Greater Greater Washington


Breakfast links: Not welcome here

Photo by cgauthier2112 on Flickr.
Barry wants ban on apartments: Marion Barry wants to ban new apartment buildings in all of Ward 8, saying renters "will allow drug dealers" in their neighborhoods. No word on what people who can't afford a mortgage should do. (City Paper)

Park Police ruin a family's 4th: A North Carolina family left their spot on the Mall on the 4th to see the Vietnam Memorial, told they could reenter. But at 9:03, the Park Police refused to let them in, and wouldn't even let them retrieve their blankets and food. (Post, Steve O)

Do we need a cyclist anti-harassment bill?: WABA proposes a law against intentionally harassing cyclists, which might apply to a person who wrote on the Ballston Patch that when encountering someone on a bike, she revs her engine "in hopes of scaring the sheets out of the offensive biker."

Alexandria pushing wider roads for Mark Center: The Alexandria city council wants to widen Beauregard Street, to the Mark Center. Some residents argue that more capacity will mean more cars, and there should be more transit instead. (WAMU)

No tax breaks for facadectomies: The IRS is cracking down on tax breaks for historic façade easements. Homeowners promise not to change historic façades, donate the promise as an easement, and claim a cash value for the donation. But preservation rules already prevent historic façade changes. (Post, Alex B.)

London bike sharing turns one: Now one year old, Barclays Cycle Hire has been a big success, but "dockblocking" problems are still significant and most users are white men. However, an associated photo gallery includes testimonials from many people who aren't white men. (Observer, Stephen Miller)

Metro morsels: Mike Barnes, recently-appointed WMATA Board member from Maryland, wouldn't mind stepping down if it could make the board smaller (Post) ... Metro installed a new escalator at Foggy Bottom, the first new one in 15 years (Post) ... The new 7000 series rail cars will have fewer seats but space for more riders. (Examiner)

And...: Tysons Corner residents are worried a new Wal-Mart will bring more traffic (Fairfax Times) ... It took the District almost a year to demolish a structurally unsafe house in Trinidad (District Curmudgeon) ... A city in Spain gave residents free transit passes for life in exchange for giving up their cars. (Springwise)

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Jamie Scott is a resident of Ward 3 in DC and a regular Metrobus commuter. He believes in good government, livable communities and quality public transit. Jamie holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown. 


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Didn't the Post do a big piece on the easement tax dodge about five years ago? I guess it took a while to get the IRS' attention.

by TM on Jul 12, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

Oh, now I see that the Post trumpeted its own horn a couple times in the article. Eh, good for them I guess.

by TM on Jul 12, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

since the new york avenue station opened less than 15 years ago, and it has 4 escalators, that statement that this is the first new escalator in 15 years can't be right.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jul 12, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

Now we know why the escalators at Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle south needed to be replaced. From Washington Post: "The escalators at Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom are special because they were custom-built, Kubicek said. That makes finding replacement parts even tougher." Dupont Circle south had only 2 escalators when the station opened in 1977. They were replace with the 3 that are there now, I don't recall year they were replaced 1990s I'm guessing. On the other hand the 3 at Dupont Circle north are the originals from 1977, rehabilitated and upgraded several times.

by Sand Box John on Jul 12, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

@Geoffrey Hatchard:
The Washington Post article makes it clear that it's the first new escalator at a station that isn't new in 15 years.

by Matt Johnson on Jul 12, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

re: dockblocking

I've always wondered why there are notany more docks than bikes. Is building the docks expensive or is space limiting? In some places like H St, if you're blocked, you're screwed because there are no other nearby options.

by Falls Church on Jul 12, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

Yes, but...a facade easement is irrevocable, and thus represents a transfer in value from the property owner to the easement holder. A historic district is revocable, at least in theory.

by Paul on Jul 12, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

Thanks, Matt! Should have clicked through...

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jul 12, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

"dockblocking" problems are still significant and most users are white men.

Newsflash: White-collar workers in central London are mostly white men, and London's got a pretty sharp divide between residential and business areas. Also, the Tube and rail transit in general are way more expensive than they should be in the Greater London area. Of course, London's got major capacity problems across the board, so "market pricing" may indeed be the lesser evil.*

A bastion of racial diversity, Britain is not. I'd focus more on the socioeconomic status of the users than the color of their skin -- race is not nearly as much of an issue in the UK (at least in the way that we think of it here) as social stratification and lack of upward mobility are.

(This is an issue in the US too, but it's so hopelessly tangled with our race issues that any productive dialogue on the subject is virtually impossible.)

