Archives October 2010

Josiah Henson Park Sketches

From Rachel Davis Newhouse, the Montgomery County Parks Dept. Planner-Coordinator for the new Josiah Henson Park on Old Georgetown Rd. at Tilden Lane, comes a Henson Park Existing and Planned from last night’s public hearing on a new master plan for the park. The first is the existing land, showing the farmhouse where Henson worked as supervisor on the Riley plantation, and the old “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” log kitchen. The second is the “moderate” plan for the new park, turning the farmhouse into a museum and moving parking down to the adjacent properties. Note the screening trees not only around the park itself, but also in the median of Old Georgetown Road.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

 Barnaby Zall

Caution on the Council

Ever watch someone do something they’d really rather not? Their eyes become sharper, the brow furrows, and the voice becomes richer and deeper. And they punch out the words carefully, like walking on hot coals.

There was a lot of that in today’s Montgomery County Council joint Committee hearing on White Flint infrastructure financing. Seven of the nine Councilmembers were present, so it was the first time to get reactions to Tuesday night’s public hearing testimony.  

PHED and MFP Committee members

And you could hear the trepidation from the first words. Council President Nancy Floreen jumped in early to point out that “we’re not going to have every detail worked out in the first month, or even the first six years. . . . We are promising a commitment to a solution, but I get troubled when I see these spreadsheets accurate down to the penny. We just don’t know that much years in the future.”

Nancy Floreen

 Marc Elrich was most candid, saying: “we’re in territory we’ve never been in before. I’ll bet most of the people in this room don’t understand the long-term implications to the County of what we’re being asked to do. Of all the plans we’re asked to do, this one is the most likely to generate more revenue to the County and has the most commitment from the developers. But it’s most important to get this right, to figure out the right balance.” 

Marc Elrich

 Those were the twin themes of the Council’s remarks: a lack of certainty, and a feeling of terra incognita. Mike Knapp said the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee was scheduled to hold three hearings, but would hold as many as necessary to understand the issues. Valerie Ervin, the Council Vice-President, said she wanted to have a discussion of certainty. “Everything that happens in White Flint will have effects elsewhere in the County.” 

Councilmembers Knapp and Ervin

Councilmember Roger Berliner said residents wanted the “County’s commitment that the infrastructure is there when the density is increased.” He suggested there was really only one remaining issue: “funding the gap,” in the early years of the Plan, when development has not progressed enough to provide new tax dollars for the early stage infrastructure.

Roger Berliner

And Nancy Navarro, who hasn’t spoken much on White Flint, seemed most interested in moving forward. “It’s time to depart from the way we have done things in this County.” But even she added: “Let’s take a little time to get it right. A lot of people are paying attention to this. We need to make something happen. But let’s get it right.”

Nancy Navarro

Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg finished the group of opening remarks by praising the commitment of the “civic groups” who had “years of engagement. We wouldn’t be here today without their work.”

Then the Council put on their game faces and began delving into the “buckets” of infrastructure funding. The next hearing will be Tuesday, November 9, at 9:30AM.

Barnaby Zall

(and, yes, it’s a new camera.)

Arlington Approves Crystal City TIF

One of the hottest issues in the current debate over financing needed infrastructure in White Flint is whether to use something called Tax Increment Financing, or TIF. The County Executive is vehemently against a TIF; Executive staff have confronted and threatened TIF supporters. Most speakers at last night’s Montgomery County Council hearing supported a TIF. Friends of White Flint supported a “dedicated source of reliable and sustainable revenue,” including a TIF, although my testimony last night pointed out that “we don’t care what you call it.”

The Executive and the two witnesses who supported the Executive claim that a TIF is used only in “blighted areas” and is thus not suitable for an existing area such as White Flint. Supporters claim that is nonsense, pointing out that TIFs are used throughout the country, and Fairfax County is going to use a TIF for the Tyson’s renovation. Indeed, County Executive Ike Leggett’s favorite museum (according to a recent news story) is the International Spy Museum in the District; that renovation was funded by a TIF, and Montgomery County activist Ed Rich was involved in crafting that TIF.

Now Arlington County has announced its use of a TIF for Crystal City:


Arlington County Board Adopts Innovative Financing Tool for Crystal City Infrastructure Improvements. 

