Tag: Montgomery County

A big step toward ending Montgomery’s housing moratorium!

Yesterday, the Planning Board voted to update the county’s draft growth policy (aka the Subdivision Staging Policy), which seeks to time public infrastructure like schools and transportation with population growth. Among other changes, the Planning Board draft would eliminate the counterproductive housing moratorium throughout most of the county, while adjusting fees and taxes to ensure adequate funding to meet increases in school demand.

This decision is thanks, in large part, to you! CSG’s supporters sent over 50 letters to the Planning Board, and our supporters and allies showed up strong at the Planning Board’s public hearing. Check out CSG’s public testimony for more background.

This isn’t the end though — the County Council has the last say. They will review the Planning Board’s recommendations and vote on a new growth policy by November. We’ll keep you updated on actions you can take!

Until then, please consider making a donation to sustain our work advocating for more housing in Montgomery County!

Other changes proposed by the Planning Board:

  • Developers would be required to pay Utilization Premium Payments when a school’s projected utilization three years into the future exceeds 120 percent
  • Impact taxes would be lowered from 120 percent of the cost of a seat to 100 percent, and further lowered to 60 percent in certain areas with high-capacity transit and employment centers
  • Recordation taxes at the time of home sales, would be progressively increased to the to provide additional funding for school construction and affordable housing
  • Any development located in an Opportunity Zone would be exempt from impact taxes
  • Multiple updates to transportation tests would prioritize walking and biking as transportation modes and improve safety
  • And more! If you’re interested, you can find the most up-to-date information here.

Again, thank you to all those who sent in letters or testified! In September, we’ll update you on the Council’s review and hearing schedule so you can join us again in supporting this progressive update to the county’s growth policy.

Smart Growth Events — March-April

Hi Friend!

Happy Spring! We have a lot of big news and events to share!

On April 23 we’ll be honoring Rushern Baker, former Prince George’s County Executive with our Prince Livable Communities Leadership Award, and the DC-area League of Women Voters with our Sanders-Henn Community Hero Award. We hope you will join us at Tico restaurant in DC from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for delicious food, great company, and to celebrate these amazing indivduals and thier leadership on smart growth. Sign up to sponsor or buy your individual tickets. We hope to see you there!

We’re hiring for two great positions — Communications Manager and Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager. Learn more here and apply at jobs@smartergrowth.net.

It’s shaping up to be a big year in advocacy for smarter growth and we welcome your involvement. With town, county, and state legislative elections in Virginia, we are teaming with partners on a Healthy Communities Platform to call for transit-oriented communities with safer streets for walking and bicycling, more transit, more affordable housing, parks and restored streams.


Never before has it been more important for our region to focus growth in walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented communities. We have just a decade to significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and we can’t do so without major reductions in driving. These dynamic communities also improve access to jobs and opportunity, allow for improved health and human interaction, and are a far more effective approach to addressing our transportation challenges than massive highway expansion.
We hope you will join us in supporting smarter growth and healthier communities in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia at these upcoming events and hearings.

Upcoming Events

Wharf Phase II Kick Off Celebration and Family Fun Day

Sat, March 30, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The Wharf — 600 Water Street, SW, Washington, D.C.


Northern Virginia Housing Expo 

Sat, March 30, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Washington-Lee High School, 1301 N. Stafford St., Arlington

A free public event for first-time homeownership, rental opportunities and resources throughout Northern Virginia: location options, being prepared for buying or renting, understanding and improving credit scores, senior housing options, condominium governance, improving energy efficiency, and more. For more information check here.


Beer+Transit Networking Event

Mon., April 1, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

Busboys and Poets, 450 K St NW, Washington, D.C.

The Rail Passengers Association presents a Beer+Transit networking event as part of the 2019 #RailNationDC Spring Advocacy Conference. Guest speaker is Joe McAndrew, Director of Transportation Policy at the Greater Washington Partnership. Tickets are $12.00.


MPC Annual Spring Lecture: Robert Sampson “Urban Neighborhoods and American Life”

Wed, April 3, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

American University, School of International Service Founders Room, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Professor Robert J. Sampson of Harvard University will deliver the Metropolitan Policy Center’s fifth Annual Spring Lecture. He is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. A reception will follow the lecture. RSVP here.


