June 21, 2024

Message from County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

I want to express my thanks to the County Council for confirming Marc Yamada as the next chief of the Montgomery County Police Department. I appreciate the Council’s support and look forward to working with him following Chief Marcus Jones's retirement on June 30.

Chief Yamada has had a great career with MCPD, which you can read more about here. You can also watch his interviews with Fox 5 and WUSA 9. Chief Yamada’s career has been marked by dedication, courage and unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of our community.

He will be the first Japanese American leader of our police department. He is the first person in his family who was born in the United States, and he grew up in Wheaton. I think his background fits well with the kind of inclusive and diverse community Montgomery County has become.

Our police department has made significant strides over the last few years. I am proud to say that we have one of the best law enforcement institutions in the nation, and we will continue to work to improve it.

Under Chief Yamada’s leadership, the department will enhance the good work that has already been done.

A New MCPS Superintendent Has Been Announced

I want to welcome Dr. Thomas W. Taylor as the new superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). His selection was announced Monday, and the school board will officially vote on his appointment next week on June 25.

Our schools are a key reason people choose to live in Montgomery County and why businesses relocate or stay here. Maintaining MCPS’s quality of education, academic rigor, commitment to inclusion and reputation as some of the nation’s best schools is essential.

We welcome Dr. Taylor’s energy and engagement, and I think we all understand the urgency of the situation that MCPS currently faces in terms of budget, staffing, class size and providing the appropriate resources to our students, teachers, staff and families. I look forward to working with him to address the issues and challenges and continue to support our school staff, students and families.

Governor Moore Pardons Marylanders with Cannabis Convictions

I want to thank Governor Wes Moore for issuing pardons this week to 175,000 Maryland residents convicted of misdemeanor cannabis offenses. This equity action helps communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by past cannabis laws. You can read more here.

A criminal record can be a substantial barrier to employment, housing and other opportunities. These pardons offer a chance for a fresh start. It is an essential step toward justice and equity, particularly for communities of color.

We are also working to adjust regulations regarding cannabis use not that it is legal in Maryland for adults. Currently, because of State regulations, we cannot hire police officers who admit to prior cannabis use within the previous year. We are working with the State to change this regulation and I am hopeful that we will be able to update the regulations soon to help us increase applicants and recruits.

Governor Moore’s leadership on this issue is commendable. His order (detailed here) shows compassion and it pardons those charged and convicted of misdemeanor possession of cannabis or misdemeanor use or possession with intent to use prior to Jan. 1, 2023, when possession of a personal use amount of cannabis was legalized. The pardon also forgives misdemeanor use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia charges if they were the only criminal charges incurred.

Governor Moore’s executive order also directs the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to develop a process to indicate on an individual’s criminal record that the conviction was pardoned. This process is expected to take approximately 10 months to complete.

This executive order is a meaningful step toward rectifying the inequities in our legal system. I look forward to continuing to work with the governor to support initiatives that address disparities and promote the well-being of all our residents.

Rent Stabilization Regulations Now Before Council

The County Council is now considering new regulations, developed with the help of public feedback, to implement rent stabilization. Preventing enormous rent increases could impact many lives and allow families to remain living in their homes. About 35 percent of Montgomery County residents are renters.

The Council passed and I signed into law rent stabilization legislation, which caps annual rent increases at the inflation measure (CPI) plus 3 percent and no higher than 6 percent. This legislation was a compromise from what I originally supported, but it is definitely an important step forward and a critical step in protecting our residents from predatory price gouging. So many people talk about the housing affordability crisis, and rent stabilization is an important part of addressing that crisis.

These regulations and policies are designed to provide the framework to help renters struggling to keep up with rapidly increasing housing costs that threaten their ability to remain in their homes. Tens of thousands of families in our County devote too much of their take-home pay to rent and live paycheck to paycheck. Research done by Montgomery Planning found that almost 50 percent of Montgomery County renters are cost-burdened. They spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

The law required and the regulations provide the process to ensure that property owners can maintain and invest in their properties. They can apply for exceptions that, for example, consider major projects to improve the buildings. This ensures that property owners can continue to make necessary improvements while also maintaining the viability of their properties. A “Fair Return” policy aims to balance landlord profitability with tenant affordability.

