by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm 4 Comments

Sidewalk on northbound side of Woodmont Avenue at St Elmo Avenue, in February after a snow stormThe County Council on Tuesday passed a bill that will require more attention and planning from the county government when it comes to snowy and ice-packed sidewalks during the winter.

The Sidewalk Snow Removal Plan introduced by Councilmember Hans Riemer with initial backing from Councilmember Nancy Navarro will require County Executive Isiah Leggett’s office to come up with a plan for clearing snow from high-volume pedestrian routes, bus stops, school zones, urban districts and sidewalks along state highways.

It will also require the county to create a digital map that shows who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from each sidewalk in Montgomery County and a public education campaign encouraging property owners to clear their sidewalks within the 24 hours dictated by law.

Ice-packed and snowy sidewalks for days after snowstorms were a common sight last winter, when a more active than average winter hit the area.

County officials admitted to little enforcement of the 24-hour rule, despite multiple complaints to councilmembers about pedestrians forced to walk or wait for buses in roadways because of dangerous and hard to navigate sidewalks.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm 0

Photo via Montgomery County Board of Elections

Election day is two weeks away, which means the week-long early voting period in Montgomery County is just two days away.

All registered county voters will be able to fill out their 2014 Gubernatorial General Election ballots in one of nine locations, including in the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase (4301 Willow Lane.)

The early voting period will run from Thursday, Oct. 23 to Thursday, Oct. 30 with all polling places open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

It’s the first election cycle that the Chevy Chase location has been part of Montgomery County’s early voting rotation.

Montgomery County got permission from the State Board of Elections to add a ninth early voting center, which provided room for the Lawton building location. In June, before the Primary Election, that location had 2,187 early voters in eight days.

A little less than 5 percent, or 16,443 of 354,078 registered Montgomery County Democrats, voted early in June while fewer than 2,000 (1.47 percent) of registered Montgomery County Republicans voted early. That was likely due to a number of uncontested Republican races.

Locally, Democrats are expected to cruise to easy victories for County Council, county executive and local state legislative seats. Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan is within single digits of favorite Anthony Brown in some polls, which could provide the only bit of intrigue come Nov. 4.

Photo via Montgomery County Board of Elections

by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm 260 6 Comments

A Bethesda Circulator shuttle in Woodmont Triangle

(Updated at 4 p.m.) The Bethesda Urban Partnership on Tuesday launched a new phone app that will provide the location of all buses in the Bethesda Circulator system.

The app, available for Apple and Android devices and at BUP’s website, will give riders of the free shuttle service a better idea of wait times at each stop.

The 2.1-mile, 20-stop bus loop around downtown Bethesda has become increasingly popular since BUP took over operation of the old Bethesda Trolley in 2006. 

Bethesda Circulator bus live locator app, via BUPMonthly ridership on the Circulator surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April and increased again in May. BUP said daily ridership was up an average of 30 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013. The buses average more than 1,200 riders per day.

Riders will now have the ability to know when within the 10-15 minute timeframe the Circulator will arrive at their stop. To download the free Bethesda Circulator  app, visit your smart phone or tablet’s App store and type “Bethesda Circulator” into the search tool.

Android users should type in “bup” when prompted for an account code while downloading the app.

BUP promotes the service as a way to get to and from Metro but it also hopes people use it as a way to park in less popular parking garages before hitching a ride to activity centers such as Bethesda Row.

BUP officials have received plenty of requests to expand the shuttle route to places such as Battery Lane and Bradley Boulevard. But any expansion relies on increased funding. BUP’s transportation, marketing, beautification and programming activities rely largely on parking fees collected at public garages, lots and curbside meters in the downtown.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm 1,205 2 Comments

A Southern California movie theater chain hopes a passionate following in Los Angeles translates to its new, 16-theater setup at Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery mall.

ArcLight will begin opening its Bethesda location this weekend with a handful of screenings before a full-scale opening the week of Nov. 7. That’s when Matthew McConaughey’s new science fiction film “Interstellar” will hit theaters.

On Tuesday, ArcLight officials gave a tour of the facility — the first outside of California for the chain and what will be the third movie theater in Bethesda.

“In L.A., it’s a passion brand,” said Larry Krutchik, ArcLight’s top public relations man. “There are legions of people who won’t see a movie anywhere else.”

Gretchen McCourt, executive vice president of ArcLight, said no advertisements before movies and no lines to buy tickets have a lot to do with that.

There will be a few trailers shown before each film, but no pre-trailer advertisements that have become common in multiplexes around the country. McCourt said a movie at ArcLight typically starts within 6-8 minutes of the advertised starting time.

There also is no box office. McCourt said about 60 percent of the theater’s ticket sales are done online or through a mobile phone app before customers even enter the theater. The seats are numbered and seating is pre-reserved, meaning there are just a few electronic kiosks to purchase or print tickets in the lobby.

The theaters at ArcLight Bethesda range between 85 seats and 295 seats. One of the largest theaters features a 65-foot across and 45-foot tall widescreen. All seats are 25 inches wide with retractable, double-wide armrests. Movie goers are invited to bring their cocktails and drinks from the bar into the theater.

ArcLight will feature a combination of big blockbusters, independent films, documentaries and classic films, plus memberships and special film programming.

Members get $1 off all tickets. General admission for adults ranges from $11.75-$13.75 a ticket depending on what time of the week. There’s a $3.50 3D premium charge. Memberships are $15 a year.

by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 10:45 am 206 3 Comments

(Updated at 2 p.m.) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in Bethesda for the second time in two months to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan.

