Spring is here!

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by Dave Humpton, EVP

Changing of the MVF Board
The voters have cast their ballots. Two new MVF Board members were elected, Jim Marsh and Laura Franke, and one incumbent, Scott Dyer, returns for another term. Thank you to the Nominating and Election committees and all the volunteers who participated in the vote count on Saturday, March 5. Special thanks go to the MVF staff for coordinating and supporting the nominations and election process as well.
Linda Moore and Ricardo Camacho should be recognized for serving on the MVF Board. They gave of their time and talent and truly made a difference to our community. The three recently elected Board members will be installed during the MVF Annual meeting at
8 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 at North Creek Community Center, 20125 Arrowhead Road. See you there.

Legislative News
Several legislative initiatives that affect our community continue through the county process. These include:
Montgomery County Bill 50-15 Update (Changes to the CCOC) - At a joint committee work session on March 10, members of the Planning Housing and Economic Development Committee, and the Public Safety Committee met with representatives from the County Executive’s Office, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA), the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), and the Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC) to further discuss matters raised at a public hearing before the full county council on January 21.

At the committee hearing, the two committees discussed and affirmed their support of two primary aspects of the bill.

First, the committees supported changing the county department responsible for overseeing and staffing the CCOC from the Office of Consumer Protection to the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The current position supporting the CCOC would move to DHCA, and additional staff would be determined through DHCD’s budget process.

Second, the committees supported the provision in Bill 50-15 requiring mandatory mediation. The rationale for this support appeared to be that the bill formalized the long-standing current practice of the commission, based on testimony from OCP.
The committees rejected the other primary change suggested in Bill 50-15, i.e., to add a third category of commissioners—members generally representing the public—to the two current categories, which are (i) residents of common ownership communities, and (ii) members of the professions serving community associations. The proposal to change the composition was accompanied by a proposal to have the five general public members serve as the Panel Chairs of the dispute resolution panels, instead of the current practice of having volunteer attorneys chair the panels.

While the committees rejected this change, retaining the two membership categories and the volunteer attorney panel chairs, there was consensus to add a provision to the bill prohibiting attorneys who serve as panel chairs from representing clients in disputes before the commission.

There was also consensus to add a provision to the bill requiring CCOC commissioners to complete the training that is now required by county law for HOA and Condo board members.

The full county council is expected to consider the revised Bill 50-15 at one of its Tuesday sessions in the next few weeks.

Montgomery County Bill 2-16 and ZTA 16-03 (Permitting short-term rentals) - This legislative package, Zoning Text Amendment 16-03 and Bill 2-16, would permit short term rentals in Montgomery County, such as those being arranged through the internet sites Airbnb and HomeAway. At its February 2016 meeting, the MVF Board adopted a position opposing the bill, unless it could be amended to protect property owners from negative impacts such as insufficient parking, and effects of exceeding occupancy limits.

The county council’s public hearing on the bills was held on March 8. The approximately 17 opponents who testified included the Planning Board; many representatives of single family communities who echoed MVF’s concerns; and condominium owners who mentioned express security and financial concerns for condominiums. Several opponents also testified that the basis of their opposition was that the county would be facilitating business for Airbnb, who was criticized for operating in the West Bank of Israel, contributing to the conflict in that area.

Supporters of the bill included the online travel booking service Expedia, represented by prominent lobbyist Bruce Bereano; two residents who felt their Airbnb rental properties near NIH provided valuable affordable housing options; a developer planning a bed and breakfast facility in the county; and a business that promotes internet commerce.

Recognizing the number of issues raised, the need to study solutions and the need to address current operation of Airbnb in the county, Council President Floreen assured residents that the county council would allow sufficient time for more input, and that a work session on the bills would not be scheduled until sometime in June.