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Former Planning Board Member Meredith Wellington on Accessory Dwelling Unit Proposal

ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS  ZTA 19-01— UPDATE

Background.  On January 15, 2019, County Councilmember Hans Riemer sponsored Zoning Text Amendment (“ZTA”) 19-01, a proposal to relax the restrictions that currently limit County homeowners from creating “Accessory Dwelling Units” (“ADUs”) on their property. ADUs are separate dwelling units on the same lot as a single-family principal residence. The dwelling may be traditional rental apartments or, after one year, may be converted to a short-term, “airbnb-type” unit. The latterrequires a different category of license, and it must not have a full kitchen.

After a hearing before the County Council, the Council’s Planning,Housing and Economic Development (“PHED”) Committee chaired by Councilmember Riemer held work sessions on ZTA 19-01, and it has now sent a revised version of the legislation to the full County Council for a vote likely next month. Over the objections of County Executive Marc Elrich and civic groups throughout the County, the PHED Committee is recommending a version of ZTA 19-01 that eviscerates current restrictions on ADUs that protect single-family neighborhoods. 

Current Proposal. Homeowners in small lot communities (those zoned R-60, R-90 or R-200) can already create separate rental apartments in their homes (“attached” ADUs). However, these ADUs are now subject to strict limitations designed to assure neighborhood preservation and compatibility. Under Councilmember Reimeroriginal proposal and the PHED Committees revisionsmost of the limitations on attached ADUs will no longer apply. 

Even worse, detached ADUs would for the first time be permitted in the backyards of 120,000 to 160,000 small lots in single-familyneighborhoods throughout the County. These ADUs could range fromtrailers and converted cargo containers to three-bedroom apartments in new structures and renovated garagesdepending on the lot’s sizeA table comparing the current rules for both attached and detached ADUs with those in ZTA 19-01 is attached.

Impacts on Single-Family Neighborhoods. Especially problematic are the provisions for detached ADUs, which are capable of altering the character of a neighborhood by blanketing the County without regard to location, lot size, compatibility, environmental concerns, best design practices for infill development, or provisions in existing master and sectorplans. These structures would be allowed without meaningful parking requirements to protect nearby homeowners or environmental requirements for sediment control, storm water management, or preservation of the existing tree canopy.

Contravention of Sound Planning Principles. According to Councilmember Riemer, ZTA 19-01 is intended to allow property owners to create “granny flats” and “in-law suites” inside their homes, and “tiny houses” and “cottages” in their backyards, all of which will increase the County’s affordable housing stock for lower income families and individuals. In fact, the proposal is “one-size-fits-all” legislation that is likely to produce the opposite result. Unless accompanied by dedicated public financing programs, this proposal may simply enable wealthy property owners and real estate developers to build expensive second homes on residential lots, thereby driving up rather than reducing housing costs.

In response to the myriad of concerns about the County’s failure to enforcecurrent zoning and rental licensing regulations with respect to existing ADUs, members of the PHED Committee promised during their work sessions to examine the budget and staffing of the County’s Department of Permitting Services (“DPS”) and its Department of Housing and Community Affairs. (“DHCA”). However, there is nothing on the Council’s agenda regarding these enforcement issues, and the PHED Committee is asking the Council to adopt ZTA 19-01 without addressingthe acknowledged deficiencies in County code enforcement. 

Recommendations for Detached ADUs. County planning officials should utilize sound planning tools to assure that detached ADUs will complement existing housing stock and in fact add to much-needed affordable housing. Here are some ideas for successful planning:• Detached ADUs should not be allowed as a housing type in small lots zoned R-60, R-90 and R-200. Instead, these structures should be permitted only on lots larger than 10,000 square feet, and only if recommended as part of an overlay zone in a master or sector plan for a specific community. If planned properly, detached accessory apartments can be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood as was done in Kentlands — a development oft-cited in the PHED Committee work sessions.• Technically, the property owner sis required to live in either the primary dwelling or the ADU, but County officials acknowledge serious problems with enforcement. Enforcement of this requirement should be a priority of both DPS and SHCA.• Detailed design guidelines should be provided to assure neighborhoods that valuable green space and trees will not be destroyed by dense over-building on small lots that leave only concrete in their wake.  • Planning officials should consider whether backyard trailers and cargo containers are appropriate building types even on larger lots throughout the County.• The PHED Committee should explore the need for a housing program that will help homeowners, rather than developers, finance detached ADUs to make their own homes and rental units more affordable.    

