1) Do you agree with us that more housing, both market rate and subsidized, should be created in Takoma Park? If so, what steps will you take to facilitate creation of new housing?
The city housing strategic plan, which I actively support, calls for expanding a range of housing types, both rental and owned, throughout the entire community. It outlines a variety of creative steps to expand our housing. Recent steps I advocated for are county adoption of new rules that make it easier to build an accessory dwelling unit, and a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to convert an existing building into two “missing middle” homeowner opportunities. In my second term, I look forward to taking more steps like these to implement the plan.
2) Takoma Park has several potential development and revitalization opportunities. Please describe your vision for the following sites. In your opinion, how should they be further developed?
All three of these sites have great promise to help build our city’s housing stock, local economy, and financial base. My vision is not what, so much as how. The city can actively influence revitalization of these sites, by active engagement with the immediate neighbors (especially those whose voices are not often heard), close cooperation with other government and nonprofit entities, and partnerships with the private sector that stretch the city’s limited resources.
Takoma-Langley Crossroads (Purple Line station). Any mixed-use project in this area must balance retail redevelopment with needs for more housing at several income levels. To achieve this, the city can do such things as promote the opportunity zone designation; work with the Purple Line Corridor Coalition and other area governments in partnership; let area property owners and developers know that the city is “open for business;” and insist that proposals address displacement issues and respect existing small businesses and residents.
Takoma Park Recreation Center (New Hampshire Ave.). Acquiring the site from the county was a great step in the city moving forward for a renovated recreation facility combined with mixed-income housing and possibly small local retail. The current city engagement effort with immediate neighbors is critical to the success of the redevelopment and of a thriving recreation center.
Washington Adventist Hospital campus. A county mini-master plan process for the site and the area is about to start. It should include rezoning to allow something other than the single-family housing the site is currently zoned for.
4) On the long-debated Takoma Junction development process, do you support continuing the existing County and City review process or do you propose restarting the development process, including a new Request for Proposals? If so, how would the City fund this work?
I think we should continue the existing county review process, in line with the direction established by existing agreements, resolutions of other Councils, and the Takoma Junction Task Force. In 2018 I voted to move the proposed plan for the lot to county agencies’ development review, and worked to address specific concerns about the proposal such as the Coop’s operational needs, green construction, less height, and stormwater management. When the county agencies’ process concludes and before any county planning board vote, I will pay close attention to how the revised site plan conforms with our previous requirements, particularly traffic, public space, sustainability and the Coop/NDC agreement.
5) Would you promote multifamily construction by offering additional relief from rent stabilization for new buildings, as the District and many other jurisdictions do?
New multifamily construction should be mixed income, to support our city housing goals. The city can promote a variety of incentives to achieve this, such as modified PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements and supporting a county density bonus in exchange for more moderately priced units. I’m not familiar (yet) with the District approach, and I would like to learn more about how it would integrate with our community’s rent stabilization rules.
City public engagement currently over-represents the views of older, white, and home-owning residents. How would you change the process to better engage renters, minorities, immigrants, and young families?
I don’t think we can rely on one process. Our many different residents get their information, and express their views, in different ways. We’ve already begun some important approaches to actively engage a much wider range of residents, share information in various languages, and employ different ways of hearing their views. I especially want to draw on the experience of city staff during the pandemic about what works for renters and for people of color, and apply it to civic engagement generally. I’d like to learn similar lessons from the current targeted outreach process for the recreation center. And a revamping of the committee process, to better engage all our many types of residents, is underway.
6) Takoma Park, Piney Branch ES, Rolling Terrace ES, and Montgomery Blair HS are at or over capacity. Do you support advocating the Montgomery County Public Schools system for a new local school? How else would you work with MCPS to provide sufficient capacity and quality for our growing community?
I see part of the city’s role as advocating for our residents to the county and state. I support continuing our advocacy to MCPS about down-county overcrowding, the importance of expanding high-quality educational capacity in our community, and the urgent need for a new local school. Many PTA leaders are city residents, and we can support their leadership on these issues.