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Breakfast links: Affordable

Photo by mkuhnert on Flickr.
Time to study affordable housing: Mayor Gray has formed a committee to devise a long-term strategy for affordable housing. He says it'll focus more on reducing dependence on services than on generating more housing. (Post, City Paper)

No vacancy at shelters: With the demand for temporary shelter space exceeding supply, DC is renting hotel rooms to fill the gap. Meanwhile, shelter residents wait nearly a decade to receive public housing or a voucher. (City Paper)

How would you fund Metro?: WMATA wants input from riders on how to bridge their 2013 budget shortfall and how to structure their finances going forward. The survey will run until March 12.

Stop harassment on Metro: Several women have been harassed on Metro, and told the DC Council yesterday they think the agency isn't doing enough about it. CEO Richard Sarles and Police Chief Michael Taborn promised action. (WAMU)

McDonnell for DC autonomy: Governor McDonnell quietly endorsed budget autonomy, which would let DC set its budget without Congressional approval. A bill in Congress to grant the right has been stuck over abortion provisions. (Post)

Crosswalk faces hurdles: Chevy Chase residents want a crosswalk along a long residential stretch of Connecticut Avenue that currently doesn't have one. Building one, though, would require two years, significant state study, and at least $200,000. (Patch)

Google goes real-time: Google's leadership and its GTFS standard have led to many neat transit apps beyond just Google's own. Now it's pushing to expand the standard to include real-time information. 6 cities are on board, but real-time data is more complex than schedules and routes, creating challenges. (xconomy, thm)

Mayors on transit: Toronto's Mayor Ford fired its transit chief for opposing the mayor's increasingly controversial policies to only focus on building subways, not light rail or streetcars. (Toronto Star) ... Chicago's Mayor Emanuel dedicated $7.3 million in tax increment financing to build BRT lines. (WBEZ)

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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.  


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Post article is vague, but it's doubtful that the GOP would grant budget autonomy without attaching some poison pill provision.

by Rich on Feb 23, 2012 9:18 am • linkreport

$200,000-250,000 for a crosswalk? That is an example of what is wrong with government.

by ArlCoRes on Feb 23, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

Define affordable housing? Affordable for the federal workforce should be the federal district's main priority. You want the people who work here, to live, pay taxes and spend money here.

$300K condos are not affordable. $1400-1600 rent is not affordable.

by Redline SOS on Feb 23, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport


Thats for a traffic light AND crosswalk. As the article says, just a crosswalk would be much cheaper.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 9:55 am • linkreport

@ArlCoRes, the $200K to $250K is the cost for a traffic light and crosswalk combo, not just a crosswalk. It is the 2 years to do the study and engineering, then install the traffic light and crosswalk that is a bit excessive.

True budget autonomy for DC is unlikely to happen. Always going to be someone in a position of power in Congress who is going to attach riders or use the DC budget for some purely political purposes to score points.

by AlanF on Feb 23, 2012 9:58 am • linkreport

Chevy Chase Village is making lots of money from their red light cameras in that same stretch so that cost should be inconsequential.

In fact it would be nice if they would take that money and use it to underground the utilities on that stretch of Connecticut so we'd have a nicer view as we plod along at 28 mph.

by TomQ on Feb 23, 2012 9:59 am • linkreport

Sounds like Chevy Chase residents need to do some guerrilla crosswalk painting.
Waiting for the MDSHA/DOT to anything regarding the pedestrian experience in close in suburbs is futile. They are completely tone deaf on the issue.

by thump on Feb 23, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

"Post article is vague, but it's doubtful that the GOP would grant budget autonomy without attaching some poison pill provision."

Roll Call also got their hands of McDonnell's letter, and indeed, McDonnell only supports budget autonomy with the abortion restrictions that Issa originally proposed.

McDonnell wrote: "under [Issa's] proposal, the city would be able to spend its own money ... subject to Congressional restrictions placed the previous years (such as tax payer funding for abortion)."

Roll call article:

sorry, I don't know how to do fancy things like italics and embedding links!

by Birdie on Feb 23, 2012 10:09 am • linkreport

2 years is simply an outrageous length of time for the government to churn away on the question of whether to build a crosswalk. Seriously?

The State Highway Administration must first conduct studies to determine that there is a sizable number of pedestrians attempting to cross the street near the village hall. How about this? Paint a test crosswalk and put up a temporary signal tomorrow. Enlist some volunteers from the neighborhood to count pedestrians and monitor traffic. Use the results to decide whether to keep the crosswalk and the signal. We should have a government that works to satisfy people's needs, not to satisfy its own interests in endless hand-wringing.

by Arl Fan on Feb 23, 2012 10:14 am • linkreport

"We should have a government that works to satisfy people's needs, not to satisfy its own interests in endless hand-wringing."

