Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Building consensus


Photo by Wayan Vota on Flickr.
Build up: New, transit oriented, dense projects are springing up all over the region. That's good for traffic, sustainability, and the local economy. (Post)

MWAA doesn't need state money: Virginia law­makers threatened pull $150 million from the Silver Line unless the MWAA backs off its preference for union labor, but the MWAA says it doesn't need the money and could just raise tolls instead. (Examiner)

Stanley apologizes: Montgomery County planning director Rollin Stanley has apologized for his "rich, white women" remark. At least one of the women he was referring to is still calling for his resignation. (Bethesda Magazine)

United will need to unite land: A 2010 plan for a new DC United stadium on Buzzard Point could require land from 4 different property owners. The team would likely finance the stadium itself, but DC might cover infrastructure improvements. (Post)

Community engagement has its price: After his predecessor was criticized for not listening to the community, Mayor Gray has spent nearly $1 million doing so, with most of that going to the group who ran the One City summit on a no-bid contract. (Post)

Summit for the forgotten: Feeling that issues around poverty have been neglected in DC, the Fair Budget Coalition is having its own One City Summit, called "One City in Crisis," and with a far, far smaller budget. (Poverty & Policy)

Illegal parkers caught at Thompson: Many office workers were parking all day without paying in Georgetown's Thompson boathouse, where NPS never enforced its 3-hour meters. When a resident complained, Park Police wrote $25 tickets for 52 cars. (Patch)

And...: DDOT installs new, more specific bike route signs. (TheWashCycle) ... The Montgomery County school board will help Fairfax County pick its next superintendent. (Examiner) ... See who owns land in Anacosita. (R. U. Seriousing Me?)

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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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The issue about DC covering infrastructure improvements is a red herring of sorts. Regardless of what gets built at Buzzard Point, infrastructure improvements will be required. DCU Stadium or no, DC will be spending money there. DCU has long stated they would built a stadium with its own funds.

Personally, I am thrilled at the prospects of a soccer stadium at that location.

by William on Mar 12, 2012 8:42 am • linkreport

from the height article:

"If I were the dictator in the region I would say within the D.C. area, I would keep the height level [restrictions] because you’ve created a character and quality of life that I think you would lose if you go higher,” Murphy said. “But as you get out [of the city], there I think transit-oriented development trumps height requirements."

True.

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 9:14 am • linkreport

"because you’ve created a character and quality of life that I think you would lose if you go higher...”

Why is this statement left unchallenged?

Define 'higher,' as well.

If the DC height limit capped buildings at street width plus 60 feet (or plus 100? Or double street width with mandatory cascading setbacks?) instead of street width plus 20, would that fundamentally change the character and quality of life here? I don't think so - unless one's definition of character is the status quo.

It's frustrating that any of these discussions fall back to a false dichotomy of 'DC status quo' vs. 'Nothing but Empire State Buildings' as if there's no middle ground.

Now, if that's a statement meant to say that the suburban jurisdictions need to step up and allow more density at Metro stations, that's great - but I don't see how that allows for someone to punt on the height limit question.

Also - the 390' tower in Rosslyn has a total FAR of 10 (the site includes a substation next door, giving it a rather large footprint). That's less dense than the max zoning allowed in DC. Point being, if and when DC modifies the height limit, the reason to do so will be density, not height for height's sake.

by Alex B. on Mar 12, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

"Through these remarks, Mr. Stanley has impugned our integrity, attacked our credibility, and damaged our personal and professional reputations."

It sure sounds like rich white women spreading fear. Inappropriate and misguided remarks by a public official is one thing, but just because you can construe someone's phrase as sexist, racist, agist, or classist does not automatically make it such.

by aaa on Mar 12, 2012 9:35 am • linkreport

@Alex B.

True, but I always think a discussion of the height limit is an exercise in futility. Getting Congress to significantly alter the limit is about as likely as D.C. statehood. So perhaps its best just to focus on the height limit's silver lining.

by Adam L on Mar 12, 2012 9:35 am • linkreport

Unless the officers came pretty much every day, taking the chance of a $25 ticket is still economically rational where nearby parking is between $12-$20/day. If the enforcement is by Park Police officers having to make a stop every day (rather than a dedicated parking enforcement unit like cities have), I suspect we will see a spurt of enforcement, then sporadic enforcement again. So lost in the debate over parking tickets in general is the fact that if you don't regularly enforce, those for whom the parking is intended may get shut out.

by Crickey7 on Mar 12, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport

I don't think the Rosslyn project includes the substation; there is one next to it, but it part of the project. So I'd suspect your FAR ratio calculation may be off.

