Sunday, September 08, 2019

Clearcut! in downtown Bethesda (Photos)

The oxygen level in the area behind the Bethesda Metro station just went down, and the carbon dioxide level has increased significantly. Large, mature trees and bushes have been clearcut at 4885 Edgemoor Lane in preparation for construction of the Edgemont II residential high-rise.
Due to exhaust-churning buses regularly entering and exiting the Woodmont Avenue-level bus bays, this is already one of the worst air-quality areas in downtown Bethesda. Every tree counts at this location.


Anonymous said...

"This is already one of the worst air-quality areas in downtown Bethesda."

You've measured it?

Anonymous said...

Wtf? So are you pro-growth or not? You complain when there isn't construction and you complain when there is construction. This blog is so annoying.

Robert Dyer said...

7:47: You're covering a lot of bases there. First of all, this is indeed an area where development should be located - right across from Metro. But the County doesn't require replacement of mature trees in the area where they are lost, and considers those little twigs that do get planted downtown as "trees." So it's totally legitimate to criticize their weak tree conservation regulations.

Second, there's much more to economic growth/economic development besides residential development (although you wouldn't know it looking at the moribund Montgomery County economy). MoCo hasn't attracted a major corporate HQ in over 20 years. We're rock bottom in the region by every relevant economic development benchmark.

7:26: Unlike the County Council, I've actually spent quality time (30-60 mins. per episode) waiting for buses at Bethesda Metro, and Friendship Heights Metro. Air quality is similar to a coal mine under there.

"Help, I'm a grown man, and I still can't cross a busy street without my parents holding my hand!!" - Montgomery County Council during the "Transit Challenge"

Anonymous said...

"Unlike the County Council, I've actually spent quality time (30-60 mins. per episode) waiting for buses at Bethesda Metro, and Friendship Heights Metro."

Help, I'm a grown man, and I don't know how to use a bus schedule!

Robert Dyer said...

8:10: You've obviously never used Metrobus or Ride On in Montgomery County. What dimension are you in where Ride On has 10 minute headways? I suggest you seek professional help.

Anonymous said...

"But the County doesn't require replacement of mature trees in the area where they are lost, and considers those little twigs that do get planted downtown as 'trees.'"

Do you have any idea of the enormous expense that would be involved in transplanting mature trees to urban locations, as well as the poor probability that they will actually thrive?

Anonymous said...

"You've obviously never used Metrobus or Ride On in Montgomery County. What dimension are you in where Ride On has 10 minute headways? I suggest you seek professional help."

I never said that Ride On "has 10 minute headways". Another one of your straw men.

What I did say is that most adults know how to use a bus schedule, so they don't need to spend the entire interval between buses waiting at the bus stop.

"I suggest you seek professional help."

I suggest you stop accusing every reader who asks a question of being mentally ill.

Also, starting off with "you've obviously never..." is not an effective way of promoting discussion.

Anonymous said...

You're a scientist now?

Anonymous said...

"You're covering a lot of bases there"

Says the guy who immediately jumps into his and the County Council's bus-riding habits, the air quality of coal mines, and Fortune 500 headquarters, in an article about a tree being cut down.

Anonymous said...

Thank god. They're removing the street trees next, right? The status quo where the retaining wall and tree placement force people to walk along the street is ridiculous. There's a reason there's no foot traffic on this part of Woodmont.

Anonymous said...

"No legitimate hurricane made landfall in the U.S. this year [2009]."

Because weather only matters if it happens in the Continental United States.

That said, 2009 was an El Nino year.

"El NiƱo events are characterized by more tropical storms and hurricanes in the eastern Pacific and a decrease in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea."

Hurricane activity in the Atlantic was below average in 2009, but significantly above average in the Pacific that year.

Anonymous said...

Scoops says he knows more about weather than the the capital weather gang. All hail Scoops our resident self appointment expert on everything

A super stable genius Robert’s extremely large head is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic and disgusting. This sliver of land should have been a community park area. Our mature tree canopy is significantly declining. I’m not a tree-hugger until I see a travesty like this. You have no idea the extent of the ecosystem that thrived on this site. It is irreplaceable.

Anonymous said...

Just when you think Robert can’t sound more drama queen shrieking hyperbole he goes and out does himself.

Worst than a coal mine. Did you really take statistical sufficient air samples of both? Please Big Brain enlighten the rest of us who don’t have unnaturally swelled brains.

Anonymous said...

11:38 AM - It's not old-growth forest. It's 6 street trees (about 20 years old) planted awkwardly against a retaining wall, plus 1 large tree in the yard.

Anonymous said...

The developer is indeed replacing the street trees with the largest transplantable trees used in urban settings, 3 1/2 “ caliper, located in enhanced soil beds. Anything larger actually takes much longer to mature, and often don’t survive. These are considered the perfect size for new street trees.

