Guest speaker Sumeet is a politically active resident of Montgomery County, MD and local attorney. He is also a delegate to the MCCPTA for his children’s elementary school. Topics discussed on today’s podcast include:
“Policy vs. personality” when it comes to President Trump and other politicians;
Government’s role in community development and economic revitalization; and
A brief overview of the MoCo Board of Education’s overreach of authority over the last two years.
By Patricia Fenati Of Montgomery County, Maryland.
If you’ve ever read anything about the Russian revolution and the early days of the Soviet Union (or saw the movie Dr. Zhivago), you know that one of the consequences of the communist takeover was to require the sharing of homes by seizing individual properties and moving numerous people into those homes.
Nazi socialism did the same by taking property of those they considered enemies and giving it to others.
No one is moving into my home (yet) but Montgomery County, Maryland, which is facing a housing shortage because we are a sanctuary county, has come up with a neoteric (I think off-the-wall) solution. The County Council recently passed a proposal to provide additional housing in the county termed “Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs),” which allows additional dwelling places in virtually all residential zones.
This dictate essentially negates home zoning laws and allows homeowners to add an apartment in their home, basement, or garage or to build a small house (up to 1,200 sq. ft.) on their property, no matter what the size of the lot. It is intended to increase affordable housing in Montgomery County by encouraging smaller, more cost-accessible units as additions to individual properties.
Why does zoning matter?
According to Wikipedia, the primary purpose of zoning is to segregate land uses into divisions that are meant to be compatible. In practice, zoning is also used to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the “character” of a community. By allowing individual homes to be separated from commercial and dense housing such as apartment buildings, residents can be assured that their neighborhood homes have coherence, thus protecting the existing neighborhoods. Zoning restrictions and standards help prevent overcrowding and protect home values. ADUs will promote overcrowding and houses built too close to each other.
Montgomery County citizens have major investments in their homes, sometimes acquired at great sacrifice. They carefully chose the neighborhoods where they live and expected that their elected representatives would assure the quality of life in those neighborhoods would remain the same. Additional dwelling units everywhere will have a significant negative impact on the quality of neighborhoods.
As residents start to add dwelling units built in back yards and convert basements and garages to additional units, the value of neighboring homes will decrease.
I predict “investors” will then purchase those lower cost homes, making separate apartments in the house and putting small rental units in back yards. This will have a serious impact on all housing developments in the county. To avoid this, the new county law requires that the owner live on the property. This sounds good, but once hundreds of these ADUs are built around the county, who is going to police this situation? A person can move away from a site and never notify the county.
“We moved to Montgomery County over 40 years ago. We relied on county zoning to regulate the size of lots and homogenize the structures in our neighborhood. We thought we were assured that new building on a neighboring property would be in harmony with the home in which we live. Now that that assurance is gone, I do not think additional homes in my neighbors’ yards are compatible with the neighborhood into which I moved.”
What effects will these additional units have on parking? The law also loosened parking restrictions for ADUs, so that owners are only required to ensure two off-street spots. Thus, there will be additional parking on the streets.
What about water supply and sewage capacity? What if there is a septic tank? A home in a neighborhood near mine was converted into five apartments (against regulations at that time) and rented to several families. That house had a septic tank which soon was over capacity and caused raw sewage to creep to the surface. Since that was an illegal situation, it was eventually remedied. But since the county did not even police that situation, how will there be adequate oversight when small homes are going up all over the county?
Voters need to understand that what’s happening in Montgomery County is the forerunner of a radical Obama plan, AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) and Joe Biden promises to implement AFFH nationally. But Biden is planning to go further than the Obama plan and follow Cory Booker’s plan to end single family zoning in the suburbs and create little cities everywhere.
Suburban living was initiated to afford a choice for living, away from crowded cities. People were willing to spend the time commuting to jobs in the city in order to have that option for living.
When we moved into Montgomery County those 40 years ago, it was the richest county in the country, with the best education rating in the nation (neither is true today).
When we moved here, we could not afford to live in the wealthy suburbs near Washington, D.C., but we found a home in a new development in a small town in rural farm country. We were able to get a larger home with more property than any we could have purchased with a shorter commute near the city. We have worked for many years to maintain our home, make improvements and pay on our mortgage. We were not rich, Mr. O’Rourke; we knew a move to a home in the country meant a lifetime commitment to a long commute to jobs in the city. But now we are going to be forced to allow lower income people to move into our neighborhood. Buying our home required many sacrifices, but we felt the wholesome atmosphere with fields and woods for our children to play in was worth being far from work. And our children did have many carefree hours exploring the countryside near our home (that was when children were free to roam, not always tethered to a nearby adult). Now the opportunity of open spaces will be denied to other hard working families.
Granted, there are no requirements to force others into our homes (yet) and I am not required (yet) to have additional housing on my property, but make no mistake, forcing ADUs into existing neighborhoods is a move toward socialism.