The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.

Posts by Dan Reed

Dan Reed is an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard. He writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own. 

Development


Scarred by urban renewal, Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood gets a second chance

Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood has a rich history, but urban renewal nearly destroyed it. With the Purple Line coming, this historically-black community could get a second chance, but not everybody looks forward to it.


Urban renewal nearly destroyed Lyttonsville in the 1970s. Photo by Alan Bowser.

Located west of the Red Line tracks from downtown Silver Spring, Lyttonsville is one of Montgomery County's oldest neighborhoods, founded in 1853 by freed slave Samuel Lytton. The area could soon be home to a Purple Line station if the light-rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton opens as scheduled in 2022.

Over the past two years, Montgomery County planners crafted a vision for a small town center around the future Lyttonsville station, bringing affordable housing and retail options the community lacks. Some residents are deeply skeptical of what's called the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan, though it could restore the town center Lyttonsville lost long ago.

A rough history

During the early 20th century, a thriving main street developed along Brookville Road, including schools, churches, and a cemetery. As surrounding areas became suburban neighborhoods exclusively for white residents, the black Lyttonsville community lacked public services like running water and paved roads. For decades, its only connection to Silver Spring was a wooden, one-lane bridge that remains today.

In the 1970s, the county seized much of the area, destroying Lyttonsville's main street and replacing much of it with an industrial park, a Ride On bus lot, and storage for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Many of the older homes were replaced with large garden apartment complexes.


This wooden bridge was once the only way in and out of Lyttonsville. Photo by the author.

Today, Lyttonsville is a racially diverse community, and sought-after for its location between Silver Spring and Bethesda and being in the vaunted Bethesda-Chevy Chase school catchment. But one out of ten residents lives in poverty, compared to 6.9% of residents countywide. Lyttonsville is hard to access by any form of transportation, isolating its residents from nearby jobs.

Some residents claim the county's plan will continue a legacy of destructive planning decisions. They're worried about traffic and density, about getting redistricted out of the B-CC cluster, and that the area's affordable apartments could get replaced with luxury housing. Others are wary of the Purple Line after fighting off plans to locate a storage yard in the neighborhood.

Charlotte Coffield, who grew up in Lyttonsville during segregation and whose sister Gwendolyn fought to bring services to the area (the local community center is named for her), has emerged as one of the biggest critics. "All [Purple Line] stations do not need to be town centers," she wrote in a letter to the county planning board. "The proposed density would destroy the stable character and balance of our ethnically diverse neighborhood." Last week, the Lyttonsville Community Civic Association, where she is president, voted to accept no more than 400 new homes in the area.

New development in Lyttonsville

Bethesda-based developer EYA, which is currently building townhomes next to the future Chevy Chase Lake Purple Line station, has an alternate proposal for Lyttonsville that could address residents' concerns. The biggest land parcels in the area are owned by several different property owners, including multiple government agencies, each with their own plans. Some want to build lots of new homes, while WSSC has a large site that they intend to leave alone.


EYA's vision for Lyttonsville.

EYA has reached out to several landowners about coordinating, allowing development on a combined 33-acre site to happen together. First, they would partner with WSSC to build several hundred affordable apartments and townhomes on their property. Residents of existing apartments could move there first without getting displaced. Then, EYA would partner with the two non-profits who own the affordable apartments to redevelop them with market-rate townhomes. The county would restrict building heights to 70 feet.

Next to the Lyttonsville station itself, EYA envisions a plaza surrounded by market-rate apartments, 30,000 square feet of retail space (about half the size of a Giant supermarket), and a small business incubator modeled on Baltimore's Open Works that would offer job training to local residents.

Public art would promote the area's history, while Rosemary Hills Park would get a small addition. Local streets where drivers speed today would get traffic calming and new pedestrian and bicycle connections.

The $500 million proposal addresses most of the neighbors' concerns. EYA seeks to build 1200 new homes on the land, compared to the nearly 1700 the county would allow there. (What Montgomery County wants to allow in Lyttonsville is still less dense than plans for other Purple Line stations, including Long Branch and Chevy Chase Lake.) One-third of the new homes would be set aside for low-income households, and every existing affordable apartment would be replaced.


