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Breakfast links: Money problems


Photo by mtsofan on Flickr.
Washington income is high and diverse: Our area tops the nation in median household income, but only 77% of the area's income comes from wages. That puts us in 57th place, meaning that a good portion of our income comes from elsewhere. (Atlantic Cities)

All about the money: At Monday's Dream City panel discussion, both of the book's co-authors agreed that money, not race, local government, or politics, is now the most powerful force shaping DC's future. (Examiner)

"Riding and running" a problem in DC: Cabbies complain that many passengers exit cabs without paying. The meter system has made it harder for drivers to request payment upfront since the total fare varies more than it did with the zone system. (DCist)

100 homes for 100 Arlingtonians: Arlington will give apartments to 100 of the county's most vulnerable homeless residents. The county will also provide a case worker for each recipient. (Examiner)

Occupy K Street, kill the grass: Protester encampments at McPherson Square are killing the grass. Some are trying to reseed the now-barren parts of the park. (Examiner)

Car fatalities plummet: The number of people killed in area car crashes has dropped 44% in 10 years. The number of cyclists and pedestrians killed has remained the same, while the number of people walking and cycling has grown. (Examiner)

Reeves Center gets undue credit: Politicians often credit the Reeves Center with revitalizing U Street. However, much of the street's revitalization didn't happen until long after the building's 1986 opening. (RPUS)

And...: The Washington squirrel famine is nigh! (Post) ... Ride On is beta-testing a real-time bus tracker. (Ride On) ... Capital Bikeshare offers a 3-day pass. (Post)

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Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 

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Killing the grass: the ultimate first world/white people problem

by aaa on Oct 21, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

It's true that there are many problems with DC Taxis. However, I don't think that very many of them have to do with the passengers.

by andrew on Oct 21, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

$7 is insane for a one-day pass on CaBi. That is a price aimed at tourists, not at casual users.

by Jasper on Oct 21, 2011 10:30 am • linkreport

Didn't Mao try to eliminate mosquitoes by killing the grass?

by Lo Mein on Oct 21, 2011 10:35 am • linkreport

"He credits the drop in vehicular fatalities to the economy and high gasoline prices, which are causing people to drive less and drive slower.

"When gas prices go up, people slow down and that saves lives," Farrell said."

Really? DO we have evidence that median speeds have decreased in the last decade? And if they have, do we know that enforcement or other factors haven't been the cause?

Car fatalities have decreased in the last decade because the vehicle fleet safety has skyrocketed, as has seatbelt usage.

by CJ on Oct 21, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

There's a lot of useful information that's left out of the incident rate article. With the data available, the author could have told us if incident rates increased at the same rate as ridership. That could tell us if individual rider safety has increased or decreased in the decade. Just telling us how many more cyclists and pedestrians were killed, and referencing increased ridership and walking, doesn't give us a rate.

by CJ on Oct 21, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

@aaa : +1000

In a country where people are on the streets begging for food, students are drowning in debt, and over 9% unemployment, the grass in McPherson Sq is the least of our worries. Besides, it looks like they're trying to reseed the lawn.

by John M on Oct 21, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

AT $5/sq ft they are way overpaying for sod. I had my yard sodded for less than half that, and it was a much smaller project so less efficiencies.

by ah on Oct 21, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

I guess I'm the only DC resident who has sympathy for cab drivers. First off, their fares are capped at a low level compared to other cities. When I visit my family in San Diego, it's $50 for a 20 minute ride to the airport. The same ride in DC (from Petworth to National Airport) is less than $20, and hasn't increased substantially in the last 10 years (in fact, most intra-DC fares actually decreased when the zone system was abolished).

Second, while I've certainly had bad cab experiences, 90% of my rides have been uneventful and professional. My success rate on the metro bus system has been considerably worse.

Cabs perform a valuable service in the city, and it bothers me that dumping on these guys (most of whom are barely making a living) seems to be de rigeour among in the DC blogosphere. So much for standing up for working people, eh?

by Jeff on Oct 21, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

Why can't taxi drivers obtain a deposit up front with meters? Obviously they won't know the exact amount, but they should have an idea of how much it will be to a destination--they can ask for a lowball figure beforehand if they're really concerned.

by ah on Oct 21, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

Simple solution to the "riders and runners" problem. Install special door locks that only open once the passenger has paid either by swiping their card or passing cash through a bill-reader.

