Montgomery County has grown rapidly in recent decades while maintaining a high quality of life, good public services and the infrastructure needed to keep the county working. Now we are reaching the limits of our ability to grow and provide these services without a significant increase in taxes to pay for them.
- Montgomery County has more overcrowded schools than any other county in Maryland. Teachers are overworked and feel that no one is listening to them.
- The Metro system is seriously underfunded. It needs more money for maintenance of services. The Purple Line will be an expensive new addition that will also need maintenance funding. The proposed Bus Rapid Transit system is much cheaper than rail but it’s funding is uncertain.
- Housing costs continue to increase as affordable housing becomes ever more difficult to find.
- Legacy infrastructure costs grow ever more expensive. For example Montgomery County has 19 bridges rated structurally deficient and 105 that are functionally obsolete.
Solutions: Plan for the End of Growth
Forty years ago, Montgomery County planners laid out a “corridors and wedges” plan that would concentrate development along the I-270 corridor and keep rural wedges free from suburban sprawl. We are now reaching the limits projected in that plan. We must plan for the end of growth or else see the costs of development spiral out of control.
- Growth is expensive. Growth never pays for itself. The most densely populated parts of the country are invariably those with the highest local taxes.
- Communities have discovered that leaving space open is much less expensive than developing it.
- In a finite space with finite resources, infinite growth is impossible.
- We must plan for the end of growth now.
Set a goal of 100% renewable energy
We need to reduce our global warming emissions, starting at the local level. To do this we must build an alternative, system of energy. Oil and gas supplies will not last forever and we must be prepared with an alternative.
- The county should take the lead in producing renewable energy by constructing solar panels or solar water heat on county buildings
- The county should support crowd sourced solar projects as an inexpensive way for residents to purchase solar electricity.
- Pass the International Green Construction Code as a first step toward making all new buildings carbon neutral by 2020.
- Set a goal that the majority of all trips be made by foot, bicycle or transit by making our roads more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
Build a vibrant green economy
Transforming to a sustainable economy will require the creation of thousands of green jobs and local businesses.
- Follow the example set by Oakland which established a Green Job Corps to train youth for the green economy.
- Teach green job skills in schools as D.C. now does with its program that trains students to become green roof technicians.
- Promote small, locally owned businesses by simplifying the sometimes burdensome bureaucratic maze they must work with.
- End all corporate subsidies.
- Promote coop banks, consumer unions, and other locally owned financial institutions which will invest more of their funds on local needs while being less vulnerable to the kind of financial malfeasance that brought down the economy in 2008.
Work for Economic Justice
The trend toward concentration of wealth in fewer hands while the middle class stagnates and poverty increases is unsustainable. It distorts the economy and corrupts the political and legal systems.
- Follow Seattle’s lead and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
- Require companies that contract with the county to reveal the ratio between the highest paid executive and lowest paid workers and use that as a factor in determining bid winners.
- Introduce binding rent increase guidelines.
- Preserve existing affordable housing rather than replacing it with expensive high rises.
- Reinstate the millionaires’ tax.