Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Going private


Photo by Rob Speed on Flickr.
CCT may use private funding: With little immediate hope of public funding, developers are considering privately funding the Corridor Cities Transitway. It has to be in place before most "Science City" development can proceed. (Post)

Not what Belward owner had in mind: Johns Hopkins is probably within its rights to build large suburban office parks on Belward Farm, but that might be because they "hoodwinked a woman in her late 70s." (Post)

Arlandria project approved: Alexandria granted extra density to a mixed-use project in Arlandria. Opponents fear increased rents and gentrification, though the project entirely made of below market rate units. (Post)

Party with less paperwork: It's pretty hard to throw a block party, involving hand-carrying forms to at least 3 agencies. Councilmembers Cheh, Bowser, and Mendelson want to simplify the process. (City Paper)

Unbanked on CaBi: DC is helping unbanked residents get Capital Bikeshare memberships, as part of a larger program to assist them in getting bank accounts and credit cards.

Don't judge SF performance parking yet: SFPark manager Jay Primus says it's too early to judge the program, after Michael Perkins argued that it's not affecting driver behavior as much as expected. (Streetsblog SF)

Slow is the future: Many cities (including DC) are considering lowering speed limits because of streetcars, bicycling, and more pedestrian activity. Though pavement design can often do more to slow traffic. (Salon, RPUS)

And...: Brick sidewalks have their diadvantages. (In Shaw) ... It's hard to garden vacant lots in DC. (City Paper) ... DC has far, far less surface parking than many cities. (Old Urbanist)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

Comments

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On SFPark: Let's be clear, the data suggests that behavior isn't changing as much as Michael Perkins expected, and this expectation hasn't been quantified in any way - not the expectation of any official goal or policy.

by Alex B. on Dec 19, 2011 9:23 am • linkreport

Considering how my Dad was treated at Hopkins Bayview, lying to 70 year olds appears to be SOP for them in my opinion.

by Dave J on Dec 19, 2011 9:26 am • linkreport

“Affordable housing is just a red herring. This is about developers getting a sweetheart deal and the community getting nothing.”

Re: Arlandria,

Again, according to the story the property is well within what its zoned for and the only exception which needed council approval was an extra floor or two. What were you (the community) expecting to get? You're getting new retail options and apartments that are below rate especially for new construction. I pay ~1500 for my 1 br apt. within 1/2 mile of a metro station and that is a building that was built in the 1930's. This building isn't replacing any current apartments but it is bringing in new residents who will patronize some and many of the local small businesses nearby.

by Canaan on Dec 19, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

It is quite sad that one of the most pedestrian, traffic calmed areas of the city (the few blocks of 37th, 36th, P and O streets just outside the Georgetown gates) didn't, in its recent resurfacing regain its cobblestones, while parts of P and O with the streetcar tracks (oddly being lovingly replaced) were.

by egk on Dec 19, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

Re: Brick Sidewalks

I agree that this is form over function gone overboard. Why not create something that looks nice and fairly brick-like from some other material that performs better? I'm reminded of vinyl flooring that's made to look like hardwood but is a lot cheaper. With a brick sidewalk replacement, it wouldn't need to be cheaper as long as it performed better and still looked fancier than plain concrete.

by Falls Church on Dec 19, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

Re Arlandria:

The story says: "...The apartments, expected to rent for about $1,500 for a one-bedroom or $2,100 for a two-bedroom unit, are considered below market rate according to federal and city housing guidelines. And 28 units have been set aside to be rented at lower rates, expected to be $1,100 to $1,450.

Krupicka then says:"...“This [project] provides workforce housing, which we desperately, desperately need in Alexandria for someone just out of college, for our firefighters, teachers, administrative assistants. . . . That’s not to discount the need for low-income housing.”

It is remarkable that the rents quoted are considered affordable for people employed in such jobs. Administrative assistants? People just out of college? How about firefighters or teachers or teaching assistants or GS-5 through 7? Really?

by TomatoQueen on Dec 19, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

@CTT

While I have no doubt that a private agency could keep the cost down I would still think a light rail would be 500 million. However I am all for it being built, sooner rather than later.

by Matt R on Dec 19, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

@TomatoQueen

Those are indeed affordable rents, based on HUD's definition of what's affordable in this area.

HUD calculates the area median income for various family sizes, and then affordable rates are set at a reasonable percentage of take-home pay for someone making 60%, or 80% of the area median income (AMI).