The Climate Crisis: Impacts and Solutions

Tues, April 9, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

GMU Founders Hall, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington (Virginia Square Metro)

Talk by Jay Fisette, former Arlington Board member and managing partner for DMV Strategic Advisors, presenting Al Gore’s compelling slide deck and leading a panel discussion. Hosted by EcoAction Arlington, Coalition for Smarter Growth and Encore Learning. Attend and join us in emphasizing the importance of smart growth for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


ACT April Meeting: What’s the Future of the Bus?

Tues., Apr. 9, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Pl, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Dan Malouff (GWU professor, Alexandria planner) will be speaking on the future of bus transit.


Prince William Supervisor Candidate Forum on Climate and Sustainability

Mon, April 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Chin Park Regional Library, 13065 Chinn Park Drive, Woodbridge, VA

Hosted by the Greater Prince William Climate Action Network and other partners. Prince William has some of the highest rates of driving in the region and scattered land use — meaning even bigger steps are necessary to find land use and workable transit solutions. (CSG is a 501(c)3 and does not endorse or work on behalf of any candidate for office.)


Stand up for Smart Growth

Events listed under D.C, Maryland, Virginia, and regional below.

District of Columbia

Protected Bike Lanes for 20th/21st/22ndStreet NW– Public Meeting #3

Sat, April 13, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens, 2425 N Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Attend this open house to learn about and comment on DDOT’s recommended alternative. Learn more about D.C.’s protected bike lane studies here.


Montgomery Council work sessions on Accessory Dwelling Units

Planning, Housing & Economic Development Committee

Thurs, April 4, 9:30 a.m.

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 would make ADU’s easier and more affordable to build. Read more here and see a fact sheet here. You can submit comments by email here.


Montgomery Planning Open House on Rock Spring Master Plan Design Guidelines

Thurs., Mar. 28, 2019 at 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Davis Library, 6400 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda, MD

The Rock Spring Master Plan envisions this 535-acre office park, as walkable, mixed-use community with new housing and retail, and a central circulation spine for a future BRT.


PEC Community Meeting on the Loudoun2040 plan

Wed, March 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Middleburg Community Center, Middleburg, VA

The latest in a series of information sessions on the Loudoun2040 comprehensive plan, what’s at stake and how to get involved. Learn more here.


Eisenhower East Small Area Plan 2019 Update Open House

Wed, March 27, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Eisenhower Center III Office Building, 2331 Mill Road, 6thFloor

The city is evaluating flexibility of land uses, building heights, potential additional development, retail, and ped/bike issues. Attend to encourage improved placemaking, retail, and pedestrian and bicycle features to enhance Alexandria’s highest density Metro-oriented center. Learn more here.


Oakville Triangle and Route 1 Corridor Vision Plan Update for Virginia Tech Innovation Campus

Mon, April 1, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Oakville Triangle warehouse, 444 Swann Ave, Alexandria

The first in a series of meetings about Virginia Tech’s planned Innovation Campus. For additional information, visit the project webpage and the City’s National Landing webpage.


Richmond Highway (Route 1) Urban Design Guidelines Pop-up Studios

Thurs, April 4, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Sat, April 6, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Mount Vernon Plaza Shopping Center 7648 Richmond Highway (behind McDonalds)

Share your ideas at Pop-UP STUDIOs showcase pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and building design ideas for the Richmond Highway corridor.


Arlington’s Plan Lee Highway Design Studios

Every other Fri, April 5, 19, May 3, 17, 31, from Noon to 3:30 p.m.

Russell Building, 4620 Lee Highway, Suite 208, Arlington, VA

An opportunity for residents, business owners, and community members to view the latest study materials, meet with project planners, ask questions and share ideas.


2019 NLIHC Housing Policy Forum: Seizing the Moment for Bold Solutions

Wed., Mar. 27, 2019 at 8 a.m. through Fri., Mar. 29, 2019 at 5 p.m.

