Greater Greater Washington

Speeding suburban driving to DC won't fight unemployment

The good news: Mayor Gray has announced in recent months several large projects that will create new jobs in DC. The bad news: while these projects make a small dent in DC's unemployment rate, the reality is that only 28% of DC jobs go to DC residents.


Photo by bankbryan on Flickr.

The new jobs are tied to projects like CityCenterDC and the Marriott Marquis convention center hotel, as well as to retail positions on the waterfront near Nationals Park and at an ink-jet manufacturing plant.

Given that several of these projects receive subsidies from the District, often in the form of tax holidays, one wonders if DC taxpayers are subsidizing jobs for commuters who don't live in DC.

The use of DC funds to help non-residents get DC jobs doesn't end there. Spending money on roads for commuters driving into DC just helps non-residents access DC jobs far more than it helps residents.

When District residents hold DC jobs, only 36.1% of them commute by car. But when non-DC residents hold DC jobs, 61.3% of them commute by car, according to 2009 American Community Survey data.

As a result, a whopping 81% of those commuting by car to DC jobs are non-DC residents.

Are city leaders doing anything to prioritize DC residents' access to DC jobs? No. The Transition Report of the Economic Development Committee for then Mayor-Elect Gray, led by Chamber of Commerce head Barbara Lang and former George Washington University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, had this recommendation:

Reduce the amount of time people spend driving into and out of the city. The District would stand to retain and attract more businesses that demand ease of access and improvements to quality of life by easing traffic congestion.
Why do we shoot ourselves in the foot like this? It's one thing to complain about taxation without representation, but when we spend our own locally raised tax money primarily to promote employment to those living in the suburbs, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

It's time to end the old, ineffective approaches to fighting unemployment - more roads and more corporate tax holidays. They don't work anymore. A major campaign to economically integrate our city is needed to reverse the decades-long trend that resulted in ever larger roads shuttling a larger percentage of DC's jobholders in and out of the District.

The jobs that could employ a large portion of DC's jobless are there, particularly in the leisure and hospitality sector, which is the second fastest growing sector in DC, adding 10,700 District jobs from 2001 to 2011. Educational and health services, the fastest growing sector, added 26,500 jobs in the same period. The new University of the District of Columbia Community College is furiously training residents for these growing health careers.

Existing job growth is sufficient to provide opportunities for DC's 34,600 unemployed, 8,824 of whom live in Ward 8 where 1 in 4 workers is jobless. Companies that would not locate in the District because the CEO doesn't like driving from Potomac to DC are rarely part of these two sectors, and are thus not needed to address our unemployment crisis.

Furthermore, the surging creative class in the District, whose spending is largely responsible for the growing service sectors, are attracted by public transit and public spaces. That's why their employers, like LivingSocial, are compelled to stay in the District.

We clearly don't need to spend locally-raised tax money to buy more jobs, particularly when 72% of the jobs will go to suburban residents and the jobs city residents need are here and growing. We must make it easier for DC residents than non-DC residents to access jobs in the city, while providing targeted training when needed for expanding job areas in DC.

And the local policies that promote employment for suburban residents over those who live in DC don't end there. DC has an 18% tax on parking garages, but with a loophole so large you could drive an SUV with Virginia plates through it. Garages that provide free parking to employees rather than contracting through a commercial garage are somehow exempt from this DC tax.

This self-defeating deference to suburban commuters is found in the design of streets across the city. My residential street (33rd Street in Georgetown) is primarily used by Virginians crossing the Key Bridge to get to jobs in Upper Northwest. Two of the most iconic streets in our city, M and Wisconsin in Georgetown, have become car sewers for suburban commuters during rush hour. Unsurprisingly, most jobs in Georgetown, including the large percentage of leisure and hospitality positions, are held by Virginians.

Why do we allow this? Let's replace a lane on each side of M and Wisconsin with a dedicated transit lane or widened sidewalks, and push to get streetcar service into Georgetown to help DC residents access Georgetown jobs. Let's cut off my Georgetown residential street and others to through traffic.

If DC is to leverage the disrespect we get in Congress for real unity and action, we must start caring about and investing in our own residents first. Let's start by vastly improving public transportation and bicycling infrastructure to economically integrate our city.

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

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Tax holidays indeed should be looked at. Avoiding transportation improvements because they benefit suburban commuters does not seem like a wise strategy. For one thing, it results in property tax revenue, sales tax revenue, etc, etc. Second regional cooperation in transportation seems like a wise idea. It would be better to negotiate with suburban jurisdictions on transportation project design and financing than to simply avoid building things that convenience suburban commuters.

As you must be aware, there are also reverse commuters from DC to the suburbs. I would note that in recent years Maryland and Virginia representatives have been relatively supportive of DC home rule. Im not sure why anger at congress should be taken out on folks from Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 10, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

This is a good article and touches on some of the realities out here but some of the wishful thinking is DOA.

In certain areas of the city, i.e. Ward 8, DC residents can't count, read, write, pass drug tests, get to work on time, etc. This is not speculation this is documented fact.

As the great American thinker recently wrote, "Americans Want the Honor of 'Earned Success'"

If only the poor in the city would strive for that honor instead of always wanting more handouts and for something to fall in their lap

by You Cant Stand the Truth on Aug 10, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

I have deleted a comment by charlie for using ad hominem statements. Charlie, feel free to repost your thoughts without the portion that's about the author rather than about the issue.

by David Alpert on Aug 10, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

Great article and I agree with just about everything in it except that I am in favor of tax breaks and not in favor of raising taxes. I love the comments about how to improve M street in Georgetown- where something really does need to be done to make it less of an onerous car sewer. The sidewalks may as well be nonexistent since they are so tiny - when Georgetown itself could become a model for pedestrian -oriented thinking.

by w on Aug 10, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

There are two separate issues here. One an economic question: what is in the best interests of DC's finances? And second, a moral question: how do we help out poor people without jobs? To some extent, the questions have overlapping answers but in many ways, they require different policy responses.

One the first question. The biggest money makers for a city are white collar office buildings, wealthy residents, and tourists. They have the best ratio of taxes paid to services used. To the extent that CityCenter, Marriott and Nationals Park promote those groups, they may be good investments. The worst thing for city finances are low income residents who use more in services than they pay in taxes. To the extent that the city promotes jobs that encourage low income residents to live in the city, those are likely bad investments. So, it's not necessarily a bad thing that we import our low income workers from the suburbs -- strictly from the point of view of city finances.