Lyttonsville's future Purple Line station. Image from MTA.

"The county can leave a legacy for how you can build Smart Growth," says Evan Goldman, VP of Land Acquisition and Development at EYA, stressing that the private development could help pay for the public amenities neighbors want. "There's only so much [public benefits] this can afford," he adds. "If you reduce the units so you can't pay for the benefits, the public benefits won't come."

Can the proposal actually work?

Residents I've spoken to like EYA's proposal, but are skeptical if it can happen. This project could have a transformative effect on Lyttonsville, but only if all of these partners agree to it. Recent experience in Shady Grove suggests finding new locations for the Ride On bus lot or WSSC's facility may be difficult.

"If EYA can execute its plan, there are more upsides," says resident Abe Saffer, "but since they don't have any letters of intent or partnerships firmly in place, I remain nervous."

The Montgomery County Council will hold two public hearings on the Lyttonsville Sector Plan next week in Rockville. Here's where you can sign up. If the plan is approved, the county would then have to approve EYA's proposal, which could then start construction in 2020 and take 10 to 15 years to get built.

Events


Join us for happy hour on Tuesday!

It's happy hour time again! Tuesday night, from 6 to 8 pm, we'll be enjoying local beer and pizza at Fire Works, located at 2350 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington. And after you get the details on that, check out other chances to get involved in your community offline!


Photo by beyrouth on Flickr.

We're hosting this happy hour in collaboration with the Association for Commuter Transportation Chesapeake Chapter, an international trade association that advocates for commuter transportation options. You can meet some of their board and members and learn how they're helping to improve transportation in our region.

Fire Works is just two blocks from the Court House Metro station (Orange and Silver lines), though you can also take Metrobus 38B or ART routes 41, 45, or 77. The nearest Capital Bikeshare stations are at the Court House Metro station and at Wilson Boulevard and North Barton Street, two blocks away.

Will we see you there? Click here to RSVP.

Can't make it? Check out these other great events this week, including a status update from WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and transit experts.

Tuesday, September 20: Paul Wiedefeld has been the General Manager of WMATA for almost 12 months. If you can't make it out to GGWash's happy hour in Arlington, consider joining Coalition for Smarter Growth at 6:00 pm (doors at 5:30) at 640 Massachusetts Avenue for a special progress check with him. What is happening at Metro? Where do we go from here? RSVP now, space is limited. This event is co-sponsored by Georgetown University's School of Urban and Regional Planning.

Wednesday, September 21: Brookland residents once led a successful fight against destructive urban highways. Today, the community is fiercely debating transit-oriented development. Join Coalition for Smarter Growth at 6:00 pm this Wednesday to take a closer look at this neighborhood's approach to change. RSVP for more details.

Thursday, September 22: Join the worldwide movement to go car-free by taking part in Car-Free Day this Thursday. Car-free day is an annual movement to get commuters out of their cars and onto transit, bikes, and sidewalks. Think you can do it? Take the pledge today (carpooling is allowed)!

Thursday, September 22: In December, DC took a big step towards dedicated bus lanes on 16th Street NW. Head over to the latest public meeting at 6:30 pm at the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library (3160 16th Street NW) to get an update on the status of the project and share your thoughts.

Next Monday, September 26: Little River Turnpike runs between City of Fairfax and Alexandria. The Fairfax Department of Transportation wants to improve bicycling on the corridor. Share your thoughts at a meeting next Monday at 6:30 pm at Annandale High School (4700 Medford Drive).

Saturday, October 15: Metro wants help putting its trove of data to use; for example, a developer could help customers plan a trip that only went to station entrances with elevators. The agency's Office of Planning is hosting a day-long idea session next month at 600 5th Street NW to talk about what data there is and what needs riders might have, and to work on potential solutions. Attending is free, but make sure to RSVP!

Calendar: Beyond what we've highlighted here, there are many other worthwhile events across the region. Check out more great events in our events calendar:

Do you know of an upcoming event that may be interesting, relevant, or important to Greater Greater Washington readers that should go on our events calendar? Send it to us at events@ggwash.org.

Places


Silver Spring doesn't have actual boundaries. So we asked residents what they were.

