Join Montgomery Planning Board Vice Chair Natali Fani-González for Spanish Ask Me Anything Virtual Town Hall on Saturday, May 23 at 2 p.m.

May 20, 2020

Thrive Montgomery 2050
Online event is a chance for Latinx community to ask questions about planning for the future of Montgomery County

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), is pleased to announce that Montgomery Planning Board Vice Chair Natali Fani-González will host a virtual town hall event on Saturday, May 23 at 2 p.m. as part of the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Ask Me Anything series. The event will feature Planning Director Gwen Wright answering questions about planning for the future of Montgomery County as work on the update to the General Plan continues. The event will take place in Spanish with live English translation.

“We want to hear directly from the Latino community about what they are facing today in light of the COVID-19 situation and what their hopes and concerns are for their future as we work on this Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan,” said Planning Board Vice Chair Natali Fani-González. “We also are encouraging the community to send in questions ahead of this virtual meeting so that we can answer them during the event.”

Access the virtual meeting here.

Community members can listen to the town halls live via telephone as well by dialing 301-495-4708 and entering the password 87871111

Members of the community are invited to submit questions ahead of time by emailing Thrive2050@montgomeryplanning.org or leaving a voicemail at 301-650-5613 by noon on Friday, May 22. Participants who join through the web will be able to chat questions during the live event, those who participate by phone will need to send questions prior to the live event.

About Thrive Montgomery 2050

Thrive Montgomery 2050 will include policy guidance that reflects shared priorities for Montgomery County’s communities and guide land use decision making for the next 30 years. Thrive Montgomery 2050 focuses on three primary outcomes: community equity, economic health and environmental resilience.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and M-NCPPC’s commitment to safety above all else, all in-person events and activities for May have been cancelled. Instead, Montgomery Planning is inviting community members to participate in a series of virtual events where they can provide feedback on the latest work to plan for the future of Montgomery County over the next thirty years.

“We want to meet people where they are, at home, acknowledging that we’re all focused on the current pandemic situation and are all yearning for social connection,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “Even though we aren’t together in person, we’re continuing to share the work that we have done on the General Plan, incorporating many ideas and values from community members and local organizations. It is important to continue gathering feedback from the community, even during these uncertain times, as we develop this plan for Montgomery County to address our challenges and thrive into the future.”

Montgomery Planning staff presented the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Draft Vision and Goals to the Planning Board at a virtual meeting on April 16. It is the first component of an updated General Plan for the county.

View the April 16 Staff Report on the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Draft Vision and Goals Briefing.
View the Introduction to the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Plan.
View the Draft Vision and Goals.
View the Distance Engagement plan.

Background on Thrive Montgomery 2050, Future Challenges and Opportunities

During summer 2019, Montgomery Planning launched the update of Montgomery County’s General Plan, the county’s long-term framework for land use and development. This effort, called Thrive Montgomery 2050, will result in new countywide policies to help Montgomery County thrive by addressing the challenges and opportunities in the decades to come.

A lot has changed in the county since the Montgomery County Council originally approved the General Plan in 1964. Thrive Montgomery 2050 will guide future growth in response to the demographic shifts, technological innovations, changing lifestyles and economic disruptions that have taken place in recent decades.

The overriding question for Thrive Montgomery 2050 is how do we plan for our future? The Montgomery County of 50 years ago didn’t face the same changes we do today: climate change, the rise of the sharing economy, increasing population diversity, regional and global economic developments, autonomous vehicles, new technologies and so much more.  These changes will affect how we travel, live, work, play and interact with others.

With anticipated growth of more than 200,000 people within the next 25 to 30 years, how can we ensure our county will thrive with a strong economy, fairness and opportunity for a dynamic and diverse population, and environmental resilience to address the threats of climate change? And how can we grow in a way that will retain and enhance what we have and cherish today as a community while addressing challenges such as housing affordability, environmental degradation, social injustice and even traffic congestion?

COVID-19 and the Unpredictable Future

COVID-19 is a good example of how unpredictable the future is. It has forced us to adapt, even if temporarily, to new realities unthinkable only a few weeks ago. Before the coronavirus crisis, only about 6 to 7 percent of the workforce worked remotely full-time. What if in the post-COVID-19 era the share of people working remotely goes up to 20 or 30 percent? What kind of impact will it have on traffic congestion? How much reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will we experience? What if that share goes up to 50 percent? It may be unthinkable today, but COVID-19 has demonstrated that it is not only possible but quite feasible.

The events taking place as we write this plan place new emphasis on two concepts that we have included from the beginning: community equity and resilience. The pandemic exacerbates existing social and economic disparities and distresses that existed prior to the crisis. The concept of resilience, while frequently used in the environmental context as a response to climate change, is also about developing policies that help communities withstand economic and social challenges. Since it is futile to predict the future, the best we can do is to prepare for multiple possibilities and try to influence the outcomes in our favor. We can do that through an updated General Plan.