These regulations have been carefully crafted to implement the law as passed last year. Developing the regulations took about six months and then they were put out for public comment. Staff then reviewed the hundreds of pages of comments and incorporated them as appropriate. I am looking forward to the Council approving the regulations so that we can stop unfair rent increases that can destabilize families and community.

This week, I invited Department of Housing and Community Affairs Director Scott Bruton to my weekly media briefing. You can watch that here or on the County’s YouTube page.

Here is the link to our rent stabilization FAQ page. We will update it as we move forward. 

The Importance of Juneteenth Celebrations

The Juneteenth holiday honors June 19, 1865—the day the last enslaved people in Galveston, Tx., learned that they were free. There was so much going on around our region and within Montgomery County for Juneteenth.

The second Annual Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival to help benefit the 2nd Century Project and rebuild the community’s historic church drew big crowds to Cabin John Park.

Some of the highlights included a parade through the park, bands, dancers and performers honoring their cultural history, a baseball game that harkened back to the days of Negro League baseball games in Montgomery County and much more. For the first time, the Juneteenth celebration ended with fireworks, a fitting tribute because, as LaTisha Gasaway-Paul told me when we talked last week, this feels to many in the Black community as their Independence Day. You can watch our discussion here.

Over the past week, our County has seen an enormous outpouring of support for Juneteenth commemoration. We kicked it off by honoring our community’s African American Living Legends. There also were celebrations in Germantown, Kensington, North Bethesda and Sandy Spring. On Saturday, I was in Germantown to help welcome everyone to the County’s annual Juneteenth celebration at BlackRock.

At the celebrations I talked about the real significance of the holiday for our Black community. Landmark events in U.S. history, like the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence, rang hollow for enslaved people and women who endured living without basic human rights for more than 100 years. Even the Black soldiers who fought in our wars to preserve our democracy were effectively blocked from participating in that democracy. Just think about it for a minute—it helps to understand why we still struggle with the racial underpinning of the inequalities that persist into the present.

Juneteenth is a holiday that we should have been recognizing and celebrating going back decades—or centuries. I am glad it is finally getting the needed recognition.

Largest in Nation: Renewable Energy Powered Zero-Emissions Bus Depot Groundbreaking

We have reached another significant milestone in our sustainability efforts. The County recently broke ground on a new resiliency hub project and our second transit microgrid project. This one will be built at the Equipment Maintenance Transit Operations Center in the Derwood area, near Rockville. The center is critical to our Ride On bus system and will help eventually run zero-emission buses.

Once completed, the center will become the nation’s largest renewable energy-powered bus depot. The facility’s microgrid will generate electricity for our buses, including clean hydrogen. It will also have on-site battery storage.

By 2035, the depot will house about 200 zero-emissions buses, most of which will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Buses fueled by hydrogen have a longer range and can refuel faster than battery-electric models.

We partnered with AlphaStruxure for this project. This video created by AlphaStruxure explains the County’s previous collaboration on the bus depot in Brookville. The Maryland Energy Administration has shown its support for this innovative approach to zero-emissions public transit. This project has received $9 million in Federal and State support for hydrogen production, $4.3 million for fuel cell buses and $1 million for workforce development.

This exciting project is an important part of our climate plan and sustainability efforts and will be a model for the entire country. These green energy microgrids reduce our dependence on traditional fuel and also can provide power independently of the grid during a power outage. You can read more about the project here. We have said that we want to be a model for the nation on how to tackle climate change, and this project is an important one for our efforts.

As always, my appreciation for all of you, 

Marc Elrich
County Executive

June 20, 2024

Animal Services and Adoption Center Reopens for Adoptions

Animal Services and Adoption Center Reopens for Adoptions

The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC) in Derwood has reopened for onsite adoptions of all animals. The shelter has been closed to the public since May 2 due to an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV).