The problem in the DC region is that the AMI is very high - 103k a year for a family of four:

http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/il/il2011/2011summary.odn?inputname=METRO47900M47900*Washington-Arlington-Alexandria%2C+DC-VA-MD+HUD+Metro+FMR+Area&selection_type=hmfa&year=2011

by Alex B. on Dec 19, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

It is remarkable that the rents quoted are considered affordable for people employed in such jobs.

I depends on how many people are living in the apartments. If two people live in a 1 bedroom, and if they have a combined income of $60K, then they will be spending 30% of their gross income on rent (if rent is $1500). That's widely considered a reasonable percentage even if you have the added expense of owning a car per person in your budget.

by Falls Church on Dec 19, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

It is remarkable that the rents quoted are considered affordable for people employed in such jobs. Administrative assistants? People just out of college? How about firefighters or teachers or teaching assistants or GS-5 through 7? Really?

by TomatoQueen on Dec 19, 2011 10:58 am

I am so with you. It's clearly not affordable. This is not the place to advocate for affordable housing, I'm afraid.

There are more housing units on the market now, but it' s never been so expensive.

by Jazzy on Dec 19, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

The nice thing about lowering speed limits is that it allows politicians to act like they're "doing something" without actually making the necessary investments in alternate transportation infrastructure; it just makes everyone's life less pleasant while trying to get around.

by JustMe on Dec 19, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

it just makes everyone's life less pleasant while trying to get around.

Well, everyone except the pedestrians, but who cares about them?

by cminus on Dec 19, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport

Krupicka then says:"...“This [project] provides workforce housing, which we desperately, desperately need in Alexandria for someone just out of college, for our firefighters, teachers, administrative assistants. . . . That’s not to discount the need for low-income housing.”

Housing policy as regards the poor is a social justice issue. Providing affordable housing opportunities to cops, firefighters, teachers, etc... is critical to the economic health of the region.

It's important that we consider both issues, but it's a mistake to conflate the two. In fact, the whole concept of "affordable housing" has been somewhat delegitimized because both its supporters and its detractors have have tended to blur the distinction between "workforce housing" and "the projects".

by oboe on Dec 19, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

Many cities (including DC) are considering lowering speed limits because of streetcars, bicycling, and more pedestrian activity.

I've long argued that the city of the future (at least its surface streets) is going to look more like an airport terminal than a super-efficient high-speed version of today's atavistic remnant of the 60s.

by oboe on Dec 19, 2011 11:37 am • linkreport

@oboe -- if that gets us moving walkways and monorails (along with the spare flying car or two), then sign me up!

by Jacques on Dec 19, 2011 11:43 am • linkreport

Well, everyone except the pedestrians, but who cares about them?

Oh, and cyclists. Pedestrians and cyclists, but everyone else suffers. And by "everyone else" of course we mean drivers of private automobiles. Heck, I'd even disagree with that: cars careering around at 35 mph on congested city streets is less pleasant than people driving at 20 mph. Certainly less stressful.

Also, I'm not sure why the "real" solution is to "mak[e] the necessary investments in alternate transportation infrastructure". We already have plenty of capacity on our surface streets. We just need to reallocate a larger slice of the public space to people walking, cycling, and riding streetcars and buses.

Of course, the best thing about this would be that it would make the city even *more* attractive to people who are attracted to the unique benefits of urban living, and make it even less attractive to those who want to live a car-oriented lifestyle. Which of course would make it easier to implement policies going forward. A virtuous cycle.

by oboe on Dec 19, 2011 11:47 am • linkreport

Re: Arlandria again,

Not to mention that new construction in Alexandria/arlington usually has 1 BR's starting at 1800 and above (including buildings that were built a few blocks either direction from this site) I'd say 1500 for something brand new is still pretty good. It'd be awesome if I could pay 2/3rd's of what I pay now as well but thats not the reality.

by Canaan on Dec 19, 2011 12:20 pm • linkreport

RE: CCT
Construction of the CCT BRT system to Metropolitan Grove will allow Science City development to proceed to its next stage. Metropolitan Grove is an appropriate terminus to the transitway, as the funding delay will allow development and population patterns in Clarksburg and Germantown to justify the extension of the Red Line to Germantown. This is a positive move and the County’s new BRT system will integrate well into the transitway. Private sector funding of the CCT is feasible and would jumpstart development just as Montgomery County’s Biotech Triangle is coming to fruition. This is positive move that should be encouraged with additional development densities for Science City developers that will allow Science City to compete with other international centers as a premier innovation center for the US. Science City is vital to the economic future of the US and should be encouraged at all levels of government.

by Cyrus on Dec 19, 2011 7:55 pm • linkreport

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