Of course, this would not address the moral issue of question #2. With regards to that issue, I agree that we need to balance the needs of low income residents (i.e., increasing the availability of appropriate jobs) with the interests of city finances (i.e., replacing low income residents with higher income residents).

All of this is to say that this is a pretty complex issue that should be analyzed from multiple perspectives.

by Falls Church on Aug 10, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

@YCStT: In certain areas of the city, i.e. Ward 8, DC residents can't count, read, write, pass drug tests, get to work on time, etc. This is not speculation this is documented fact

Um, what documentation? You have portrayed all 70712 residents of W8 as ignorant scum.

by goldfish on Aug 10, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

As much as folks dislike being ticketed and towed, even more of both during rush hour along Wisconsin Ave and M Street will enhance the flow.

It seems that folks switch to the neighborhood streets because some of the available lanes along the main routes are frequently blocked.

In a dream world... it would be nice if USPS and the various delivery companies could "do their thing" during non-rush hours. That might require some creative negotiation and coordination across DDOT, USPS, UPS and Fed Ex.

by Mitch Wander on Aug 10, 2011 12:31 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church

You're ignoring the key fact in point 1. DC doesn't collect any taxes on out of state workers (thanks to the home rule act and VA/MD Reps). So it makes more sense to get DC residents access to those jobs so that they're using less services and contributing some form of taxes versus none when they're unemployed.

by jj on Aug 10, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

>> "To the extent that the city promotes jobs that encourage low income residents to live in the city, those are likely bad investments."

The low income residents already live here. And they are content to collect social services until the jobs are created for them. Then for those that do get the jobs very few of them see it as a ladder to that next job. Instead they are complacent and content to be a Target or Safeway cashier living paycheck to paycheck (and griping about how they aren't being paid a living wage).

Washington DC is never going to have another 50,000 jobs for unskilled people who don't have the motivation to become skilled. Some of these people should move. My aunt who lacks a HS diploma moved to NC and found better opportunity.

by Jason on Aug 10, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

@goldfish The facts are not hard to find. I didn't call residents any names, you did. I stated the documented facts of why many Ward 8 residents, not all, are chronic unemployable. I didn't mention background checks either. I won't do your research for you. Further, this is common knowledge either from the field or the Ivory Tower. You shouldn't call people names and get all emotional. Stick to the truth, even if you can't stand it and it hurts.

by You Cant Stand the Truth on Aug 10, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

Where is this "great American thinker?" Your link goes to something by a tired old hack. If Barone ever had an original thought, it would die of loneliness.

by Dave J on Aug 10, 2011 12:41 pm • linkreport

Taxes on income earned in DC by Maryland residents go to Annapolis. Taxes on income earned in Maryland by DC residents go to... Annapolis.

With this FUBAR system in place, who can blame us for wanting to gum up the rush hour traffic into and out of the city and promote density and transit inside the city.

by Ward 1 Guy on Aug 10, 2011 12:44 pm • linkreport

@JJ Not on the workers in the white collar firms, but definitely business taxes from those firms.

So...You will likely find in an evaluation of value of the tax capacity (business and personal by jurisdiction) for the city that having all those evil commuters to the city contributing to high revenue firms (therefore high tax receipts) is a net benefit.

Commuter tax would only work if net of all personal taxes (real estate, income, personal property) net about the same across the three jurisdictions, or at least that the opportunity cost of one versus the other is negligible.

by Some Ideas on Aug 10, 2011 12:45 pm • linkreport

"It's time to end the old, ineffective approaches to fighting unemployment - more roads and more corporate tax holidays. They don't work anymore."

I would argue with the position that they ever DID work. Instead what those programs have always done is exactly what you are describing is happening now. Maybe the motive is campaign money, maybe it's because the pols really think there will be trickle down jobs as a result, but in the end the attraction of the programs is that it gives an upstanding politician something to point to as evidence that they are pro-jobs.
The purpose of these approaches is window dressing, and it always has been.

by Alger on Aug 10, 2011 12:46 pm • linkreport

Washington DC is never going to have another 50,000 jobs for unskilled people who don't have the motivation to become skilled. Some of these people should move. My aunt who lacks a HS diploma moved to NC and found better opportunity.

There are currently 60,400 leisure and hospitality jobs in the city. Those require "soft skills" training, but that's it.

by Ken Archer on Aug 10, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: Whatever you said, my thoughts exactly ;-)

by Jasper on Aug 10, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

"There are currently 60,400 leisure and hospitality jobs in the city."

What's your point? I said *another* 50,000. Plus even in leisure and hospitality some non-DC resident who has some work history in service is probably going to be a more attractive hire than the average unemployed W7/8 resident...

by Jason on Aug 10, 2011 12:58 pm • linkreport

Ward 1 guy. You're wrong. Taxes earned by DC residents working MD go to DC. There is reciprocity.

by ahk on Aug 10, 2011 1:02 pm • linkreport

@ Ward 1 Guy

What is your source for this statement? "Taxes on income earned in Maryland by DC residents go to... Annapolis."

According to Maryland, "Special instructions for residents of the following states: The District of Columbia, Pennsylvania or Virginia: If you did not maintain a place of abode in Maryland for more than six months (183 days or more) of 2010, you are exempt from Maryland tax on your Maryland wage and salary income."

http://forms.marylandtaxes.com/current_forms/non-residentbook.pdf

by Mitch Wander on Aug 10, 2011 1:02 pm • linkreport

We don't need another 50,000 leisure and hospitality jobs in DC when (a) there are 34,600 unemployed in DC and (b) most of the existing 60,400 leisure and hospitality jobs are taken by Virginians and Marylanders because of our anti-DC worker policies. Furthermore, the number will go up (though not by 50,000) as leisure and hospitality is the 2nd fastest growing sector in DC (10,000 in the past decade) and nationally.

by Ken Archer on Aug 10, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

"There are two separate issues here. One an economic question: what is in the best interests of DC's finances? And second, a moral question: how do we help out poor people without jobs? To some extent, the questions have overlapping answers but in many ways, they require different policy responses. "

There are also poor people living in NoVa, in MoCo, and especially in PG. "lets stop worry about the affluent and instead worry about the poor" would lead to a general focus on education, health care, collective bargaining, and direct subsidies to low income jobs, rather than traffic calming on M Street.