*And there's a lesson for the height limit debate. London's a low-rise city that has major congestion issues across the board, despite having congestion pricing on roads, and an extensive bus, subway, and suburban rail network. "Density" and "Height" are not one-dimensional causes/solutions of congestion issues. The dockblocking problem is a symptom of a much larger problem, where jobs and residences are not evenly distributed across the city, resulting in lots of needless traveling and commuting, be it by bicycle, car, or train.

by andrew on Jul 12, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

@Geoffrey Hatchard

The post specifically states in the first sentence of the article: "For the first time in more than a decade, Metro has a new escalator that isn’t in a new station.

by Sand Box John on Jul 12, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

@Falls Church
've always wondered why there are notany more docks than bikes.

There are many more docks than bikes:

There are about 1730 docks and 900 bikes. The problem is that people's travel patterns are not evenly distributed - on any day (including weekends) people want to go to the same places at the same time. So the docks in those places fill up while others are nearly empty.

by MLD on Jul 12, 2011 10:13 am • linkreport

@Sand Box John

I'm sure being custom-built makes it hard to get replacement parts - I know Metro has to fabricate their own in such situations - but if the three Dupont South escalators were really installed in the 1990s, why do they already need to be completely replaced? Especially since the South entrance has a canopy, unlike the North side. Is it just that difficult to maintain them, both because of parts and because most techs aren't familiar with their design?

by Dizzy on Jul 12, 2011 10:19 am • linkreport

I read the Post letter re: July 4 on the Mall this weekend and was saddened but not surprised. I've never been fond of the Mall to begin with, especially in summer, but I've largely avoided it for almost a decade now because of the whole police state mentality of this city, and the Park Police is the worst. I can't see myself going there for a large event ever again.

by spookiness on Jul 12, 2011 10:38 am • linkreport

The unspoken solution for Mark Center, at least with regards to Beauregard St, is to widen the road, but reserve the extra width for transit vehicles only. This fits in well with the high capacity transit proposal for the Beauregard/Van Dorn corridor currently making its way through the process (and of which I *REALLY* need to write an article for).

by Froggie on Jul 12, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

Re: tysons wal-mart.

Regardless of one's feelings about wal-marts business practices its telling that the arrival of one store causes such ire about traffic that it may scuttle the whole thing. I think that more indicative on the traffic planning thats been allowed there over the years than any particular store. It's not like there aren't any big box stores in tysons (or massive shopping malls). Its just easier to try and block development than it is to fix the underlying traffic failures.

by canaan on Jul 12, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

Marion Barry needs to go 'head and retire. He won't..but needs to.

Much of what he said regarding renters EOTR is likely true. But really Barry? No new apartments? That makes no sense.

by HogWash on Jul 12, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport


What kind of transit? Just curious - would it be an extension to the planned streetcar line?

I once figured out a potential Metro line that would connect the Mark Center to the Yellow, Blue, Orange and Silver Lines...if Metro wants to consider it it might actually be viable as an underground line. But the trouble with Mark Center and transit as I've been able to figure thus far is that it's relatively removed from anything to which it could conveniently be linked.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jul 12, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

@Ser Amantio: the proposal that recently received approval from the study workgroup is for BRT between Van Dorn Metro and Mark Center, with extensions to both Shirlington and the Pentagon. An extension of the Columbia Pike streetcar was studied, but is not being recommended at this time.

The 1968 Approved Regional System for Metro had a "future extension" from the Pentagon (the reason for the tunnel widening just south of the station) along Columbia Pike, then down Seminary Rd, then along I-395 to Lincolnia. Such an extension would have easily served Mark Center.

by Froggie on Jul 12, 2011 1:04 pm • linkreport

I have deleted a comment by @Jerome. Please keep the discussion civil.

by Matt Johnson on Jul 12, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport


Huh - interesting. I knew there were Metro expansion plans dating back that far, but I didn't realize there was one that would have worked for Columbia Pike. Pity they never went with that; I wonder what that whole stretch would be like now if they had.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jul 12, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

I work at the Skyline complex at Seminary and Leesburg Pike. A subway or streetcar line that looped from Pentagon City to Skyline along the planned Columbia Pike route, then circled back to the BRAC building there on Beauregard and over to Van Dorn would be very useful, for me and for thousands of others who work, live, play, and study around here.

by Matt W on Jul 12, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

Much of what he said regarding renters EOTR is likely true. But really Barry? No new apartments? That makes no sense.

This isn't the first time Barry has come out in favor of a fairly anti-poor initiative. I think it says quite a bit about the demographic trend in DC, and Ward 8 in particular.

by oboe on Jul 12, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport


. . .why do they already need to be completely replaced?