Recommendations for Attached ADUs. Unfortunately, ZTA 19-01 removes most of the protections in the current zoning code that protectsmall lot communities from the adverse impacts of attached ADUs. which would be largely unregulated in the future. Here are somerecommendations for these dwelling units:• Spacing requirements for attached ADUs in the current zoning ordinance should be retained (e.g., 300 feet between attached ADUs on same block in the small lot zones; 500 feet for attached ADUs on the same block in large lot zones). 
 • ​Parking requirements should be adopted based on data showing neighborhood road widths, as well as the volume of cars normally parked on the streets in question, with homeowners given priority for parking space in front and near their homes. Proximity to transit should not be the only consideration, and one mile from transit is too far.• ​Maximum square foot limits for attached ADUs should be maintained. Large basement areas and additions should not be transformed into large housing units within a single-family home, thereby creating a new form of “mansionization” incompatible with small-lot neighborhoods.• If the principal dwelling is a new home, all the current infill requirements (height, set back, lot coverage, and other restrictions) should apply to any space used to create an attached ADU. • The protection in the current zoning code against over-concentration should be reinstated (i.e., in small lot zones, the ADU must be located at least 300 feet from any other attached or detached ADU along the same block face).• Workable strategies should be established to assure that the owner either lives in the primary or accessory residence. Right now, this requirement is not being properly enforced.

Conclusions.  The County needs housing legislation that will result in exciting new communities with mixed affordable housing, as well as a housing program that makes new dwelling units available to large, diversecommunities of residents. This can be accomplished by identifying appropriate locations in master plans, and by adopting innovative housing programs that provide financing together with code enforcement.

The current proposal offers the worst of all worlds. Without a financing program, only wealthy property owners will be able to create ADUs,which in all likelihood will increase housing prices throughout the County and generate new housing types that will irrevocably overwhelm and degrade the County’s single-family neighborhoods. 

What can you do? Contact County Council members and let them know your concerns: 

Gabe Albornoz                 240-777-7959, Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Andrew Friedson            240-777-7828,Councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Evan Glass                         240-777-7966, Councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Tom Hucker                      240-777-7960, Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Will Jawando ​  240-777-7811, Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Sidney Katz                       240-777-7906, Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Nancy Navarro                240-777-7968, Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Craig Rice                         240-777-7955, Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov;

Hans Riemer                     240-777-7964, Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Meredith Wellington

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Democrats Keep Veto Proof Senate Majority

Democrats look to have lost two seats in the Maryland Senate as the Republican drive for five Senate seats needed to uphold a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan easily falls short. No real coattails for Hogan as Democrats run for ahead of him in key seats.

In lower Eastern Shore District 38, Democratic Sen. Jim Mathias, the Harry Houdini of Maryland politics, finally met his match in Republican Del. Mary Beth Carozza. As expected, Republican Del. Chris West also gained District 42, but by just 51.8% to 48.2%.

Meanwhile, it looks like Kathy Klausmeier has hung on District 8 by 50.6% to 49.3% for Del. Christian Miele. A huge win for Democrats in a highly vulnerable seat that Hogan won by a mile. Dems even picked up a delegate seat as they were doing it.

In District 30, Dem Sarah Elfreth looks set to defeat former GOP Del. Ron George by a convincing 54-45 margin in a tough seat with a couple of precincts still out.

Dem Sen. Ron Young easily turned back Republican Craig Giangrande’s challenge by 57-43.

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MoCo State Leg Update: Delegates Morales and Robinson Trailing Narrowly in Tight Races

State Senate

In District 18, Del. Jeff Waldstreicher looks set to win the Democratic nomination with 50% to 38% for Dana Beyer and 12% for Michelle Carhart.

House of Delegates

Incumbents Kathleen Dumais and David Fraser-Hidalgo look set to be joined by Lily Qi in D15.

In D16, incumbents Marc Korman and Ariana Kelly look set for reelection. It’s a tight race between Samir Paul and Sara Love in a tight race for the third slot with Love ahead by 18 votes!

The ticket of incumbents Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist along with Julie Palakovich-Carr look set to win in D17. Incumbent Sen. Cheryl Kagan endorsed Julian Haffner, who trails in fourth by roughly 1400 votes.

In D18, incumbent Al Carr leads the pack with newcomers Emily Shetty and Jared Solomon looking set to join him. Leslie Milano is in fourth but around 1000 votes behind Solomon.

One of two incumbents currently trailing is in D19. Incumbent Bonnie Cullison leads followed by Charlotte Crutchfield. Vaugh Stewart leads incumbent Maricé Morales for the third slot by 133 votes. This one is going to take awhile.

In D20, the ticket of incumbents David Moon and Jhenelle Wilkins along with newcomer Lorig Charkoudian are set to go to Annapolis. Darian Unger trails in fourth.

In D39, incumbent Shane Robinson is struggling in fourth, behind incumbents Kirill Reznik and newcomers Lesley Lopez and Gabriel Acevero. Lopez leads with 3,320 followed by Gabriel Acevero with 3,175 followed by incumbent Kirill Reznik with 3,125. Shane Robinson trails Reznik with 3,032.