As an unincorporated place, Silver Spring's boundaries aren't really defined. So I asked people what their Silver Spring looks like.


What Silver Spring residents say are Silver Spring's boundaries. The darkergreen areas are where people agree. Image by Christy Batta.

Since its founding in the 1840s, Silver Spring has been an unincorporated community, meaning it's not a town or city with official boundaries and local government. As a result, there's disagreement over where the boundaries are. Some only include downtown and neighborhoods inside the Beltway, or what I call "Little Silver Spring." Others have a broader definition that covers much of eastern Montgomery County, or what I call "Big Silver Spring."

Two years ago, local graphic designer Christy Batta and I, working with local marketing company Silver Spring Inc, created this map, which represents all of the Silver Spring zip codes assigned by the US Postal Service. We went to different community events across the area, from Fenton Street Market to a food truck event in Wheaton, and asked people to mark up the map with their personal definition.

We received 66 responses, and Christy merged all of them together to create the image above. (Here's a folder with all of the individual responses.) The darker areas are where more people agree on the boundaries. Most responses fell into four camps:

23 people defined Silver Spring as being entirely inside the Beltway, which includes downtown and adjacent neighborhoods like Woodside Park and East Silver Spring. Some people included Long Branch and Lyttonsville, which are both inside the Beltway but across major barriers like Sligo Creek Park and the Red Line. Others included part or all of the City of Takoma Park. This is basically the Census Bureau's definition of Silver Spring, and includes the oldest parts of the area, built before World War II.

Another 15 people defined Silver Spring as everything south of University Boulevard, which adds Four Corners, Forest Glen, and Wheaton.

A third group of 13 people included everything south of Randolph Road, which includes Glenmont, Kemp Mill, Colesville, and White Oak.

A final group of 15 people basically colored in all of East County, out to the Prince George's County and Howard County lines, including semi-rural places like Burtonsville and Cloverly. A few of these people threw in parts of surrounding counties and even DC.

The maps suggest a couple of different themes. One is that people use major roads or natural features like Sligo Creek and Northwest Branch as "mental" boundaries. Another boundary might be changes in the built environment. North of University Boulevard, Silver Spring becomes much more suburban and spread-out in nature, which looks and feels very different than the older, more urban neighborhoods closer in. You can feel it driving north on Colesville Road, which goes from a downtown main street to basically a freeway in just a few miles.



These places are 15 miles apart and very different, but some say they're both Silver Spring. Photos by the author.

A place isn't necessarily defined by what's on a map

Even where places have official boundaries, our idea of that place varies. British researcher Alasdair Rae asked people to draw the boundaries of several cities around the world and found very different interpretations, like maps of New York City that include huge chunks of New Jersey's urban areas.

Of course, New York has actual boundaries. But places like Jersey City or Hoboken might feel "enough" like New York that people include them in their "conception" of New York. Likewise, Silver Spring residents define their boundaries based on what they "see" as their community, whether it's based on physical barriers, look and feel, people, preferred hangouts, or anything else.

How would you define Silver Spring's boundaries?

Events


Our next happy hour is coming up, and there are lots of other events to check out too

Connecting with other Greater Greater Washington writers, commenters, and readers is a great way to engage with the region around you, and we're hosting a happy hour so you can do just that!


Photo by Tim Brown on Flickr.

For our next Greater Greater happy hour, join us Tuesday, September 20 from 6 to 8 pm at Fire Works, located at 2350 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington. Fire Works is known for its pizza, but there's also a solid beer list with some local breweries on it. Click here to RSVP.

This happy hour is sponsored by the Association for Commuter Transportation Chesapeake Chapter, an international trade association that advocates for commuter transportation options. You can meet some of their board and members and learn how they're helping to improve transportation in our region.

Fire Works is just two blocks from the Court House Metro station (Orange and Silver lines), though you can also take Metrobus 38B or ART routes 41, 45, or 77. The nearest Capital Bikeshare stations are at the Court House Metro station and at Wilson Boulevard and North Barton Street, two blocks away.

Can't make it? Check out these other great events this week, including a WMATA status update from general manager Paul Wiedefeld and transit experts.

