Potomac News Briefs

Potomac News Briefs

Sober-Ride for July 4

Free Sober Rides, Thursday, July 4, 7 p.m. through Friday, July 5, 2 a.m. Area residents, 21 and older, may download Lyft to their phones, then enter a code in the app's “Promo” section to receive a no cost (up to $15) safe ride home. WRAP’s Independence Day SoberRide promo code will be posted at 6 p.m. on July 4 on www.SoberRide.com.

Friedson Introduces Legislation to Support Housing Options for People with Disabilities

Potomac’s Councilmember Andrew Friedson (District 1) today introduced legislation to waive County licensing fees for disabled individuals in accessory dwelling units. The Council is currently discussing ZTA 19-01, which would liberalize the county’s accessory dwelling units requirements. This bill would enable residents with qualified disabilities to take advantage of the potential changes to create an ADU without the financial barrier of existing fees. Currently, the county collects an initial $571 with an ADU application and an annual license fee of $101. Bill 20-19 would waive these fees for ADUs with tenants who have a verified disability.

“ADUs offer families another housing option, especially when it comes to loved ones with disabilities, including seniors and veterans,” said Friedson. “This is an opportunity to be inclusive. Working to help launch the Maryland ABLE program I became acutely aware of the significant challenges so many families in our community face.”

Council President Nancy Navarro, Council Vice President Sidney Katz, and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Craig Rice, and Evan Glass are cosponsoring the legislation, which is scheduled for a public hearing on July 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Hours Extended for Five Public Libraries

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) extends weekend evening hours for the summer at five branches:  Connie Morella (Bethesda), Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville Memorial, and Silver Spring. These branches will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer. The extended weekend hours run through Aug. 24.

The extended weekend hours began in 2016 at the Rockville Memorial Library. County Council added funding to expand the extended summer weekend hours to four additional branches.

“Our libraries play a vital role in our community, and the extended weekend hours over the past summers allowed residents who work long hours during the week to still be able to use our resources and services,” said Acting MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “We are excited to be able to offer these hours again.”

More information about all MCPL branches is available on the MCPL website.  www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library

Tips to Prepare for the Summer Storm Season

The Atlantic Hurricane and Summer Storm Season officially began on June 1 and will run through November. Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) joins the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service (NWS) in urging community members to familiarize themselves with what to do before, during and after a severe storm.

While it is possible for a hurricane or tropical storm to impact Montgomery County, the greater summer weather threat is flooding, hail, lightning strikes, thunderstorms and strong winds. Thunderstorms can occur singly or in clusters or lines and typically produce heavy rain for a brief period. During severe thunderstorms there is a risk that a tornado could occur.

“During the summer months, it is important to know the difference between a weather watch and warning, and understand that when a warning is announced, it is important to take immediate action,” said OEMHS Director Earl Stoddard. “I encourage everyone to sign-up for Alert Montgomery to receive emergency updates to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

NWS Advisory/Watch/Warning:

Advisory: Highlights weather conditions less serious than a warning; A weather event that may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property

Watch: Be Prepared; Conditions are right for the event to happen; May last several hours; Time to plan for the possibility of the event

Warning: The weather event is happening; Time for immediate action; Usually limited to a short period of time (around 30 minutes)

Alert Montgomery is the County’s emergency notification system. Subscribers can register to receive real-time information on their mobile devices or landlines. In addition to weather emergencies, subscribers can opt to receive alerts about school closures, government closures, gas leaks, severe weather, traffic, park closures, public health and other public emergencies. Regardless of the alerts you choose to receive, ALL account holders will receive tornado warnings and other critical emergency notifications. The free service is available to anyone who signs up on the Alert Montgomery website.

Visit the OEMHS website for more information on severe summer storms.

About Those Scooters ...

With dockless bikes and e-bikes having been tested and enjoyed in several areas of Montgomery County, MCDOT announces the expansion of the program to a broader portion of the County, while also testing the introduction of dockless e-scooters. MCDOT will conduct a demonstration project with three selected companies to deploy dockless e-scooters and e-bikes at no cost to the County. The demonstration project will kick-off with free e-scooter training sessions for county residents on June 1 and run for six months with an option for extension.

Lyft will provide e-scooters in the East County Service Area; Bird will provide e-scooters in the West County Service Area; and Lime will provide both e-bikes and e-scooters in both Service Areas. Each company’s vehicles will be limited to operation within their geo-fenced service area. All vendors require that riders be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license.

“We are pleased to reach this exciting milestone in Montgomery County’s multi-modal transportation offerings,” said MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh. “Now residents in many areas can opt to use an e- scooter or electric assist bike to complete a leg of their commute, run errands or just enjoy themselves. We’ll be studying vehicle use closely and making adjustments as needed to ensure both safety and convenience.”

MCDOT has built numerous safeguards into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each company to ensure successful, safe and sustainable operation of dockless vehicle-sharing services within the County. These include performance measures like fleet size and condition, customer information and training on safe and appropriate operation of dockless vehicles, including information about appropriate parking locations, response time to service requests, privacy protection, deployment density limits, removal of dockless vehicles in violation of the parking requirements, a publicly-accessible application program interface and safety reports, among others.

The companies selected to participate signed an MOU with the County and provided insurance and a performance bond. The companies are required to provide real-time operational data for County management and program analysis.

On June 1 in Rockville and Silver Spring, the companies held the first of their required monthly training sessions on e-scooters. MCDOT encourages all e-scooter and e-bike riders to attend one of the free public training sessions and to wear a helmet when riding. Sidewalk riding of e-scooters and e-bikes is prohibited.

Users won’t be limited to county streets. Montgomery Parks will also permit the use of e-bikes and e-scooters on certain Montgomery Parks hard surface trails including Rock Creek Trail, Sligo Creek Trail up to the Prince Georges County line, Matthew Henson Trail, Long Branch Trail and Northwest Branch Trail (the paved portion south of I-495, up to the Prince Georges County line).

Rather than relying on fixed stations to access the equipment, customers use a mobile app to locate a nearby dockless bike or e-scooter with GPS and unlock it. When a customer completes a dockless bike or e-scooter trip, the bike or scooter must be parked within public right of way in accordance with the MOU.

This is the third phase of Montgomery County’s pilot testing of dockless vehicles. The program serves the County’s goal of providing more transportation options that support a greener county.

General feedback about the demonstration project or about a specific company participating in the project is welcome. Send an email tomcdot.commuterservices@montgomerycountymd.gov, or contact MC311 online or by calling 311 from within Montgomery County or 240-777-0311 from outside the County (Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.), or by following MC311 on Twitter @311MC311.