Or simple solution #2: require a cash deposit up front, or a credit card swipe to start the ride. If you don't pay or swipe, the car doesn't move.

Now that we've solved that, some things I'd like to see improved from the customer's side:

1) Require that all drivers a) speak English b) are not using their cellphones or texting while driving c) completely PULL OVER to the curb when dropping off passengers--otherwise they block traffic flow and risk passenger safety d) have criminal background checks.

by LuvDusty on Oct 21, 2011 11:01 am • linkreport

In re the coming squirrel famine, a little culling in my neighborhood wouldn't be a bad thing. The only predators the beasts have are cars. And the occasional powerline transformer.

by ksu499 on Oct 21, 2011 11:02 am • linkreport

Re: Taxis
I rarely take taxis so I'm not sure about this, but they don't have credit card machines in the cabs, do they? In NYC (yes, I'm sorry NYC) the cabs were mandated to have cc machines which the cabbies griped about but was great for fares because that way you don't have to have cash, the cabbies won't get robbed for cash, and (to the point of the article) maybe that's how they can get their up-front "deposit" - fares have to run their cc through the machine before the cabbie starts the meter and then pays at the end of the ride. Just a thought...

by dc denizen on Oct 21, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

@dc denizen--My suspicion is that the group of "ride and run"ners is not for the most part the heavy users of credit cards. You're not going to be able to outlaw cash transactions in taxis (i.e., credit only) so it's not going to solve the problem.

by ah on Oct 21, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

@LuvDusty
Simple solution to the "riders and runners" problem. Install special door locks that only open once the passenger has paid either by swiping their card or passing cash through a bill-reader.

Ahh yes, the "simple solution" is to trap riders in the cab until they pay up. I don't see this going wrong at all!

by MLD on Oct 21, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

It's interesting to hear that there is a squirrel shortage. There does seem to be the occassional dead squirrel sprawled out in Logan Circle or Franklin Square. Maybe a squirrel relocation is in order.

Photobucket

by aaa on Oct 21, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

Killing the grass: the ultimate first world/white people problem

Actually, this is a case of the "tragedy of the commons" which has existed for hundreds of years and is a problem that afflicts countries around the world. The phrase refers to common land in Britain that could be grazed by any herder for free. Invariably, the land was overgrazed and the grass destroyed.

We see the same thing happen with our "commons" in DC, most notably at the mall. Protest groups come in and trample all the grass, killing it and we're left with barren soil that's packed down hard as asphalt. Part of the permitting process should ensure that whoever wants to use parkland restores the space to its original state or pays an equivalent fee.

by Falls Church on Oct 21, 2011 11:44 am • linkreport

In a country where people are on the streets begging for food, students are drowning in debt, and over 9% unemployment, the grass in McPherson Sq is the least of our worries.

Yeah, every protest group that comes to DC thinks that their right to expression trumps all other considerations. But freedom isn't free -- apparently it costs $5 per square foot in sod.

by Falls Church on Oct 21, 2011 11:53 am • linkreport

But freedom isn't free -- apparently it costs $5 per square foot in sod.

Internalizing replacement costs might make camping on hard, but relatively indestructible, pavement more attractive.

by ah on Oct 21, 2011 12:06 pm • linkreport

@ Falls Chruch:apparently it costs $5 per square foot in sod.

Isn't that what the NPS gets tax money for? The NPS can reasonably expect protests in several parks in DC. It should budget for the results of those protests.

by Jasper on Oct 21, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

"to 100 of the county's most vulnerable homeless residents..."

I'd love to see how this is defined.

by Andrew in DC on Oct 21, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

How will they find the 100 most vulnerable homeless residents? It will be like that old TV show, "Queen for a Day", where each housewife contestant had to talk publicly about the recent financial and emotional hard times she had been through. Their stories were rated by the live audience via the applause meter and whoever had the most miserable story won. Only I'm sure Arlington Co. will rate the stories via some sort of panel and forgo the applause meter.

by ksu499 on Oct 21, 2011 1:30 pm • linkreport

One word:

Squirrelpocalypse

by Crickey7 on Oct 21, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

The NPS can reasonably expect protests in several parks in DC. It should budget for the results of those protests.

