Testimony: Takoma Park Minor Master Plan Amendment (Support)

January 25, 2024

Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20850

Good evening. My name is Carrie Kisicki and I am testifying on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading organization advocating for walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most equitable and sustainable way for our region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

We support the draft Takoma Park Minor Master Plan Amendment, which outlines a vision for an inclusive, environmentally resilient, and vibrant community with improved access to parks and amenities and an abundance of housing that supports the continued affordability and unique diversity of this plan area.

Too often, low-income communities and people of color have been left behind when it comes to investments in climate resilience, access to parks and green space, and safe streets for walking and biking. We are glad to see that this plan contains comprehensive recommendations in each of these areas.

We also support the proposal to allow mixed-use development on the former Washington Adventist Hospital site. This will open up a multitude of exciting opportunities and community benefits: new housing on a site where today there is none; new public gathering spaces; and new local, walkable retail options.

The plan also recommends allowing a diversity of housing types—which can offer a greater range of affordability and address a wider range of housing needs—and building more housing, both market-rate and affordable, in the plan area. We support these recommendations.

The plain fact is that we need more housing in Montgomery County and in Takoma Park. We are falling behind on our share of regional housing targets, and are therefore not on track to be able to offer the housing that people need.

This has real and serious consequences. If we fail to build the estimated 10,000 additional housing units that we need countywide by 2030 to meet future housing needs—in addition to the 31,000 that we are already projected to build—that shortfall is not just a number. That is 10,000 households that we are turning away.

Affordable housing is rightly a major priority of this plan. The affordable housing in this plan area—which represents fully half of all affordable housing in Takoma Park—has made the inclusivity and cultural diversity of this community possible.

The plan sets an explicit goal of no net loss of affordable housing, supported by detailed recommendations to achieve this goal (see Preservation of Housing and Affordability, p. 79). The plan also recommends adding new affordable housing, and facilitating collaboration between the city, county, non-profits, and developers to maximize affordable housing production (see Affordable Housing Production, p. 78-79). We strongly support these recommendations.

When market-rate housing is used thoughtfully in combination with an emphasis on affordable housing and protections against displacement, it complements affordable housing and equity goals. Market-rate housing in mixed-income projects allows us to build a greater number of affordable units, at deeper levels of subsidy, than is feasible for us to build through public investment alone. 

Market-rate housing is also a critical part of addressing spiraling housing costs driven by our current housing shortage. There is no reason that we have to continue restricting our housing supply in transit-accessible, amenity-rich areas of our county such that those who can afford higher prices are able to live here, and those who cannot are effectively priced out. This is not an equitable way to allocate housing. 

Instead, we can and should choose to build more housing while taking measures to preserve affordable housing and prevent displacement, as this plan recommends.

In closing, we urge you to support this plan, in particular its recommendations on housing and land use, and thank you for your consideration.

Carrie Kisicki
Montgomery County Advocacy Manager