Thursday, April 16, 2009

Action Committee for Transit Issues District 4 Scorecard

Action Committee for Transit (ACT) has issued their scorecard for the District 4 candidates. ACT co-sponsored a debate along with the Sierra Club in Wheaton and collected questionnaires from the candidates, all of which we have posted on this blog.

We asked ACT President Ben Ross two questions about the scorecard.

Q: Why does Lamari get a No for Metro Communities while Navarro and Kramer get a Yes?

A: Lamari has been an opponent of transit-oriented development around Glenmont and offered no examples of controversial projects he supported elsewhere. (Downtown Silver Spring does not qualify as controversial.) In the questionnaire, Navarro was supportive of more transit-oriented development in general and specifically at Glenmont. Kramer was less specific in his questionnaire and did not specifically address Glenmont, but based on his overall record we anticipate that he will support new development around Metro stations.

Q: Why does Navarro get a Yes, Kramer get a No and Lamari get an Uncommitted on Green Growth?

A: This was based primarily on the answer to Question 5B of the questionnaire. What concerns us is the county’s past history of using vaporware transitways that never get built to justify what turns out to be auto-oriented sprawl development. This letter lays out our position - see especially the table on page 3.

Kramer's answer was, “If federal criteria for funding the CCT will allow for the construction of the CCT in advance of the proposed development included in the aforementioned master plan areas, then I would support such efforts.” Well - everyone would like to get federal money and build the CCT right away, the question is what to do if the money isn’t available. We interpreted this answer as meaning that if funding is not in place for the CCT, he would not support delaying the development.

Navarro’s answer was that while she would not wait until the rail line is actually built before development begins, she would insist on having the funding lined up and a clear timeline. This is essentially ACT’s position as stated in the letter I linked. It is what the county does with staging requirements for roads and - leaving aside the merits of the roads in question - it has worked in the sense that either the development is blocked or the roads actually get built. Lamari’s answer is explicitly undecided.

Both of these were based largely on the questionnaires, using the debate and other public statements for clarification where necessary. For example, Goldman didn’t really get at what we wanted to learn in his questionnaire answer about development near Metro, but in the debate he was explicit that he thought new development should be directed away from Metro stations like Silver Spring and Bethesda and toward areas far from Metro like Burtonsville and Sandy Spring.

Editor’s Note: We present Table 3 from ACT’s letter below. Check out how many worthy transit projects are stalled.