  • Helps realize Crystal City vision
  • Helps pay significant portion of $207 million in infrastructure improvements
  • Not a new tax

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved the creation of a tax increment financing area and fund to help pay for infrastructure improvements in support of the Crystal City Sector Plan. Board members emphasized that this is not an additional or new tax.

This will be the first time that the County uses this tool in support of large scale infrastructure improvements. Approval of the funding mechanism is an important initial step toward realizing the vision for a more transit-oriented, walkable, lively Crystal City as laid out in the Crystal City Plan. 

“This mechanism will help us fund a streetcar and other infrastructure improvements that will help transform Crystal City, an area vital to the ongoing economic health of the County,” said Board Chairman Jay Fisette. “It means that initially, a third of the revenues generated by growth in property assessments in this area will be used to make improvements within the area. This reflects our commitment to turn our vision for Crystal City into a reality.”

The Crystal City Plan, adopted by the Board in September, includes approximately $207 million of public infrastructure improvements in streets, transit and public open spaces over the next 20 years. Tax increment financing will pay for a significant portion of these costs, particularly in the plan’s latter years.

Frequently used method across the nation

Tax increment financing (TIF) is a mechanism frequently used across the nation. It supports development and redevelopment projects by capturing the increase in property tax revenues created by the development or redevelopment area and investing a portion of those funds in improvements associated with the projects. Unlike a special district, it is not an additional or new tax; it redirects and segregates a portion of the net new property tax revenues for a specific purpose.

The amount of TIF revenue is determined by setting a baseline assessed value on a certain date (January 1, 2011, in this case) and in each subsequent year tracking the incremental increase in assessed values relative to the base year.

For an example: A hypothetical property in the redevelopment area is valued at $1 million as of January 1, 2011. The following year, the same property is valued at $1.1 million, an increase of $100,000. All, or a portion, of the real property tax revenues attributable to the $100,000 increase would be segregated in a separate fund. Under the action taken today by the County Board, property tax revenues up to $33,000 of the incremental increase would be dedicated to the TIF fund. 

Highlights of the Board’s action include:

  • The TIF area includes Crystal City, Potomac Yard, and Pentagon City.  Plan investments will support infrastructure serving all three areas, such as a streetcar and related street improvements.
  • Initially, up to 33 percent of increment real property tax revenues would be dedicated to infrastructure improvements. The balance would remain in the General Fund. Under conservative redevelopment projections, incremental real property tax revenues are projected at $82 million over the next six years.  Up to $27 million would be dedicated to the TIF fund and infrastructure improvements, leaving $55 million available for General Fund purposes.
  • The TIF fund will be part of the County’s annual budget process. 
  • The effective date of the TIF – when the base value is set – will be January 1, 2011.

The Board voted 5-0 to approve creation of the TIF. For more information on how tax increment financing works, read the staff report (Item #38 on the Oct. 26, 2010 Agenda).


We’ve used Arlington as an example of what we want to do, especially in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, where ten percent of the county produces half the county’s tax revenues by putting development close to Metro stations. Now they’re leading the way again in using a TIF.

Barnaby Zall

“Support, support, support! White Flint”

The highlight of last night’s Montgomery County Council public hearing on the White Flint Sector Plan came early: Diane Schwartz-Jones, representing the County Executive, was the first speaker, and she began by waving one of the White Flint Sector Plan’s big orange buttons and saying “we support, support, support White Flint.” Of course, then she went on to say that some of the Executive’s “guiding principles” included “being fair to other communities in the County, so that other areas can realize economic support.” She tried to position the Executive as being in the middle of “several plans” to finance needed infrastructure in White Flint. No other witness supported either these “principles,” the Executive’s analysis of the White Flint Plan, or the Executive’s proposal for financing infrastructure.

Diane Schwartz-Jones

Other than that, there was little new, and few fireworks, at the hearing. Although there were lots of orange buttons, there was little of the “color wars” that characterized the last set of public hearings (though there was a mention of the green shirts).

