Saturday, February 29, 2020
Friday, February 28, 2020
Considering that the Beltway and I-270 are where a great number of drivers are coming from in the morning, and trying to reach in the evening, this is going to create an incredible bottleneck. Anyone who drives the road during rush hours is aware of just how bad the traffic jams are now. Often a person can walk faster than the cars, a phenomenon also found on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.
Incredibly, the SHA is claiming you can currently drive from Cedar Lane to the Beltway in 3.7 minutes during peak evening rush hour. Under the road diet, they claim it will now take 4.9 minutes. I've repeatedly sat in traffic there for longer than 4.9 minutes as it is now, although I've largely given up and try to avoid using Old Georgetown at all costs during rush hour in the affected directions.
There's no doubt we have a bicycle safety problem. But that problem is not the fault of the beleaguered citizens trying to get to and from work each day in their cars. Remember, this is a route that went from bad to worse with the expansions at NIH and Walter Reed over the last decade. This is simply not the right solution for this road.
If the concern for bicycle safety is so genuine and sincere, why aren't the SHA and County making the heavy lift of widening the road and narrowing the median to add a separated bike lane without punishing drivers who pay their salaries? If the concern is honest, why in politicians' and SHA's view, do cyclists only deserve protection between Cedar Lane and the Beltway? Of course, this is just the beginning, as pending plans for lane elimination on Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard show.
Sometimes real solutions are expensive, not cheap. Delivering a world-class road system that is as safe as possible for all modes of transportation using it is never going to be cheap.
Rendering by Maryland Department of Transportation
Thursday, February 27, 2020
|View from across Wisconsin Avenue,|
just north of Highland Avenue
|8001 Wisconsin's site plan includes|
a rare vehicle pull-off driveway for
deliveries and drop-offs
|Peaked gable roof faces Tilbury Street|
|Wider view from Tilbury Street|
|Cutaway view of underground parking|
|Public green space behind 8001 Wisconsin is shown|
in context of other green space in the vicinity
The required pre-submission public meeting for the project's Site Plan will be held in late summer or fall this year. Saul will then submit its Site Plan to the County following that meeting in the fall of 2020. A 2024 delivery is predicted.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Thirteen candidates are competing for the At-Large seat; the two top vote-getters in that April 28 primary race will advance to the General Election in November. The two candidates running in each of the District races are unopposed, and will face-off in the General Election. Key issues are the school system's funding and budget, the achievement gap, academic decline over the last decade, student safety and a highly-controversial redistricting study now underway that some on the current board have openly said should include the forced busing of students to schools outside of their communities.
The forum's sponsors include the Montgomery County Federation of Republican Women and its four clubs, as well as the GOP Asian-American Association and the Republican Legislative District 15 Political Action Committee.
Guests will also be able to learn more about and experience the classes the upgrades were designed to enhance, Today at Apple sessions. Apple promises you will create fun videos, write your first line of code, and take an indoor Art Walk using the company's latest devices.
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
|Electric vehicle charger at a|
Montgomery County Safeway store
planning to move from its current Bethesda Crossing (a.k.a. Air Rights Building) offices to the Chevy Chase Trust Building at 7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 150-W since last October. Now I have confirmed when it is relocating. Their first day in the new location will be March 9, 2020.
To prepare for the move, Fidelity's current office will close at 1:00 PM this Thursday, February 27. It will also be closed all day this Friday, February 28.
|The sign is up at the new location|
in the Chevy Chase Trust building
Monday, February 24, 2020
Last year, Councilmember Evan Glass (D - At-Large) proposed a "teardown tax," also known as a "McMansion tax." It would have taxed new construction homes that replaced existing homes, and then place an excise tax on the square footage added. The proposal was blasted by homebuilders, many of whom would have been forced out of business by the new taxes. Local media did their darndest to promote Glass and his tax, but rarely told the public that he did not even have the votes on the Council to pass it.
Jawando will endorse a bill today that brings the tax back in a new form - and then some. Applying to homes 5000 SF and larger, it again primarily targets teardown projects, by going after square footage. Jawando claims that 97% of County homeowners own homes less than 5000 SF in size, and promises that they would receive a "property tax cut." However, House Bill 1276 includes no such tax cut. There is also the possibility that the automatic assessment hikes each year would handily eclipse a nominal, tiny "tax cut." In that case, the "97 percent" of homeowners would continue to pay the same high property taxes they are now - and the ongoing annual increases.