Everything I know about state DOT's is that they'd rather do things quickly with less study. I imagine they are constrained by law to do studies before adding crosswalks to existing roads, to protect the interests of drivers - drivers who may not trust the neighborhood volunteers to be unbiased.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

Took the metro survey most of the options flat out suck. It seems metro is going to become to expensive for all non government rush hours use soon.

by Matt R on Feb 23, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

The crossing in question is already an unmarked crosswalk under Maryland law. Chevy Chase Village has its own police force. They don't need anyone's permission to enforce the law. Why don't they start ticketing drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk? That would change driver behavior quickly.

by Ben Ross on Feb 23, 2012 11:21 am • linkreport

@Arl Fan "How about this? Paint a test crosswalk and put up a temporary signal tomorrow. Enlist some volunteers from the neighborhood to count pedestrians and monitor traffic. Use the results to decide whether to keep the crosswalk and the signal. We should have a government that works to satisfy people's needs, not to satisfy its own interests in endless hand-wringing."

Fan ... this is not stuff you find down at Home Depot. Crosswalk paint has to withstand weather, tires, and whatever else for a number of years, be visible in all kinds of light conditions, and be of a certain color and reflectivity. The same goes for a traffic signal. Traffic counts and pedestrian monitoring has to be done by organisations qualified to do so. You don't use someone with a clicker and a beach chair.

These are all federal standards. This is so it's done the same way all over the country. Contrary to your screed, this is precisely in the people's interest, and not the government's.

by Jack Love on Feb 23, 2012 11:33 am • linkreport

Sounds like Chevy Chase residents need to do some guerrilla crosswalk painting.

I'll paint the crosswalk, and outfit each side of the road with a selection of day-glo orange cinder-blocks for only $70k.

by oboe on Feb 23, 2012 11:36 am • linkreport

@Ben Ross-It's wishful thinking that police will enforce failure to yield to pedestrians. They won't do it...ever.
@AWalker...-Everything I've seen with MDSHA is that they don't care a single bit about the pedestrian experience and could care less about the context of the highway. They are only concerned with moving cars. Adding value to adjacent land use and pedestrian/bike safety are given lip service, no more.

by thump on Feb 23, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

@Redline SOS

If $300K is the price to beat for a condo to be affordable to federal workers, then there is *plenty* of affordable housing in the DC area. On my block, there's a newly renovated single-family home on the market for $119K. Commute to Union Station is 30 minutes by bus-metro or 15-20 minutes driving. Neighborhood isn't great, but it's better than Columbia Heights and similar city neighborhoods.

Why is it so cheap? It's in PG county, and hence the yuppie/hipster crowds aren't interested. Get out of the yuppie/hipster enclaves, and you'll find plenty of affordable housing for sale inside the beltway. (Rental is a different story, though.)

by jms on Feb 23, 2012 11:44 am • linkreport


Why is it so cheap?

I'm guessing because it's got the poor school quality of DC, but without any of the urbanism. Where exactly are we talking about?

by oboe on Feb 23, 2012 11:53 am • linkreport

@Jack Love-Actually you do use someone in a beach chair with a clicker. That's almost exactly how it's done.

We're also talking about a temporary painting. There really isn't a great need to make it conform to the "standard" in the short term. It just needs to illustrate that yes, people would walk there if there was a crosswalk.

The bottom line is that the SHA plays the "chicken or egg" game all the time. There are no pedestrians so no pedestrian facilities are needed, but there won't be any pedestrians until facilities are put in place.

by thump on Feb 23, 2012 11:55 am • linkreport

I'm guessing because it's got the poor school quality of DC, but without any of the urbanism.

Uhm, isn't that where most affordable housing located? In undesirable n'hoods?

I'm not sure how that changes the fact of what jms stated. That is, there's lots of affordable housing in the DC area.

by HogWash on Feb 23, 2012 12:01 pm • linkreport

Did anyone else see Metro spokesman Dan Stessel's "response" to the women concerned about harassment on the Metro?

It includes such classic quotes as:

"It really isn't a big issue. There are a minuscule number of incidents of actual crime."

and the best:

"One person's harassment is another person's flirting."

What's next, "by dressing that way they were asking for it?"

by Phil on Feb 23, 2012 12:59 pm • linkreport


Sure, but he asked why the "hipster/yuppies" don't want to move to PG County, as though that was the obvious solution. Answer is "all of the negatives of living in DC with none of the positives." But, heck, there's no need to go to PG; there's plenty of affordable housing in DC:

$70k -
$100k -
$145k -

No "hipster/yuppies" (or buppies) here either. Can't for the life of me figure out why, though.

by oboe on Feb 23, 2012 1:39 pm • linkreport

Fund WMATA by a direct transfer from the Pentagon budget, preferably by cancelling the mini (insect sized) drone program.

by Douglas Willinger on Feb 23, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

