Why the Council voted to override the veto of the Metro smart growth plan

Dear resident:

On Tuesday, the County Council voted to override County Executive Elrich’s veto of the “More Housing At Metro” Act, a smart growth plan adopted by the Council a week earlier.

Read the op-ed I wrote about it in the Washington Post

Our County’s 9 Metro station properties could be delivering enormous benefits to the County — including substantial tax revenues — but instead they are a drag. From a real estate perspective, some are nearly “brownfields” due to the overwhelming expense of building above a station.

The Council has a plan to break the status quo and generate some economic momentum. The legislation, vetoed by the County Executive, would provide a highly targeted property tax abatement exclusively for high rise construction on these 9 Metro station properties.

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VA funds transportation. Will MD?

Virginia’s legislature just reached a deal to add $880 million per year to the state transportation fund.

How much money is that? For Maryland, it would be enough to build our Purple Line and Baltimore’s Red Line, fund badly needed improvements to Metro, build the Corridor Cities Transitway, and plenty more.

And without a funding increase?…. the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway will be cancelled.  

That’s why NOW is the time to speak out for a transportation funding solution for Maryland — your voice is needed. If thousands of Marylanders raise their voices, our state leaders will be more likely to act.

I am supporting Get Maryland Moving, a new statewide coalition that is calling for action in the legislature, which will be making a decision within weeks.

Why act NOW?  Because of the way that transportation is funded.  The Federal government will pay for half of the Purple Line and Red Line, but they have a fixed pot of money and it is almost gone.  In order to get our share, we have to put OUR half on the table first.

That’s the process: the state puts the money on the table first, the Federal government approves and matches, and construction starts. Without a state transportation funding increase, we can’t claim our money, the funds will be gone, and the projects will be dead in their tracks.

This is our last best chance, maybe for a generation, to get these great projects going in Maryland.  And without them, we are guaranteed to fall behind.

The need for action couldn’t be any greater than it is right now.



Daily journal, 10-25-11

Today’s council session featured a presentation by the new Montgomery
County Business Development Corporation. This group of CEO level execs
are working to make recommendations for how we can create more jobs
here. I observed that according to our most recent economic report we
have fewer private sector jobs in the county than we did 10 years ago.
We need to get moving on building new economic development tools and
creating the infrastructure to grow our economy, particularly

Then this evening I joined my colleague Roger Berliner, chair of the
transportation committee, at a committee session in Bethesda about the
escalator problems and the proposal for a new entrance to the Bethesda
Metro. We heard a range of suggestions for how we can improve access
there and manage the crisis when the escalators all go out of
operation. WMATA said that current plans are for replacement of the
escalators to begin in January of 2014. We will look into what it
would take to accelerate that timeline.

The picture is my view at the Bethesda Metro hearing. The gentleman in
front on the right side is Art Holmes, Director of the county
department of transportation.

What I do on a daily basis

Below, please find the email that we just sent out to our list. Please subscribe to our list today!

Dear Supporter,

Have you ever wondered what a member of the county council does on a daily basis? I get questions like that a lot, and I think it’s important for residents to have a better understanding of what their elected officials do to advance the public interest.

That is why I have started a regular blog providing highlights about my work on legislative issues, meetings in the community, people I meet and places I learn about.

This is an effort to promote transparency and accountability on my part, to show how I am engaging with residents and grappling with the challenges facing the county. I also want to educate residents (as I learn myself) about the role of a County Council member. I consider this the first initiative of an “OpenGovernment” council policy agenda that I am working on.

A few examples from recent blog entries: zoning debates, upcounty parks, horses, farms and solar in the Ag Reserve, capital spending for schools, take home vehicles for county employees, curfews, zombies, and more.

Invite me to your next community meeting or send in a question and my response may show up on my blog! You may also follow me on Facebook and participate in the dialogue there.

Bethesda Metro Station Will Be Subject of

Special Montgomery Council Committee Meeting

Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee

to Meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at

Bethesda-CC Regional Services Center to Discuss Problem

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 21, 2011—The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee will hold a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center to discuss what can be done to avoid another incident such as the one on Friday, Oct. 14, when all three escalators at the Bethesda Metrorail Station simultaneously had mechanical problems and were all put out of service.

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Service Center’s street entrance is at 4805 Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda (corner of Old Georgetown and Edgemoor) and is marked with County and American flags. Take the elevator to Level 2 for the meeting room.

The T and E Committee, which is chaired by Council Vice President Roger Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, is expected to exchange thoughts with Metro officials at the meeting.

The discussion will include plans for the replacement of the escalators at the Bethesda Station, as well as plans for the construction of a new station entrance on Elm Street. Representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) will testify before the committee.

Members of the public are invited to participate in a question and answer period.

The incident last Friday, when all three escalators were broken down at the same time, underscores just how intolerable the situation at the Bethesda Metro has become,” said Council Vice President Berliner. “WMATA’s customers deserve better service and they deserve better answers – this has been going on for far, far too long. Our residents deserve to hear directly from WMATA what measures they will take to ensure the health and safety of all Metro riders. ”

“The Bethesda Metro station has one of the longest escalators in the western hemisphere,” said Councilmember Riemer. “It is unacceptable that the escalators break down and residents must climb their way out of that deep tunnel. This committee hearing is a timely opportunity for residents to hear about solutions from WMATA and to join us in holding WMATA accountable.”

Councilmember Floreen said: “WMATA owes Bethesda residents and workers a full explanation as to why this multiple year problem is still not fixed.”

Yours Sincerely,
Hans Riemer
Council Member At-Large

Hans Riemer | Montgomery County Council, At-large