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Results Update 1: It’s a Great Night for Money

So with more votes in, it’s looking good statewide for Jealous/Turnbull for Governor with around 39% of the vote in a fractured Democratic field.

David Trone looks likely to win the congressional race in CD6 that he lost in CD8 two years ago. He has 40% to 32% for Aruna Miller.

In CD8, the unknown Jamie Raskin is edging out the ubiquitous Utam, Paul with 91% to 4% with Summer Spring sneaking into second with 6%.

In Prince George’s, Angela Alsobrooks is looking at an easy win over Donna Edwards and Anthony Muse.

The Montgomery County Executive race is looking to be the humdinger. Right now, Marc Elrich has 28%, just behind David Blair who has 29% – a difference of 178 votes.

In Council District 1, Andrew Friedson seems comfortably in the lead with 30% of the vote.

In Council District 3, Sidney Katz is fending off a challenge Ben Shnider with 54% to 46%.

 

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Asian Pacific American Dems Endorse Blair

The Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats (CAPAD) has endorsed David Blair for County Executive.  Their endorsement statement emphasizes economic issues, including the need to “support minority small businesses.”  The county has thousands of businesses owned by people of East Asian and South Asian descent.  We reprint Blair’s email below.

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AFL-CIO Makes Endorsements in MoCo, Prince George’s Races

The Metro Washington AFL-CIO has announced endorsements in local races in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.  They have previously endorsed Marc Elrich for County Executive.  Following is their press release.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018
Contact: David Dzidzienyo, ddzidzienyo@dclabor.org

Metro Washington AFL-CIO Endorses in DC, Montgomery and Prince George’s Primaries

“With the Supreme Court ruling on Janus vs. AFSCME expected any day, political engagement by union voters is more important than ever,” said Metro Washington Council president Jackie Jeter in announcing endorsements in upcoming local primaries. “These candidates have proven their commitment to the issues that affect the working men and women of our communities and deserve the full support of the local labor movement.”

The Metro Council released endorsements in the following races: DC Mayor, Council and Attorney General; Montgomery County Council, Prince George’s County Council and Prince George’s County Board of Education.

The Metro Council also endorses Cynthia Collins (SEIU 400) for the PG Democratic Central Committee (At-Large) and Initiative 77 in the District.

District of Columbia
Mayor: Muriel Bowser
District of Columbia City Council – Chairman Candidate: Phil Mendelson
District of Columbia – Attorney General Candidate: Karl Racine
District of Columbia City Council – At-Large Candidate: Anita Bonds
District of Columbia City Council – Ward 1 Candidate: Brianne Nadeau
District of Columbia City Council – Ward 5 Candidate: Kenyon McDuffie
District of Columbia City Council – Ward 6 Candidate: Charles Allen

Prince George’s/Montgomery County
Montgomery County Council At-Large: No Recommendation
Montgomery County Council At-Large: Brandy Brooks
Montgomery County Council At-Large: Danielle Metiv
Montgomery County Council At-Large: Chris Wilhelm
Montgomery County District 001: Jim McGee
Montgomery County District 003: Ben Snyder
Montgomery County District 004: Nancy Navarro
Montgomery County District 005: Tom Hucker

Prince George’s County Council At-Large
Prince George’s County Council At-Large: Gerron Levi
Prince George’s County Council At-Large: Karen Toles
Prince George’s County District 001: Tom Dernoga
Prince George’s County District 002: Deni Tavaras
Prince George’s County District 005: No Recommendation
Prince George’s County District 006: No Recommendation
Prince George’s County District 007: No Recommendation
Prince George’s County District 008: Tony Knotts
Prince George’s County District 009: Sidney Harris

Prince George’s County Board of Education
Prince George’s County District 002: Joshua M. Thomas
Prince George’s County District 003: Juwan Blocker
Prince George’s County District 006: Pat Fletcher
Prince George’s County District 009: Arun Puracken

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John Delaney Endorses Bill Conway

By Adam Pagnucco.

Congressman John Delaney has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Bill Conway.  We are not aware of Delaney endorsing other county-level candidates.  We reprint the Conway campaign’s press release below.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday April 30, 2018

Congressman John Delaney Endorses Bill Conway for County Council

Bill Conway, candidate for County Council At Large, announced today that he has been endorsed by Congressman John Delaney of Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District.

“I am proud to endorse Democrat Bill Conway for an At Large seat on the Montgomery County Council,” Congressman Delaney said. “Bill would bring policy and business experience to the County Council. He is a consensus builder who combines progressive values and a deep commitment to social justice with clear-eyed practicality and fiscal prudence. We need Bill’s leadership on the Council to grow our tax base with new jobs, control our choking traffic problems, and reduce the performance gap in our schools,” Delaney added.