525 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20001

Join affordable housing advocates, thought-leaders, policy experts, researchers, housing providers, low income residents, and leaders from Capitol Hill to advance bold solutions to homelessness and housing poverty in America.


CSG In Action

Workforce housing:  Last week, on the heels of Mayor Bowser’s proposal to increase funding for affordable housing, we issued our report: Making Workforce Housing Work: Understanding Housing Needs for D.C.’s Changing Workforce, urging D.C. to increase the total supply of housing, and target housing support toward working households at 50% of area median income and below. We recommend the city dramatically increase funding for its Local Rent Supplement Program and Housing Production Trust Fund, and use Inclusionary Zoning, Planned Unit Developments, and other zoning tools to produce more housing that is affordable. See our post in GGWash.


Amazon:  We filed testimony in support of the local Arlington incentives for Amazon’s location in Crystal City/Pentagon City, while urging laser focus by the county and state on affordable housing preservation and expansion, including a doubling of the county’s housing trust fund. We noted that the state/local transportation package is very progressive in focusing on transit, walk and bike modes and urged Amazon to achieve a 65% non-auto mode share.


Bus Transformation Project: We are serving on the Executive Committee for this regional study on how to improve bus service. Public meetings are coming later this spring. In the meantime you can find all study documents here.

RELEASE: Transit Supporters Petition for Bus Improvements

May 10, 2016

Pete Tomao, Montgomery County Advocacy Manager
(516) 318-0605

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
(703) 599-6437

With Metrorail Shutdowns Looming, Transit Supporters Petition for Bus Improvements

Montgomery County, MD — On Monday, transit advocates at the Coalition for Smarter Growth submitted a 1000-signature “Better Bus Petition” to the Montgomery County Council and County Executive.  The petition calls for dedicated bus lanes and frequent, reliable service. With thousands of citizens impacted by the future Metro closures, transit supporters say it’s more important than ever to make major bus system improvements.

“With Metrorail disruption imminent, thousands of Montgomery residents will have their commutes impacted. If we don’t want hundreds of new cars on our roadways we need to invest in a faster, more frequent, and more reliable bus network. There has never been a better time to do it than now,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

“Volunteers and Coalition for Smarter Growth staff spent hours collecting hundreds of signatures in every part of Montgomery County, from Shady Grove to Silver Spring, between August and October 2015. With the impending Metrorail shutdowns, there seemed no better time to present the petition to officials,” said Pete Tomao, Montgomery County Advocacy Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

“Riders everywhere told us the same thing. We need more reliable bus service, including dedicated lanes. Clearly the demand exists for better service, and that demand will only increase with the Metrorail disruptions,” said Tomao.

“Wherever WMATA has introduced express bus service in Montgomery County, it has been successful. Ridership on the K9 along New Hampshire Avenue has increased 79% since 2011, and the J4 from Bethesda to Silver Spring is up 34% since 2012: when you offer riders frequent, reliable service, they use it. With dedicated lanes, the speed, frequency, and reliability of buses would be even better. With 20 extra WMATA buses sitting at the White Flint Bus Depot, we have the opportunity to put them to work in express corridors,” Tomao continued.

“A single lane of auto-traffic can carry about 1200 people per hour, versus the 3700 a dedicated bus lane in Pittsburgh is now carrying. Dedicated space allows us to make the most of our roadways.”

“We’ve been encouraged by recent steps that the County Executive and Council have taken to improve service and advance bus rapid transit on Route 29, Route 355, and Veirs Mill Road. With this petition and with the impending Metrorail shutdowns, we hope that the county will accelerate investments in dedicated lanes and more frequent service on key corridors throughout the county,” said Tomao.

“They say to never waste a crisis. The challenges presented by Metrorail disruptions present an opportunity to improve our regional bus service and to implement the dedicated bus lanes we’ve needed for some time. Our conversations with transit riders show the demand for improved bus service and we urge regional officials to seize the opportunity.” concluded Schwartz.

60 cars V 60 Buses

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.


RELEASE: Reaction to County Executive Leggett BRT Annoucement

March 2, 2016

Pete Tomao, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Montgomery County – Earlier today, County Executive Ike Leggett released an update to his proposed transportation budget, adding funding to make near term improvements to bus service and continue Bus Rapid Transit studies.

