By George Lettis
In October 2023, Montgomery Planning showed why we continue to be a thought leader in the Washington, DC region and the nation for our independent, innovative, and inclusive community planning. The American Planning Association (APA) – the largest membership organization of professional planners and planning leaders and experts – consistently recognizes our expertise and work products that exemplify the best in planning principles, creativity, and effectiveness and solidify Montgomery County’s status as Maryland’s economic engine and a national model for enhancing quality of life for current and future generations.
Two cases in point: Montgomery Planning won a prestigious national Award of Excellence from APA’s County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners (NACP) and was honored to … Continue reading
Searching for Lost Cemeteries
Montgomery Planning maintains the Montgomery County Burial Sites Inventory, a listing of over 300 cemeteries and burial sites around the county dating from before the arrival of Europeans in Maryland to burial grounds still in use today. However, there are 80 burial sites in the inventory that are no longer visible, and historical records only tell us approximately where they were. This may be because the graves were never marked, or the markers have been moved or have deteriorated. We are looking for these lost burial grounds, and we hope to get some help from modern technology – ground penetrating radar (GPR) – to recover this part of the county’s hidden past.
What is GPR? … Continue reading
By Paul Mortensen
Montgomery Planning is working on their new Pedestrian Master Plan to be presented to the Planning Board this spring. One of the greatest books on walkability and the creation of safe streets is Walkable City: How Downtown can Save America One Step at a Time, by Jeff Speck. This entertaining, informative, and most relevant book celebrated its 10th anniversary this past year. To help achieve Montgomery County’s Vision Zero goals of eliminating pedestrian fatalities through safe streets, Speck’s book provides a vision for creating streets that are safe, comfortable to pedestrians, and interesting—the primary criteria that supports walkability.
In our cities, towns, and neighborhood centers, streets occupy between 20% and 45% of the land. In the … Continue reading
In the coming months, the Montgomery County Council plans to consider a historic amendment to the county’s Forest Conservation Law – the No Net Loss of Forest initiative. Montgomery Planning proposed the initiative in 2022 in consultation with forest conservation experts and stakeholders, and with Planning Board approval.
What is the History of the Forest Conservation Law and the No Net Loss of Forest Initiative?
Montgomery County is known for its accessible parks, peaceful green spaces, and wooded trails that support a high quality of life for humans and wildlife. Approximately 30% of Montgomery County is covered by forest – a point of pride for residents and visitors who reap its benefits every day. The county’s laws, plans, and … Continue reading
By Lisa Govoni and Jason Sartori
One of Montgomery Planning’s mantras of late has been this idea of turning “parking lots to places.” In other words, let’s make better use of underutilized developed land and transform it into something more vibrant with multiple uses for residents and visitors. Inherent in “parking lots to places” is the thought that the “easier” parcels to redevelop – like surface parking lots – will be developed first, given the complexity and time involved in redevelopment of sites with existing uses.
Turning a parking lot into a place is infill development, which takes place on vacant or underutilized developed parcels within an area that have access to existing services. Infill development is beneficial to … Continue reading
By Archie Chen and Carrie McCarthy
Montgomery County, MD, is known for the diversity of its population, with places like Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, and Germantown regularly showing up on lists of the most diverse cities in the United States. The county is ranked 23rd in the percentage of people of color and 9th in the percentage of foreign-born population of the 49 counties in the United States with populations exceeding 1 million.
Montgomery Planning completed an Esri ArcGIS storymap on racial and ethnic changes in the county since 1990 using the race and Hispanic origin classifications defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The first series of maps looks at changes for individual races and Hispanic ethnicity. The second … Continue reading
By Lisa Govoni and Jason Sartori
Today we introduce a new series of blog posts on the housing market in Montgomery County, a series we hope will address some misconceptions, and clarify Montgomery Planning’s position on how to address one of the county’s most difficult challenges: the high price and limited availability of high-quality housing to serve our county’s racial equity/social justice, environmental, and economic needs.
We thought it would be helpful to start this blog series by discussing Montgomery Planning’s position on housing and sharing some of the core tenets that guide our work program.
Montgomery County is a leader in housing policy, but we can and should do more. Montgomery County has long been a leader in … Continue reading
By Benjamin Kraft and Casey Anderson
The conventional story about development and displacement goes something like this: new luxury housing gets built in a neighborhood, driving up rents for existing residents who then must leave to find less expensive housing elsewhere. To be sure, displacement does happen and it can be a serious problem, but our Neighborhood Change research shows that this conventional story of displacement doesn’t correspond to what is happening in Montgomery County. Specifically, the study shows that displacement of lower-income residents is not inevitable, and that where it occurs is not driven by new housing development. In fact, displacement is associated with the failure to build new housing in neighborhoods experiencing an increase in demand. Our … Continue reading
In 2016, Montgomery County adopted a Vision Zero policy, with a goal of eliminating severe injuries and fatalities on our roadways by 2030. The county has made significant progress and investments towards this goal over the past seven years, through additional data analysis, planning, and funding of capital projects to improve safety. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. In each year since the policy was adopted, there have been over 200 severe injuries and fatalities in Montgomery County. We have a long way to go towards reaching zero.
Traditional transportation planning looks at the locations that these previous crashes have occurred and focuses investments on improving those locations. Montgomery Planning wants to look beyond … Continue reading
Lessons learned from Portugal
This past May, I had the pleasure of traveling through Portugal on a greatly anticipated summer, post-COVID trip. What a beautiful country and what a perfect example of concentrated, walkable mixed-use communities, which are found in all its small, medium and larger cities and towns. Portugal, as well as a large portion of Europe shows us impressive examples of how to save energy and resources through the concentration of buildings and then connects those communities with simple, easy to use transit systems consisting of trains, trams, buses, cars, bikes, carts and scooters. It is walkable concentrated development linked by multimodal transportation at its best! I strongly suggest you visit Portugal if you can. The urbanism, … Continue reading