The developer is also creating a privately owned publicly space in front of the Edgemont I (replacing their visitor parking lot) that includes seven large multiple stem River Birch shade trees to create a nice shady plaza. The have also committed to add a new 11 space Capital Bikeshare station in the plaza.

The net gain of dense housing close to the Metro, plus large street trees and a new urban plaza far outweigh the loss of a few trees, most that were on private property. Trees are a renewable resource if properly sized, planted and cared for.

Anonymous said...

True Smart Growth, just one-eighth of a mile from the Metro station (just one-quarter of Dyer's "half a mile walkshed from transit" - and he still finds something to complain about.

Instead of wringing your hands over a couple of ornamental trees being cut down, why not push for low- or no-emission bus technology?

As it is, Ride On's current fleet consists of 120 diesel buses, 40 diesel-electric hybrid buses, and 80 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

Robert Dyer said...

4:51: Mature forestation is not "a couple of ornamental trees."

2:05: Trees are not a renewable resource, particularly when they are not replaced at a one-to-one ratio with the same species, in the same location. Street trees of the type being planted in downtown Bethesda do not have anywhere close to the pollution filtering capability of the ones being cut down.

1:43: The trees being removed are much larger, and a much more important part of the ecosystem, than the ornamental twigs that will be planted in the future. It's particularly important in a smoggy area like that around the bus bays.

12:31: I said similar to, not worse than, and it is a very accurate characterization of the poor air quality in these covered WMATA bus bays. Particulates and carcinogens abound.

10:11: LOL - so many excuses and revisions, but ultimately no luck in dodging the false predictions that the U.S. would be slammed by waves of "superstorms" every hurricane season. You might be able to fool a 5 year old, but I was alive and watching the Weather Channel back when hurricane season was really a season, and the U.S. would usually be hit by more hurricanes each year than it has been in any of the last 15 years. One of many Al Gore predictions that never came to pass.

"Marion King Hubbert, a geophysicist with Shell Oil, presented to the American Petroleum Institute a paper bearing a startling, unacceptable conclusion. Hubbert said U.S. production of conventional crude in the Lower 48 states would peak by the late 1960s or early ‘70s and fall thereafter, never to rise again."


Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed the mature street tree canopy of 35’ tall trees that flank Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues in Bethesda Row? A massive and continuous tree canopy that nearly bridges the entire streets, that provide extensive shade and air filtering. They all started as 3 1/2” caliper street trees. Of course they take time to mature. But to deny any new development unless 100% of the tree canopy is replaced in exactly the same location is simply absurd. All development projects in downtown also have to pay a substantial park improvements payment, which can fund the replacement of any removed trees, in a more appropriate public park or plaza setting.

Most of the tree canopy that was removed was in the front and rear yard, so the preservation of these trees would only allow new development on the footprint of the former house and garage. As I indicated before, in addition to the new street trees that will be planted, they are adding seven river birch to the new plaza, as well as extensive vegetated roofs on both the new tower and a portion of the Edgemont I. The total pervious area on the completed project will likely exceed the existing property, which was mostly covered with impervious house and garage roofs, as well as an extensive driveway. The new tower will be LEED Silver or equivalent, with less energy usage per resident, than the existing single family residence.

River birch are excellent urban trees. Very hardy and effective at providing shade and air filtering. A good example can be seen that flank the steps that lead up to the Metro Plaza from the south side. Massive shade cover and very handsome branch patterns.

As I said before, trees are a 100% resource. It just takes time and planning.

Robert Dyer said...

6:10: Most LEED buildings have been shown to not actually perform as claimed when they are tested.

I have not suggested that all trees must replaced on the same property, but rather noted that the County allows them to be planted in other parts of the County. They should be planted somewhere in downtown Bethesda at least.

The small trees may grow over time, but during that time the health impacts of removing the larger trees are real, and the new trees ultimately do not filter the pollutants as much as the larger trees did.

Let's also remember those "park payments" rarely deliver to us. The Little Falls Place $500,000 - just as I warned in 2011 - did not ultimately go to the Willett Branch stream, as the watershed folks can tell you.

Anonymous said...

Of course the air quality is going to be terrible in the Friendship Heights and Bethesda bus bays (which are completely covered and poorly ventilated).

Even if every building in Bethesda were torn down and a forest planted, the air quality would still suck.

This is a poor example of the "worst air-quality area"

Anonymous said...

"Most LEED buildings have been shown to not actually perform as claimed when they are tested."

[citation needed]

Robert Dyer said...

6:44: It's actually a great example, and one of the most - if not the most- polluted areas in downtown Bethesda. Take a walk by the bus bays and smell the "roses."