“When the County Executive’s first proposal came out in January it didn’t have the funding needed to make important transit improvements, so we are very pleased to see the changes he and his staff have made,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “It’s not everything we had hoped for – it depends on state funding to complete the Route 355 BRT study and to add priority bus service on Veirs Mill Road for example, but the County Executive has certainly responded positively to our requests, and those of the Council, to keep moving forward on Bus Rapid Transit, while also providing near term improvements.”

“I’ve ridden just about every route in Montgomery and it’s clear to me that the demand for better transit in the county is strong and we need to be making these investments,” said Pete Tomao, Montgomery County Transit Organizer for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “Demand for transit crosses socio-economic boundaries, from new immigrants, to seniors, to millenials – including a young mother, Gretchen Goldman, whom I met during my outreach and regularly rides the bus with her young son, Thomas:

“One of the reasons my family and I chose to live here was for the county’s convenience to the city. We’re lucky to live along one of the county’s few express bus routes—the K9 on New Hampshire Ave. Thomas and I ride it regularly. For us, bus access is convenient and quick. It allows us to be a one car family, since we can quickly get to work and social activities in downtown DC or elsewhere in the county.

BRT is about access, it’s about freedom and it’s about equity. In Montgomery County, many do not ride the bus by choice, but by necessity. For them, BRT increases options and decreases burdens. It enhances quality of life and creates opportunities.

When I think about what I want for Thomas’ future, I have a new vision for Montgomery County. I want Thomas to live in a place where he has mobility and independence; where he doesn’t need a car to get around; and where he can have access to safe and affordable transportation options.”

The County Executive is proposing to the Council important investments along Route 355, US29, and Veirs Mill Road, the three primary corridors for the BRT, including:

  • Route 355: Instituting a new Ride On Plus priority service from the Lakeforest Transit Center to Medical Center Metrorail and adding $5 million to the planning budget for the Route 355 BRT proposal. If the state government matches that, it could ensure enough funding for the next phase of the Route 355 planning process.
  • US29: Adding $6.5 million to the planning budget for BRT along US29, with the goal of getting the route up and running within four years.
  • Veirs Mill Road: Requesting that the state prioritize $1.8 million in annual funding for rush hour express bus service along Veirs Mill Road – the busiest bus route in Maryland. The proposed Veirs Mill BRT route already has enough funding to complete planning.

“Looking ahead, our group will continue to work for the funding necessary to build the BRT to the standard necessary to support rapid, efficient and frequent service – service that will attract new workers and new companies and improve access to jobs,” concluded Tomao.

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.


Montgomery County Planning Board testimony re: White Flint West Transportation, Phase 2, CIP No. 501116 Mandatory Referral No. MR2015029

Montgomery County and other jurisdictions in the Washington DC region are in the midst of a transformation from wholly auto-dependent development to the creation of networks of walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented centers and neighborhoods. County Executive Leggett, the Montgomery County Council, and the Planning Board have committed to this vision and the market is responding with nearly unlimited demand to live and work in walkable, mixed-use, transit accessible locations. The CEO of Marriott recently created a stir when he unequivocally stated that the company would be moving to a Metro station location within the next five years. Not only do his young employees want to live and work near Metro, but according to a recent article, he too appreciates the convenience of walkable, mixed-use and transit.

RELEASE: New report identifies key ways to make Montgomery County’s bus rapid transit succeed

September 1, 2015

Pete Tomao, Coalition for Smarter Growth

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD — In 2013, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a plan for an 81-mile Rapid Transit network based on modern bus rapid transit. Today, appointed citizen task forces are working with county and state staff and consultants to design the network’s first three corridors. But the success of the system depends on getting the details right in order to provide high-quality, frequent, reliable and rapid service.

A new report, “Best Practices in Rapid Transit Design,” provides a roadmap for what’s needed to make Montgomery County’s Rapid Transit System a success.



