The County Executive has committed to making Montgomery County a thriving place for all communities and generations. His policy priorities have focused on the following areas:
- Greater Responsiveness & Accountability
- Providing Safe Streets & Secure Neighborhoods
- Healthy & Sustainable Communities
- Keeping Montgomery Moving
- Preparing Children to Live & Learn
- Ensuring Vital Living for All of Our Residents
- Affordable Housing in an Inclusive Community
- An Effective & Efficient Transportation Network
<img data-cke-saved-src="/NighttimeEconomy/Resources/Images/rio.jpg" src="/NighttimeEconomy/Resources/Images/rio.jpg" alt="Rio" style="float: right; margin: 3px 8px 3px 0;width=" 223"="" height="152">Aligning with his priorities, the County Executive launched the New Montgomery Initiative in January 2013 to better position Montgomery County for greater success. It reflects his vision for a 21st century community that is innovation-driven, transit-friendly, connected, and multi-generational. A thriving nighttime economy is an opportunity to enhance Montgomery County’s attractiveness to all generations, businesses, and visitors.
By establishing the Nighttime Economy Task Force, the County can systemically examine the following questions and opportunities:
- What kind of mix of business, entertainment, and arts would make a vibrant and attractive urban center?
- How do we attract businesses in defined geographic areas that appeal to multiple generations?
- What are the national trends and models on nighttime economy?
- How do we develop local models to enhance the County’s nighttime offerings in its urban centers?
Therefore, the County will address these concerns through the creation of a Nighttime Economy Task Force.
To develop creative placemaking opportunities and sensible policies which encourage an increased nighttime social life for residents, employees, and visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
The Nighttime Economy Task Force will examine policies, resources, and amenities that address Montgomery County’s nightlife offerings. Specifically, the Task Force will address policies that can boost entertainment offerings throughout the County and increase financial prospects for employment and business development while also helping to enhance the sense of community throughout the diverse areas that comprise our County.
Definition and Key Elements
A nighttime economy is the product of an integrated restaurant-bar-retail-entertainment area. It is part of building a 24-hour community. A true nighttime economy should have an array of activities which appeal to multiple demographic cohorts at different times throughout the night.
Establishments and facilities commonly associated with the nighttime economy include restaurants, bars, cafes, lounges, performance venues, retail, and public spaces, including those with programmed activity. The Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) Model includes Six Core Elements (the seventh was added by Montgomery County) of a nighttime economy:
(1) Entertainment – including dining/social/performance venues, events, talent retention, marketing, and assessment of the economic impact of these offerings.
(2) Public Use & Amenities – including geographic boundaries, multi-use sidewalks, outdoor dining, street performers, vendors/kiosks, food trucks, public markets, pedestrian safety and access, ADA compliance, lighting, and panhandling issues.
(3) Quality of Life – including housing that is affordable, noise control, soundproofing of venues, trash and cigarette pick-up, and communications with the public.
(4) Transportation – including nighttime transportation services and amenities, safe rides, shared rides, valet parking, taxi services, parking lot safety, and DUI prevention.
(5) Public Safety – including crime prevention, understanding issues related to closing times and crowds.
(6) Venue Operations & Safety – including liquor laws, safety plans, server training, security training, patron behavior, age identification, and safety alliances.
(7) Business Engagement – including the permitting process, customer service training, identification of nightlife networks, hours of operation, and business incentives.
Scope and Deliverables
Due to the limited time the Task Force has to execute its mission, the group will focus its efforts on the following communities for its Phase 1 work, including Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, Wheaton, and Germantown, representing a diverse spectrum of communities. The Task Force will complete a written report to include:
- Research: The Task Force will gather information that is available or that is needed to better plan and allocate resources for hospitality zone economic development and public safety management.
- Policy: Public and business practices will be identified that need to be improved or developed to more efficiently enable businesses to operate safe and legal enterprises.
- Marketing & Education: Education gaps will be addressed through a training plan for all sectors including hospitality business owners, government agency staff, community representatives, and the general public who patronize nighttime businesses.
- Compliance: Processes will be identified that are needed or that can be enhanced to increase compliance, maintain public order, and sustain responsible business practices.
- Community Engagement: The community will be engaged through a series of forums throughout the County to ensure that all voices have been heard and all ideas have been vetted. In addition, a regional leadership forum will be developed to share best practices.
The Task Force will report to the Chief Administrative Office prior to submitting the report to the County Executive for consideration and suggested implementation methods.
Task Force Membership
Task Force members have been nominated from members of the community as well as County departments. They have been appointed by the County Executive and will be asked to take on leadership roles both on specific issues and for the Task Force as a whole. The Task Force will be led by a Chair and Vice Chair who will oversee issue groups that cover the defined seven core elements discussed above. Members of the Task Force will be assigned to each issue group. Additional representatives will come from the County Council staff and local municipalities, and other members of the community will be involved through issue group meetings or through community forums that will be established to vet recommendations from the Task Force.
The Task Force will be supported by the following team of County staff liaisons who will be ex-officio members. The staff team’s roles are to help the Chair and Vice Chair move the agenda forward to ensure the Task Force’s success, provide administrative support where needed, and communicate its work to the Office of the County Executive:
- Lead Staff: Ana Lopez van Balen, Mid-County Regional Director
- Kathie Durbin, Chief, Department of Liquor Control
- Gabe Albornoz, Director, Department of Recreation
- Dan Hoffman, Chief Innovation Officer
The Task Force reports to the Office of the County Executive through Lily Qi, who serves as the County Executive's liaison to the Task Force.
The Task Force is expected to complete its policy recommendations within six months of its first meeting.