The Council Connection — welcoming the 19th Council

Dear Resident,

This will be my final newsletter of 2018 as your Council President. On behalf of my Council office team, we would like to thank you for your positive feedback as we seek to improve how we reach out to our communities. And we are going to keep it up–more to come on that soon!

I am also glad to share that some of the changes that were a high priority for me as Council President, such as a “subscribe tool” for residents to get updates on specific Council items, or the use of hashtags to extend our communications stream to the world of social media, will continue on into the future.

Thank you for your participation!

Hans Riemer Signature
Hans Riemer

The 19th Council and election of new officers
Today, the 19th Council was seated. Incoming Councilmembers Andrew Friedson (District 1), Will Jawando (At-large), Gabe Albornoz (At-large), and Evan Glass (At-large) join returning Councilmembers Hans Riemer (At-large), Sidney Katz (District 3), Craig Rice (District 2), Nancy Navarro (District 4), and Tom Hucker (District 5).

The 19th Council elected Councilmember Nancy Navarro as the new Council President and Councilmember Sidney Katz as Council Vice President. The Council will be well-served by their leadership. Council President Navarro also announced committee assignments for the 19th Council. See below for details.

Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee
Hans Riemer, Chair
Andrew Friedson
Will Jawando

Transportation & Environment (T&E) Committee
Tom Hucker, Chair
Hans Riemer
Evan Glass

Government Operations & Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee
Nancy Navarro, Chair
Andrew Friedson
Sidney Katz

Health & Human Services (HHS) Committee
Gabe Albornoz, Chair
Evan Glass
Craig Rice

Education & Culture (EC) Committee
Craig Rice, Chair
Will Jawando
Nancy Navarro

Public Safety (PS) Committee
Sidney Katz, Chair
Gabe Albornoz
Tom Hucker

Montgomery County Council’s Top Ten 2018 Accomplishments
By Council President Hans Riemer

Finally, here is my list of the Council’s top ten accomplishments during my year-long term as Council president, a position for which I am grateful to my colleagues for electing me.

10. Convened the Council’s first emergency session to respond to the GOP Congress’ Tax Act, passing legislation to allow County residents to prepay 2018 property taxes in 2017 and maximize their State and Local Tax deductions.

9. Approved funds to support organizations that provide legal assistance to county residents who are in deportation proceedings. Grants have been provided to Kids In Need of Defense, which helps children that have been separated from their families, as well as HIAS and other groups.

8. Funded a revised stormwater infrastructure program that will ensure efficiency and affordability while maximizing environmental benefits. Negotiated a solution to overcome an executive veto. Also approved a ten year update to the County’s Water and Sewer Plan.

7. Supported the County’s bid for Amazon HQ2, including a zoning plan to streamline the process for corporate headquarters to locate in the County.

6. Approved a zoning change for the Agricultural Reserve in the County enabling business owners there to operate wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries.

5. Adopted a visionary Bicycle Master Plan to guide the future of biking infrastructure in the county; and added funding for a Bethesda protected bike lane loop, in addition to the Silver Spring protected bike loop under construction.

4. Approved a zoning change to support additional wireless infrastructure (4g leading to 5g) in downtown and commercial areas (consideration continues on residential areas).

3. Supported major capital investment in WMATA. Locally funded new pedestrian access entrances for White Flint and Forest Glen Metros. Successfully advocated to expand rush hour service from Grosvenor to Shady Grove; similar expansion on Glenmont side is under study by WMATA.

2. Enacted legislation to increase affordable housing in the County by increasing the minimum percentage of Moderately Priced Housing Units (MPDUs) that are required to be built in new residential developments from 12.5 to 15 percent in high income areas of the county. Modernized the MPDU ordinance generally and established a clear MPDU incentive structure for bonus density.

1. Approved a $5.6 billion Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget without raising taxes. The Budget fully funded the Board of Education’s request for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), including an additional $3.3 million for expanded pre-k programs — raising the two year total of early education expansions to over $7 million and creating more than 650 new full day pre-k slots, for a total of about 3,200 children attending publicly funded pre-k programs. The Council also added Excel Beyond the Bell after school programs at two additional Elementary School.

Bonus: Did it all in an election year!

The Council Connection — bike plan and farewell to 18th Council

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The 18th Council of Montgomery County will hold its final session on Tuesday. View the agenda. The 19th Council, elected this November, will convene next Tuesday, December 4th, after December 3rd’s swearing in.

To recognize outgoing Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal and County Executive-elect Marc Elrich, we will hold a special commemoration at the Council.