Next Tuesday, September 20: Paul Wiedefeld has been the general manager of WMATA for almost 12 months. If you can't make it out to GGWash's happy hour in Arlington, consider joining Coalition for Smarter Growth at 6:30pm at 640 Massachusetts Ave for a special progress check with the GM. What is happening at Metro? Where do we go from here? RSVP now, space is limited. This event is co-sponsored by Georgetown University's School of Urban and Regional Planning.

Tuesday, September 13: DC's Department of Transportation has been studying the best way to improve travel between Wards 1 and 5, specifically between Columbia Heights and Brookland. Hear about and give comment on the best two ideas at the final public meeting on the issue this Tuesday. The meeting starts at 6:00 pm at 3101 16th Street NE.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, September 13, 14, 15: Prince George's County is re-writing its zoning laws and wants your input. Share your opinion at one of three meetings, all from 7 pm to 9 pm. On Tuesday, the meeting is at 8001 Sheriff Road in Hyattsville, on Wednesday the meeting is at 16608 Brandywine Road in Brandywine, and on Thursday the meeting at 1909 Corporal Frank Scott Drive in College Park.

Thursday, September 15: In June, Cleveland Park Metro flooded with rainwater. DDOT is holding a meeting this Thursday to address the recurring flooding and talk about improving walking conditions and adding public amenities like bike racks. Share your opinion at the Cleveland Park Library (3310 Connecticut Avenue NW) at 6:30 pm.

Friday, September 16: Park(ing) Day, an annual event to showcase ways to use parking spaces other than just for cars, is coming to the region! All across DC and Montgomery County, some parking spots will be converted into mini, temporary pop-up parks. Don't forget to check a few out!

Saturday, September 17: Falls Church, also known as the "Little City," is adding mid-rise, mixed-use developments to provide new housing, services, and a more solid tax base. Join Coalition for Smarter Growth at 10 am on Saturday as we walk and talk about urban design and the importance of walking and bicycling to the city's future. RSVP for more details.

Next Wednesday, September 21: Brookland residents once led the successful fight against destructive urban highways. Today, the community is fiercely debating transit-oriented development. Join Coalition for Smarter Growth at 6:00pm next Wednesday to take a closer look at how this changing neighborhood is balancing transit-oriented development and growth. RSVP for more details.

Calendar: Beyond what we've highlighted here, there are many other worthwhile events across the region. Check out more great events in our events calendar:

Do you know of an upcoming event that may be interesting, relevant, or important to Greater Greater Washington readers that should go on our events calendar? Send it to us at events@ggwash.org.

Arts


Seeking cheaper space and new audiences, DC artists head to MD and VA

Rockville might seem like an unlikely place for a queer punk show. But for artist and curator Eames Armstrong, hosting a show is a way to connect to local kids who need creative outlets. It's also a sign of how DC's art and music scenes are expanding into Maryland and Virginia.


A not-so-unlikely place for a punk show. Photo by the author.

From Wednesday until October 16, Armstrong will present Noise Body Music, an exhibition of queer and gender non-conforming visual artists and musicians, at VisArts, a non-profit arts center in Rockville Town Square. Next Friday, September 16, there will be a free concert in collaboration with electronic music promoters Select DC featuring musicians from around DC and the nation. The show features what Armstrong calls a "really huge range of sounds," from the "queercore punk" of DC's Homosuperior to Fire-Toolz, a Chicago band they describe as "20 different genres put together." (A closing concert October 16 will bring in Scottish artist FK Alexander.)

The show is part of VisArts' Emerging Curator Program, which pairs budding artists with mentors to craft an exhibition. Armstrong, who recently received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art at George Washington University, wanted to create the kind of show they would have wanted to see as a teenager growing up in Bethesda ten years ago. (Armstrong uses they/their/they're pronouns.)

Montgomery County has long been an extension of the DC punk scene, hosting concerts in church basements and group houses. "I did go to shows and it was such a crucial part of my weekends," says Armstrong. "Occasionally I'd go into the city to Warehouse Next Door, or other venues which have now closed."


Dreamcrusher, one of the artists performing in the Noise Body Music opening party. Photo from http://mwashphoto.tumblr.com.

