Category Archives: Uncategorized

Elrich Keeps Lead as Blair Gains 20

David Blair caught up by 20 votes yesterday. He now trails incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich by 276 votes. A total of 98,724 valid votes have been counted in the Democratic primary with 25,637 being mail ballots.

According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections Twitter account, there are lots of mail and provisional ballots yet to come with an unofficial mail-in total of 68,975 ballots and provisional total of 8,030 ballots. This includes Democrats, Republicans and others. The mail-in total will grow as additional ballots are received.


Altered Map: Cases Per 100k by County

From the New York Times. The map has changed. Doesn’t look like opening up Ocean City was such a great idea. Montgomery and Frederick have moved down the list. Many rural and outer suburban places no longer much different from inner suburbs.

  • Baltimore City, 29.
  • Worcester, 24.
  • Baltimore County, 22.
  • Talbot, 22.
  • Prince George’s, 19.
  • Dorchester, 15.
  • Anne Arundel, 14.
  • Calvert, 13.
  • Charles, 13.
  • Howard, 13.
  • Caroline, 12.
  • Harford, 12.
  • St. Mary’s, 11.
  • Montgomery, 10.
  • Washington, 10.
  • Carroll, 9.5.
  • Kent, 9.4.
  • Queen Anne’s, 8.8.
  • Wicomico, 7.6.
  • Cecil, 6.9.
  • Frederick, 6.5.
  • Somerset, 5.0.
  • Garrett, 4.1.
  • Allegany, 4.0.


Everyone Can Vote Absentee

The Maryland presidential primary on Tuesday, April 28th is still awhile off. Depending upon the situation, many people may be reluctant to vote at the polls in order to protect themselves, loved ones, and public health. So it seems a good idea to request your absentee ballot now.

Maryland has no-excuse absentee voting, so any registered voter can request an absentee ballot. You can have it sent to your home or another address. Voters can request an absentee ballot from their home either by mailing in the form or filling it out online.

If you find it easier to download a form and mail it, you can find the form online by clicking here or going to:

Alternatively, you can fill out the absentee request form online by clicking here or going to:

This is a combined voter registration and absentee ballot request form. If you’re already registered, don’t worry that you’ll be registered twice — the form has questions to avoid this problem. The information is virtually the same as on the mail-in form, so it shouldn’t take any longer to fill out even though it serves a dual purpose.


Former Planning Board Member Meredith Wellington on Accessory Dwelling Unit Proposal


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,;

Andrew Friedson            240-777-7828,;

Evan Glass                         240-777-7966,;

Tom Hucker                      240-777-7960,;

Will Jawando ​  240-777-7811,;

Sidney Katz                       240-777-7906,;

Nancy Navarro                240-777-7968,;

Craig Rice                         240-777-7955,;

Hans Riemer                     240-777-7964,

Meredith Wellington


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.


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.


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%.