Archives September 2016

North Bethesda? Pike District? White Flint? Rockville?

No matter what you call it, it’s marvelous to live and work here.

From Bethesda Beat: Since You Asked: Where Exactly Is North Bethesda? Despite some debate, the area’s boundaries have long been defined

—A reader in Bethesda

Many Montgomery County residents dispute whether North Bethesda is a defined place.

One of the latest examples of this ongoing discussion took place in the comments section of a Bethesda Beat article about North Bethesda being ranked as one of the best places to live by the data website Niche. Commenters debated whether the area known as North Bethesda is really just a southern portion of Rockville.

It is not, county officials say. In fact, North Bethesda’s boundaries have been defined since at least the 1970s, when the county first drafted the North Bethesda/ Garrett Park Master Plan, according to Glenn Orlin, deputy council administrator for the Montgomery County Council. It’s an unincorporated area similar to Bethesda, Potomac or Silver Spring.

“There have been county master plans referring to the name North Bethesda going back 50 years,” Orlin said.

North Bethesda is also a census-designated place with defined boundaries. It is bound to the south by the southern portion of I-495, to the west by I-270, to the north by Rockville’s city limits and to the east by Rock Creek Park.


The U.S. Census map of North Bethesda (outlined in gold in center) via the Census website

Neighborhoods inside the census-designated boundaries of North Bethesda include Luxmanor, Wickford, Parkside and Lone Oak, as well as new developments such as Pike & Rose and North Bethesda Market. The property that formerly housed the now-demolished White Flint Mall is also inside the census boundaries, although Garrett Park is not—the neighborhood has its own census-designated boundaries.

As of the 2010 census, North Bethesda had about 44,000 residents, a mostly white (70 percent) population and a median household income of $105,968. The median home price in the area was $524,100 from 2010 to 2014, according to census figures.

Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, says he understands some of the confusion that may exist about the area. He said longtime residents may look at a place that’s in North Bethesda, such as Hank Dietle’s Tavern on Rockville Pike, and say it’s in Rockville or bring up the fact that a part of the 20852 ZIP code that encompasses most of North Bethesda also has portions in Rockville.

“The area we call North Bethesda, historically, didn’t have an identity,” Hartman said. “It was the area south of Rockville down to the Beltway, and before the Beltway was built there was even less of a dividing line.”

He said North Bethesda is not Rockville because the city is incorporated and has defined boundaries. He also noted that the U.S. Postal Service accepts mail addressed to North Bethesda.

Recently, residents may have become confused about North Bethesda’s boundaries as developers seek to identify the area around the White Flint Metro station as The Pike District. That name was created about two years ago as developers such as The JBG Cos. and Federal Realty that were constructing major projects in the area sought to disassociate the area from the name White Flint, which they believed local residents associated with the now-demolished mall. Another confusing location is North Bethesda Middle School, which is actually in Bethesda at 8935 Bradmoor Drive, just south of the Beltway and North Bethesda’s southern boundary.

This and That


We’re cancelling the Pike District Pedestrian Campaign petition signature canvassing scheduled for Thursday due to the biblical rain and flooding Capital Weather Gang is predicting.  We’re re-scheduling for Thursday, October 6th. Please volunteer for either a before work, after work, or lunchtime shift by emailing


Apply for membership to the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee.  (See link below).  They  have two vacancies from members who have completed their second terms; these two vacancies will be filled by new applicants.   If you know of any prospective candidates who would be good members of the committee  (including yourself), they need to apply by the Friday, September 30 deadline. Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, gender, geography, disability and ethnicity are encouraged to apply. As the announcement linked below describes, applications are to be submitted on line.

Currently, there is no member from the White Flint area on the committee.  It would be great to have a strong White Flint/Pike District advocate on the committee.

Next Stage of our Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign — Volunteers Needed

As you know, we kicked off our Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign last week. It’s getting some traction with coverage in Bethesda Beat and a blog post on Greater Greater Washington. There’s been a few posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and my 22-year-old son even told me  our signs are being shared on Snapchat.

Now it’s time to start phase two of our campaign. Volunteers from the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Friends of White Flint will canvas the streets of the Pike District on Thursday September 29th asking people to sign our pedestrian improvement petition. We will have a morning shift from 7:30am-9pm, afternoon shift 12pm-2pm, and evening shift 4pm-6pm. Please let us know if you can volunteer help us gather signatures…we can use all the help we can get!

We will also be canvassing residents at Fall Fest on Marinelli Road on October 8th from noon to 2pm, so let us know if you’d like to volunteer next Saturday, too.