Going to shows helped Armstrong embrace their queer identity. "As a person who wasn't particularly out in high school, having a queer narrative in visual art and music I didn't know about helped," Armstrong says. "I was wanting to bring those things together."

As part of the Emerging Curator Program, Armstrong led a workshop with local teenagers whose work appears in the show, and was surprised at how progressive they were about LGBT issues. "It sounds really corny, but it's remarkable how much times have changed," says Armstrong.

The Emerging Curator Program, and by extension Noise Body Music, is supported by a grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation. But as space in DC gets more expensive, artists and musicians are increasingly migrating to Maryland and Virginia, where there's lots of cheap, underused space for people to make things. Last year, developer Federal Realty offered up its vacant office space in North Bethesda to an experimental art festival, while the Artomatic unjuried art festival took over a vacant office building in New Carrollton.

"It's probably inevitable that artists are moving ahead of the general population into more affordable areas...it's so expensive," they say, laughing. "I know a lot more folks who are moving to PG County, with the Hyattsville Arts District, and Mount Rainier."

Shows like Noise Body Music also help connect artists and musicians with kids who can't always travel to DC to visit a gallery or see a show. "I hadn't been in Rockville in years...it had changed so much," says Armstrong. "It was really crucial to address in some way my experience growing up there."

"I really want high school students to come," they add. "I've been reaching out to all the [student] newspapers."

Noise Body Music opens Wednesday, September 7 through Sunday, October 16 at VisArts, located at 155 Gibbs Street in Rockville. The opening concert is Friday, September 16 from 7 to 11pm. For more information, visit the VisArts website.

Transit


What's so great about the Purple Line, anyway?

With a recent court decision from a group of opponents delaying the Purple Line once again, it's easy to forget how many people support it, from local environmental groups to Governor Hogan. Let's remember why they fight for this project, and why it will get built one day.


This will get built. Image from Montgomery County.

The Purple Line will be a 16-mile light rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton. It'll connect three Metro lines, all three MARC commuter rail lines, and Amtrak, as well as hundreds of local bus routes. It'll serve two of the region's biggest job centers, Bethesda and Silver Spring, as well as Maryland's flagship university. It'll give Montgomery and Prince George's counties a fast, reliable alternative to current bus service and Beltway traffic.

However, it'll do a lot more than that.

1) It'll make walking and bicycling a lot easier and safer. The Purple Line project includes rebuilding or extending trails across Montgomery and Prince George's counties, building on the area's growing bike network.

The Capital Crescent Trail, which ends two miles outside of Silver Spring, will get fully paved and extended to the Silver Spring Metro station, where it'll connect to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The trail will get a new bridge at Connecticut Avenue and new underpasses at Jones Bridge Road, and 16th Street, so trail users won't have to cross those busy streets.


Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring will get a new trail. Photo by the author.

Streets in other parts of the corridor will get rebuilt with new sidewalks and bike lanes. University Boulevard in Langley Park will get a road diet. Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring will get a new, extended Green Trail.

2) It will let more people live and work near transit more affordably. Metro has its problems, but people still value living in walkable, transit-served neighborhoods. As a result, communities with Metro stations can be very expensive. The Purple Line puts more neighborhoods and more homes near transit, as well as more opportunities to build new homes near transit, helping meet demand and fighting spikes in home prices.


How far you can get by transit from Riverdale today and after the Purple Line is built.

3) It will improve commutes far beyond Bethesda to New Carrollton. The Purple Line will dramatically improve transportation access for people who live or work near one of its 21 stations. But even those whose homes or jobs aren't near the Purple Line may travel through the corridor, getting a faster, more reliable trip.

Right now, a bus trip between Silver Spring and Bethesda can take 20 minutes at rush hour (though in reality it takes much longer due to traffic). On the Purple Line, that trip would take just nine minutes. That's a time savings for anyone passing through the Purple Line corridor, like if you were going from Riverdale (which will have a station) to Rock Spring Business Park in Bethesda (which won't).

4) It's finally bringing investment to some of our most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Communities like Long Branch, Langley Park, and Riverdale have long awaited the kind of amenities more affluent communities take for granted. When Maryland and the federal government agreed to fund the Purple Line, people took notice. Long Branch businesses formed an association.