Instead, speaker after speaker hit essentially the same themes: White Flint is critical to the County’s future; a development district with a special tax is the right way to pay for needed infrastructure; a TIF or something like it is important to fill the “gap” in the early years of the Plan; a small investment from the County now will pay enormous dividends in increased revenues later; and the County is not “business-friendly” because it already charges much more than neighboring jurisdictions in “exactions” for development.

Dave Freishtat, from the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce (and a Friends of White Flint Director), called White Flint the “crown jewel” of the County’s future and asked the Council not to “cheapen” the Plan. Ed Reich, from Georgetown Village Condominiums, told the Council that “infrastructure is not simply nice to have; it is critical to have” and asked to have the infrastructure funded either through tax increment funding or through the CIP process.  Chad Salganik of the Randolph Civic Association and the Citizens League of Montgomery County said that the County Executive’s proposal to raise taxes and divert White Flint revenues to other “auto-centric” projects turned the White Flint Plan “from extraordinary to ordinary.” Paul Meyer, from the Wisconsin Condominium, recalled driving the Beltway in Virginia, seeing the construction cranes there, and calculating the huge tax revenues those jurisdictions would reap from their new developments.

John King, from the White Flint Community Coalition, objected to funding the infrastructure through the “usual CIP process” where “any missing piece could stall the whole Plan.” Kurt Meeske, head of Combined Properties, said that financing plans are too often “like Frankenstein. A piece here and a bit there, and you hope it functions.” Cavan Wilk, of the Action Committee for Transit, pointed out that it was unusual for “transit advocates, landowners and residents to ask for the same things.” Chris Ruhlen, a resident of Garrett Park Estates/White Flint Park, said he just “wants to see the development actually materialize.” Della Stollsworth, head of the Luxmanor Civic Association, said that she was “not comfortable with having the County part funded through the CIP; we’ve heard ‘the check’s in the mail’ once too often.”

Only three of the 33 witnesses, including Jones, spoke in favor of increasing the taxes beyond those in the original Plan, and against a Tax Increment Financing concept to fill the “gap” in early infrastructure funding. Natalie Goldberg, from Garrett Park Estates/White Flint Park asked that everything in the new White Flint be paid for by developers except the new Rockville Pike.

The Council will now hold three hearings on financing options. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) and Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committees will hold joint hearings on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 2PM, Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 9:30AM, and Nov. 16, at 9:30AM. These three meetings are scheduled for the seventh floor hearing room at the Council Office Building in Rockville. Councilmembers and staff waded into the audience during and after the testimony, tracking down witnesses who had offered specific financial analyses and proposals, to get more information.

Barnaby Zall

Public Hearing Thursday on Josiah Henson Park

The Montgomery County Planning Board will hold a public hearing on plans for the new Josiah Henson Park in White Flint this Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7PM. The park, along Old Georgetown Road by Tilden Lane, is one of the few historical sites preserved in Montgomery County.

Josiah Henson, from

The park celebrates the life of Josiah Henson, a wonderfully talented writer and orator, born into slavery, whose early life was captured by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The park also chronicles the life of African-Americans in early Montgomery County.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” from MNCPPC,

More information on the Park here and here.

More information on the public hearing here.

Council Background Packet for Tomorrow’s Public Hearing

Tomorrow night, the Montgomery County Council will hold a public hearing on how to finance the infrastructure needed under the White Flint Sector Plan. The hearing will begin at 7:30 in the Council Office Building in Rockville.

Executive and Council discuss financing

(An earlier Council meeting on White Flint financing options; County Council (R) and County Executive and Planning Staff (L)) 

As usual, the Council staff has prepared a background briefing packet for the hearing. The packet contains the legislation being considered to implement the financing decision, plus a copy of the County Executive’s letter proposing a financing plan. Statements or reactions have been submitted by the Action Committee for Transit, Friends of White Flint, and the White Flint Partnership.

The biggest controversies appear to be the same as before: the County Executive’s staff is quite upset at the possibility of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) being used in White Flint. Ironically, a TIF was used in Gallery Place in the District recently to build County Executive Leggett’s favorite museum: the International Spy Museum. In addition, the Executive’s staff is still highly exercised over the possibility that they might have to reserve some funds generated in White Flint to pay for White Flint infrastructure, instead of having the flexibility to transfer all White Flint funds somewhere else in the County. Following last week’s Council briefing, the Executive’s staff was seen (and heard, since they were pretty irate) berating those who had spoken on behalf of a TIF.