In fact, a recent scientific report showed that Montgomery County has only gotten warmer over the past two decades with all of this "smart, LEED" growth.

6:52: Educate yourself. There's plenty to be found in a Google search.

Anonymous said...

I love your notion that the exhaust from the buses at the terminal magically gravitates towards the trees in that lot two blocks away.

Anonymous said...

Dyer babbled "The oxygen level in the area behind the Bethesda Metro station just went down, and the carbon dioxide level has increased significantly."

Didn't know BTB was also a scientist?

Robert Dyer said...

7:12: You know very little about pollution, then.

7:16: Compared to you I am.

Anonymous said...

Oxygen and carbon dioxide are colorless, odorless gases. How were you able to determine that the first "went down" and the second "increased significantly"?

Anonymous said...

From the United States Green Building Council:

LEED projects are getting results across the board, scoring an average ENERGY STAR score of 89 points out of a possible 100. In a study of 7,100 certified construction projects, more than 90 percent were improving energy performance by at least 10 percent

Anonymous said...

The benefit of hundreds of people living only steps from mass transit surly outweighs the temporary loss of the tree canopy. This project is far more beneficial to the region as a whole than building hundreds of single family homes, townhouses or even garden apartments, far from transit, and most likely removing far more tree canopy.

Hopefully the bus fleet will at some point be converted to electric vehicles.

Anonymous said...


Again, pollution in a bus bay is not comparable to pollution blocks away in the wide open. That's just poor ventilation on Metro's part. The Brookfield redevelopment, which will reconfigure the bus bays and add trees and greenspace, will be a dramatic improvement.

You also didn't mention that the developer preserved all of the existing trees along Woodmont. Most developers would have cut those down as well "for utilities"

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but those trees on Woodmont will be removed and replaced by new street trees.

Robert Dyer said...

8:17: Your threatening comment has been screen-captured for review by law enforcement and future legal action. Orange jumpsuits are in your future.

7:55: The green building council is a developer-controlled cartel - definitely not a source of objective science. Good God.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, now the USGBC is now a developer controlled cartel as well? I’m sure all those developers who are mandated to create very expensive certifiably sustainable projects, typically regulated by planning departments in Washington DC, and Montgomery County, who are forced to spend between 5% and 30% more to get their buildings LEED Certified, will be pleased to hear this.

Perhaps we could simplify this blog. Just list for us those who are not part of this mythical cartel. Why would any developer be part of a cartel that requires them to increase the cost to build their projects? Do you even understand how the LEED Certification and Energy Star process works, and the principles behind sustainable design?

Do you think developers spend money on things like low-flow toilets, renewable energy, green roofs, recycled construction management, LED lighting, hyper-insulated buildings and many other sustainable strategies just because they think it is fun? For the most part, developers need to mandated, or incentivized through density bonuses, to design and construct buildings to be sustainable.

The Washington DC region has far more LEED Certified buildings than anywhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 4:25 AM:

You must have slept through the month of September 2017. Three Category 4 or 5 hurricanes - Harvey, Irma, Maria - that devastated several Caribbean nations, Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Houston metro area. Also 3 active hurricanes on the same day (September 8) - Harvey (Cat. 4), Irma (Cat. 5 Katia (Cat. 2).

But keep spinning, fabricating, and piling bullshit on top of bullshit. That's your one and only skill.

Anonymous said...

7:42. Are you seriously ask Robert for proven data? LOL. What ever Robert says is true because he knows more about (insert subject here) than anybody.

It is true because he says so. Any doubts on his huge very stable genius brain is not allowed.

Anonymous said...

Which is worse - a blogger complaining about CO2 or a blogger thinking he is a scientist?

Anonymous said...

Robert: Since you raised M.King Hubbert and his predictions, I'd just like to say that the man was a genius, far ahead of his time, and that his predictions, including the one you mention were largely correct. His statement that "U.S. production of conventional crude in the Lower 48 states would peak by the late 1960s or early ‘70s and fall thereafter, never to rise again" was quite accurate. The subsequent growth in oil production of crude oil in the lower 48 States came almost exclusively from two, at that time, unconventional sources of production, deep-water offshore drilling and subsequently fracking. These two sources have extended the life of oil production in the lower 48 states (if you include offshore resources beyond state jurisdiction) by a few decades, but not infinitely. We're still running out in the near future under most scenarios, unless another unconventional source of oil is discovered and/or exploited, but this becomes less and less likely in the future.

Anonymous said...

The Prudhoe Bay oil field in northern Alaska had 25 billion barrels (4.0×109 m3) of oil when production started in 1977. It's more than half gone now.

Anonymous said...

"Prude + Ho" sounds funny when you think about it.