@Oboe, Ironically, all of the listings are in W8. So I believe that sorta gets to jms' point about affordable housing not being sought out in places such as in 20032..not part of the hipster/yuppie enclave.

by HogWash on Feb 23, 2012 2:12 pm • linkreport

Im pretty sure Mayor Grey wasnt thinking about yuppies or hipsters when discussing the need for affordable housing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 23, 2012 2:30 pm • linkreport

I guess I'm kind of missing @jms' point. Perhaps I was thrown off by the gratuitous "yuppie/hipster" thing. If the argument is "There's cheap housing to be had in DC..." I'm right there with you. I've got young friends who currently live in Columbia Heights who are moving out to the Fort Totten area. Others moving across the river. (Not sure if they're [y|b]uppie/hipsters, though they do have Bikeshare memberships.)

My guess is that the same gentrifying effects that transformed the Hill east of 14th street over the last half decade will jump the river and accelerate over the next five. So the affordable housing may not be affordable for very long.

by oboe on Feb 23, 2012 2:33 pm • linkreport

Somewhere along the line the concept of "affordable housing" became "a cheap luxury condo in the best part of town." Guess what, nice things cost more. Thus the nice places in the nice parts of the city are for people who can afford them. You want to spend $300 bucks on a car (like I once did), you get an 83 Ford Escort with no air-conditioning, not a Ferrari. You want to spend $800 a month in rent, you get a dump in PG county, not a brand new building in Penn Quarter.

by seaster on Feb 23, 2012 2:36 pm • linkreport

@Jack Love: These are all federal standards. This is so it's done the same way all over the country.

I'm sure you're exactly right. But why on earth do we want to have a system that requires that planning a basic crosswalk has to take 2 years just so that it can be the same in Chevy Chase as it is in Cedar Rapids? (Or, for that matter, that Deep Creek Lake and Chevy Chase have to have the same process imposed by Annapolis?) Thus embedding the results so they're almost entirely inflexible to changes in neighborhood use patterns, etc.

You think it's in the "people's interest" to have one-size-fits-all standards that mean we go years without being able to make obvious improvements and push even the cost of simple changes to stratospheric heights. Sorry, not buying it.

by Arl Fan on Feb 23, 2012 2:39 pm • linkreport

@jms - as someone who has been without a car the last seven years, being in PG County isn't an option. I can't waste an two hours of my day getting by bus to Metro to my job. I did that my first year in this city. Why should federal employees be forced to commute from PG while DC builds housing for people who don't have jobs?

by Redline SOS on Feb 23, 2012 3:15 pm • linkreport

@Redline SOS- I bought a SFH w/ a nice yard on a quiet street in PG for under 200K. There are many other homes in my neighborhood under 200K and several under 100K. Including walk and wait time it's about an hour door to door total commute time daily (by foot, bus, and metro). It can be done.

by thump on Feb 23, 2012 3:48 pm • linkreport

The metro survey is so out of touch. There was not a single reference to improving evening and weekend service reliability. Metro's craptastic weekend and evening service is the reason I will soon be buying a car and giving up metro for good.

by kelseykdc on Feb 23, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

Yeah, that was pretty poor phrasing in my previous post.

I was referring to the Colmar Manor / Cottage City area, which I think is near the area thump is referring to. The downtown commute is fast and there are cheap single family homes -- houses in need of major renovations can be had for less than $60K (!). The neighborhood isn't too dangerous but schools are bad (although there are private/Catholic schools in the area, and so many young professionals are child-free anyway).

If you want housing within a few blocks of Metro, almost-new condos are available across the street from PG Plaza Metro for under $200K.

The thing is -- my coworkers and others are constantly bitching about how there's no affordable housing in or near DC -- but when I suggest these areas as options, I'm laughed off as if I were some kind of lunatic. The unwillingness of many professionals to consider PG County gives arbitrage to those of us who are willing to live here.

Although now I see that the story was specifically about housing in the District, so I guess my posts are off-topic here :-\

by jms on Feb 23, 2012 5:03 pm • linkreport

@Redline SOS -

I have noticed that you complain a lot on here about how you can't afford to live in the city. Here are a couple condos in a nice location close to Metro, in a good neighborhood. They are both listed under 200k. You can afford these places. I live in the area and bought a detatched SFH for under 250k.

by J on Feb 24, 2012 9:24 am • linkreport


Good find. 500ft from Turkey Thicket, which is one of the best aquatic facilities in DC, right next to a Yes! market, and practically on top of the Brookland Cafe.

What are you waiting for Redline SOS?

by oboe on Feb 24, 2012 10:12 am • linkreport


Actually, I'm more of a fan of Colonel Brooks and the San Antonio Grill than I am of the Brookland Cafe, which are also located nearby on 12th Street. But I'm most excited for Menomale to open down near 12th and Franklin. That location is great. Redline SOS should jump on it.

by J on Feb 24, 2012 12:08 pm • linkreport

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