All Buzz, No Bite: YIMBY Prank Inadvertently Shows Elrich’s Support for Density and Affordable Housing

Councilmember Andrew Friedson is speaking, County Executive Marc Elrich is three to his right.

Sometimes, it seems like people who dislike County Executive Marc Elrich will criticize him for just about anything. Take the Washington Post. The day before it lambasted Elrich on its editorial page for “lavishing taxpayer dollars on his union allies,” it endorsed a slew of incumbent councilmembers who all voted to fund those contracts.

In a bizarre incident on Thursday, however, YIMBYs stole the prize by being so zealous to attack Elrich that they ended up proving the opposite.

In Bethesda, County Executive Marc Elrich and Councilmember Andrew Friedson—two people who disagree on many issues—came together to announce and to celebrate moving forward with a proposal to redevelop Parking Lots 25 and 44, which are located north of the Bethesda Metro Station on Wisconsin Ave.

The concept plan for the project is that it will result in 301 new housing units, including 224 rental units and 47 condo units. Elrich pressed hard for affordable housing and his efforts bore fruit. Among the proposed rental units on Lot 25, 20%, or 45, will be MPDUs, with 34 priced at 70% and 11 at 50% of area median income. In the seven (15%) MPDU condo units on Lot 44, condo fees will be reduced by 70%.

It will result in green space being added to an existing park and the refurbishing of the green space to the community’s benefit. There will be 3500 square feet of community space and potentially retail space. In short, this is a great example of a win-win. Dense housing will replace surface parking lots and we’ll even get more and better green space in the process.

It should have been a kumbaya moment.

But YIMBYs are so desperate to portray Elrich as opposed to housing density and affordable housing that major Real Estate Broker Liz Brent bizarrely brought the Nimbee to the event to protest Elrich even though this is exactly the sort of projects that YIMBYs claim to favor. The Nimbee sign read “Thanks, Marc for voting against this project!” even though Elrich was there to show his support for it.

Instead of highlighting their point, however, it demonstrated that Elrich favors more density in smart growth locations (i.e. near transit) like this one. Much like Councilmember Will Jawando, Elrich used his political power to press for meaningful inclusion of affordable housing.

As we’ve seen in the kerfuffle over the redevelopment of Chevy Chase Library, some self-proclaimed YIMBYs care much more about promoting development that focuses on expensive condos in the name of affordable housing rather than new affordable housing units.

So I guess Elrich owes Brent and Nimbee a big thanks for showing that the trope that Elrich opposes development and affordable housing isn’t true through their protest of a new development with a strong affordable housing component thanks partly to Elrich.