The center is located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood. The building is not fully clear of CIV, so the center remains closed for all but essential intakes and adoptions.

Essential intakes include:
  • Sick and injured animals.
  • Dogs that pose a threat to public safety.
Residents who find a lost pet are asked not to bring the animal to the shelter. Tips on locating the owner of lost pets can be found on the Center’s Found a Pet (montgomerycountymd.gov) page. MCASAC will provide finders of lost pets who are willing to foster with the necessary supplies to care for the animal until the owner can be located or other placement options are determined.

All dogs who contracted CIV have since recovered. They remained in isolation for 28 days, as dogs can shed CIV for as long as four weeks.

In addition to dogs, the shelter has cats, turtles and hamsters available for adoption.

Available animals can be viewed on the website here. Adoption fees are waived for all animals.

Adoptions are on a first-come, first-served basis. Information on how to adopt an animal and the adoption questionnaire can be found here. Potential adopters should come prepared to take their new pet home by bringing a leash and collar for dogs or a carrier for cats and small animals.

Free Fireworks Shows in Germantown on Thursday, July 4, and Kensington on Saturday, July 6, Will Lead Celebration of Independence Day in Montgomery County

Free Fireworks Shows in Germantown on Thursday, July 4, and Kensington on Saturday, July 6, Will Lead Celebration of Independence Day in Montgomery County

Free fireworks shows in Germantown on Thursday, July 4, and Kensington on Saturday, July 6, will lead the celebration of Independence Day in Montgomery County. Each fireworks display will be preceded by events that include music and activities.

"Montgomery County is pleased to continue its yearly Independence Day celebrations,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “These events are more than just fireworks; they are a chance for our community to come together, celebrate our shared values, and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy. I encourage everyone to join us for an evening of fun, music and spectacular fireworks. Let's ensure that we celebrate safely and make this Fourth of July memorable for all."

The Independence Day celebrations will take place at the following locations:
  • Thursday, July 4. 7 p.m.: Germantown Glory at South Germantown Recreational Park, 18041 Central Park Circle in Germantown (Boyds)
  • Saturday, July 6. 6 p.m.: Mid-County Sparkles at Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Mill Road, Kensington
Germantown Glory will kick off at 7 p.m. on July 4, with a concert by Central City Orchestra. On-site parking is available.

Mid-County Sparkles will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, with concerts Joe Falero and Downtown Sound. The only parking available on-site will be for individuals with disabilities. Free parking and shuttle service will be provided starting at 5:30 p.m., from Westfield Wheaton, located at 11160 Veirs Mill Road. Event goers who park at Westfield Wheaton prior to 5:30 p.m. may be subject to towing by the property owner. Follow the directional signs for event parking and shuttles.

The fireworks displays at both celebrations will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. The timing of the fireworks may change due to weather conditions. Lawn chairs, blankets and coolers are welcome at both events. There will be food vendors at both locations. Alcoholic beverages and pets are not permitted.

Sign language interpreter services and other auxiliary aids or services will be provided upon request with as much notice as possible, preferably at least three business days before the event. To request special accommodations, contact 240-777-6840 or email rec.inclusion@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Maryland Soccerplex, Montgomery Parks and Westfield Wheaton are sponsors of this year’s events.

For more information, call MC311 at 311 or 240-777-0311 or visit the Montgomery County Recreation website.

Installation of Utilities Will Impact Traffic on River Road Starting Monday, June 24, and Lasting Through Fall

Installation of Utilities Will Impact Traffic on River Road Starting Monday, June 24, and Lasting Through Fall

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration will assist Washington Gas with utility work on MD 190 (River Road) beginning on Monday, June 24. Motorists can expect single-lane and ramp closures along MD 190 between Wilson Lane and Western Avenue. The project is expected to be complete by fall, weather permitting.

