Written by Todd Fawley-King & Atul Sharma
The sudden experiment in widespread telework for office workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has pundits appropriately questioning the future of the office. Much of this discussion focuses on using technology to make buildings safer, but there are more fundamental questions about the need for and relevance of office space itself. The sector is at risk of disruption: an estimated 40% to 50% of the 472,126 jobs in Montgomery County could be performed at home by telecommuting.[i] That in turn has significant implications for real estate in Montgomery County, which has 1,533 office buildings offering 73.3 million leasable square feet, approximately 12% of which was vacant in Q4 2019 before … Continue reading
By Todd Fawley-King and Atul Sharma
You’ve probably heard someone criticize a neighborhood or shopping area as “cookie cutter.” This description, often used to identify construction that has standardized or repetitive features, usually implies the buildings lack character and will diminish their surroundings. There is a lot to like about “cookie-cutter” construction; sameness can be enriching, and this type of design can help build great places quickly and affordably.
Good cookie-cutter design is ingrained in the urban fabric of America, enabling the rapid settlement and expansion of the United States. In New England the repeated “cookie” is the 6-by-6 mile square township administered by a central village. These townships were organized around the quintessential church, meeting house, and … Continue reading
Written by Jesse Cohn & Eli Glazier
There’s not doubt that over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way that we live, work, play and travel. However, some of these short-term impacts of the pandemic may extend into the future for years to come, long after we find a vaccine.
Experts and practitioners in transportation, real estate, economics, public health and other disciplines have shared their initial predictions of what life will look like in the wake of COVID-19.
And as planners who must prepare for these potential long-term changes and adapt accordingly, we have been listening closely. A core group of us at Montgomery Planning have spent the past few months reviewing recent … Continue reading
A once-segregated public school can teach future generations about an important chapter in county history
By: Kacy Rohn and John Liebertz
Locally designated African American historic sites around Montgomery County highlight the central role of African Americans in the story of the county and the nation. These sites include places where free and formerly enslaved African Americans lived, worked, worshipped, and buried their loved ones throughout the county.
Another site may soon be designated. Montgomery County Historic Preservation staff are considering whether the former Edward U. Taylor Elementary School in Boyds should be added to the county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The recently approved and adopted MARC Rail Communities Sector Plan recognized the school as a neighborhood landmark … Continue reading
Work session with county kids inspires staff, proves the next generation Is a key planning resource
By Kendra Hyson and Jessica McVary
Wouldn’t it be great if our plan for the future was created with input from all the generations of people who will live in our county in the next 30 years? We are driving change for the next generation, but are we including today’s kids in conversations about the future and implementing their ideas in a meaningful way? The youth are our future. Their voices should be heard.
With the progression of social media and other online platforms, today’s kids have strong technical skills and increased awareness of technology and other issues important to our future. Their … Continue reading
Planners use high tech tools to bring a historic headstone’s inscription back to life
By Brian Crane, PhD and Kacy Rohn
In the Planning Department, we talk a lot about the future. But much of our work is rooted in the past. We learn from history and we also help preserve it. Our county’s cemeteries are a treasure trove of information. Genealogists and history buffs love cemeteries for all the family history they contain, but time and nature pose challenges. Some historic gravestones have become so weathered, it’s almost impossible to read them.
New technologies have come to the rescue, offering ways to recover those lost inscriptions without damaging the stone. In November, someone contacted the county for help … Continue reading
By Natasha Fahim, Tsaiquan Gatling and Atul Sharma
How to design unique places Montgomery County residents will love for generations
Public places are the heart of any thriving community. It’s where we spend time with our family, meet our friends, and experience new things. Without great public places, a community lacks a sense of identity and pride. It is becoming more important that we emphasize creating successful public places, in order to support our communities, as the growth of technology enables many social activities to move from the community onto the internet.
Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a collective community effort to figure out – together – how Montgomery County can be a great community over the next 30 years. … Continue reading
By Katie Mencarini and David Anspacher
Believe it or not, if you’re reading this, you are probably an expert on Montgomery County transportation! Whether you drive to work, ride on a commuter bus, walk to the dry cleaners or bike to school, you know what is and isn’t working, and you have ideas about how to improve the situation. What you might not know is how to communicate those ideas effectively to a transportation planner. We can help. Read on as we cover some of the most common transportation planning terms and tell why they matter.
Most trips people make aren’t for pleasure; they are to get to places. Accessibility is the main way transportation planners describe how many … Continue reading
By Paul Mortensen and Njillan Sarre
Called backyard cottages or granny flats, accessory dwelling units can help remedy our housing shortage
The Montgomery County Council is in the process of considering changes to the existing laws that allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These secondary housing units are located on the same lot as an owner-occupied single-family home. They are significantly smaller than the main house and can be a stand-alone structure in the backyard, a basement apartment, an addition or an apartment over the garage. ADUs go by many names, such as accessory apartments, backyard cottages or granny flats, among others.
Under current law, homeowners in Montgomery County who want to have an ADU face several restrictions. A detached … Continue reading
Montgomery County master plans recommend ways of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries By David Anspacher and Jessica McVary
If you think implementing Vision Zero to eliminate traffic fatalities in your city is challenging, try starting a program in the suburbs where communities were designed for the automobile and largely devoid of concern for walking, bicycling and transit use!
While more than 40 cities in North America have endorsed Vision Zero, only one suburban jurisdiction – Montgomery County, Maryland – has embraced this strategy to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2030 while increasing mobility. Montgomery County is attempting to demonstrate that realizing Vision Zero is not just possible in San Francisco and Washington DC, but also … Continue reading