Council set to adopt world-class bike plan
The Council is expected to adopt the Bicycle Master Plan, a comprehensive proposal that aims to make the County a “world-class bicycling community.” The plan recommends a network of protected bike lanes — lanes where people can bike and ride in a manner that is protected from cars — as well as low-stress routes throughout the County, in our urban centers as well as connecting major activity centers.

The plan is critical because it will guide design and capital budget decisions and development plans going forward. When fully built out, the network envisioned by the plan will make biking a real option for cyclists of all ages and experiences in their trips for work, shopping, and recreation.

You can learn more about the plan and view the digital map of the proposed network.

Ensuring the safety of our faith communities
After the recent Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a special appropriation to the County’s FY19 Operating Budget to assist our diverse religious congregations with meeting their security needs. The funding for security will be provided through a grants process that will be open to all faith communities. The full Council staff report can be viewed here.

Meeting the needs of residents with developmental differences
On November 26, the human services committee will meet to review the report of the County’s Work Group on Meeting the Needs of Residents with Developmental Differences. Last year, the Council adopted Resolution 18-989, which requested the formation of a work group to report on meeting the needs of residents with developmental differences (developmental disabilities). The work group is focused on the implementation of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) Transformation Plan, and has made several recommendations including:

  • The County Executive and Council must carefully monitor the ongoing rate setting study and advocate strongly for rates that reflect the cost of doing business in Montgomery County.
  • The focus on opportunity for employment is critical, but the County must advocate with DDA to ensure that new rules truly incentivize employment.
  • The County must continue to invest local funds to support providers, increase inclusion in County programs, and provide needed services to County residents with developmental disabilities who are either on a waitlist or not eligible for DDA services.

View the full Council staff report here.

Holiday Safety
The Council wants you to have a joyful and safe holiday. Here are some safety precautions from the County Fire and Rescue Service on how you can have a Fire Safe Home!

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts
The Council’s website has a subscription feature that provides individuals with email notifications as a bill moves through the legislative process, after introduction until it becomes County law. Take a look today and subscribe if a bill interests you!


Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

The Council Connection — pedestrian safety and salute to Ike Leggett

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The Council is in regular session on Tuesday, and we have a full agenda. Let’s dive in.

A Salute to County Executive Ike Leggett
The Council would like to thank outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett for his exemplary public service and steady leadership. During his 12-year tenure as County Executive, Ike led the County through the depths of the financial recession and set us on a path for continued prosperity into the future. The Council will formally thank Ike for his service with a proclamation on Tuesday.

Council focuses on pedestrian safety
The Council will be meeting State Highway Administrator (SHA) Greg Slater to discuss the recent wave of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on State roads. The Administrator will brief the Council on the State’s review of the these collisions and what they intend to do to prevent them.

Regrettably, the recent wave of pedestrian injuries continues an ongoing trend. From 2012 to 2016, there were 970 fatalities and serious injuries in Montgomery County on Maryland State highways, comprising about half of all fatal/serious pedestrian and bicyclist incidents in the County. The rate of crashes is highest in our lower income and higher-minority areas.

This is unacceptable. We have to make safety the first priority on our roads. To get there, we need to use the safety data we have to efficiently and equitably target engineering solutions that lower speeds and promote safety in our most dangerous areas. That means road diets, safer crossings, pedestrian lead times at intersections, and more. Implementing these safety measures will require closer collaboration between the County Council, MCDOT, and the State Highway administration. The meeting with SHA on Tuesday moves that dialogue forward.

Supporting Small Business
Spearheaded by District 3 Councilmember Nancy Navarro, the Council recently approved a $200,000 appropriation to small businesses in downtown Wheaton at its meeting last Tuesday. The money will help the businesses that are impacted by construction of the Wheaton Revitalization Project, a mixed-use development that includes a town square, government office building and underground parking garage.

MCPS Student Performance Data
Last week, the Council’s education committee received a briefing on student performance data within the context of their Evidence of Learning (EOL) framework. The EOL framework uses multiple measures to determine whether students are learning enough. You can read the Council staff report and/or explore the data yourself.

Thanksgiving Parade – Nov 17, 2018 10am-12pm!
Held in downtown Silver Spring, the Thanksgiving Parade heralds the start of the holiday season. The parade begins at the intersection of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street and proceeds south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue. If you aren’t able to make it in person, it will also be televised live on News Channel 8 with a rerun on Thanksgiving Day.

This year’s parade will also have a special place to take a family holiday photo. Right next to the ice rink, you can take your photo with inflatable turkeys, penguins, or Seasonal decor. All parade selfies marked with the hashtag #MoCoThanksParade will also be broadcasted on the jumbotron at Ellsworth and Fenton St. along the parade route. Find additional information on the parade here.


Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

The Council Connection — State legislation and childcare

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

We cannot let our places of worship become places of fear.

