FACT CHECK: Hans Riemer's Big Lie About Last Week's Renters Alliance Forum


Rockville, Md., Jan. 10, 2022 -- In a campaign fundraising email distributed Sunday, Jan. 9, Hans Riemer wrote about the Jan. 5 Montgomery County Renters Alliance Forum in which David Blair, candidate for Montgomery County Executive, participated. Riemer, a term-limited County Councilmember also running for County Executive, wrote:

“...[David] Blair came out swinging against Thrive 2050, paying some lip service to some elements but going hard against “missing middle” housing…”

This is false. Blair repeatedly stated his support for Thrive Montgomery 2050 - the rewrite of Montgomery County’s general plan - during the forum, which is available to watch here.

“Montgomery County residents and voters expect and deserve elected officials who are focused on moving our community forward. To achieve that, there’s no room for misrepresenting a campaign opponent’s words for perceived political gain,” Blair said. “The truth has long been the standard in Montgomery County and it’s one of the reasons we are among the best places to live in the country. It’s disappointing that one of my opponents chose to so clearly deviate from the truth.”

Here are Blair’s comments on Thrive Montgomery 2050, in chronological order, during last week’s forum:

Blair on addressing the county’s affordable housing shortage - “You’re probably familiar with the Thrive plan. There’s many things about that that I particularly like, including their focus on affordable housing and the idea of the 15-minute community. In other words, how we should strive to make more of our housing walkable and accessible to quality transit, community gathering places, shopping, jobs, etc.”

Blair on Thrive and how the County has conveyed the plan to the public - “As I alluded to earlier, there are a lot of things I really like in the Thrive plan about creating affordable housing and creating the 15-minute community. I think those are phenomenal. And I also know that we have many homes that need to be built. I think if there’s one issue about the Thrive plan that causes the most friction it’s allowing for duplexes, triplexes within a mile radius of the Metros. As I’ve been out there, meeting with residents, there’s a lot of concern about that and are these units going to be compatible? But at the end of the day, [duplexes] won’t move the needle. We’ve got 31,000 units to build. We need to be building thousands of units around the Purple Line corridor, some of the Metro sites that I mentioned earlier. Not just converting single-family homes to duplexes. I don’t think that’s going to get us there. So that would be my one concern about it.”

Blair responds to Councilmember Riemer misrepresenting his position on Thrive during the forum - “Councilmember Riemer, I am in favor of Thrive. If there’s one thing I’d be critical of, I’d call it the duplexes around the Metro is where I hear the most criticism. And the reality is, it’s not going to move the needle. If you look over the past 10 years, on average, we’ve approved 26 duplexes per year. We’re short 31,000 new units, right? Even when we think about the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) - phenomenal idea, lots of activity - but progress? We didn’t see the results. In fact, in three years, I think we’ve seen those ADUs, we have essentially the same number of ADUs now, today that we did in March 2019 when you all worked so hard to get that passed. This goes back to what I said: Let’s not confuse activity with progress.”

Blair on whether Thrive will help advance affordable, stable, quality rental housing - “Thrive is good for renters. This is good for renters because there will be more housing. Specifically, there will be new units that are affordably-priced and these units will be safer. So when you go through the plan, we’re going to eliminate dangerous traffic arteries, they’ll be more walkable. They’ll have better access to transit, communities, gathering places, and most importantly - and we’ve talked about this - jobs….That’s what Thrive is about and bottom line is it’s good for renters.”

Media Contact: Aaron Kraut, Communications Director, aaron@blairformontgomery.com and 301-602-2356.