It looks to me like the blog post is expressing anger at DC doing things for suburban auto commuters and especially personal frustration at what this means as a resident of Georgetown. While he may well be right about the optimal configuration for M Street, I'm not sure thats the key to either DC development (which of course SHOULD look for more property taxes on office developments, even if the workers there are often suburbanites) or the plight of the poor, either in DC, PG or elsewhere.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 10, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

I appreciate the effort that went into this piece, but I'm a little bewildered by its "Greater Washington DC" perspective. As a resident of "Greater Greater Washington," I think a better article might at least discuss whether creating jobs in the urban core that attract suburban employees might: 1) strengthen the connection between the suburbs and the core; 2) improve the political climate for region-wide transit improvements; and 3) encourage some of those suburbanites to trade their car-bound commutes for a DC residence...

by Arl Anon on Aug 10, 2011 1:12 pm • linkreport

The problem with DC's unemployed isn't that they don't have a job. It's that they are completely unemployable.

These problems are just highlighted when you have labor rights groups advocating that businesses drop all basic qualification requirements and forgo asking if the applicant has a criminal record.

DC is in an odd and unique situation that only serves to more clearly illustrate the severe chasm between the cities enormous demographic of severely uneducated, and the bounty of jobs that makes the DC region the envy of the nation

A quick job search via Indeed shows nearly 30K job openings within the District alone paying between 70-120K. When you extend the search parameters out to include a ~20 mile radius, you have more than 100,000 jobs being advertised in that salary range.

The problem? Not only do you need a HS diploma for all of them, but college degrees for 995 of them. The ability to read is a foregone conclusion.

You can break the unemployment numbers down further if you like and it further proves what we all know. The Districs unemployment rate is 9.8%, but the unemployment rate for white and asian demo is 3.6%.

"Are city leaders doing anything to prioritize DC residents' access to DC jobs?"

Until the DC public school system can produce a consistant supply of literate graduates, what exactly would you recommend?

Either the unemployed DC population is severely underqualified for the jobs available, or they don't bother showing up or applying for the jobs that are.

by freely on Aug 10, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

@Ward 1 Guy I think DC residents working in MD only pay DC income taxes. DC, MD and VA have tax "sharing" agreement that is a lousy deal for the District. It's no wonder that NY doesn't have a similar agreement with NJ and CT.

That said, another implication of the statistics above is that DC should turn its efforts away from luring new businesses to the city and toward building as much housing as possible.

by Steve S. on Aug 10, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

"It's time to end the old, ineffective approaches to fighting unemployment - more roads "

BTW I hope this isn't meant to be anti-keynsian - building roads, like building transit, does fight cyclical unemployment by creating jobs in the construction industry. Thats true quite apart from the issues of relative access to construction industry jobs for low income folks in DC, vs low income folks in NoVa.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 10, 2011 1:15 pm • linkreport

You're ignoring the key fact in point 1. DC doesn't collect any taxes on out of state workers (thanks to the home rule act and VA/MD Reps). So it makes more sense to get DC residents access to those jobs so that they're using less services and contributing some form of taxes versus none when they're unemployed.

However, the economic activity that those workers support does create tax revenue. Let's take the example of the Marriott hotel. The hotel pays business income taxes and commercial real estate taxes. This activity generates more revenue than services used, so it's a net benefit to city finances. Also, the hotel attracts tourists who also benefit city finances and this particular hotel will likely raise the property values of the surrounding Shaw neighborhood, further boosting revenue. The problem is that the hotel also employs lower income people who use more services than what they pay in taxes. The best thing from the viewpoint of city finances is to have the hotel in DC but have the workers live elsewhere, even though the city will have to subsidize roads/transit to get those workers into the city. Of course, the better thing is to have those people use transit so you don't mess up the character/fabric of the city with car sewers (and character/fabric is very important to attracting high income residents).

The low income residents already live here. And they are content to collect social services until the jobs are created for them.

Eventually those low income people will leave if job opportunities for their skill set are better elsewhere. This happens in cities across the country (although, often in the other way in which people with high skills move from areas like Detroit to areas like DC). Those people will also leave if they are priced out of the area (see Manhattan south of Harlem). It's admittedly an amoral viewpoint but as I said, the moral issue is different from the financial one.

by Falls Church on Aug 10, 2011 1:20 pm • linkreport

No article like this can be considered remotely fair or unbiased without taking into account two things:

#1 - If the District existed solely for the same of the District, make the whole thing an island and put checkpoints at the bridges and DC line to Maryland. What would the region look like if that happened? Would never be realistic, but I think it's an interesting hypothetical.

#2 - For all of the folks commuting into the city, I meet tons of District residents who have to commute out to find a job in their respective industry - MD for biotech, VA for IT, either one for many of the back office functions of the beltway bandit type contractors. Just remember that all of those are two way roads. (except for Canal Road and Rock Creek Parkway, of course ;-) )

+1 to Arl Anon reminding us of the name & mission of this fine blog.

by Joe in SS on Aug 10, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

@You Cant Stand the Truth i spent nearly 30 years living in Ward 8 but I can read, write, pass a drug test and i get to work on time everyday, you give a name to everyone in ward 8 thats not tru, the people that cant do the things you named are the people that dont wanna work, I know people that still live in Wrad 8 that can do everything u said residents of ward 8 cant do and dont use drugs and still cant find work to provide for themselves or family

by Jerome on Aug 10, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

Also anecdotally...

A good friend of mine is a site superintendant for Clark Construction, probably the regions largest construction company.

Business in DC was booming during the re boom of 2000-2007. There were construction jobs everywhere, and as part of the agreement the project owner/funder/builder would work out with DC was to have a set aside for District residents.

These were good jobs. $20 bucks an hour, healthcare etc all for unskilled, inexperienced labor jobs.

So this guy set aside 100 of the 400 basic labor jobs available on the downtown project for DC residents. Clark advertised in all DC job centers, set up a completely new website for it, the DC Dept of Employment Services advertised the jobs through all their media and databases.

By the end of the 22 month construction project, he had had ~61 DC residents apply for the 100 positions specifically for them. Of that number, 8 actually saw the job through. The rest would show up for a few days and then just stop showing up. He would never hear from them again.

People can wax poetic about all those bad MD, WVA'ers and VA residents "taking" DC jobs, but the simple fact of the matter is its those good ol boy rednecks from WVA that have to drive 2 hours each way who reliably show up daily.

by freely on Aug 10, 2011 1:28 pm • linkreport

60,400 leisure and hospitality jobs are taken by Virginians and Marylanders because of our anti-DC worker policies.