The Council has planned additional Committee meetings on the White Flint financing proposals. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) and Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committees will hold joint hearings on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 2PM, Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 9:30AM, and Nov. 16, at 9:30AM. These three meetings are scheduled for the seventh floor hearing room at the Council Office Building in Rockville. Six of the nine Councilmembers serve on these two Committees, and Roger Berliner often sits in on White Flint hearings, so the joint hearings should give a good idea of the Council’s thinking.  

Barnaby Zall

Action Cmte for Transit Testimony on White Flint Financing

The Action Committee for Transit, a member of Friends of White Flint, has published its upcoming testimony for Tuesday’s Montgomery County Council public hearing on financing the infrastructure needed to implement the White Flint Sector Plan. The testimony will be given by Cavan Wilk, a frequent blogger at Greater Greater Washington.

Wilk summarizes the ACT position as:

The famous 20th century philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” Montgomery County’s recent past includes the failures of Clarksburg Town Center. Good plans were never fully implemented in the upcounty development. The White Flint Sector Plan has many advantages that Clarksburg never had: higher land values, proximate Metro access, thousands of jobs, amenities, and fixed rail transit access to neighboring Bethesda, Silver Spring (via the future Purple Line), and D.C. Additionally, it is much more environmentally friendly because precious undeveloped woods and farmland will not be paved over during its construction. The short-term and long-term gains in tax revenue are both positive and large. The opportunity costs of turning White Flint into another Clarksburg are just too high to let a manageable $100 million over 30 years destroy the Sector Plan. Especially when the money for infrastructure improvements in White Flint can be paid for with new tax revenue from within White Flint.

And the drumbeats continue for a dedicated source of reliable and predictable funding, usually meaning Tax Increment Financing (TIF). ACT supports it,  noting Arlington County’s use of a TIF for Crystal City.

Barnaby Zall

Friends of White Flint Letter to Council on Financing

Today I sent the following letter and statement to the Montgomery County Council:

Dear President Floreen and Members of the Council:

Attached please find a Statement of position on the options for financing infrastructure needed to support the White Flint Sector Plan. Friends of White Flint uses an open process to develop its public policy positions, and this Statement was prepared in an open public meeting, and offered for comment on our blog, the FLOG. More than 800 people viewed the draft, and we received dozens of comments, which have been incorporated in the Statement. The recommendations were adopted unanimously by the FoWF Board, which is equally divided between residents, business representatives and property owners/developers.

In the Statement we discuss White Flint’s promise, both for a sustainable, walkable, transit-oriented community, and to provide an estimated $7.3 billion in net tax surplus to the County. We also discuss the agreements, forged over five years of planning, with an unprecedented level of public participation, on both the elements of the Plan and the appropriate financing options to fund the infrastructure. And we discuss the shortcomings of the County Executive’s proposal for financing, including the rejection of the renovation of Rockville Pike and the inclusion of inappropriate projects in the White Flint cost calculations.

Finally, we offer four basic recommendations, explained in more detail in the Statement:
    1)  There must be a Development District with a dedicated special tax in the agreed-upon amount and type.
    2) To fund the “gap” in the early years of the Plan, we support a dedicated source of reliable and sustainable funding, such as Tax Increment Financing (TIF), to support bonding at the lowest cost.
    3) The Council should work with all elements of the community to resolve the financing issues.

    4) The Council should keep in mind the future of a sustainable, walkable, transit-oriented White Flint.

We also point out that we appreciate the Council’s leadership in crafting this Plan, and we trust the Council to make the right decisions on financing.

We look forward to seeing you at the public hearings on Tuesday night.

Thank you for your attention and for your work on the White Flint Sector Plan.

Barnaby Zall
Friends of White Flint

The Statement is here.

Increasing Voter Participation in Montgomery County

Last night’s debate between the Republican and Democratic candidates for the At-Large seats on the Montgomery County Council was interesting. The host, the Citizens League of Montgomery County,, did a nice job gathering all the candidates for the forum; it was the only time all the candidates appeared together before the election on Nov. 2.