The report, released jointly today by Communities for Transit and the Coalition for Smarter Growth, draws lessons from successful bus rapid transit systems throughout the US and Canada. “As of 2015, there are more than 30 bus rapid transit systems in operation across the US and Canada and more than 25 others in planning. Many have been running since the early 2000s, and have greatly exceeded expectations for ridership and service,” said Pete Tomao, the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Montgomery County Advocacy Manager. “In Eugene, OR, for example, the Emerald Line has doubled transit ridership in the corridor it serves.”

“Our report is designed to assist the citizen task force members, elected officials and staff in their deliberations,” said Tomao. The report identifies and describes over a dozen features of successful bus rapid transit, including:

  • dedicated lanes for vehicles to bypass traffic
  • frequent and reliable service
  • stops spaced farther apart than local buses
  • 10’ general travel lanes
  • comfortable stations
  • offboard fare collection
  • level boarding
  • easy, safe access for people walking and bicycling
  • real time arrival information.

“BRT systems can produce travel time savings of up to 25% compared to other transit and can move far more people between home, work, school and services along our crowded arterial corridors than can single-occupant vehicles,” said Tomao. “The county’s ability to manage growth and traffic, and to attract the next generation workforce and companies, depends on investing in a well-designed system that attracts passengers because of its quality, efficiency, speed, and reliability.”

“In our research, we’ve found that successful systems around the country consistently share the same features, which we outline in our report and which we hope will be incorporated into Montgomery’s system,” Tomao concluded.

Earlier this year, Montgomery County appointed citizen task forces for each of the network’s first three bus rapid transit corridors: Route 355, Viers Mill Road, and Route 29. The task forces began meeting in Feb 2015 and are split into five groups — MD 355 North, MD 355 South, US29 North, US 29 South, and Veirs Mill Rd. Key decisions include whether to provide dedicated right-of-way, street and station design, fare collection, stop locations and more.  The corridor task forces are separate from the Transit Task Force appointed to recommend how to finance the system and who should operate it.

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish.  Learn more at smartergrowth.net.

About Communities for Transit

Communities for Transit (CFT) educates the public on the planned & unanimously-approved Rapid Transit System for Montgomery County, MD. CFT focuses on community outreach to build awareness of the compelling case for rapid transit as an effective response to our unsustainable traffic problems.  Learn more at communitiesfortransit.org



Fact sheet: Benefits of Rapid Transit for Montgomery’s Veirs Mill Rd corridor

Fact sheet: Benefits of Rapid Transit for Montgomery’s Veirs Mill Rd corridor

• More than 6,000 (15.4%) of commuters along the Veirs Mill Road corridor have commutes longer than 60 minutes.
• Since 1990, the number of residents in this corridor with these mega-commutes has nearly doubled.
• 22.7% of corridor residents take transit to work: nearly twice as many as in 1990. Almost half of these transit riders
take the bus to work.
• The median income of Veirs Mill Corridor residents is nearly $20,000 less than the median income in Montgomery
County overall. Almost 44% of Veirs Mill Road corridor residents are foreign-born.

Fact sheet: Benefits of Rapid Transit for Montgomery’s US-29 corridor

Fact sheet: Benefits of Rapid Transit for Montgomery’s US-29 corridor

• Almost 9,500 (17.2%) of commuters in the US 29 corridor have commutes longer than 60 minutes.
• Since 1990, the number of residents in this corridor with these mega-commutes has nearly doubled.
• 17.5% of corridor residents take transit to work: nearly twice as many as in 1990. Almost half of these transit riders
take the bus to work

Fact sheet: Benefits of Rapid Transit for Montgomery’s 355 corridor

Fact sheet: Benefits of Rapid Transit for Montgomery’s 355 corridor

Today, transit access is more important than ever. Residents along the 355 corridor need the RTS as a transit option.
• Nearly 12,000 (14.5%) of commuters along the 355 corridor have commutes longer than 60 minutes.
• Since 1990, the number of residents in this corridor with these mega-commutes has more than doubled.
• 18.1% of corridor residents take transit to work: nearly twice as many as in 1990.
• The median income of 355 corridor residents is over $8,000 less than the median income in Montgomery County overall. Nearly one t…