BETHESDA, MD – In yet another concession to Montgomery County’s wealthier residents, County Executive Marc Elrich proposed creating 10,000 affordable apartments to be built inside the newly constructed underground Purple Line tunnels.
“It’s an obvious solution that solves two problems,” said Elrich. “It appeases our extremely vocal longtime residents who don’t want to see change in their neighborhoods, and it allows me to prove that I’m not opposed to high density development. Checkmate, YIMBYs.”
Elrich’s new housing proposal, Subterranean Housing In Transit Tunnels (SHITT) comes after his recent suggestion to reduce Purple Line costs by single-tracking the system under Bethesda, creating extra space and funds to solve the county’s housing shortage. While developers prefer to build housing above ground, Elrich has offered to eliminate virtually all zoning regulations and expedite the building permit process for projects proposed underground. To shore up support from his environmentalist base, however, he has pledged to require all tunnel housing to include solar panels.
While developers were generally optimistic about Elrich’s proposal, Smart Growth and housing advocates were disappointed. “Let’s be honest – he caved to wealthy residents,” said County Councilmember Hans Riemer. “He dug himself in a deep hole by not having a real plan for affordable housing, and now he’s doing anything he can to worm his way out by burying the issue. He has sunk to a new low. Puns intended!”
Already on a roll with creative ideas to locate affordable housing far from wealthier neighborhoods, but still near transit, Elrich also proposed closing the outer loop of the Beltway in Montgomery County to convert it into a tiny house trailer park, and allowing accessory apartments in the median of 270.