Starting Monday, crews will work 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. During these hours, Washington Gas will be installing a remote-control valve on a natural gas transmission line in the median of MD 190.

While work is taking place, motorists can expect closures at the following locations:
  • Intersection of MD 190 between Wilson Lane and Winston Drive: Southbound left lane closed.
  • Intersection of MD 190 and MD 614 (Goldsboro Road): Closed will be northbound (straight) right lane; eastbound (straight) right lane, shoulder and ramp; and westbound shoulder and ramp. There also will be sidewalk and temporary bus stop closures on the northwest and southwest sides of intersection.
  • MD 190 (River Road) and Western Avenue: Closed will be southbound (straight) right lane and the sidewalk on the southwest side of intersection.
Detours for trucks will also be in place:
  • Southbound trucks approaching intersection of River Rd (MD 190) and Goldsboro Road (MD 614) from southwest will be detoured straight along Goldsboro Road (MD 614), right onto Bradley Boulevard (MD 191), right onto Wisconsin Ave NW (MD 355), right onto Western Avenue and straight back to River Rd (MD 190).
  • Northbound trucks approaching intersection of River Road (MD 190) and Goldsboro Road (MD 614) from northeast will be detoured straight along Goldsboro Road (MD 614), left onto Massachusetts Avenue (MD 396), left onto Western Avenue and straight back to River Road (MD 190)
For more information on this project, contact Craig McKennon at cmckennon@washgas.com or 571-419-0816 or Daminique Branch at community@washgas.com.

Department of Permitting Services Launches ‘eSolar’ to Streamline the Permitting Process for Installing Residential Rooftop Solar

Department of Permitting Services Launches ‘eSolar’ to Streamline the Permitting Process for Installing Residential Rooftop Solar

Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) has launched “eSolar,” an automated permitting application to speed up and streamline the permitting process for residential rooftop solar systems by approved installers. Montgomery County is the first County in Maryland to utilize a third party to accelerate the permitting process for residential rooftop solar.

eSolar expedites code compliance review times to save time and money for installation of solar panel systems. The new program integrates app approved third-party certified documents, including Solar APP+ (Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus), for residential rooftop solar systems through DPS’ electronic plan review system (ePlans).

“Montgomery County is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and encourages everyone to invest in renewable and sustainable energy sources,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “eSolar is a win for Montgomery County homeowners who plan to add solar panels to their residential rooftops. Instead of applications sitting in a queue waiting for approval, this automated permitting tool will expedite reviews, reducing delays and streamlining the permitting process. This will save time, and less waiting leads to more solar on rooftops and a greener Montgomery County.”

Licensed contractors are eligible for the eSolar program, which is designed for residential rooftops only. Contractors must have a valid Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) license and projects must conform with the eligibility checklist that is posted on the DPS website. Townhouses four stories above grade are considered commercial structures (not eligible for eSolar) and require a commercial solar permit.

There are two permits required for residential rooftops: the building permit for the attachment of the solar panels and an electrical permit for the connection to the home’s electrical service. These permits are issued in real time once the fees are paid online. DPS stamped approved APP certified documents serve as approved plans. This process replaces the department’s building and electrical reviews for these applications. Inspections are scheduled online as normal and require the online documents to be on site. Permitting fees are posted online.

“We are excited to launch eSolar after a successful pilot program with three companies,” said DPS Director Rabbiah Sabbakhan. “During the pilot program, DPS issued eSolar permits to participating companies and created tracking records for monitoring eSolar permits. eSolar streamlines and helps incentivize the process for permits for residential rooftop solar by running a compliance evaluation to facilitate building permit approval. During the last five years, DPS has issued more than 5,600 solar permits for residential rooftops. Those numbers are expected to increase dramatically now that we have officially launched eSolar with faster permit review and issuance. This highlights DPS implementing another significant permitting streamlining effort.”

In July 2021, County leaders announced the development of a solar automated permitting processing program (SolarAPP+) a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The DPS pilot program officially began in 2023.

