Thursday, January 14, 2010

B-CC Chamber to Schools: Drop Dead

The incoming chair of the B-CC Chamber thinks it is unfair to prioritize schools over development. The temporary development moratorium in Bethesda due to overcrowded schools was wrong and "sent a bad message:"

It's not clear how much new development was held up by the ban, because the economic slowdown had stymied the construction industry and slowed development applications across the region. Patrick O'Neil, incoming chairman of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, said the moratorium, nonetheless, "sent a bad message."

"It really was elevating by law one public policy over another, school capacity over smart growth and transit-oriented development," he said. He lauded the decision by political leaders to tweak the calculations for school construction to end the moratorium.
So even though (1) the policy didn't do any harm--surely, the Chamber would have let us know if it had, and (2) it provided badly needed school infrastructure--presumably, good for growth in a County built on the foundation of education excellence, the policy is a mistake because because it is "elevating by law one public policy over another" (translation: schools over our development interests).

Seems to me it would be a shame to eliminate a law that provides such valuable political pressure to keep the schools up to par. After all, funding was magically discovered once the moratorium kicked in but not earlier. It would be great to know if candidates for the County Council support the current law linking school infrastructure to development.