Riverdale residents and business owners are pushing for a more attractive station. A few blocks away, this ad for a new house being built lists exactly one feature: "located within steps of purple metro line's Beacon Heights Station (officially approved by state of Maryland for 5.6 billion)."

While the Purple Line can help meet the demand for transit-served housing, there are real concerns that home prices may still rise, resulting in gentrification and displacement. That's why residents, business owners, and the University of Maryland partnered on the Purple Line Community Compact, which creates a plan for ensuring that people can afford to stay.

5) We actually don't know everything the Purple Line will do. Transportation planners can estimate how many people will use a transit line, but we can't predict how it will affect people's decisions about where to live, work, shop, or do other things. That's the most exciting part.


Metro helped revitalize Silver Spring. The Purple Line can do this for more communities. Photo by the author.

Metro helped make 14th Street a nightlife destination. It turned Arlington into an economic powerhouse. It transformed Merrifield's warehouses into townhouses. Those changes weren't guaranteed, but as a region we took the risk and it paid off.

We're poised to do the same thing for a new generation of neighborhoods along the Purple Line.

While a recent lawsuit from a group of Chevy Chase residents will has halted the project, transportation officials seem hopeful that this will be a temporary delay. The facts remain that this is a strong project that has major benefits for Maryland.

That's why everyone from environmental groups to neighborhood groups to business groups support this project. That's why Governor Hogan agreed to build it, even if he did make some changes to save money.

And that's why, despite a small but vocal opposition, it will get built.

Events


Mark your calendars for our next happy hour Sept. 20 and a few others!

We hope you made it to last week's happy hour, but if you didn't (or if you did!), we're hosting another in September. Some great organizations are putting on others even sooner, and there are plenty of other ways for you to get involved in the world of urbanism as well.


Photo by beyrouth

For our next Greater Greater happy hour, we're heading back to Arlington. Join us Tuesday, September 20 from 6-8pm at Fire Works, located at 2350 Clarendon Boulevard at North Adams Street in Arlington. Fire Works is known for its pizza, but there's also a solid beer list with some local breweries on it.

Fire Works is just two blocks from the Court House Metro station (Orange and Silver lines), though you can also take Metrobus 38B or ART routes 41, 45, or 77. The nearest Capital Bikeshare stations are at the Court House Metro station and at Wilson Boulevard and North Barton Street, two blocks away.

This happy hour is sponsored by the Association for Commuter Transportation Chesapeake Chapter. ACT is an international trade association that advocates for commuter transportation options. Like GGWash, they support commuting by bus, train, bike, and rideshare. Come meet some of their board and members to chat about how the Chesapeake Chapter of ACT is helping improve commuter transportation in our region.

If you can make it, please RSVP here!

This isn't your only upcoming chance to grab a drink and talk transportation, development, and policy in our region. Check out two other happy hours (both of which are being hosted by our friends at the Coalition for Smarter Growth), along with a few other events:

Tuesday, August 30: Get the scoop on the Purple Line and BRT on Route 1 at CSG's Montgomery Happy Hour on Tuesday at 6:30 pm at Fire Station 1 (8131 Georgia Avenue).

Wednesday, August 31: Raise a glass with CSG's staff and Shaw Main Streets on Wednesday at Right Proper Brewing (624 T St NW) at 6:00pm to hear the latest on the organization's DC policy work and what we have on tap for the fall.

Next Wednesday, September 7 or Friday, September 9: The FBI Building on Pennsylvania Ave is going to be redeveloped, and the National Capital Planning Commission is gathering public input to make sure it's done right. Share your thoughts on the land use and design at one of two repeat meetings, both at 401 9th Street NW, Suite 500. On Wednesday, the meeting is at 6 pm and on Friday, the meeting is at 9 10 am.

Next Wednesday, September 7: Biking, while normally a tech-free activity, is getting hacked. Hear from people from around the region who are finding ways to improve or enhance biking through apps, gadgets, and data visualization like panoramic images of bike trails.

Next Thursday, September 8: How could Ward 4, which includes Petworth, Crestwood, Brightwood, and 16th Street Heights, be a better place to live? The District's Department of Transportation wants to know, and is holding its third public workshop on the matter on Thursday, September 8, at 6 pm at the Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Avenue NW). Share your opinions on transportation, green infrastructure, and sustainability in the area.