On Saturday morning, our nation endured another horrific and senseless tragedy driven by hate when 11 people lost their lives and six more were wounded by a gunman during Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We send our condolences to the victims, their family members, and the entire Jewish community. In Kentucky, a different shooter tried to gain access to an African-American church; he ended up shooting 2 persons at a grocery store nearby. In the midst of our grief, we must also all recommit ourselves to stamp out anti-Semitism and racism and to continue the fight for gun control. Read the Council’s full statement.

Turning to the Council’s legislative business on Tuesday, we have a full agenda.

Getting ready for upcoming State legislative session
The Council begins its day by discussing the County’s legislative priorities for upcoming State General Assembly Session. Of top concern are pushing the State to increase investments in K-12 and higher education; and transportation, particularly the proposed traffic relief plan for I-270/I-495. We also have identified partnering with the State to increase affordable housing as well as implementing next-generation 911. Read the staff report on the wide range of important issues we will work towards in Annapolis.

Update on childcare and early education
The Council will receive an update on the state of childcare and early education in the county as councilmembers work to expand Pre-K and other early childhood services. According to a 2016 report, less than half of the county’s children arrive to kindergarten demonstrating a “full readiness to learn,” highlighting the need to devote more resources to our early childhood and Pre-K education programs.

During the scheduled update, MCPS officials will provide the Council an update on the following:

  • Implementation status of current Pre-K programming
  • Recommendations of Kirwan Commission on Pre-K resource requirements
  • Changes to the State Child Care Subsidy & County Working Parents Assistance programs
  • Recent findings of the Cost of Quality Child Care Report

The full report can be found here.

Smoking in outdoor serving areas
On November 1st, the health committee will review a bill that would prohibit smoking on outdoor serving areas–patios, decks, and porches–of restaurants and bars. The Council will consider the recommendations of the committee and all feedback from stakeholders before taking action. A full council staff report will be available on Oct. 30.


Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

The Council Connection — WMATA chief to brief Council

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The Council in in regular session on Tuesday, and we have a full agenda.

WMATA chief to brief the Council
During Tuesday’s session, the Council will hear from Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Mr. Wiedefeld is expected to discuss how WMATA plans to use the new annual infusion of $500 million to its capital budget, which was recently agreed to by Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Beyond the remaining rehabilitation work necessary to fully restore reliable service, some of the candidate projects for these funds include the Forest Glen Station underpass, a new stairway at Shady Grove, a northern entrance and underpass at White Flint Metro and eliminating the Red Line turn backs at Silver Spring, among others.

In addition, the Council sent a letter to the WMATA Board of Directors requesting that it continue the Riders’ Advisory Council. The Council is a group of riders and residents from the DC-metro area that suggest service improvements and provides feedback on proposed changes. You can read more about it here.

Council to vote on wireless infrastructure zoning changes
Following a lengthy and productive worksession two weeks ago, Council is set to vote on a zoning change that guides the deployment of wireless infrastructure in our residential areas. With setback, size, and design requirements, the general concept is to allow a streamlined path for wireless infrastructure on existing utility poles and tall light posts, but to require greater scrutiny for the replacement of neighborhood light fixtures in areas without utility poles. The zoning changes allow for the deployment of this critical infrastructure in a way that is a sensitive to resident concerns.

Before making a decision on Tuesday, the Council will consider the zoning committee’s recommendations, a variety of amendments by Councilmembers, community feedback, and Council staff’s analysis. Read the staff report for more information.

Montgomery County receives Triple-A Bond Rating for 2018
Montgomery County has maintained its Triple-A bond rating for 2018 from all three Wall Street bond-rating agencies. Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all affirmed the “AAA” rating – the highest achievable for a municipal government. According to Moody’s, the Montgomery County’s tax base “will experience additional growth because of economic expansion and diversification” while affirming that “going forward, Moody’s will continue to monitor the county’s ability to main financial flexibility and reserve levels that are compliant with its 10 percent fund balance target.”

The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring lower costs across the board.

Pressing the State on pedestrian safety
In light of the recent spate of needless and tragic pedestrian deaths on State highways in the County, the Council has called on Gov. Larry Hogan to take immediate steps to address pedestrian safety along the Rt. 97/Georgia Ave corridor and other high danger areas. The Council has requested that the State review the speed limits along Georgia Ave as well as install a number of short-term initiatives to immediately improve pedestrian safety. State officials will brief the Council on November 13, 2018 on their plans.

Autumn has arrived and so have the leaves
Ready for fall leaf cleanup? The County’s Vacuum Leaf Collection Program will begin on Monday, November 5, 2018. The Neighborhood Leaf Collection signs will be posted in your community during the week of October 22, 2018. View the schedule for your neighborhood!


Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President