On the level here: What exactly are the "anti-DC worker policies" we're pursuing?

by oboe on Aug 10, 2011 1:31 pm • linkreport

@oboe,

The policies discussed throughout the post.

by Ken Archer on Aug 10, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

DC is given little defference in Congress because historically it has been so poorly run...or run by such poor 'leaders'. Marion Barry are you listening?

What would be helpful is to have DC business pony up for some of the improvements you suggest. A trolley system on M and Wisconsin will not happen because of the ludicrous and arcane environmental laws and transportation rules. Get rid of those by getting residents and merchants to sign on and then fight for your plan. No need to expect 'government' to fund any further transportation projects...the nation is broke.

But I am intrigued by the ludicrous nature of the 18% parking garage tax...let's add this to the other fees municipalities such as Washington and areas everywhere collect...none of which truly helps residents. All it does is fill government coffers and add bureaucracy.

You want jobs in DC? Lower taxes, cut government, improve schools, replace Eleanor Holmes Norton, embrace self-reliance so that the truly poor can be assisted and the truly lazy booted out of town.

Katrina's wake for New Orleans was a shifting of a lot of the dead-weight in their population out of the city. Today, small business is thriving, there is less demand for social services and the bureaucracy/corruption that comes with them and the can-do spirit is creating jobs. DC could do the same and has far more potential than most any other city on the planet.

by Pelham1861 on Aug 10, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

@SteveS.
"DC, MD and VA have tax "sharing" agreement that is a lousy deal for the District. It's no wonder that NY doesn't have a similar agreement with NJ and CT."
Do you have more information about this tax sharing agreement? If payroll taxes are applied in the jurisdiction of residence (say DC), does that mean the DC government is returning some (disproportionate amount) of that money to the state where the employer is located?

As to the blog post, it makes sense to me to reduce worker commutes by increasing the employment of DC residents in DC, and if doing so requires prioritizing improvements in the training programs needed to make residents employable (whether through the new community college system and an improved DCPS) over improving roads to transport out-of-District workers, then that seems like what the city should be (and I would say is) doing.

by DCster on Aug 10, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

One of the benefits of being in a metropolitan area with 8 million people is that you have many more talented people to work here and build the economy than you would in a city of 600,000. The downside (if you want to see it that way) is that some of those people live and work in different jurisdictions. Yes, it's unfair that money earned by people working in DC and living in Maryland or Virginia doesn't go back to DC (and vice versa). So the answer is to change the funding structure to reflect a metropolitan structure, hard as it may be. We shouldn't discourage people from commuting into DC to work, but it's desirable to give them more alternatives to driving. After all, the world doesn't end at Eastern Avenue and the Potomac.

by dan reed! on Aug 10, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

@ Arl Anon: I'm a little bewildered by its "Greater Washington DC" perspective

For some Washingtonians, Greater DC means acknowledging that DC is larger than the piece between the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. For some more generous Washingtonians, Greater DC means everything within the Beltway - they consider Tysons 'way out there', and people who live there 'evil suburbans stealing our jobs/tax money'. For Greater Washingtonians living outside the Beltway, Greater Washington means everything between Fredericksburg, Manassas, Leasburg. Frederick, Columbia, Bowie/Annapolis and Waldorf. For the Feds, the WV panhandle is included in the "Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Statistical Area", that being part of the "Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area".

The definition of Greater Washington is not trivial. I am still looking for a good expression describing the phenomenon that Greater Washington is considered to be easily within the Beltway. It is a mind-set very comparable to the windshield perspective.

by Jasper on Aug 10, 2011 2:00 pm • linkreport

@dan reed!

"So the answer is to change the funding structure to reflect a metropolitan structure, hard as it may be."

Of course that would be ideal, but it's simply never going to happen.

by Gray on Aug 10, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure what the writer of this post wants the government to do. Do you want to force companies to hire District residents? I'm sure that'll go over real well.

by Martin on Aug 10, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

"It's time to end the old, ineffective approaches to fighting unemployment - more roads ..."

This is extremely misleading - to put it kindly - regarding Washington, D.C. (with "roads" meaning those for vehicles rather then trains); it ignores the reality that roads are two way, meaning that they can also open up job markets outside of D.C. to those living within D.C., and is simply the jesuitical push to keep the big roads away from anywheer near Georgetown or Catholic University: a paracholism that has no legitimate place, especailly for the Nation's CapitAl.

by Douglas WIllinger on Aug 10, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

DC does not exist past it's borders.

"Greater Washington" is the fancy way to say "DC Metropolitan Area" - for some reason focusing on the first part of the city name, rather than the second.

ON a DC-centric note, DC residents know that being from/living in Washnundc is not to be confused with being from/living in Annapolis (or even Washington state).

by greent on Aug 10, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

-- DC doesn't collect any taxes on out of state workers --

That isn't true in the least. All workers pay a variety of user and sales taxes like at retail and restuarants. Those low level jobs tend to go to DC workers because, on average, the average DC resident doesn't have the same education level as those in MD and VA. Or person working in sales the resides in Montgomery isn't going into DC to work at an ATT store.

by Burger on Aug 10, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

Ah, okay. I see the point your trying to make. My sense is that spending money on prioritizing auto traffic is stupid and a waste of money because: a) it makes the urban environment worse for those who live here; b)it doesn't help traffic move better, we just encourage more congestion.

For all that, I'm not sure I'd call those "anti-DC worker policies." You seem to be listing a set of policies which degrade the urban environment in various ways--which sucks--but then jump to the argument that those policies significantly disadvantage DC working-class residents in comparison to the suburban working-class (and working-poor) who land jobs in DC.

I just don't see that. DC has a high unemployment rate because it has a large number of folks who don't have the skills to compete in the employment market. Not because they have difficulty getting to work as compared to suburbanites. Heck, if anything, they've got a massive advantage even with these supposed policies favoring suburban employees.

One last thing: I reject the framing that making DC more walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly is somehow disadvantaging the suburbs, either. As DC becomes more "walkable", and pioneers things like bike-share, it makes it more likely that suburban jurisdictions can build the political will to do so as well. And they're going to need to over the coming decades.