Together, we can make the Pike District safe and convenient for pedestrians!


Arlington is Doing This; Should We Do This in the Pike District? — September 13, 2016 at 11:15

Pedestrian-only street in Boston, as seen in a County Board reportThe Arlington County Board is expected to take up a change to the county’s Master Transportation Plan (MTP) that would allow pedestrian-only streets.

The Board is set to consider a request to advertise hearings on the change at a meeting later this month, according to a draft proposal.

The proposal would add “Pedestrian Street” to the MTP’s existing four defined street types. A pedestrian street is described as “a car-free travel corridor that provides public pedestrian access to adjacent buildings and properties fronting the street and serves as a public meeting place and location for commerce, communication and other community activities.”

“A pedestrian street is [predominantly] paved with a hard surface suitable for walking and includes physical measures that prevent regular access by motor vehicles,” the proposal says.

There are currently no pedestrian-only streets in Arlington, but a few are proposed, including a new 18th Street corridor in Rosslyn that would replace the neighborhood’s aging skywalk system with a several blocks of a new pedestrian-only street between N. Oak Street and N. Lynn Street, with the Rosslyn Metro station in between.

In addition to pedestrian-only streets, the proposal updates the definition of an existing street type — a pedestrian and bicycle priority street. The newly-defined “shared streets” are intended to “allow people to comfortably walk within the roadway” thanks to “implicitly slow traffic speeds through the mixing of travel paths, physical measures and visual cues.”

A recently-approved plan for the Courthouse neighborhood calls for portions of 14th and 15th streets to be shared streets, primarily intended for pedestrians but open to slow-speed vehicular traffic.

Fun-Filled Fall Fest is Just Two-Weeks Away!

Mark your calendar and grab your friends and family. Fall Fest is October 8th from noon to 2:00 pm! We’re closing Marinelli Road in front of the Bethesda North Marriott and featuring not only music by The Nighthawks but also a variety of food trucks and kids activities. County Executive Ike Leggett will be on hand to cut the ribbon that officially opens the Pike District, too. Best of all, it’s free!

Pike Distirct Fall Fest

Where we are today on BRT in Montgomery County

Curious about what’s up with Bus Rapid Transit here in MoCo? Coatition for Smarter Growth wrote an excellent summary which I’m reposting here. (No doubt you’ll notice that almost all of the BRT news concerns Route 29 rapid transit, not Route 355.)

Plans for BRT have taken a few twists and turns over the last five years.

How’d we get to where we are today? Here’s a quick recap:

  • 2008-2009: Montgomery County begins discussing plans for a countywide BRT network
  • November 2013: After five years of study, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passes a plan for an 81-mile BRT system. The plan consists of 10 BRT corridors throughout the county.
  • January 2015: County Executive Ike Leggett proposes building an ‘independent transit authority’(ITA) to help fund the first phase of BRT — which includes MD355, Veirs Mill Rd, and US29. After intense pressure, Leggett pulls his plan.
  • Spring – fall 2015: Leggett revives a transit task force to study financing options for BRT. In fall 2015, the transit task force recommends retooled legislation for an ITA. Again facing backlash, Leggett withdraws plans for ITA
  • Spring 2016: This March, County Executive Leggett announced $11.5 million to continue moving BRT forward. Leggett also committed to building a Rt.29 BRT system by 2020. In April, the county released detailed plans for BRT on Rt.29.

What’s happening right now?

Currently, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is studying design alternatives on MD355 and Veirs Mill Rd while pushing forward with more detailed plans for BRT along Rt.29. MCDOT has released its plans for a BRT system on Rt.29 (which will be the first BRT corridor completed) stretching from Burtonsville to downtown Silver Spring. The system will be 14 miles long and have 12 stops. Rt.29 BRT is projected to cost $67 million, and the federal government has already committed to covering $10 million of that. The county aims to have the system in operation by 2020.

Exciting Pedestrian Safety Campaign Launched!

Last night, volunteers from Coalition for Smarter Growth and Friends of White Flint (along with your intrepid FoWF executive director) launched the exciting Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign by hanging dozens of signs with safety tips and ways to get involved all around the Pike District.

Walkable may be one of the most over-used adjectives in the new urbanism realm, but that does not diminish its significance.   Making it possible, even pleasurable, for people to walk to the office or farmers market or happy hour is the essential essence of a successful smart growth community like the White Flint/Pike District area.. Named a Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area in 2012, the Pike District is currently caught between its past as a car-oriented community and its future as a walkable community, yet significantly more people are now traversing streets that just a couple of years ago rarely saw a pedestrian.