I’m assuming that is a rhetorical question. If not the answer is pretty simple. As you and Dave Kubicek said. "Vendors couldn’t service what was in there." WMATA logically come to the conclusion that the best solution was dispose of the unreliable, oddball, hard to get parts for escalators and replace them with a known commodity.

What I am curious about is, what exactly was done when the change from 2 escalators to 3 was made. Did the contractor totally remove the old escalators and replace them with new ones or did he strip the 2 down to their bare frames, move the middle one over rebuild them and install the 3rd.

@Ser Amantio di Nicolao, Matt W:

03 01 1968 Adopted Regional System Map

by Sand Box John on Jul 12, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, This isn't the first time Barry has come out in favor of a fairly anti-poor initiative.

This also isn't the first or last time Barry will be DC's own resident chameleon. He can be whatever people accuse him of being want him to be.

Poverty pimp? Check
Anti-poor? Check

Of course I don't see how this is really anti-poor. But then again, when he suggested to cut of TANF after 5 years, the media did play that as anti-poor. So I guess....

by HogWash on Jul 12, 2011 2:43 pm • linkreport

@Sand Box John

I guess it was one part rhetorical and one part incredulous. This seems like a pretty self-inflicted wound if they agreed to a custom installation, knowing it would be a one-of-a-kind (well, three-of-a-kind) job that would inevitably pose huge maintenance issues.

Or did the company that installed this custom job go out of business? That seems like the sort of thing you have to consider to be a possibility when deciding on whether to install equipment that is meant to last 30 years.

by Dizzy on Jul 12, 2011 3:04 pm • linkreport


According to Barry, it's all about encouraging homeownership, which stands at only 24 percent of residents in Ward 8. Instead of developing apartment buildings, he wants to get all the boarded-up houses renovated and occupied, with city-subsidized home loans to help people buy them. Because it's homeowners, not renters, who help improve the area.

"Renters, by their very nature, don't keep up their neighborhoods like homeowners would," Barry tells me. "Renters will allow drug dealers in the neighborhood. It's a fact. It's a doggone fact."

Just taking a quick look on Zillow (very scientific, I know) around the Barry Farms development, I see a few houses in the $150k-$200k range--also a ton of foreclosures.

What do you think the odds are of a poor family getting a mortgage in the current environment, and making the $800 / month mortgage payments without getting into trouble?

Leaving aside the "renters attract drug dealers" aspect, it's pretty clear that curtailing apartment units is curtailing affordable housing for the poor.

As someone who thinks the suburbs should be shouldering a much greater burden of the region's poor, I don't even necessarily think this is a bad direction to go. But it is what it is. And it's a significant cultural shift indicating a change in the attitudes of the EOTR middle-class. Barry's a savvy politician first and foremost.

by oboe on Jul 12, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

Alternately, it could be that Barry is simply trying to pursue a kind of anti-density policy, driving down the Ward 8 population in anticipation of the 2020 census, at which point, he hopes to gain everything east of the Capitol building in a bold redistricting gambit.

by oboe on Jul 12, 2011 3:16 pm • linkreport

Curious to know how the Boris Bike operators collect the age and race of all of their users. There is no age or race question on the online registration form I located at

Perhaps they cross-reference user names and addresses with public records? Seems like a timely endeavor.

by Alan Page on Jul 12, 2011 4:24 pm • linkreport

Leaving aside the "renters attract drug dealers" aspect, it's pretty clear that curtailing apartment units is curtailing affordable housing for the poor.

Affordable housing is not "for the poor" - that's section 8 housing. Middle-class folks - families or singles - would love some affordable housing.

Do you think Barry can hang on for the 2020 census. He'd be 84 by then.

by greent on Jul 12, 2011 4:48 pm • linkreport

Alternately, it could be that Barry is simply trying to pursue a kind of anti-density policy, driving down the Ward 8 population in anticipation of the 2020 census, at which point, he hopes to gain everything east of the Capitol building in a bold redistricting gambit.

by oboe on Jul 12, 2011 3:16 pm

I'm guessing you mean this ironically. If not, do you really expect Barry to still be alive, much less still in office in 2020? The man's lived a long, hard, at times ragged life with multiple health problems and I can't imagine he's going to be around all that much longer.

by Mike O on Jul 12, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

Actually, the article says the 7000 series will have MORE seats... than other recent cars. The 7000s will have fewer seats than the 1000s.

by Turnip on Jul 12, 2011 5:24 pm • linkreport

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