Tuesday’s appearance with Hogan came at The Original House of Pancakes, where the two shook hands with volunteers and some diners surprised by the accompanying media swarm.

Last month, Christie helped Hogan’s campaign raise more than $400,000 in a luncheon fundraiser at Redwood on Bethesda Lane.

At that event, Christie told an audience of Hogan supporters that Hogan has a legitimate chance to beat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Nov. 4.

The latest Baltimore Sun and Washington Post polls have Brown ahead of Hogan by seven points and nine points, respectively.

On Tuesday, Hogan fended off questions about his recent endorsement by the National Rifle Association before Christie spoke about his confidence in Hogan’s chances.

The video below is via Montgomery Community Media. See their report and more photos here.

Video via Montgomery Community Media

by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor — October 21, 2014 at 9:30 am 0

Rental Report

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

At some point during your rental search, you’ll likely hear a reference to Fair Housing. But what do Fair Housing regulations really mean?

The Rule – The federal Fair Housing Law prohibits “housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status (families with children under age 18).” In addition to the federal law, the state of Maryland includes marital status as a protected class. Montgomery County goes even further to include sexual orientation, age and source of income as protected.

The Meaning - As long as you meet the income, credit, employment and background requirements for a particular property, the landlord cannot turn you down for an apartment rental. In addition to renting a property, a property manager, landlord or real estate agent cannot refuse to show you a property you qualify for or are interested in based on any assumptions they have regarding a protected class.

For Renters – As a renter, especially when you are new to the area, you likely have a lot of questions about neighborhoods and building demographics. Understand that the real estate or leasing agent, by law, cannot answer specific questions regarding area demographics or safety.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 8:25 am 656 0

Flickr photo by BeyondDC

French International School Could Be On The Move – The Lycee Rochambeau (or French International School) will likely move from its main campus at 9600 Forest Road, near Old Georgetown Road and the Beltway. The school has hired a commercial real estate company to help it look for space to consolidate its three sites. The two others are on Bradley Boulevard and Woodbine Street in Chevy Chase. [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Wants Maryland’s Help For More 8-Car Trains – Metro hopes to have agreement from D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials on a $1.4 billion funding plan to purchase new eight-car trains it says are necessary for easing rush hour subway congestion. With a gubernatorial election ongoing, it’s unclear whether Maryland will support the plan. [Washington Post]

BOE Slammed For Spending $140,000 On Legal Review Of Credit Cards – Some councilmembers are letting the county’s Board of Education have it over $140,000 the body spent on a legal review of its own credit card and expense procedures. The Board paid a law firm the money to do an independent review of controversial credit card use by Board members. Councilmember George Leventhal said “I just don’t think there is any way you can tie a ribbon on the fact that our school board spent $140,000 getting advice on how to stop wasting money and make it look good.” [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by BeyondDC

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm 450 2 Comments

Pedestrian plaza at Gallery Bethesda, via Gallery Bethesda

One of Woodmont Triangle’s new apartment buildings will turn its pedestrian plaza into an outdoor beer garden on Saturday.

The Gallery Bethesda, which opened earlier this year at 4800 Auburn Ave., is hosting an Oktoberfest Biergarten celebration from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., with music, food, prizes, cornhole and, of course, beer. Attendees must be 21 or older.

The 17-story, 234-unit apartment building from developer Donohoe hopes to show off its plaza, which features permanent outdoor sculptures and an expansive wall mural by a local artist. The apartment is also hoping to sell some units. The free event will include building tours and waived application fees.

Bratwursts, potato latkes and pretzels will be provided by nearby restaurant 4935 Bar & Kitchen. The Aria, the combination deli, convenience store and dry cleaner that opened on the ground floor of The Gallery, will provide beers and ciders.

For more information, visit the building’s Facebook page.

Photo via Gallery Bethesda

by Joseph Hawkins — October 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm 272 14 Comments

Board of Education candidates forum last week in Potomac

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

On Nov. 4 and starting Thursday with early voting, Montgomery County voters will choose four Board of Education candidates. Even though some Board candidates run in assigned districts, voters are allowed to vote for all Board candidates. Excluding the student member, the Board is comprised of seven members.

Traditionally, county voters ignore casting a vote for the Board candidates.

Joseph HawkinsGiven the fact that our public school system typically accounts for almost half of the county’s budget (more than $2 billion dollars), that type of voter apathy needs to change.

Please, please vote for Board of Education on Nov. 4.

Here is a link to the sample Montgomery County ballot, which includes Board candidates. And here is a separate link to relevant campaign information on the candidates.

Bethesda voters fall into District 3. Our current Board member is Pat O’Neil, who is being challenged by Laurie Halverson.

I wish I had time to devote to each of the eight Board candidates. I also wish I had time to get crazed about the issues — overcrowded schools and the achievement gap are just two.

I decided I would go another route by getting personal with the District 3 candidates. I asked Pat and Laurie, via email, the following question:


by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 11:20 am 249 0

   Check out the condos, townhouses and homes that sold last week in Bethesda and Chevy Chase: 5500 Friendship Boulevard; 0 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $229,999; Sale…

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 9:00 am 429 0

Plastic Surgeon Accused Of Sexual Assault – Chevy Chase plastic surgeon Dr. Hadi Rassael lost his medical license two weeks ago after being accused of sexual assault by two of his…


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