres) or the gerrymandered Berliner 'compromise' -- perhaps 30 to 40 acres, all on Westbard.

I was particularly amused by the person who wanted the survey to include future residents (in utero?) and other groups. It was an open survey; anyone open-minded enough to go to the saveWestbard.com site and explore their arguments over the last several months could have gotten on the mail-list. Procedural issues and red herrings aside, the owners of existing residences have clear standing to protest, especially as they will pay the taxes used to subsidize over-development. That cannot be said of the expansive universe of opinion some would like to use, to dilute the obvious reality of community resistance.

Anonymous said...

"I was particularly amused by the person who wanted the survey to include future residents (in utero?)"

Aren't you the same folks who say that children of Westbard residents who came to protests should be counted as votes against the plan?

Robert Dyer said...

6:37: This poll actually has credibility, unlike George Leventhal's, which received no scrutiny from the media and was accepted at face value.

Hans Riemer used *unverified* online polls, as did the Bethesda Downtown Plan staff which was heavily abused by developers outside of the plan area to skew the results. Yet the obsequious local media presented those polls as fact, and did not question the methodology. So to suddenly question a verifiable poll is quite embarrassing. Where was all of your skepticism before?

Robert Dyer said...

7:22: It's being built out before the end of this decade - not 30 years. Read the plan!

Anonymous said...

Following the vote later today, construction will begin next Monday.

3,000 new voters in time for the 2018 election!

Anonymous said...

"Open survey", "open-minded" ha. Selection bias, duh.

Anonymous said...

Anyone going on about a silent majority, just think that whatever passes will be approved by someone we voted in. So yeah, there's your silent majority right there. Democracy works, right? :)

Anonymous said...

Agreed. The people have spoken.

Anonymous said...

So the argument being made is that results of the survey do not need to be generalizable to the entire area population. The only people that count are the folks who were on those lists and actively read the emails.

Just as bad as MoCo's planning.