Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Businesses Put Economic Indicators in Real Terms

In today’s regular update on economic indicators, we learned that the County’s resident employment was 489,000 in July—a decline of nearly 14,000 from July 2008. Also, the value of new construction starts for residential projects is below $158 million to date in 2009 compared to nearly $210 million over the same period last year.

At my invitation, representatives from the business community joined us to explain what these and other indicators mean in real-life terms. Our guests told us that their small and mid-sized businesses were continuing to see revenue losses of up to 40%. While business owners continue to try to avoid layoffs, they asked the Council to consider the fiscal impact of legislation on businesses. Indeed, we need to do just that, and I am continuing to meet regularly with the business community to try to find solutions as we all work our way through the troubled economy.

The full discussion will be re-broadcast on CCM channels Comcast 6, RCN 6 and Verizon 30 on October 2 at 7 p.m., or you can find it online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Do You Think?--The Courage of Planning

In his September 19 Washington Post article, The Courage of Planning, Roger K. Lewis makes poignant observations about what goes into and what should come out of a master plan, paying particular attention to the balance of current needs and future growth management.

For example, he says, “Perceiving that increased density means increased traffic congestion, voters are understandably skeptical about any plan calling for higher densities, even if the plan calls for transportation improvements.” He adds that “visionary master plans are necessary to create a reasonably durable framework prescribing the location and form of new development and redevelopment for generations to come.”

Certainly we must apply a delicate mix of art and science to try to respect current communities and anticipate the needs of communities whose residents have not even been born. Take a look at the article and let me know what you think.

Remember, we have a busy year for master plans. We’ve just completed the Germantown Sector Plan, and we will undertake the Gaithersburg West Master Plan, the White Flint Sector Plan and the Kensington Sector Plan over the next several months.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Congratulations Beverley Swaim-Staley

I look forward to working with Beverley Swaim-Staley again now that she has taken the helm as Maryland's Secretary of Transportation. In addition to being smart and hard-working, Beverley knows Montgomery County like the back of her hand, having been Montgomery County’s budget director. I think she’s a great choice for the job, and as a bonus, she’s the first woman to hold this important appointment. While the transportation budget is going to be a remarkable challenge this year, I know Beverley will fight for everyone’s transportation projects.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Year With Transit Committee

I’ve been re-appointed as vice chair of the Transit Subcommittee of the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Transportation Steering Committee, so I’m looking forward to another year of advocacy. In particular, I find talking with leaders from more than 2,000 counties across the country especially productive as we share best practices and common challenges related to transportation and transit.

NACo advances issues important to local jurisdictions with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public's understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. It's a great mission, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Join Me at Whole Foods for Habitat for Humanity

Stop by the Rockville store tomorrow, and I'll even bag your groceries for you. Shop at Montgomery County Whole Foods Market on Wednesday, September 9, between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and five percent of your purchase will go straight to Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County to support affordable homeownership opportunities right here in our community.

Why do I support Habitat for Humanity? This fantastic organization works with individuals, institutions, businesses, and the Habitat families themselves to build simple, decent, energy efficient, affordable housing for those living in substandard conditions. This work benefits not just families but entire communities and the County as a whole.