For more information about eSolar, visit the DPS website at MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/dps or stop by the department’s customer service lobby at 2425 Reedie Drive, seventh floor, in Wheaton. DPS offices are open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and appointments are not needed. More information also is available by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311.

Seven County Outdoor Pools Now Open on Full Summer Schedule

Seven County Outdoor Pools Now Open on Full Summer Schedule

Seven outdoor swimming pools are conveniently located in communities around Montgomery County for easy access to summer fun and fitness. The outdoor pools are kid-friendly, and they also offer adults the opportunity to swim laps.

Pools are open from 1-8 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are open noon-8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The full summer schedule is in effect through Aug. 11. The pool schedule is more limited from Aug. 12 through Sept. 2. All pools will be closed Aug. 26-30.

Pool passes are available for purchase. See details at Aquatic Passes - Department of Recreation - Montgomery County, Maryland (montgomerycountymd.gov).

More information about the County’s outdoor pools is available here.

Arts Organizations of Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District Offering Summer Camps and Programming, with Space Still Available

Arts Organizations of Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District Offering Summer Camps and Programming, with Space Still Available

Arts organizations in Montgomery County’s Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District are offering arts programming for children this summer, with spaces still available for last-minute planners. Parents looking for opportunities for their children, pre-kindergarten to 16 years old, still have creative and expressive arts activity options.

The various camps offer a wide range of creative activities to inspire imagination, including artistic projects, filmmaking, studio theatre, ballet, robotics and visual art and music.

“Keeping children active and engaged during the summer is crucial,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District programs enrich children’s lives by providing a fun learning environment while supporting our local arts community.”

Arts organizations with trained and trusted teaching artists offer licensed summer camps, creative programming, classes or summer job training.
  • Arts on the Block. The Youth Arts Movement (YAM) summer program is tailored for middle school-aged young creatives. The eight-week program features a variety of engaging art activities to inspire and ignite the imagination. Led by experienced instructors, each week focuses on a different art form, providing hands-on learning and plenty of opportunities for students to discover a new medium to unleash their creativity.
  • Create Arts Center. Summer art camps offer one-week visual arts programs for students ages 5-13 and counselor-in-training sessions for teens up to age 16. At the end of the week, each child will have a portfolio filled with original artwork. Project types include pottery, sculpture, drawing, painting, cartooning, collage and mixed media.
  • Docs in Progress. Teen summer filmmaking workshops in week-long sessions. The program will guide students through the filmmaking process, from script writing and concept development to post-production.,
  • Lumina Studio Theatre. Summerstock camps for children ages 6 through teenagers on topics including theater magic, folk tales and music, with one-week programs to more intensive productions.
  • Maryland Youth Ballet. Summer ballet classes for ages 2-10. The classes span from movement-based classes to learning level-appropriate choreography from a featured ballet. Classes are not full day, thereby providing flexibility for parents.
  • Montgomery College Silver Spring/Takoma Park. Youth summer programs with online and in-person offerings ranging from robotics to music to theater and visual arts.
  • Round House Theatre Education Center. Summer camp with various theater, games and creative summer programs for kindergarten students through grade 12. Camp caters to interests from animals to Greek myths and princesses to theater and musicals.
  • School of Rock. Music camps for ages 8 and over are suitable for musicians of any skill level who want to play guitar, bass, drums, keyboard or vocals and enjoy rehearsing and performing.
The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District also offers spur-of-the-moment fun for children of all ages, including multiple parks and playgrounds. The district includes the Silver Spring Recreation and Aquatic Center, Dave and Buster’s, Big Escape Room, the AFI and Majestic movie theaters. It also is home to festivals and farmers markets every weekend.

Fire and Rescue Service to Hold On-Site Application Event on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg

Fire and Rescue Service to Hold On-Site Application Event on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg

The Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS) application process is now open for those interested in career as a Firefighter/Rescuer I. The online application process will close on July 10. However; applicants can attend a special On-Site Application Event from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg.

