Who’s speaking out against Montgomery County’s plan to Thrive? – Greater Greater Washington – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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Protesters opposing the Thrive 2050 plan in November 2021. by the author.

Montgomery County council members are currently reviewing Thrive 2050, a “plan for other plans” that will guide zoning and policy decisions in the coming years. It updates the county’s General Plan, first written in 1964, and tackles some of the big issues of our time: climate change, segregated neighborhoods and schools, skyrocketing home prices, and a sluggish economy.

Council members may finally pass Thrive, even as a group of residents tries to stall or block it, arguing that there hasn’t been enough community input. It appears, however, that opponents want more say for themselves — not the increasingly diverse residents who need to be heard the most.

New townhomes near downtown Silver Spring. Image by the author.

Of Thrive’s recommendations, one that’s gotten the most attention is allowing more affordable duplexes, townhomes, and apartments in areas where you can only build a single-family house.

Thrive doesn’t change zoning, but it would empower the county to allow more homes in areas near transit or major roads. The plan ties this to racial equity — noting that single-family zoning was created to keep Black people out of white, affluent neighborhoods and that today, wealthy neighborhoods use zoning to block more affordable homes. Planners also sug

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