“John Delaney is one of the most thoughtful and innovative leaders in Congress. He has served the people of the Sixth District with distinction and would lead our country wisely if elected to the Presidency. I am honored to receive his endorsement,” Conway said.

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Who Really Deserves Criminal Charges for Ignoring Known Child Abuse?

By Adam Rosenberg, Executive Director, and Joyce Lombardi, Director of Government Relations, Baltimore Child Abuse Center.

For the past several years, the Baltimore Child Abuse Center has been advocating for a new law that will allow misdemeanor charges against front-line professionals who deliberately chose not to report child abuse.

Sounds like an easy sell, but it isn’t. Not in Maryland. Or, at least not in Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee. The bill (SB132 this year) has already unanimously sailed through the Senate two years in a row thanks to Senator Susan Lee and Senator Robert Zirkin. But, despite the efforts of Delegate Carlo Sanchez, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and several Democrats and Republicans, HB500 is still stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Why?  Partially it’s because leadership there questions the need for yet another law, and partially because many people rightfully struggle with the idea of putting “jail” and “teacher” or “nurse” in the same sentence.

But many of the dozens and dozens of people we’ve been talking with – which includes social workers, pediatricians and elected officials in Annapolis – instantly picture who this law is talking about: not your average teacher or nurse, but instead the people who knew but chose to protect themselves or their institutions. “Right!” they say, “like at USA Gymnastics or Penn State.”  Yes, bingo. The enablers.

Former Penn State administrators Tim Curley, left, and Gary Schultz (Centre County Correctional Facility, AP)

Still, others struggle.  Instead of seeing the egregious enablers, they see their friends, their kid’s soccer coach, their homeroom teacher, their family doctor.  They see themselves.  They can picture the predators, sure, the eerily bland face of Larry Nasser or maybe even the bulldog mug of Harvey Weinstein. But they can’t see the quiet cadre of adults standing just behind the predators, the ones who are always there, desperately denying the crimes of the colleague or friend or beloved in their midst. They might see the good doctor who isn’t sure the head trauma was abuse and doesn’t report, or they might see a teacher who didn’t report that a girl felt uncomfortable on her colleague’s lap. They see nuance. They see negligence at best.

Professionals in Maryland all have a duty to report SUSPECTED abuse, but this bill, HB 500, isn’t criminalizing negligence.  Instead, it targets those rare but persistent cases when a mandatory reporter “KNOWS” about the abuse and STILL doesn’t act.  Think Morgan State University, USA Gymnastics, and think Penn State. Think about the horror of seeing a naked boy in a shower sexually assaulted by a grown man. Think about several girls coming forward to say their doctor’s hands inside them “didn’t feel right,” “felt wrong,” or “he was aroused.”

There is a a running list of professionals in Maryland who chose not to report, for example: cigarette burns on a girl’s arm;  a 5-year old boy disclosing that “daddy kisses my wee wee and makes it big; ”a distressed tween disclosing that her grandfather takes her to the basement and puts his hand under her dress;  lacerations and scars on an 8-year old; a 3-year old with visible bruises who said he gets hit with a belt, numerous 5th graders disclosing that a volunteer school aide was making boys do “nasty stuff.”

Also, let’s clarify what has been proposed:  a misdemeanor with a max of 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine.  That’s the same penalty you get in Maryland if you board someone’s boat for a second time without permission or if you install an air conditioner without a license ((Crim. Law 6-403; Bus. Reg. 9A-501).

Secondly, every other state in the country has a penalty of some sort and most make it a misdemeanor for deliberately failing to report SUSPECTED abuse – except Wyoming and Maryland. In Maryland, after years and years of wrangling and compromise with various legislators and professional associations for doctors, nurses, therapists, etc., this law would only target the worst of the worst: those who ignored KNOWN abuse.  The proposed law (HB500) has an “actual knowledge” standard, an extremely high bar to reach, and one that reaches felony status elsewhere.  The bar is so high that, for the first time, it has gained support from some professional associations and censure from some activists.

Leadership in the House Judiciary Committee questions why we need a new law when there are two on the books that get little use: a fairly new one, sponsored by Delegate Kathleen Dumais in 2015, which provides notice to a licensing board or employer for a failure to report, and an older one that criminalizes anyone who obstructs a report.  Our answer is simply that this law, HB500, fills in the gap between the two.  Saying more than that sounds like an attack on the current laws and their sponsors.  It isn’t meant to be an attack.  It’s a plea for another way. It’s an “And,” not an “Or.”

We all agree that child abuse needs to be reported, we just respectfully disagree whether Maryland needs a new law to help make that happen.  After years of research and experience in the field, we believe that it does and HB500 is that law.

If you agree that Maryland’s children deserve better protections too, call the Maryland House Judiciary Committee at 301-858-3488 or 410-841-3488 to share your support for HB500.

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