But, frankly, public participation could have been better. Lackluster public response has been a problem this entire political season in Montgomery County. So I thought I would cross-post something I wrote for the Citizens League site on how to increase participation:

A Quiet September Shift in MoCo

October 14, 2010

Montgomery County Council

The most enduring image of September’s very quiet primary election may be this middle-finger-raised text message, reported by the Washington Post:

“It was the Unions that put Duchy in office n it was the Unions that took her out. Justice served!” read a text message forwarded at 1:24 a.m. Wednesday by John Sparks, head of Montgomery’s firefighters union.

Among the comments was this:

“First order of business, the council doubles all pay raises for union members.
 Second, raises property taxes to afford said raises, and closes more facilities.
 They are burning down the house to stay warm in the blizzard.”

There was a predictable media frenzy over this tidbit. That’s unfortunate, not only because it undercuts the Council’s recent efforts to craft a six-year, no spending-increase budget, but because it obscures some tectonic shifts under the surface of the election returns.

One of the most important shifts was that the oft-underserved East County, which has always had more people but far less influence, has raised its head in the corridors of power. The media played up the addresses of the victorious Democratic nominees. But that was only the most obvious of shifts, and perhaps not the one that will make the most long-term difference.

A more powerful and long-term movement was demographic: the Council (assuming, as many do, that the Democratic nominees are likely to prevail in November’s election) is becoming younger and more diverse.

MoCo activism has always been regarded as the province of the old and the white. “That’s who has the time,” District 1 Councilmember Roger Berliner said at a recent campaign debate. And anyone who has ventured into MoCo policy debates for the first time has generally come out reeling from the amount of detail, jargon and information flooding the discussions; again, a function of how much time activists can devote to studying and preparing. Not to mention the relentless vigilance of some Citizens, monitoring the most obscure governmental processes for side effects and unforeseen consequences. It’s not easy joining in the first time if what you hear is: “But you don’t understand the effect of County Ordinance 12.284b-14. If you do that, our beloved [fill in the blank here] will DIE!”

But does that mean younger and more diverse County Citizens can’t or won’t get involved? Are they just too busy? Too dumb? Tuned out? Or turned off? As the recent shift in seats demonstrates, clearly not. None of the above.

Those disincentives to participate are, in fact, the reason the Citizens League of Montgomery County was formed: to help less-experienced Citizens surmount the barriers to entry into the political discussion in MoCo. The idea is that providing an opportunity for participation without the dominance of older, more established groups will help all voices be heard. So . . . how do we do that?

Hans ReimerPhoto from Hans Reimer’s Facebook page

It likely will take some additional work – and perhaps different avenues – to mobilize these Citizens. They are more technologically-adept, meaning that traditional methods of reaching them aren’t as successful, but new ones are. President Obama successfully used new and social media to reach millions of young Americans in 2008, and activated them en masse. That outreach wasn’t the same in September, not in intensity and not in volume; people just haven’t figured out how to replicate the Obama new media success. It isn’t just putting up something on Facebook and you’re done. Doing new media campaigns right means the same thing it always has: message, targeting, and execution of a strategy.

But with a twist: one of the traditional methods of swaying voters has been, in the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Have the undecideds talked to by someone they know and trust.” If you’re dealing with a group of young or disaffected Citizens, who’s that trusted “someone?” In new media, that means looking somewhere untraditional (think Republican General Colin Powell endorsing President Obama in 2008), and relying more on collective voices, rather than Walter Cronkite-like baritones.

And activists can also use more traditional techniques, like looking for new voters in places where they are likely to be found, instead of where voters have traditionally congregated. A recent example is Rock the Vote.

Those techniques can work in MoCo. How do we know? Look at who got the most votes among At-Large Democratic nominees: Marc Elrich used good old-fashioned shoe leather to get the most votes. But newcomer Hans Reimer, who got the second-highest number of votes, is a veteran of Rock the Vote and was the Obama campaign’s Youth Vote Coordinator. Reimer, also a veteran MoCo activist with the Action Committee for Transit, used new media to good advantage, highlighting his community participation in areas often passed over by more traditional campaigns.

The low level of voter participation in September’s primaries may have had many causes, and there may be many solutions. But we know that at least some new techniques work here. And their use presages a new and different “power structure.”

