From the County Council Office of Valerie Ervin

Dear Resident, 


On March 7, the Montgomery County Council's district boundaries changed as a result of redistricting.  Every ten years, the Council appoints a Redistricting Commission to review and define the five councilmanic district boundaries based on data from the United States Census Bureau.  After public input, the Council approved the Commission's 2011 recommended maps last fall.  I applaud the members of the Redistricting Commission for their work, which produced districts that were compact, continuous, equal in population, and contained roughly similar communities of interest.

Council District 5 now covers the southeast and eastern portion of the county generally surrounding U.S. Route 29, including Silver Spring and Takoma Park.  The district also shares borders with the District of Columbia, Howard and Prince George's counties.  Briggs Chaney, Burnt Mills, Burtonsville, Calverton, Cloverly, Colesville, Fairland, Four Corners, Lyttonsville, Hillandale and White Oak are also part of the district. To look at the new District 5, as well as the other councilmanic district maps, click here.

The Council is currently deep into its review of the Capital Improvements Budget and is beginning work on the County Executive's budget recommendations for fiscal year 2013. The Council is conducting a series of public hearings on the operating budget on April 10, 11 and 12.  If you would like to comment but cannot make it to a hearing, please write to the Council at or call 240-777-7803 for more information.

Finally, I am regularly providing my constituents with updates on my activities throughout the county on Twitter.  Follow me on Twitter @ValerieErvin.  



Valerie Ervin  

Valerie Ervin  


District 5 boundaries  

The Bus Stops Here
School Bus Cameras Press Conference

During the last session of the General Assembly, the State authorized local jurisdictions to place cameras on school buses for the purposes of detecting vehicles passing stopped school buses.  I worked with the School Board, Police Department and SEIU Local 500 to draft Bill 37-11, Motor Vehicles and Traffic School Bus Safety Cameras, which authorizes the placement of school bus safety cameras on county school buses.  I was the lead sponsor of this bill, which received unanimous Council support on March 6.  

Passing a stopped school bus is one of the most dangerous and serious vehicle offenses.  As the Council's representative on the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, I introduced this bill because I believe it is a natural outgrowth of our Pedestrian Safety Initiative and our Safe Routes to School program.

In Montgomery County, our school buses travel 100,000 miles each day.  This distance represents four trips around the equator.  Along the route, our school buses make more than 34,500 stops per day.  For every one of those stops and miles traveled, our school bus drivers work day in and day out to ensure that our children get to and from school in a safe manner.  

A Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) survey released in March 2011 reported that in a single day in February, 7,028 drivers overtook stopped buses in Maryland. MCPS Transportation reports that more than 1,200 violations have been reported over a three-year period and approximately 20 bus routes had at least 10 or more reported violations.  

The goal of this new law is to change the behavior of drivers who currently ignore traffic laws intended to keep our students safe while traveling on school buses.  A public education campaign will be developed for drivers prior to any citations being issued.  If a driver is photographed overtaking a stopped school bus the fine may be up to $250.   

I want to especially recognize school bus drivers Bob Herron and Michael White as well as David Rodich from SEIU Local 500 for bringing this important issue to my attention. 

No Boundaries: Howard County Executive
Ken Ulman    


No Boundaries episodeMy most recent episode of the "No Boundaries" television series features a conversation with Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.  Focusing on our shared issues is even more important now that my district extends north to the Howard County line.

In this episode, County Executive Ulman and I talk about our advocacy at the state level, the daily activities of local government, access to healthcare and managing transportation demands.  I want to especially thank Cuba De Ayer on Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville for hosting the taping and for their hospitality.  

Click here to watch the most recent episode with County Executive Ulman.

In case you missed them, below are the previous "No Boundaries" episodes:

Celebrating Black History Month       


Black History Month
I was proud to recognize Black History Month with a proclamation at the County Council celebrating the legacy of historically African American communities in our county.  During the late 1800s-early 1900s approximately 40 communities in the county were settled by freed slaves.  The creation of these communities was filled with many challenges, but these communities thrived in spite of these obstacles.  Montgomery County is rich in historical resources that tell the story of these communities, including the Underground Railroad, the Oakley Cabin in Sandy Spring, and churches--often the first community building constructed by freed blacks.  

On February 22, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at Montgomery College's "Sister Citizen: Black Women in American Culture and History" event.  My remarks focused on how to stand up straight in politics as an African American woman, drawing inspiration from the book Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry.  I firmly believe that one of the most important lessons for young people to learn is how to lead their lives with integrity.  This forum was an opportunity to celebrate our achievements while also serving as an inspiration for our students who will be the next generation to shape America.  A clip from the event can be viewed on YouTube.  

National School Breakfast Week: March 5-9 

Summer Lunch Program
Many of our youngest, most vulnerable residents would go hungry without programs like Universal School Breakfast and Summer Food. 

As Chair of the County Council's Education Committee, I continue to advocate for programs like these because I know many children depend on the meals they receive at school as their primary source of nutrition--especially since approximately 32 percent (44,000) of Montgomery County Public Schools students qualify for Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs), a poverty indicator and a figure that may be higher due to underreporting.

Universal School Breakfast removes the poverty stigma by offering breakfast to all students.  I will continue to move this initiative forward because I know that if our students are hungry, it is a challenge for them to learn.

Bullying Prevention 

As Chair of the Education Committee and a former School Board member, I know the importance of the physical and psychological well-being of our children.  

In the United States, bullying among children and teenagers has often been dismissed as a normal part of growing up.  Little attention has been paid to the effects of bullying, or to the connection between bullying and other forms of violence.  However, students and adults around the country have begun to make a commitment to stop bullying in their schools and communities.  Bullying prevention is a movement that touches every community and now is the time to take action.  

In February, I moderated a symposium on Bullying in our Schools: Prevention and Intervention Strategies at the Silver Spring Civic Building.  Participants included the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Montgomery County Public Schools teachers and staff, and students.  Participants and attendees were exposed to a wide array of information and resources on bullying to help educate members of the community.
Big Box Stores and Community Compatibility  
I continue to advocate for development that is compatible with our County's vision for the future.  I am the lead sponsor on zoning text amendment 12-02 that requires combined retail stores, which include full line grocery stores and pharmacies, which are larger than 50,000 square feet to be approved through the special exception process.  Currently, combined retail uses are regulated when the store is 120,000 square feet of gross floor area or larger.  

It is clear that these large combination retail establishments, often called big box stores, create unique and intensive land uses that often are not compatible with the principles of smart growth.  Several studies from around the country demonstrate that big box retail stores generate excessive pedestrian and vehicle traffic, contribute to suburban sprawl and many times are incompatible with neighboring properties.  For these reasons local governments around the country and in our region have passed laws to regulate these stores.  

The challenge for the County Council is to strike the right balance between the idea that any type of growth is good versus no growth. Our goal should be to match growth with smart growth principles and the vision we want for our County. Over time, the County continues to lose its green-field development sites and retailers are looking at infill locations that abut residential areas.      

The special exception process, which allows for neighbor and community input, is designed to produce development that is compatible with neighboring property owners and can control factors such as hours of operation, setbacks, lighting and noise.  An application can be denied when the attributes of a particular location make the burdens of the use a detriment to surrounding properties.

ZTA 12-02 would put the County's regulations more in line with that of surrounding jurisdictions, such as the Alexandria, Arlington County, and the City of Rockville.  Click here for additional information (PDF file).