Wednesday, July 2, 2014


"And now," as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of story." Here's what readers of the Washington Post will be told about the proposed "revitalization" of White Oak. But here's the rest of the story. White Oak is actually a highly developed area of residential neighborhoods, with commercial areas that support them. Despite efforts by the Maryland SHA (which have been far more vigorous than those along other state highways in the county), Route 29 continues to have traffic issues. New Hampshire Avenue is a major route throughout the White Oak area, as well.

You're being told this is about "jobs." It's not about jobs. There is currently no demand for office space or corporate headquarters in White Oak. If corporations won't move to a Class A building next to the Bethesda Metro, they surely aren't coming to White Oak.

The "research triangle" is good PR, but the facts don't bear it out. FDA in White Oak is far more of a regulator than an a scientific innovator. You can't compare the FDA campus in terms of biotech magnetism to NIH, or even the 270 corridor.

Here's the real White Oak plan: lots of luxury apartments, on top of the rubble of existing shopping centers. New urbanization on those centers that will start to encroach into the existing residential neighborhoods. Housing prices, dining and shopping that no longer are within the buying power of current residents. Just as in Wheaton, Glenmont, Long Branch and Takoma-Langley, this master plan would reduce diversity by race and income, not increase it. And that's wrong.

There is no rapid transit, no MARC train, and no rights-of-way for new highways in White Oak. When planning officials talk about managing traffic or reducing new automotive traffic, that is complete malarkey. Virtually everyone moving into the new luxury apartments in White Oak will be driving cars, and hitting the road in the morning into DC via Silver Spring. The proposed White Oak plan is a traffic disaster, that requires the plan itself to address road congestion in totally fictitious, fantasy terms.

A real White Oak plan will focus on utilizing what space there is to attract jobs, Fortune 500 companies and startups. We need affordable housing in Montgomery County, not more luxury housing. To create the live-work dynamic necessary to support sizable residential development in White Oak, we need the high-wage jobs that would make that happen. Not more service jobs pouring coffee and folding jeans.

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