Coming soon, PARKing Day: Heads up, on Friday September 16, parking spots around DC will become temporary, pop-up parks as part of DDOT's PARKing Day. Don't forget to check a few out!

Calendar: Beyond what we've highlighted here, there are many other worthwhile events across the region. Check out more great events in our events calendar:

Do you know of an upcoming event that may be interesting, relevant, or important to Greater Greater Washington readers that should go on our events calendar? Send it to us at events@ggwash.org.

Development


Clearly we need to have more happy hours in Prince George's

It's been six years since we had a happy hour in Prince George's County. Tuesday night, we came back with County Executive Rushern Baker and had such a huge turnout we couldn't fit on the sidewalk.


If you weren't in Mount Rainier Tuesday night, you missed out. All photos and videos by the author unless otherwise noted.

Since we started organizing happy hours seven years ago, we've picked bars and restaurants to visit based on one rule: it should be near a Metro station, so everyone can get there without a car.

We've had no trouble finding places in DC, Montgomery County, and Northern Virginia, where bars and restaurants cluster around Metro stations. But I've struggled to find venues in Prince George's County, which has lagged the rest of the region in building around Metro, though that's starting to change under County Executive Rushern Baker.


Rushern Baker greets the crowd.

With help from Baker's staff, who promoted the event, and GGWash contributor/Mount Rainier councilmember Tracy Loh, we found Bird Kitchen + Cocktails and agreed to bend the Metro station rule. And we got our highest turnout ever.


Photo by David Alpert.

Nearly 100 people showed up Tuesday night from across DC, Maryland, and Virginia, forming a crowd that spilled out of the tiny restaurant onto the sidewalk and into the street. Little traffic jams formed on Rhode Island Avenue as passing drivers tried to figure out what was going on.

GGWash happy hour slows traffic on Rhode Island Avenue
Happy hours as traffic calming.

You bet we'll be back to Prince George's County. Thanks to Rushern Baker for speaking, to Tracy Loh for organizing, Bird Kitchen for handling a huge crowd with grace, and to everybody who came out!

Bicycling


Upcoming events: Happy hour with Rushern Baker, bike theft, transportation tech, and more!

Our next happy hour is coming up on Tuesday, August 23, featuring special guest Rushern Baker, the Prince George's County Executive. Also, here are some more upcoming ways for you to extend your urbanist learning and activism to the physical world.


Photo by Joe Loong on Flickr.

County Executive Baker has been a champion for smart growth and transit in a county that has been patiently waiting for both. It's also your chance to visit Mount Rainier, an awesome town on the DC/Maryland line home to the burgeoning Gateway Arts District. RSVP here.

We'll be there from 6 to 8 pm at Bird Kitchen + Cocktails, located at 3801 34th Street, Mount Rainier. Our original announcement has a list of Metro rail and bus options for getting there.

If you'd like to bike, Ned Russell and Matt Johnson are organizing a bicycle group to go to the happy hour from The Bike Rack, 716 Monroe Street NE by the Brookland Metro station. They'll depart promptly at 5:45 pm. Here's a map of the route.

This happy hour is sponsored by the Anacostia Heritage Trails Association (also known as Maryland Milestones), which promotes local history in the area.

Besides the happy hour, there are some other great events coming up:

Today, August 14: Worried about bike theft? Come discuss your concerns with safety and enforcement at the Bicycle Advisory Council meeting at 6 pm at Busboys and Poets (1025 5th St) with special guest Phil Koopman of BicycleSPACE.

Thursday, August 18: Learn about the latest tech that's helping people share the road at the next Transportation Techies meetup, where individual coders and tech companies from around the region show off their work. This month's theme is "Playing with Traffic," and it's at 6 pm at the WeWork in Crystal City (2221 South Clark Street).

Next Thursday, August 24: Netwalking is an organization that gets people out in the community, walking for fitness, and learning about important issues. The next Netwalk will focus on the U Street neighborhood and will teach people about strategies for effective community engagement. It starts at 6pm; Meet at the corner of Vermont St and 10th Street, NW.