Barnaby Zall

Useful Halloween Reminders for Kids and Pets

Karen Thon of the Regional Service Center which covers White Flint offers the following tips from Montgomery County Police on keeping this a happy and safe Halloween:

 Halloween Safety Reminders

            As families in Montgomery County are making their plans for Halloween observances, the Montgomery County Police Department would like to offer the following important safety reminders.  Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger strongly recommends that each family take time to review basic safety tips with their children and encourage their use.  Minimizing safety risks will help ensure a Happy Halloween for everyone. 

            The most important safety tip is to “trick-or-treat” only in neighborhoods and at homes known to your family.  It is never advisable to take children to an unknown community, apartment complex, or townhouse development simply because there are not a lot of homes in your community and you want to provide a greater trick or treating experience for your child.

A parent, other familiar adult, or responsible older brother or sister should always accompany younger children.

Older children should plan out a trick-or-treating route with their parents, wear a watch, and return home at an agreed upon time.  They could carry a mobile phone to stay in contact.

Children should never approach a home without lights, nor is it advisable to take candy that has been left in a container outside a home.

Children should not eat any collected candy until an adult has inspected it.

Any unwrapped or partially wrapped candy should be thrown away.

Make sure your yard is clear of items such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes, and flower pots that could trip young children.

Battery powered jack-o’-lantern candles are preferable to using a real flame.

If you do use candles, place the pumpkins well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.

Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won’t be blown into a burning candle. 

Children should carry a flashlight when trick or treating.  They should walk on sidewalks where available, and cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk.  Walk on the left side of the road facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.  When crossing: look left, right, and left again before going out into the street.       

Other general safety tips include wearing flame-retardant, brightly-colored, or reflective costumes of a length that won’t cause tripping.  Face make-up is preferable to wearing a mask, but if a child is wearing a mask it should not impair the child’s vision.

Motorists are advised to drive slower and with extra caution through neighborhoods on Halloween.  Watch for children in the street and on medians, and exit driveways and alleyways carefully. 

Halloween falls on Sunday this year which means there may be more Halloween parties throughout the weekend.  Any adults attending a party where alcohol is being served should utilize a designated driver, or take other measures to prevent drinking and driving.  Parents of teens should take responsibility to make certain that alcohol is not available at teen Halloween parties.

Following these common sense practices adds an extra measure of safety for those families who would like to allow their children to trick or treat, and for those teens and adults who may be enjoying Halloween parties.There are also good safety tips provided by area Humane Societies/Animal Shelters for families with pets:

·        Keep pets inside. Pets, especially cats, can be vulnerable targets for pranksters on Halloween night. Keep them safe indoors to avoid possible trouble.

·        More chocolate is sold on Halloween than at any other time of year.  Be sure to keep pets away from candy bowls to avoid accidental ingestion of chocolate, which is harmful to dogs and cats. Also beware of candy wrappers, which can be hazardous if swallowed.

·        Beware of jack-o’-lanterns lighted with candles – a wagging tail can easily knock them over and cause a fire hazard. Or a curious kitty can get his paws or nose burned by the flame. Use a safety glow stick or flashlight instead.

·        Keep your pet safe in his own room during trick or treat time. A quick dog or cat can dart out a door that is opening and closing often. Also, the sight of strangely dressed people at the door can be very stressful for pets.

·        Only dress up your pet if he is receptive to it. Don’t cause undue stress on your furry friend. Use treat training to help your pet get used to his costume, but if he doesn’t seem happy, take it off.

·        Masks are never a good idea for pets. Masks can cut off peripheral vision, making a dog or cat nervous about its surroundings. Even the best behaved dog or cat can get nippy when he can’t see what’s coming from the side.

·        Make sure your pet’s costume fits properly, and does not constrict breathing or movement. Just as with a collar, make sure you can fit two fingers in between the costume and your pet’s neck.

·        Inspect the costume and remove any small or dangling pieces that could become a choking hazard.

·        Don’t forget to ID your pet! Shelters are always busy around holidays with pets that have wandered away from home.  An ID tag or microchip helps identify your pet so he can be returned home if he gets lost.

Karen Thon, Bethesda Urban District Manager

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center 

Barnaby Zall