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Young Professionals! Did You Know?

There will be a Happy Hour at Tommy Joe's on Wednesday April 30th sponsored by Greater Greater Washington, the Congress for New Urbanism's DC Chapter and YIPPS. You are invited to come relax, network and even talk about Downtown Bethesda's Future if you like. We will be there to listen; and share insights on ways to make a difference.


Happy Sun


Come to the May 17th Saturday Workshop

Join us for the May 17th workshop. Please save this date. We will provide more information soon. It will be at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in the morning. We are busy getting ready.

Open House Draws Many

Many of you came to find out about the planning process and see our work so far.
We are still in the middle of the planning process. The Draft Plan is scheduled to go to the Planning Board starting in Fall 2014. There is still time to weigh in. Last night, people asked questions and discussed their ideas and concerns with planners. Both newcomers and long-time participants attended: residents and development professionals. Representatives from the Woodmont Triangle Action Group and the Arts and Entertainment District Board were there as well.

Two of the guests at the open house conversing about the future of Bethesda and its Districts.

Two People at Open House


A first time participant who is a member of the community (and an urban planner) adds her comments to a growing list.

.. An Urban Planner from the Community

People saw:

  • A new diagram that shows the prevailing thoughts about subareas, centers and connections.
  • Updated posters of existing conditions and what we have heard so far.

There were several questions displayed on posters. People could respond with colored dots. The questions were:

  • Which are your highest priority districts to focus on? The map below shows miodifications to the 1994 Plan's division of the area into districts.

highest Priority Districts


  • What do you want outdoors? (Show us your priorities.) The most popular were "A place with grass and strees and benches" and "A place to gather with friends". We know this isn't a proper social scientist's survey, but it does help us to know you and your priorities.
  • Which one way streets should be two way?
  • Which streets should be closed to cars for special events?

We will post questions online in the upcoming months to find out more about what you would like Bethesda to be like in the future.


A discussion about crosswalks with Matt Folden, the planning team's expert on transportation..

Matt and residents


Downtown Bethesda: What's Next?

This fresh look at Downtown Bethesda serves as a twenty year checkup, to assess with the community what is great about Downtown Bethesda and what could be better. This is an opportunity for the community, property owners and business owners to refine our vision for a successful Downtown Bethesda. This also involves revisiting the current Plan’s recommendations. Plans address land use and density; urban design and character, open space, mobility, as well as environmental quality. The work on the Plan will be organized around three themes: social sustainability, economic sustainabiliy and environmental sustainability.We ask you all to join us in a shared commitment to: collaboration, creativity and integrity as we move forward together in our work.

The forthcoming Bethesda Downtown Plan will update the1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Planand the2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to that Sector Plan

Zoning Rewrite Project: Better Tools

Planners have rewritten the Zoning Code to modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations, and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans, such as the Bethesda Downtown Plan. You are invited to attend an open house in Bethesda that focusses specifically on the Zoning Rewrite Project. We will use some of these new tools to implement plan recommendations in the future Bethesda Downtown Plan. At this open house which focuses solely on the Zoning Rewrite Project for the entire County, Staff will be on hand with interactive maps to help answer questions. As we move forward with the planning for Bethesda Downtown we will discuss implementation and the use of such new tools, in detail.

May 6 (6-8pm) B-CC Regional Services Center, Bethesda

News Release

The Bethesda Downtown Plan Needs You!

Check out how you can get involved with the Planning Department's Bethesda Downtown Plan and help shape the future of the heart of Bethesda for the next 20 years!

Reaching Resident Millennials

Well known local blog, BethesdaNow, reported on our March 1st workshop noting the successful draw of 130 participants but questioned who was largely missing. "But mostly missing were millennials, the 20- to 34-year-olds who the Planning Department says make up 40 percent of the roughly 10,610 residents of the 450-acre downtown Bethesda area," wrote Aaron Kraut. "Planners counted six of them at the March 1 meeting." See the entire BethesdaNow article here.

Part of the crowd at the March 1 "Design Workshop" for the Planning Department's Downtown Bethesda Plan

The March 1 workshop was well attended. Here, Robert Kronenberg of the Planning Department serves as the facilitator for a group. Residents, property owners and development professionals participated. Photo from BethesdaNow.

March 1st Workshop - Recap

Over 130 people attended a workshop on the Bethesda Downtown Plan. Watch the short recap video below to find out what happened at this event hosted by the Montgomery Planning Department. Here are the maps and drawings used by the participants to answer four questions:

  • What do you want to be able to Bike to in Downtown Bethesda?
  • Where should there be more Green Space in Downtown Bethesda?
  • Where is it Most Difficult to Cross the Street in Downtown Bethesda?
  • Where is the Heart of Downtown Bethesda?

Their answers will help to inform the recommendations of the plan. There are also drawings prepared by each of fourteen small groups. They are being used to inform our work creating several big picture alternatives. Those alternatives will be provided for community discussion as a next step.

Bethesda Downtown Plan Briefing Book Just Released

This compact but comprehensive review covers where Bethesda has been in terms of history and development and outlines today's conditions, from historic resources, to transportation, parks, and environment to demographics.

Download Briefing Book (40MB).



Existing Conditions
Historic Resources
Social and Cultural Resources
Transportation and Access
Parks, Open Spaces and Trails
Urban Design
Landuse and Development
Economic and Market Data
Plans and Policies
Planning Framework
Additional Studies

Help Engage The Missing Millennials !

We had wonderful participation at the March 1 Workshop which was attended by approximately 130 people. The Baby Boomers came out in force and are to be applauded. The six Millennials and twenty-one Gen-X'ers who came get special kudos as well.

However, did you know that:

  • 40 percent of the residents of Downtown Bethesda are Millennials (age 20-34)? >
  • 20 percent are Gen-X'ers?
  • 26 percent of the workers in Downtown Bethesda are under the age of 30?
  • 30 percent consider themselves to be of a "non-white" race?

So, we thank you for being involved and hope that you will help us engage the missing. We welcome your:

  • Insights and ideas;
  • Offers to host an activity;
  • Willingness to encourage others to sign up for the E-Mail List or come to a future event.

Group of People in Bethesda

As seen here, Bethesda is enjoyed by a wide range of people. Many are local residents and workers. With your help, we are finding ways to ensure that this planning process engages good representation of the Bethesda community.

Interesting.....Interested? Find More Here:

Your Thoughts and Concerns
Ideas and Images

How You Can Participate and Stay Connected...

Join our e-mail list

Follow us on Twitter @bethesdaplanner #bethesdadowntownplan

Write to us at

Meet with us in our offices in Silver Spring, or in Bethesda, or at your own group's meeting. Contact us to schedule.

Come to public meetings, workshops and other outreach events

Elza Hisel-McCoy, Assoc. AIA, LEED-AP, Project Manager 301 495 2115
Questions and to arrange a meeting with us

Marc DeOcampo, AIA, LEED-AP, Master Planner-Supervisor 301 495 4556

Margaret K. Rifkin, AICP, RLA, Outreach 301 495 4583
Public Meetings, Website & Social Media Content

Matt Folden, Transportation 301 495 4538

Tina Schneider, Environment 301 495 2101

John Marcolin, RLA, LEED-AP, Urban Design 301 495 4547


Let us know what you think


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Last updated: April 16, 2014