Coming to the happy hour? Let us know here:

Places


The dilemma for young people in Montgomery County

You're a Millennial working in Montgomery County. You want to be close to work, but you also want to be close to the action. Can you find both here? Sort of.


If you're a Millennial in Montgomery County, you might want to live in North Bethesda. Photo by the author.

That's something county leaders have been working on. Three years ago, Montgomery County began its Night Time Economy Initiative to bring in businesses by attracting the Millennial (or young adults born between 1982 and 2000) they wish to employ. Noting studies saying Millennials want to live in urban (or urban-lite) settings, the county has been redeveloping its town centers, building bike lanes, and revising liquor laws.

While the nation's largest generation isn't a monolith, there's some truth to the narrative. The county's young professionals tend to live near its job centers, transit lines, and favored hangouts. That generally means Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Rockville.

That said, for those who want the urban experience, the county has serious competition from other parts of the region, especially the District and Arlington. And if you work in Montgomery County, particularly outside the Beltway, you're forced to choose living in an urban neighborhood far from work or a more suburban area with a shorter commute.

I was thinking about that reading this recent email from Sky, a young teacher moving to Montgomery County and wondering where a Millennial should live.


Hello Dan (or Co.),
I recently read an article about millennials in Moco and am wondering if you would give me some advice about where to live.

I will probably be moving to the area to teach [in Gaithersburg] and would love to know where young singles live around the area.

Like your article said, I certainly want to be close to work, but I also want to have a thriving personal life.

If you have any suggestions, the would be much appreciated.

Thank you!

Awesome blog btw!

Here's how I responded:
Thanks for writing me and for the kind words! You've presented an interesting challenge: you work in Gaithersburg, but you want to be near the action. Those two things are (mostly) mutually exclusive, as much of the region's nightlife is in DC, 20 miles away. That said, this isn't an impossible situation. Of the 20- and 30-somethings I know who work in Montgomery County, they generally do one of three things:

  • Live in DC, and do the reverse commute. You'll have your pick of hoppin neighborhoods with lots of things to do and people to meet, and you won't have to drive home after the bar. You will, however, have to drive to work, though you'll mostly be going against traffic on your way out of the city. Consider neighborhoods like Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, and Adams Morgan, which are both filled with young people and things to do, but also near major roads like 16th Street and Connecticut Avenue that you can use to get out of the city. This might be the most expensive option, since you'd be paying higher DC rents and paying for the cost of transportation.
  • Live in Gaithersburg. You'll be really close to school, and while Gaithersburg is a lot quieter than DC, there are a couple of areas with restaurants and bars. Kentlands is a nationally-famous neighborhood where you can walk to shops and restaurants. Old Town Gaithersburg has a growing number of Latino and African restaurants that are pretty great. And Rio/Washingtonian Center has a lakefront that's great for hanging out on weekends. The rents are generally cheaper than DC, though transit service is limited (there's no Metro station) so you will be driving a fair amount.
  • Live somewhere in the middle. The Red Line connects Montgomery County to DC and the rest of the region, and stops in several walkable neighborhoods in Montgomery County with lots of things to do and a large number of young people. You'll still get that reverse commute, though you'll pay a premium to live next to a Metro station. Three areas you might want to consider: Bethesda's more expensive, but has lots of places to hang out; Silver Spring (where I live) is more affordable, way younger, also has lots going on, and is closest to DC; Rockville is also more affordable and closer to Gaithersburg, but has less nightlife.
A few weeks ago, Sky let me know that she's moving to Rockville, which offers the best of both worlds: it's close to work, but also has a real downtown and access to the Metro.

For years, Montgomery County has encouraged the creation of more downtowns and town centers in places like White Flint, Germantown, and White Oak, while promoting the ongoing development of urban places like Silver Spring or Bethesda. That's great for people moving to the area like Sky, because it gives her more, and more affordable, choices for where to live. However, we still have lots of work to do in making these places attractive to new, younger residents, from creating more walkable and bikeable streets to streamlining our liquor laws to make it easier for restaurants and bars to open here.

We'll have to follow up with Sky once she gets settled in. But in the meantime: What would you tell a young person interested in moving to the county?

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