The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously last week to enact an expedited bill to create the Friendship Heights Urban District that will, among other things, create an advisory committee with the aim of strengthen the commercial and public spaces in the Friendship Heights area of the county.

Friendship Heights straddles Montgomery County and the District of Columbia, and the county bill dovetails with legislation introduced by D.C. Ward 3 councilmember Matt Frumin to create a business improvement district for the D.C. side of Friendship Heights.

The legislation was sponsored by Council Vice President Andrew Friedson (D-Dist. 1) who is the Council’s Planning, Housing and Parks Committee chair and the councilmember for the Friendship Heights area.

“This is the first of its kind in the region; a bi-jurisdictional effort between Montgomery County and D.C. to fund a joint effort for placemaking, for collaboration and partnerships to strengthen the commercial sector, for the ability to create people-oriented public spaces and support a vibrant business community,” Friedson said.

The county has urban districts in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton.
The legislation creates a Friendship Heights Urban District Advisory Committee, which will include two members who are commercial property owners in the district nominated by the Friendship Heights Alliance, one member who is a resident renter in the district, one member who is a residential property owner in the district and a business representative nominated by the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce. Members of the committee will be appointed by County Executive Marc Elrich and confirmed by the County Council.

The urban district will be funded by a commercial district charge to property owners within Friendship Heights that lease space to commercial or residential tenants. Affordable housing complexes for residents at or below Area Median Income will be exempt. Funds collected will be used for public services and facilities related to streetscapes, promoting the district, enhancing safety and more.


The county funding will match funding from D.C. to fund the Friendship Heights Alliance, a place management nonprofit. The alliance started in 2021 with the help of a D.C. grant, and has conducted community engagement surveys and created a Friendship Heights business plan.

“This is really exciting. I think there are more opportunities to do similar efforts moving forward, creating more venues and opportunities for arts and culture and local entrepreneurship,” Friedson said. “[The goal] is to create synergy across both sides of Western Avenue.”