Urbanism succeeds in the suburbs to the extent that it succeeds in the urban core. So long term, urban "traffic-sewers" put the suburbs at a long-term disadvantage for a highly dubious short-term advantage.

by oboe on Aug 10, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

I am not seeing how increased investment in transportation is supposed to produce greater employment for DC residents. Is there evidence that accessibility to jobs is a problem on par with the existence of and preparedness for jobs? Or even a significant problem at all?

by Brooklander on Aug 10, 2011 2:54 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure I'd call those "anti-DC worker policies." You seem to be listing a set of policies which degrade the urban environment in various ways--which sucks--but then jump to the argument that those policies significantly disadvantage DC working-class residents...DC has a high unemployment rate because it has a large number of folks who don't have the skills to compete in the employment market.

The "livable, walkable" mantra doesn't appeal to people without jobs. And most of the unemployed in DC live in areas that are not integrated with the urban core of the city. Why not broaden our message beyond "livable, walkable" to include economic integration of depressed areas of the city with the urban core?

The idea that a skills gap is behind DC's unemployment is one that isn't backed by the numbers. There are way more unskilled jobs in DC than there are jobless District residents - the jobs are in leisure and hospitality and they continue to be the 2nd fastest growing sector here and nationally. This isn't my idea - it's Richard Florida's, the guy who studied the "creative class".

by Ken Archer on Aug 10, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

Regardless of tax holidays and transportation projects (the latter actually creates jobs in construction, as others have pointed out), the main issue here is education. There are two parts:

1. Many unemployed folks in DC are unemployable. Until the DC education system (or society broadly) can teach residents to speak and write English properly, be polite and use an indoor voice, and dress like a professional, folks growing up in DC will not get jobs. I spent a miserable 4 months being laid off in DC and was flabbergasted by the "quality" of a lot of the folks at the DC unemployment office. Most clearly did not have the attitude for any job dealing with customers (e.g., they were loud, used swear words in every sentence, were beligerent to everyone within earshot) and appeared to be weaing the same clothes they had slept in the night before.

2. As long as DC schools are perceived as failures, people with children who can afford to do so will move out of the city. It's not a question of taxing those folks, or making their commutes more hellacious, or any of the other suggestions. They choose not to live in DC because they want to kids to get decent schooling and they'll take about any insult or tax you throw their way. And, I'd bet that if bridges and DC streets were slowed down even further you'd see more offices simply giving up and moving to the suburbs.

In this region people vote with their feet. DC's not being persecuted by the suburbs - it's persecuting itself by failing residents with its third-world school system.

by Anon2 on Aug 10, 2011 3:30 pm • linkreport

Many unemployed folks in DC are unemployable. Until the DC education system (or society broadly) can teach residents to speak and write English properly, be polite and use an indoor voice, and dress like a professional, folks growing up in DC will not get jobs.

The skills gap that you are appealing to here is a "soft skills" gap. Marion Barry and others have called for our job training efforts to focus on precisely this and I wrote about it recently. This is a much more solvable skills gap than one requiring everyone to get some CNA or "green job" training, which is unrealistic.

by Ken Archer on Aug 10, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

Anon, ok I've read a lot of crap today but come on dude.

Everyone loves to crap on DCPS as if DCPS is the reason why DC residents are unemployable. No! Those DC unemployable residents are that way because of THEM..not because of a teacher or a failed school system. Also, through my involvements, I have found that quite a few residents are not products of DCPS but the surrounding areas. Yet, the assumption is that all 8k (of which Ken spoke) are all failed DCPS students. Sure, many of them are. But that's not the entirety and the system itself does not bear full blame for that.

And I'm also not sure if your response in #2 is supported by facts.

by HogWash on Aug 10, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

"The "livable, walkable" mantra doesn't appeal to people without jobs. And most of the unemployed in DC live in areas that are not integrated with the urban core of the city. Why not broaden our message beyond "livable, walkable" to include economic integration of depressed areas of the city with the urban core?"

I understand the political problem with Ward 8 residents not as enthusiastic for urbanism. I dont know that modifiying transp infrastructure to discourage commuting (as distinct from traffic calming measures that stand on their own) is a worthwhile way to get that. Certainly blaming suburban commuters for the employment issues of DC, or blaming MD/VA reps for the political abuse of DC by congressmen from the West and South, seems dishonest and unfair.

We need to work with each other, on WMATA, on joint infrastructure, on support for DC homerule, etc - a DC war on suburban commuters wont advance that - and I doubt it will win over 8th ward residents to bike lanes, either.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 10, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Ken, that's somewhat the rationale behind CCDC.

by HogWash on Aug 10, 2011 4:06 pm • linkreport

What incentives are there for employers who require a large number of "soft" skills to set up shop or expand into DC?, especially if they're producing goods or providing services that are outside of DC as well as in the city?

Do you think that if Zappos had the choice, all things considered, to set up shop in DC or VA that it would really choose DC without some sort of tax incentive?

by Fitz on Aug 10, 2011 4:15 pm • linkreport

@Walker, may I offer a thought.

In the article, Ken pointed out that there were 30k or so unemployed residents in DC..8k of those are in Ward 8.

When discussing DC unemployment is it possible to think outside of Ward 8? I ask because only thinking about my ward is a recipe for not addressing the 25k or so other unemployed residents.

We also need not assume that every unemployed person is simply uneducated w/o any ability to read and write. Does anyone have any idea how many of the unemployed aren't "employable" due to criminal convictions? Yes, the fact that they're felons is largely through their own fault. But I would imagine it's an impediment to stable work as well.

I just really, really dislike the notion that the unemployed in any city are so because they're lazy, can't read or write.

by HogWash on Aug 10, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

@Ken Archer: Let's cut off my Georgetown residential street and others to through traffic.

So, you are suggesting that DC should cripple the street grid out of anti-suburban spite. I thought the grid, and the mobility it enables, for -- heaven forbid -- auto traffic, was one of the things that distinguish DC from its suburbs.

Mobility, the ease of getting somewhere, is what makes a city work. We need more of it in all of its forms -- auto, truck, Metro, bicycle, walking. But what your statement above shows is that, basically, your entire article is a long-winded rationalization of what you need to increase the value of your own house, to everybody else's detriment.

by goldfish on Aug 10, 2011 4:28 pm • linkreport

Why not broaden our message beyond "livable, walkable" to include economic integration of depressed areas of the city with the urban core?

because the underlying message of such a scheme would be to make those depressed areas of the city more livable and walkable, which is considered a negative.