Fortunately, many of the measures needed to make the Pike District more walkable are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. Montgomery County and the State of Maryland can create a more walkable Pike District for surprisingly little money and difficulty. Here’s how.

Improve pedestrian lighting. Right now, street lights are just that, lights for the street. We need lights for the sidewalk so pedestrians strolling at night can see where they’re going and cars can see them.

Make crosswalks more visible. Drivers on Rockville Pike and on many of the major streets in the White Flint area aren’t used to pedestrians walking alongside them since for decades, a pedestrian in that area was almost as rare as a great $5 Bordeaux.  For the cost of a bucket of paint, unique crosswalks would draw attention to the fact that people now walk in the Pike District.

While we’re on the subject of crosswalks, they need to be at every intersection, and cross all the roads of each intersection. There are far too many intersections that have crosswalks on only a portion of their roads.

Make pedestrian signals automatic. Recently, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Friends of White Flint worked with SHA and MCDOT to change the pedestrian walk signals at Marinelli Road and Rockville Pike to automatic. While careful calculations are necessary to ensure traffic needs are met, it costs nothing to flip the switch to make pedestrian signals automatic like they are in nearly every urban area.

Improve sight lines by trimming trees and other vegetation so that drivers can actually see walkers.

Improve signage so that drivers are more aware that pedestrians will be crossing the street. Wayfinding signs could also be invaluable in directing people to cross where it’s safest.

Create pedestrian refuges in the median so that people crossing complex intersections with complicated traffic patterns have a back up option if they can’t make it across all the lanes of traffic.

Install mid-block crossings at some of the super blocks. A crosswalk at Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike by North Bethesda Market is just one place where a mid-block crosswalk is needed.

Eliminate hot rights. Also called slip lanes, hot rights allow cars to make right turns at any time, as long as they yield to traffic. Unfortunately, they are a dangerous nightmare for pedestrians trying to navigate through an intersection.

A walkable Pike District has been the goal since the approval of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan. With the notable increase of walkers in the White Flint area and all the new development being built, now is the time to make the goal a reality.

To learn more or get involved in the Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign, visit The Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign is a joint project of Friends of White Flint and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

Important Community Meeting Tonight!

We hope you will join us tonight at our Community Meeting!!

September 19, 2016   6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Bethesda North Conference Center, Brookside Room

6:30     Welcome (Amy Ginsburg)

6:35     Approval of minutes from July Board Meeting (Howard Feldman/Amy Ginsburg)

6:40     Treasurer’s Report (Eric Grosse)

6:45     Fall Fest (Francine Waters) and Piketoberfest (Jay Corbalis)

6:50     Presentation by Nkosi Yearwood, Planner at Montgomery Planning Department, on White Flint 2 Preliminary Recommendations

7:05     Questions and comments on the White Flint 2 Preliminary Recommendations

7:20     Presentation by Walter Johnson Cluster Representatives on the Walter Johnson Roundtable Options

7:35     Questions and comments on the Walter Johnson Roundtable Options

7:50     Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign (Amy Ginsburg)

8:00     Brief Property Owner Updates (Property Owners)

8:20     Other Business

8:25     Would your HOA, condo association, or club like someone from Friends of White Flint to speak at one of your meetings about the transformation of our community?

8:30     Adjourn


Thank you to Bob Daley and Bethesda North Conference Center for generously providing space for tonight’s meeting.

Mark Your Calendar for Piketoberfest, October 8, Right After Fall Fest


Saturday, October 8th, 1-4pm      Pike & Rose    Free to Attend

  • Craft Beer tent by Owen’s Ordinary 
  • Come out for lawn games and kids activities, including a hay bale maze, face painter, giveaways and roving entertainment
  • Live music sponsored by AMP by Strathmore
  • Special Occasions Band & Bobby Thompson and Revelator Hill
  • Food for sale and sampling by Carluccio’s, City Perch, Del Frisco’s Grille, Summer House, Stella Barra and Roti
  • Sidewalk Sales and special offers from Gap and Gap Kids, Francesca’s, Lucky Brand, Nike, Season’s Taproom and Yogaso Boutique

Meet and mingle with our other neighborhood partners, including iPic Theaters, Nava Health, Sport & Health, PR at Partners, Pallas and PerSei Apartments 


What You Missed at This Week’s White Implementation and Downtown Advisory Committee Meetings

14 hours, two meetings. Yes, FoWF Executive Director Amy Ginsburg attended both Monday night’s White Flint Implementation Meeting and Tuesday morning’s White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting so she could let you know what happened at each.

First, the White Flint Implementation Meeting.