The House bill is also much more general then what Jawando's press release would suggest. It could lead to all kinds of new property tax hikes on other kinds of property.
HB 1276 actually would allow the Council to create new, higher property taxes on any subclass of property. The bill appears that it could be used to sneak in the high taxes developers have sought for golf and country clubs that would run them out of business, forcing them to sell their club properties, to open up their vast lands for real estate development. In fact, under the current language, any subclass of property not exempted by the bill could face higher taxes of any amount sought by the Council.
|Attorney and activist Robin Ficker|
is mobbed by fans outside the
Council Office Building in Rockville
Ironically, Jawando's press conference is scheduled to take place at 11:45 AM this morning. Fifteen minutes later, at noon, Ficker is expected to deliver 55 lbs. of signed petitions for a new ballot question preventing the Council from passing another 9% property tax hike as they did recently.
But wait, we're not done talking about new taxes!
Jawando will also endorse House Bill 1494, which he claims will allow the County to increase the tax rate on incomes over $1 million a year from 3.2% to 3.5%. The Councilman says such a tax hike on millionaires would raise $88.4 million in new revenue annually.
One must ask, if true, why did the 9% increase of the already-progressive property tax only result in ongoing budget shortfalls each fiscal year since? Revenue is declining, not increasing, under the record-high tax rates now being paid. You can only get so much blood from a stone, especially when that stone has very smart tax advisors on retainer. Some on the Council continue to ignore what their own staff - past and present - has warned them about the impact of overtaxing, and their warnings are borne out in our declining revenue today.
One must also, again, read the actual text of the bill. In fact, under the language in the bill, everyone - that includes you! - could end up paying a higher income tax rate. "But Will Jawando says we won't," someone - likely an obsequious member of the local media or political cartel - might protest. As with the desperate Council attempt to create a Transit Authority last decade, it is key to ignore what the politicians say, and read what the actual bill says.
Under HB 1494, the Council could - for example - hike the income tax of all residents to 3.4%, and of "millionaires" to 3.5%. The bill has no language protecting "non-millionaires" from a higher income tax rate. It only says wealthier residents can't pay a lower tax rate than the people in the brackets under them, and allows the Council to create those brackets.
So even if you think the property tax hike on homes bigger than 5000 SF - and the income tax hike on incomes over $1 million - are good policy, you need to lobby your legislators to actually put those specific provisions into the bill. They aren't there as of this morning.
With no amendments to the text of each bill, both proposals will allow much corrupt mischief by the Council on property taxes, certainly hit local homebuilders and remodeling firms hard financially, and absolutely set up a potential income tax hike for every Montgomery County resident.
Will the proposed tax hikes destroy the Montgomery County economy? Probably not, because the County economy has already been destroyed. The new taxes will simply put a heavier layer of concrete atop the grave of the moribund economic corpse. And will make it all the harder for a future, competent set of new leaders to restore it once we have a free and fair Montgomery County election.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
The closures are related to pile driving that will begin this week at the site. Marriott's construction partners say the drilling of sheet piles will increase noise and vibration in the area during work hours. Pepco is expected to install underground power lines for the site in the coming weeks.
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Bank is last obstacle to
The other shoe has dropped at the wing of the Westwood Shopping Center expected to be demolished in the next twelve months. Rite Aid closed in December, and now its next-door neighbor Capital One has announced its own closing date. The bank branch will permanently close at the end of its final business day on May 20, 2020, according to a Capital One statement.
Both businesses needed to vacate before that portion beyond the Giant grocery store could be demolished. If landlord Regency Centers' staging plan remains the same, the demolition will allow construction of the new Giant building to begin, allowing the grocery store to keep operating in its current building until the new one is ready for occupancy.
Groundbreaking is already almost a year behind schedule on the 22-acre redevelopment of Regency Centers' property along Westbard Avenue and Ridgefield Road in southwest Bethesda. There have been rumors Regency may seek to amend their site plan further to replace a planned apartment building on the Westwood Center II site with senior housing. If true, that would be another improvement in the plan, reducing the development's impact on school overcrowding.