Your argument is that DC is attracting employers who prefer employees with "soft skills" which local DC residents lack, meaning that, quite simply, local DC residents basically aren't employable. But that has nothing to do with DC's employment policies. Honestly, DC would probably prefer that those employees move to the city than deal with the sort of unemployed that are lacking in the "soft skills" necessary to find and hold down a job.

by JustMe on Aug 10, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

DC's underclass need a kick in the butt much like England's doing to it's underclasses. If it means we have to deal with rioters, so be it. This notion that making someone who's unemployed work for their benefits harms their psyche is some elite white Kennedy-esque BS. Poor families would be much better off working for their benefits and developing the "soft skills" like showing up and finishing the day and they might even develop some respect for a full day's work and step up to the next level. No more having men getting drunk all day off of a benefit check and hanging out on the corner. It would cost the city a fortune in the short term (managing all these people), but it would fix the problem in a generation.

People have gotten soft and have delegated responsibility for their own livelihood to others. That's a recipe for being a nothing in life and that's what we have. Everyone needs to row the boat.

by BBbam on Aug 10, 2011 4:57 pm • linkreport

[It] is simply the jesuitical push to keep the big roads away from anywheer near Georgetown or Catholic University: a paracholism that has no legitimate place, especailly for the Nation's CapitAl.

I find it *incredibly* telling that you've managed to leave the Freemasons out of this. Certainly the skeptical reader is entitled to wonder why you're trying to protect them.

by oboe on Aug 10, 2011 5:20 pm • linkreport

@You Cant Stand the Truth:
In certain areas of the city, i.e. Ward 8, DC residents ... = all residents of Ward 8
...can't count, read, write, ... = ignorant
... pass drug tests, get to work on time, etc. = scum

Your words, not mine.

by goldfish on Aug 10, 2011 5:28 pm • linkreport

I don’t get the argument that making it harder for non-residents to commute to DC jobs will somehow benefit DC residents. It seems to me that there are two ways to create jobs for DC residents:

1. Increase the overall number of jobs (for residents and non-residents) in DC
Businesses will move to the city if the market for both employees and customers brings a net benefit vis-à-vis the cost of doing business in the District (property costs, taxes, regulatory, etc.). Businesses benefit most when they can hire from the largest pool of most qualified employees, and have direct access to the largest pool of potential customers. For both of these benefits to be maximized, it would help to improve – not make more difficult– commuting in and out of the city. Even at the current rate, for every 100 jobs created, 28 go to improving employment for DC residents.

2. Improve the percentage of DC residents who get DC jobs
The second way to increase the number of jobs for DC residents is to improve upon the 28% figure. This can be done by attracting some of the 78% to city living, and by improving the qualifications of unemployed or underemployed DC residents. Businesses don’t care – nor should they – whether an applicant is a MD, DC or VA resident. They simply want the best candidate at the lowest overall price. All things equal – one would think that a DC resident would have the advantage in getting a DC job because proximity to the job site poses fewer attendance problems for the employer and less transportation cost for the employee.

It’s not a zero-sum game. Making commuting into the District more difficult hurts employment for DC and non-DC residents alike.

by D Spills on Aug 10, 2011 6:29 pm • linkreport

I just re-read the post and I think I can summarize it as -- building roads and providing corporate tax holidays don't really help DC's unemployed, therefore we should not do that.

I think where this line of thinking falls down is that A) there are many other reasons why we might want to provide corporate tax holidays other than to employ low skilled residents, and B) there are many other (more important) factor that should go into decisions about whether or not we should build roads.

Where I'll agree with the post is that all the political posturing that tax holidays and road building is going to help poor unemployed people is just a bunch of hot air. The political posturing on tax holidays is just cover for the fact that the policies are in place to help DC's high earners. The roads are likely being built for companies (like law firms) who want to import high skilled talent from the suburbs and provide DC's highly skilled with access to high paying jobs in the suburbs.

by Falls Church on Aug 10, 2011 6:32 pm • linkreport

What's good for Georgetown residents is good for the city. Or something. I'm not really sure since this article is all over the place.

by Fritz on Aug 10, 2011 10:08 pm • linkreport

Channeling my inner Yglesias here:

- Relax the height limit
- Reduce ANC power to restrict development

And remember, didn't R. Stanley, the MoCo planner, say something like "every place worth going to has a traffic problem" ? (eg. NYC, Chicago, Boston...)

by EJ on Aug 10, 2011 10:13 pm • linkreport

I guess I would say this essay isn't well argued. In this essay and another one by the author on the same topic that I remember, issues are linked in what I would consider to be an illogical manner, and therefore it doesn't move the necessary debate forward.

The issue of the DC economy is a tricky one, and in a modern economy, the center city can no longer be the place of all the jobs, even so, as a city we need to be able to compete within the regional economy for those jobs.

The city's competitive advantage is transit-centricity, which means that a lot of people can get to those jobs relatively quickly, same thing with urban design, maintaining the street grid, etc. The city was built during the Walking and Streetcar city eras (see the articles on this prof's webpage, http://www.as.miami.edu/geography/people/PeterMuller.html) and that should be emphasized, recognized, and strengthened, not wrecked.

And as others pointed out, excepting the income tax wrinkle, the office buildings are net contributors to the city's revenue stream. Downtown alone generates 18% of the city's property tax revenue, plus other revenues (sales, parking, income taxes of residents, etc.).

But remember, DC is the only city in the U.S. that keeps all of the income taxes for residents, so yes, it's in its interest that more people live in the city that work. But conversely, I would argue we need to do more to attract high earning residents. The problem isn't just an imbalance of jobs, it's an imbalance of income earning residents, and DC has a disproportionate number of the region's most impoverished.

You need to come up with what you think of as your ideal program (based on some research, understanding of best practices elsewhere, etc.) for dealing with the structural employment of the extremely impoverished, not just some random list that doesn't hold up to much scrutiny.

Yes, as people have pointed out in this thread, DC's long term unemployed have lots of issues in terms of job readiness. In fact I was talking with someone just the other day who worked in such a program for 18 months, and he said that only 25 of every 100 people who applied to participate in job training programs end up qualifying (drug test, reading, criminal convictions, etc.).

Dealing with that is a lot harder than just hiring someone at a hotel. Same thing with construction, I have always been amazed since I've lived here, about how African-Americans are not employed very much on construction sites. But it's about reliability, as the commenter above recounting Clark Construction's experience made clear. (The City Paper and Post have had articles on this topic specifically over the years, and there is research on how friend networks get their friends jobs, as employers hire based on the recommendations of _reliable_ employees.)