The event will be held at the County’s Public Safety Training Academy, which is located at 8751 Snouffer School Road in Gaithersburg.

The on-site event will have information available about becoming a Firefighter/Rescuer I and will provide an overview of the hiring process. It also will have a demonstration of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). MCFRS representatives will be present to answer questions and help with filling out applications.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register at https://mcfrs.jotform.com/241686550671967. Walkins also will be welcome.

For more information, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcfrs-recruiting/ or e-mail mcfrs.recruiter@montgomerycountymd.gov

Rockville Town Square Summer Concert Series Will Feature Free Events Most Fridays, with Blues of ‘Moonshine Society’ Featured on June 28

Free summer concerts will be happening in Rockville Town Square from 6-9 p.m. most Friday nights through Sept. 20. The series will feature a variety of performers. On Friday, June 28, the night will be headlined by the blues of Moonshine Society.

The Rockville Town Square summer concert lineup will include:
  • June 28. Moonshine Society (blues)
  • July 12. Liquid A (pop rock)
  • July 19. Natty Beaux (swing)
  • July 26. Shelby Blondell duo (acoustic rock)
  • Aug. 2. Don’t Back Down (rock)
  • Aug. 9. Ocho de Bastos (Latin pop)
  • Aug. 16. Unity Reggae Band (reggae)
  • Aug. 23. The Rockets (pop rock)
  • Sept. 6. Midnight Elixir (classic rock)
  • Sept. 13. Joe Falero Band (Latin)
  • Sept. 20. The National Bohemians (classic rock)

Permitting Services Newest Podcast Focuses on Vendor Licenses

Permitting Services Newest Podcast Focuses on Vendor Licenses

The summer months are a busy time of the year for vending activity in Montgomery County, and “Vendor Licenses” are the focus of the 16th episode of the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) podcast series. The podcast addresses specific licenses that apply to door-to-door, regular route, pushcarts/sidewalk and site-specific vendors. The new episode is now available.

“Vending is a hot topic at this time of year, and it is important to know that DPS licenses four types of vending activity," said DPS Customer Support and Outreach Division Chief Gail Lucas, who hosts the podcast. “We encourage vendors and residents to listen to the podcast and to visit the DPS website to learn about what is and what is not allowed when it comes to vending activity in Montgomery County.”

Joining Division Chief Lucas for the discussion is DPS Code Compliance Section Manager Greg Nichols and DPS Permitting Technician Jorge Rueda. Their conversation details the application process for vendor licenses, including other departments that are involved such as the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as provides information about picture identification cards, inspections, regulations, safety guidelines and zoning issues.

“We encourage vendors to plan early and come talk to us before filing an application,” said Division Chief Lucas. “If there is one take away from the podcast, we hope vendors will understand the importance of getting a license and that they contact us early on to ensure they understand the process from beginning to end. We want vendors to know we are here to help.”

This episode of the Permitting Services Podcast is now available on the DPS website and various podcast platforms including Amazon, Apple and Spotify. It also is available at https://permittingservicespodcast.buzzsprout.com/. Subscribe to the podcast by tapping the “plus” or “follow” sign on the podcast provider’s platform. This episode is also available on video to watch on-demand on the County’s YouTube channel.

Previous podcast episodes have covered accessory dwelling units, building safety, deck permits, the Design for Life program, home improvements, use and occupancy certificates, fences, fire code compliance, GIS maps, the public right-of-way, septic systems, urban farming and zoning. Listeners are encouraged to send questions and ideas for future podcast episodes to dps.podcast@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Earlier this month, the Permitting Services Podcast was recognized with a 2024 achievement award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). 
The Department of Permitting Services is located at 2425 Reedie Drive, Seventh Floor, in Wheaton. The customer service lobby is open from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. An appointment is not necessary to get in-person assistance. Customers may also reach out to DPS staff by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311. For more information about the permitting process, visit the DPS website at montgomerycountymd.gov/dps.