My colleagues and I sent a letter to the County Executive asking that the publicly owned artificial turf fields be tested for lead and other toxic chemicals. I have long been concerned about the use of artificial turf but recent developments, including the acknowledgement by an artificial turf manufacturer representative that their artificial turf products do contain lead, has given a new urgency to the situation. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, there is no safe level of lead for children. These fields potentially contain other materials that could be hazardous, especially for children, whose developing bodies are more vulnerable to toxins.
Below is the letter, which lays out the case for why testing of existing fields is needed. It is time to get the fields tested. I believe we should redirect our focus to the best possible grass fields for our children and our residents.
You can read the full letter here.
Councilmember Elrich discusses his assessment of the Westbard Sector Plan, as approved by the Montgomery Planning Board in December 2015. The plan is now before the Council for its review. For more information about the status of the Council’s review of the Westbard Plan, go to Master Plans.
Yes, we have. Do we need to increase density in urban areas and elsewhere to accommodate the growth that’s coming? No. We have already planned for it. You may hear people talk about the forecasted number of new residents coming to Montgomery County in 2030 or 2040 and then talk about the urgency to plan for the projected growth by building more, increasing density and developing more to accommodate the influx.
But we HAVE planned for it. Those forecasts for 2030 and 2040 come from our own planning and zoning numbers. In other words, if we didn’t change a thing, we already have the zoning to accommodate the projected jobs and population.
Listen to this interchange between Councilmember Elrich and Paul Desjardin, the Director of the Office of Community Planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). The exchange runs from minute 14:57 to 20:44 on the audio below. This conversation occurred as part of the monthly meeting (March 18, 2015) of the regional Transportation Planning Board where Councilmember Elrich is a representative for Montgomery County.
Click to enlarge
Here’s the link to the document that goes with the discussion: item 11, Briefing on the COG Cooperative Forecasting Process The slide is on page 5 of the document.
On October 6, the County Council passed legislation that restricts the use of pesticides on lawns, playgrounds, and children’s facilities. The legislation also puts the Parks Department on a path to pesticide-free athletic playing fields, beginning next year with a pilot program of five fields. In this video, Councilmember Elrich outlines the many public health and environmental reasons for enacting legislation to restrict the use of pesticides. In particular, at minute 9:15, he explains why we cannot rely on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect us. Also, at minute 15:36, he explains one of the crucial reasons why he has come to the decision that pesticide regulation is essential.
You can read a summary of the bill HERE and the text of the bill HERE.
“I believe this legislation is an important step toward protecting our public health and environment,” Councilmember Elrich stated. “This legislation restricts the use of and exposure to pesticides, and it does so based on the scientific evidence,” he explained. “I think as the public understands the science, they will appreciate our action.” Click HERE to read about the public health, environmental and policy reasons for the need for this bill.
In this video, Councilmember Elrich discusses the importance of paid sick and safe leave for hard-working families, many of whom are “a paycheck away from homelessness.” He also discusses the impact for smaller businesses, which is why he sponsored the successful amendment to reduce the paid portion of sick leave for the County’s smallest businesses. For more information on the newly-enacted law (identified as bill 60-14), go to
Bill 60-14 for the Council packet.
Here is the legislation as enacted
To read the news release: Montgomery County Council Unanimously Approves Earned Sick and Safe Leave Bill
Councilmember Elrich is pleased to be joined by his colleagues Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer in sponsoring his zoning text amendment (ZTA 15-07) that would prohibit mega gas stations within 500 feet of schools, residences, parks, day care, and environmentally sensitive areas., “Mega gas stations present a risk to the public health and general welfare of individuals nearby, and our existing law does not reflect the current scientific understanding that indicates a public health concern. Numerous, peer-reviewed, scientific studies document links between vehicle emissions and asthma, impaired lung function, and heart disease.” Read more...
Councilmember Elrich has introduced bill 19-15 to implement many of the recommendations of the Tenant Work Group, where he represented the Council and worked with the County Executive, State Senator Jamie Raskin and diverse representatives of the tenant community. Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Tom Hucker are co-sponsors of the legislation to bring “common-sense reforms to tenant laws.
I have long been interested in promoting strategies to preserve affordable housing and provide some security for renters,” Councilmember Elrich said. “These proposed reforms are first steps toward improving the quality of life for tenants, who now are about one-third of the county population.” Read more...
The Montgomery County Council adopted a $5.08 billion total County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2016. The budget, which will take effect July 1, reflects a 1.7 percent increase over the approved budget for FY 2015. The Council also approved amendments to the Fiscal Years 2015-20 six-year Capital Improvements Program.
Councilmember Elrich thanked the County Executive “for sending the Council a recommended budget that reflects our collective values.” He also expressed his appreciation that he and his Council colleagues worked together on this “hold-the-line” budget. “While we would have liked to do more, we understand that we have budgetary constraints,” he explained. Read more...
Video on Councilmember Marc Elrich on Fuel/Energy Tax Rate
In this video, Councilmember Elrich discusses why the energy tax is an important way to raise money from entities that pay no other taxes to support the work in Montgomery County. He points out that Virginia has a substantial gross receipts tax that targets only the business community, and that the energy tax is progressive, by providing a disincentive to increasing energy use and reducing the need for increased property tax revenues, which only hit businesses and residences.
Reform of our prison system and putting people to work have been two important themes nationally. In Montgomery County, we have taken a step in the right direction by giving former prisoners a fair chance at job applications through “ban-the-box” legislation. This law delays the point at which most potential employers can ask an applicant about a criminal background so that qualified applicants have an opportunity to make their case. It will not force an employer to hire someone, but will give them a chance to learn about someone they may not have otherwise considered.
This bill is about opportunity. We invest a lot of resources in rehabilitating those who pass through our criminal justice system and it is in all of our best interests for them to succeed,” said Councilmember Elrich. Read more...