I even had a frank talk with Harry Thomas Jr. about this after he won his first primary but before the general election back in 2006. He was no less direct about the job readiness problem than many of the commenters in this thread, although he was more colorful.

by Richard Layman on Aug 11, 2011 7:06 am • linkreport

I'm not trying to belittle the issue, it's very important. Probably the only thing that wack job mayoral candidate Leo Alexander said that made a lot of sense was that every 10% reduction of people on welfare (reducing structural unemployment through job training and other wraparound services) would decrease DC's human services outlays by $150 million annually.
This isn't an area of expertise for me, but one program that impresses me is this one:

- http://www.governing.com/topics/economic-dev/Oakland-project.html

by Richard Layman on Aug 11, 2011 7:27 am • linkreport


You're right that tax breaks don't help get jobs to the unemployed in DC. Even when the deals carry DC resident quotas, the companies satisfy them by moving existing employees into the city. That helps the tax base, but the unemployed people stay unemployed.

The problem isn't a lack of will among employers -- the problem is a lack of basic manners and professionalism among several generations of unskilled DC residents. There's no "speedy" fix for that, and very little a government can do long term either. It requires involved parents or substitute role models. I don't fault teachers or schools for not filling that role -- it's not their job. But the ones that do it anyway need to be rewarded.

by Novanglus on Aug 11, 2011 8:59 am • linkreport

Hogwash:

I did not mean to suggest all ue are in ward 8. I was responding to Kens comment on building support for urbanism, and mentioned ward 8 as the place that immediately leapt to mind where there is a perception that urbanism is a "pro gentrification agenda"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 11, 2011 9:16 am • linkreport

For DC, on this issue _Dream City_ and _Between Justice and Beauty_ are essential reads. I would go further and suggest _The Future Once Happened Here_. It's a book widely derided in progressive circles, although I happen to appreciate the book very much (except for its lack of citations). Maybe _Code of the Street_ too. Then you'd have a better sense of what is going on both in terms of the structural unemployment problems, and how people have been convinced that the kind of real estate development agenda that we have in the city has been positioned to seemingly be about promoting "social justice."

Actually, a lot of the real estate development agenda I don't have a problem with. It's just that it's not the right tool for dealing with the structural unemployment issue. That doesn't mean junk real estate development, because it is necessary for other reasons. But it does mean developing the right set of programs to significantly address the structural unemployment issue, which I guess I'll have to do in a well-researched blog entry of my own, sometime in the next couple weeks.

by Richard Layman on Aug 11, 2011 9:19 am • linkreport

Ken, I live near Arlington Courthouse and drive up your street several times per week -- for kids' activities and to spend money at Tenleytown and Glover Park businesses. Since left turns aren't allowed from M to Wisconsin during the afternoon, 33rd is my best choice.

But if there were a good transit option -- one that didn't involve two bus changes and take over an hour to replace a 12 minute drive -- we'd gladly take it (I'd even let the older kid take it by himself). Until then, closing your street only puts the same traffic on someone else's street.

by Novanglus on Aug 11, 2011 9:22 am • linkreport

@Novanglus

Left turns are allowed from M to Wisconsin. DDOT implemented that change about one year ago. It works well, especially mid-day and evening rush hour.

by Mitch Wander on Aug 11, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

@Mitch Wander: Yay! I didn't know that, and I'm sure a lot of others don't either.

I'd still rather see a single circulator route between Clarendon and Glover Park.

by Novanglus on Aug 11, 2011 9:35 am • linkreport

I live one block over from Ken Archer, the author, and I could not disagree more with him...in particular on the micro issue where he suggests that one could improve traffic flow by restricting the stream.

In essence what Mr. Archer wants is to force people to behave the way he has chosen to behave. He takes a bus from Georgetown to Tysons for his job...(couldn't find a job in DC). While I might find this choice to be rather strange (you do know that there are homes out in the Tysons area that are probably much cheaper than your Georgetown home), I respect his right to choose to live his life the way he wants. However, he does not show equal respect toward the choices of others, because he wants to force them to live like he does.

Behavior is not going to change with some widening of sidewalks and dedicated bus lanes. Further, I question the very premise that it is somehow desirable to change behavior to begin with. I pay taxes, a lot since I live in DC and have for 20+ years now, why should I see my streets taken away and given over to some social experiment. It was frustrating enough when Pennsylvania Ave was taken away by the federal government...now we want local governments to take them away too?

When I read opinions like Mr. Archers, the take away always seems to be a frustration with others not living up to the writers standards of how people SHOULD live. There is nothing more dangerous than an IDEA about how others SHOULD live, even more so when it is tied in with a certain degree of self aggrandizement that your way of life is best. I suspect that the traffic making that turn onto 33rd (which I make several times a week too, thought if you sneak down through Cady's Alley you can avoid the pile up of people turning onto Banks) is frustrating. The thought being that if the area was just made more unpalatable to travel through, then people would not do it...and traffic would be better for Mr. Archer and his 38B bus home. Why not take it to the logical extreme and just go ahead and take out the Key Bridge...that would completely dry up traffic coming in and making that turn...and would help with the pile up on 34th and 35th every evening as people head home from work too.

In the end, it is about self interest. Well, Mr. Archer, you live in a city. You choose to live there. You choose to work far away from your home. How about you choose to just leave as oppose to trying to impose your idea of how the rest of us SHOULD be like you. Persist if you must, but as someone who has been in this neighborhood for a long time...let me assure you that change does not come easily. There is a reason it took 15 years to even get the street car track removal and replacement on P and O started...and that was just to refurbish and repair to make it look the same. Enjoy your windmill.

RNM

by Rnoelm on Aug 11, 2011 10:17 am • linkreport

re: benefits of corporate tax holidays other than addressing unemployment, like property taxes.

That is a good point and one I overlooked. The central point remains, though, that corporate tax holidays do little to address unemployment in DC.

You need to come up with what you think of as your ideal program (based on some research, understanding of best practices elsewhere, etc.) for dealing with the structural employment of the extremely impoverished, not just some random list that doesn't hold up to much scrutiny.

I did in a previous post about targeting the service economy. The 3 recommendations were (a) integrate depressed areas to urban core with transit links, (b) "soft skills" training and (c) targeting firms with good service class jobs. It's based on research from Richard Florida which I link to in the article.

by Ken Archer on Aug 11, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

I guess I find that wanting. I read that piece and I found it wanting when I first read it.