First off, NPS does not have funds to repair grass from national events like the fourth of july and casual wear-and-tear, much less privately sponsored events. Hence, the condition of grass on the Mall. In fact, NPS specifically asked for funds from Congress to repair the grass on the Mall on they were denied.

Second, it should be not be the role of government to subsidize every group that wants to exercise their freedom of assembly by cleaning up after them. Whether it's a visit from the Pope/Dalai Lama or Free Yoga Day, with the right of assembly on public property comes the responsibility to do no harm.

by Falls Church on Oct 21, 2011 2:33 pm • linkreport

@ Falls Church:In fact, NPS specifically asked for funds from Congress to repair the grass on the Mall on they were denied.

Another sign that Congress is broken.

Second, it should be not be the role of government to subsidize every group that wants to exercise their freedom of assembly by cleaning up after them.

The NPS is there to keep the parks open to the public. It does not matter what the public does in the parks. As long as the public stick to the park rules, it can just walk around, ride their bike, or demonstrate.

by Jasper on Oct 21, 2011 2:42 pm • linkreport

"The NPS is there to keep the parks open to the public. It does not matter what the public does in the parks. As long as the public stick to the park rules, it can just walk around, ride their bike, or demonstrate"

and lots of large NPS facilites charge admission. (ive got my annual pass). Thats not really feasible for places like the National Mall - it seems reasonable that to keep places like that up, users of all kinds need to do their fair share. Intense users, like big events, should perhaps do more.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 21, 2011 3:15 pm • linkreport

As long as the public stick to the park rules, it can just walk around, ride their bike, or demonstrate.

Of course, everyone should be free to do whatever they want as long as they follow the rules. One of the existing rules is that if you want to hold a big event you need a pay a user fee for a permit. What I'm saying is that permit should be raised to cover the cost of restoring the public space to the state it was in prior to the event.

by Falls Church on Oct 21, 2011 3:56 pm • linkreport

@ Falls Church: What I'm saying is that permit should be raised to cover the cost of restoring the public space to the state it was in prior to the event.

Why? Do you leave any park without leaving a trace? And what does that mean? Every time you see a bear in a park, it becomes more used to interacting with people. How would you restore that?

Secondly, charging for restoration costs would make protesting expensive and hence impede free speech.

by Jasper on Oct 21, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

Jasper,

Here are the existing rules for getting a park permit. As you can see, what I'm suggesting is very much in the spirit of the existing rules:

"As a matter of long standing practice, NPS requires applicants to post a monetary bond prior to the even to cover costs incurred when NPS employees are required to work overtime for event monitoring and for any needed site restoration following the event.

The Cost Recovery Program will be applied to the National Mall, President's Park, Rock Creek Park...

The Cost Recovery Program will affect permits for "special events", which includes sports events, pageants, celebrations, historical reenactments, regattas..."

Basically, all I'm really saying is that McPherson Square should be added to the list of parks where the Cost Recovery Program is applicable.

by Falls Church on Oct 21, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

Jasper,

Cost recovery is all reasonableness should only apply to special events which a political protest clearly is, and walk in the park clearly is not.

Secondly, charging for restoration costs would make protesting expensive and hence impede free speech.

People have a right to free speech. People don't have a right to have the government subsidize that speech by paying to clean up after them or repair damage.

by Falls Church on Oct 21, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport

"Basically, all I'm really saying is that McPherson Square should be added to the list of parks where the Cost Recovery Program is applicable."

Why McPherson? Because it's been used twice for protests after the popo push people out of LaFayette.

McPherson isn't a park like rock creek or a big federal parklike area like the mall, ellipse or lfayette. It is a square whose biggest uses are as a staging area for hobo pooping free food getting district residents and workweek lunch breaks.

For the Mall and Rock creek, I agree with the cost return. For McPherson, I would agree with booting the protesters onto the mall... and then making them get their parents to pay. (Did the post say how many GWU students are camping in McPherson?)

by greent on Oct 21, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

National Park rules prohibit destroying plants, so how are these activities complying with the rules? (I also believe camping is permitted only pursuant to permit in a designated area or with a backcountry permit)

by ah on Oct 21, 2011 6:24 pm • linkreport

The rule in many national parks -- and certainly the ethic -- is "pack it in, pack it out." In the same spirit, groups using the National Mall for events -- concerts, masses, rallies -- should certainly clean up themselves and/or pay for it.

by Bob on Oct 24, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

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