Tag: east county

Abandoned Homes: A Growing Problem in Our Community

Abandoned Homes: A Growing Problem in Our Community

The Great Recession may be over, but the aftermath is still being felt in communities all across the country. Here in Montgomery County, we have more than 400 abandoned properties that continue to drive down nearby home values and attract neighborhood crime.

Abandoned homes are a magnet for dangerous criminal activities, such as squatting, arson and defacement. Unused houses are nearly twice as likely than occupied houses to generate calls for fire or police service, and they lower neighboring property values by as much as 10%. Not only are abandoned houses an eyesore, they pose a serious public safety risk and deter new families from purchasing homes in our county.

I am introducing legislation to reduce the number of abandoned homes and make our community safer. My bill will require unoccupied homeowners to register with the county, and will increase inspections and implement graduated fees for unmaintained homes. Enacting this bill could deter homeowners from leaving properties unused and unkempt for long periods of time, and gives absentee owners incentives to repair and then to sell, rent, or occupy their property.

Here are the basic guidelines of my proposal:

      • Establish a vacant property registration
      • Require an initial inspection within a month of registering.
      • Allow homeowners 30 days to fix any code violations.
      • Charge any subsequent inspections performed by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs(DHCA) to the homeowner using a graduated fee schedule (similar to the False Alarm Response Fee Schedule).

Properties that are no longer in use are more than just a symptom of macroeconomic forces  — their links to crime and sinking property values  make them unique problems in and of themselves.  In order to stave off community decline and disinvestment, we have to act now.

If you know of any abandoned properties in your community, I am asking you to please send your photos and locations to councilmember.hucker@mongtomerycountymd.gov. Together, we will keep our community safe and strong.

Great Week for East County

Great Week for East County

East County is on the rise!

Last week, the County Council unanimously supported my amendment to restore funding for the Maydale Nature Center, we passed $7.5 million to revitalize Hillandale Park, and we broke ground on the new Washington Adventist Hospital in White Oak.

Hillandale Park
Hillandale residents will be able to enjoy long-overdue renovations to Hillandale Park, which includes, a new entrance and sidewalk, hard surface internal trail loop with exercise equipment and heart-smart trail markers, restrooms, full size soccer field with irrigation and fencing, themed multi-age playground with public art, Snake Path and Dinosaur Egg Nest, two picnic shelters, two tennis courts with lighting, two basketball courts with lighting, stormwater management facilities, and landscaping.

Maydale Nature Center
It’s no secret that there has been a lack of investment in East County. I will continue prioritizing much-needed projects like the revitalization of the Maydale Nature Center. We’re very fortunate to live in such a beautiful region, and we need to expand opportunities to connect our youth to the wonders of our natural environment. Since many Montgomery County Public Schools cannot afford to send their students far across the County to attend outdoor education programs, many educators have expressed to me an interest in seeing new options, closer to them.

The idea to restore the nature center and improve outdoor education opportunities to the historically underserved children of East County received unanimous support. My amendment locks down $250,000 in funding and directs Montgomery Parks to transport and install a modular classroom, which will serve as a year-round Nature Center.  Maydale was a widely popular Parks resource that served thousands of students annually between 1994 and 2007, and I am glad to see that we are committing to its restoration and revitalization.

Washington Adventist Hospital
East County residents deserve access to quality healthcare. Through a partnership with the FDA, Washington Adventist Hospital is relocating from Takoma Park to White Oak, in a move that transforms White Oak into a hub for biomedical research. In fact, it’s estimated that the regional impact of post-construction spending of $214.8 million will support 1,901 jobs and generate an economic boost of $307.9 million. As part of the White Oak Gateway Master Plan, the modernized healthcare facility will bring critical investments into the County, and contribute to a vibrant and diverse local economy.

Last week’s victories for East County are just the beginning. If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming improvements to the Washington Adventist Hospital, the Maydale Nature Center or Hillandale Park, please feel free to reach out to Councilmember.hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov or call (240) 777-7960.

Big Victory on Early Voting

Big Victory on Early Voting

We did it. The State Board of Elections approved Montgomery County’s revised early voting plan. The new plan reversed the earlier decision by the GOP majority to eliminate early voting locations in some of our most diverse and vibrant communities and guarantees that all of our residents will have an opportunity to freely exercise their right to vote. Will you please chip in today so I can continue the fight to preserve voting rights for all Montgomery County residents?

I’m proud of everyone in Maryland who joined me and leapt into action to fight the misguided decision to eliminate early voting in East County and Bethesda, potentially disenfranchising thousands of voters. You were not silent when Republicans threatened to make it harder than ever to vote. You wrote letters, you signed petitions, you made phone calls, you attended rallies and you spoke to your neighbors and friends about why this issue is so important to our democracy.

This is your victory.

But I am not satisfied with this win. In Maryland and in Montgomery County, we should be clearing the way for more people to vote, not putting up more roadblocks. That’s why I was an original cosponsor of the early voting legislation in Annapolis, advocated for expanding early voting on Sundays and voted for legislation adding same-day voter registration. And that’s why I’m pushing for state legislation to allow automatic voter registration.

And I will keep fighting to make voting easier. With a population greater than six states and the District of Columbia, I firmly believe that having only nine early voting centers is insufficient and does not serve the voters of our County well. As soon as the General Assembly session begins in January, I will be pushing to increase the number of early voting locations.  Early voting reduces lines and gives more citizens a chance to be heard — especially those with work or family obligations that make it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day. And many of our communities – including Takoma Park – deserve their own early voting location.

We share the same values when it comes to voting: As an American your voice counts. And no matter what you look like, how much money you have or where you come from you have the right to vote. I will never stop fighting to put these values into action.

This was a big win in the effort to make voting easier for all citizens. Please pitch in today so we can continue this fight.

Thanks,

Tom