The transit connections exist. The problems are deeper than soft skills training. There are plenty of jobs, relatively speaking, the issue is the disconnect from job readiness and job able and the jobs that exist, even the entry level jobs such as in hospitality and retail.

Just as there is a drop off in the number of African-Americans in construction jobs in DC, haven't you noticed an increase in Hispanics, Ethiopians, etc., in retail and hospitality jobs in the city?

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?pq=jobs+friends+referrals+research&hl=en&sugexp=bvie&cp=0&gs_id=1g&xhr=t&q=getting+jobs+friends+referrals+research&qe=Z2V0dGluZyBqb2JzIGZyaWVuZHMgcmVmZXJyYWxzIHJlc2VhcmNo&qesig=rP_9tDtUbHNXY7laSDB1Pg&pkc=AFgZ2tl5lxnYqFNbde-2ieT-wCsAkqS2wAUAHG7K7U6wDprIUpxB6MyDEMPSVccEW6t9HY32JZZ_XB16NzXYz1cEOrmNeZavRg&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS403US403&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1024&bih=610&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=ws

The point is to deal with the personnel/material/labor/inputs side of the question in fundamental ways. The fact that you think it's a "soft skills" issue demonstrates that you are disconnected from the issue.

by Richard Layman on Aug 11, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

I pay taxes, a lot since I live in DC and have for 20+ years now, why should I see my streets taken away and given over to some social experiment.

I find it interesting that you view removing a lane of traffic, which you may now use, to make room for a wider sidewalk and bus lanes, which you would also be able to use, as taking your streets away from you. Wouldn't your street still be there, just serving a different purpose?

The thought being that if the area was just made more unpalatable to travel through, then people would not do it...and traffic would be better for Mr. Archer and his 38B bus home.

No. The thought is that if the roads were better balanced people would be able to choose the bus and walking, whereas now that is difficult.

How about you choose to just leave as oppose to trying to impose your idea of how the rest of us SHOULD be like you.

What, and leave gracious and welcoming neighbors like you behind?

by David C on Aug 11, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

"The thought is that if the roads were better balanced people would be able to choose the bus and walking, whereas now that is difficult."

David hits it on the head here. These aren't Rnoelm's streets or Ken Archer's streets or even Vince Gray's streets. These are public DC streets, technically owned by the US Congress, and logically owned by the residents of DC and also the businesses who pay taxes toward their maintenance.

The real goal should be throughput. If you can get more people though M Street on buses or trolleys in a dedicated lane than in cars in a clogged lane, then that should be the solution. But that analysis should be based on actual ridership, not based on capacity.

To those attacking Ken's hypocrisy, you're missing his point. He's saying that the solutions being proposed don't address their stated goal of reducing unemployment among DC residents.

I do take issue with his complaining about "most jobs in Georgetown, including the large percentage of leisure and hospitality positions, are held by Virginians." Of course they are: the disadvantaged neighborhoods along Columbia and Leesburg Pikes are much closer to Georgetown than wards 7&8 are. Bringing in more workers from the other side of the city would increase traffic and/or transit demand. Creating more unskilled jobs east of the Capitol is a better answer, although not a perfect one.

by Novanglus on Aug 11, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

@Novanglus The real goal should be throughput. If you can get more people though M Street on buses or trolleys in a dedicated lane than in cars in a clogged lane, then that should be the solution. But that analysis should be based on actual ridership, not based on capacity.

Yes, but given auto traffic from the Key Bridge, throughput on M via bus is not the is only consideration. If reducing congestion on M and Wisc. is the goal, the answer is probably reconfiguring the Key bridge or building a new bridge upstream.

by goldfish on Aug 12, 2011 8:54 am • linkreport

I could not agree more and I live in Virginia! Instead of making roads wider for suburban commuters, we should make sidewalks wider for walkers. 395 inside the District, for example, has destroyed numerous neighborhoods like the once-thriving Navy Yard (which, granted, is up and coming again, but only after 50 years! and much funding...) and has disrupted the once very walkable city grid like in Mt Vernon Triangle where I and L streets are no longer connected and walking anywhere around the Mass Ave exit area is downright unpleasant. Also, instead of building metro lines to shopping malls in Virginia, we should build metro lines that actually service the city like Glover Park or (actual) Adams Morgan or 12th and H (Atlas District) or all the neighborhoods north of Lincoln Park that are ALL MORE than a mile from a station. When I move to the District after college, I don't plan on even owning a car but the absence of metro stations in many DC neighborhoods makes those neighborhoods less viable places for me to live, which really limits my options. Manhattan is successful for two reasons: it's amazing walkability and extensive subway. Why can't people understand that? It's time to focus on our (my soon-to-be) city and its residents and to let Virginia and Maryland suffer with more traffic because it was their choice to live in the middle of nowhere in the first place. And FYI VA and MD: DC has trees, parks, single-family homes, backyards, and everything else you get in the suburbs so don't use those excuses for not living in the District. Just admit that you're too hick for city life and scared of expensive property because it means you might not be able to buy that Mercedes you've always wanted. And just so you know, that Mercedes is gonna be pretty useless once we run out of oil.

by Ben on Aug 14, 2011 5:25 pm • linkreport

This has repeatedly been addressed, laws requiring DC jobs be held by DC residents are killed by congress because MD and VA are voting members, DC is not.

by mike on Aug 14, 2011 11:01 pm • linkreport

Ben has some great thoughts.

If you look at metro areas that are our size or larger but don't have our congestion, they have some things in common:
- a dense central business district at the intersection of major transit lines
- High-speed subway system that reaches almost every neighborhood in the urban core, but not much outside it
- Trolleys, light-rails and/or commuter rails to the densest area of nearly every suburb
- Tolls on bridges
- Several bands of loop interstates or parkways connecting outer suburbs

Instead, DC:
- restricts height and density in the transit hub areas, requiring employment to spread over a larger area
- built the Metro along interstates 20 miles north and west of the city while skipping many urban neighborhoods
- has no light rail or trolley, and commuter rail systems that avoid the largest suburbs.
- has a single beltway that is way over-capacity and mixes interstate and commuter traffic.

We're starting to fill some of these gaps, but not all.

by Novanglus on Aug 14, 2011 11:35 pm • linkreport

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