Nkosi Yearwood of the Montgomery Planning Department reported:

East Village North Bethesda Gateway project was approved by the Planning Board this past Thursday.

On September 22, the Planning Board will hold a hearing for the Pike and Rose amendment. This amendment decreases the number of residential units in its Phase 2 build-out from 236 to 198 and increases parking. There will also be improvements to public streets and a park, including sculptured benches.

Tonight, September 14, 7 pm at the Strathmore mansion is a public meeting with the developers of the Grosvenor-Strathmore surface parking area.

Dee Metz of the County Executive’s Office reported:

Nebel Street bike lanes are very close to done. Bringing the separated bike lanes to Nicholson will be phase two of the project.

The County finalized an agreement with SHA to turn the portion of Old Georgetown Road from Executive Boulevard to Route 355 to County control. Dee also  noted that the SHA is far more cognizant of the need to make the Pike District a walkable area.

SHA approved a light at the intersection of Towne Road and Rose Avenue.

The Western Workaround’s Market Street will begin construction this fall. There will be more trees planted than chopped down around the Western Workaround.

Tina Benjamin of the County Executive’s Office reported:

Donnelly Construction will begin building the Conference Center parking garage in the fall. It will have 650 spaces, 6 levels, and a covered walkway leading directly to the ballroom level.

During the year of construction, patrons will be shuttled to the Conference Center from a parking garage on Executive Boulevard.

The underground bio-retention facility and two above-ground bio-retention facilities will absorb more water than is currently absorbed at the site.

Eddie Meder of the Gables reported:

Their project on Old Georgetown Road will feature three interconnected buildings of between three and six stories as well as a parking deck. Gables plans 442 units.

The design hasn’t changed since the site plan was approved in 2015, and they are a couple of weeks away from filing for building permits.

Costs have gone up 10% since approval, and some original features have not translated well from conception to actual plans. Therefore, the Gables is making a few small changes.

Gables is removing the 50′ high pedestrian bridges between buildings that would have only been used by residents because they are located over the Pepco transformers.

They are eliminating a few apartments to enlarge the fitness and amenity space.

There will be a green roof on the garage, but the dog park had to be eliminated due to cost-prohibitive environmental rules.

Bioswales in the courtyard for storm water management will compliment storm water vaults.

The facade has been tweaked, including removing the sun shade due to fire code issues.

The bike share location was also altered.

There will likely be a supplemental CIP appropriation to pay for the County’s portion of the Gables garage. (250 spaces for the aquatic center.) The furthest spaces in the new garage will be closer to the swim center than the furthest spaces on the current surface parking lot. The Parks Department is working on a design for the new Wall Park.

Brian Downie of BF Saul reported in answer to a question that construction of Saul Centers West will begin in 2018 at the earliest.

Now the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting.

Ken Hartman of the BCC Regional Center reported:

Banners on Marinelli branding the Pike District must wait for the light poles to be replaced which should happen soon.

He is looking at landscaping and placing street furniture at the corner of Marinelli and Route 355.

Dee Metz of the County Executive’s Building reported:

Dee repeated everything she had said during the Implementation Committee meeting (see above).

She added that VOB is starting to move forward with their project, including purchasing the Capital One building.

She also added that Phase 2 of the Western Workaround is funded in the FY18 budget.

Peggy Schwartz of the Transportation Management District reported:

Walk & Ride is September 12 through 30th.

Brian Downie of BF Saul and Ginane Italiano of the Bethesda Chamber reported:

The strategic planning committee is meeting every two weeks to meet its September 2017 mandate to report to the County Executive its recommendations for the creation of an urban district or BID in the Pike District.  They are starting by working with a consultant to conduct focus groups with businesses, residents, and property owners to learn what services are needed and wanted in the Pike District.

Next month is a critical time for getting support for proposed state legislation that changes the requirement from 80% to 51% of property owners to approve the formation of a BID.

Francine Waters of Lerner Enterprises reported:

FallFest is October 8 from noon to 2:00 pm on Marinelli Road.  FallFest features music by the Nighthawks, a ribbon cutting with County Executive Ike Leggett, food trucks, and kids activities. She encouraged the committee to volunteer at the event. To promote the event, postcards were mailed to homes in the 20852, 20895, and 20896 zip codes. Postcards will also be distributed at the Twinbrook, White Flint, and Grosvenor metro stations in late September. There are also four bus shelter posters along Route 355 advertising the event. It will be a signature event of the Pike District that will be fun for all ages.

FallFest will be followed by the Pike and Rose Piketoberfest and preceded by the Farmers Market.