To the editor:

A report by Montgomery County’s Office of Legislative Oversight says that only “affluent and disproportionately White people” can afford to “work in mixed-use, transit oriented town centers.” (p. 5)

This is the only substantive problem the Montgomery County Council staff’s “equity analysis” can find with the proposed Thrive Montgomery 2050 master plan rewrite.

What on earth does this even mean? Is it that people can’t afford to work where the pay is too high? Shades of Yogi Berra’s “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”?

Does the council staff think that poor people will be treated unfairly if none of the jobs we attract pay poverty-level wages?

They certainly can’t be thinking about travel to work. Commuting is most affordable for jobs in transit-oriented areas, because you don’t need to buy a car.


That lone piece of nonsense aside, the equity analysis is an extended plea for return to the “paralysis by analysis” that has long plagued our county government. The staff wants more written about equity. But 13 of the plan’s 84 pages, by my count, are already devoted to that topic.

It calls for additional meetings — when the Planning Board has already held more than 180 of them. (see p. 14 of Thrive draft)

What the council staff ignores entirely is the equity elephant in the room. Everyone knows that the resistance to Thrive Montgomery 2050 comes mainly from owners of million-dollar-plus houses who don’t want $500,000 apartments — let alone actual low-income housing — allowed into their neighborhoods.


The County Council told its staff to analyze the equity effects of the legislation. Instead of doing their job, the staff told the council to keep the present inequitable policies in place until other people do their job for them.

Letting this report stop the County Council from passing Thrive Montgomery 2050 before its term ends this year would hand a few unelected bureaucrats a veto over the actions of our elected representatives.

Ben Ross



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