Funny how most of the tall buildings are commerical. I guess there are limits on how much residents will pay. I don't think the Turnberry condos sold very well.

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 9:43 am • linkreport

I'd say one can construe a comment as sexist and racist when that's precisely what was intended.

by Crickey7 on Mar 12, 2012 9:45 am • linkreport

"What needs Virginia's money is the toll payers of Northern Virginia. They're going to pay a lot of money. If Virginia doesn't contribute, the project is still going to be built."

This is what happens when you have a quasi public entity who is beholden to no one.

"F you...we don't care what you do or say, we will just raise tolls on our private little piggy bank even more. Give us the money or else".

Well done MWAA. The silver line is quickly climbing the ranks of most ridiculous public transit boondoggle in history.

by Rjb on Mar 12, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

@charlie

I don't think the Rosslyn project includes the substation; there is one next to it, but it part of the project. So I'd suspect your FAR ratio calculation may be off.

It's not my FAR calculation.

http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/planning/data_maps/development/page67024.aspx

601,790 total square feet
60,179 total site area

Ergo, an FAR of 10, exactly. Obviously, there is more to the 'site' definition than just the base of the tower. If you include the substation's air rights, that would get you to a site of about 60k sf.

by Alex B. on Mar 12, 2012 9:56 am • linkreport

@AlexB; thanks for the link.

But including the substation is a bit of trick, no?

Eyeballing it, I'd say substation is is about a quarter of the lot. I don't see why it shoudl be included at all. It isn't air rights, after all, is is taking up a lot of space and is a five story building on its own. And a very unfriendly five story building at that.

That would be get you into the range of 13 or 15 FAR, which is the range of the densies DC places on Pennslyvania ave, no?

Dont' get me started on that building. the lack of any amenities during construction for bus users is insane. And Arlington should have done a lot more to iron in candy for bus users after construction as well.

But no, they want the tallest building around.

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 10:01 am • linkreport

But including the substation is a bit of trick, no?

A 'trick'? Not really. Transfer of development rights isn't really a trick. The code explicitly disallows double-counting of allowed FAR - so, they got an extra site allowance from somewhere to get to 10 FAR, and that FAR isn't going to be developed there.

From the legal perspective, there's no trick. You're right that the actual density of the tower itself is higher than 10, but that really is a trick (the place is really dense if you take out all the stuff that's not dense!).

by Alex B. on Mar 12, 2012 10:07 am • linkreport

@Rjb: well, considering that the General Assembly is the entity that gave MWAA authority over the Silver Line to begin with, I'd say the problem falls with them and not MWAA.

Bottom line to Dulles Toll Road users: if you don't like the toll increases, blame the Assembly.

by Froggie on Mar 12, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

@Crickey7 - That's true, but it's pretty easy pickings if people are parked there for work. And is there a reason they can't issue multiple tickets? I.e., if the meter limit is (say) 3 hours, couldn't they issue a ticket every three hours? In a typical work day, that might become $75.

(Also, if one gets monthly parking the cost is usually less than $20/day--that's more like the one-day rate).

by ah on Mar 12, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

Alex B,

I completely agree w/ your first comment about the height limit. There is a false dichotomy and there is a middle ground.

But, besides that, I've heard this quality of life and character argument before, and I'm not too sure what it means sometimes when it's said. I want to know which areas specifically they're talking about. Sure, it's subjective, but the areas that are almost universally thought as being filled with character and charm with a high quality of life, nearly no one is talking about increasing heights, and if we don't increase heights, those areas are more likely to be infringed upon at some point. Some of the old buildings that had character are gone now in part because of our zoning/height limit.

I just wish the federal gov't had little to no involvement on this issue. If we're to have a height limit, it should be more the DC gov't decision rather than derived from "ancient" history.

by Vik on Mar 12, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

@alexB; legal, for many people, is the same as trickery. Speaking as an attorney today...

We are talking about two things: You're arguging for the legal defijition of FAR for zoning and construction. That's fine, and I see where the air right could make a difference there. But I am going back to the first point -- that the higher density buildings in Rosslyn actually diminsh from the quality of life. And that is true as well -- regardless of how you define FAR.

Building dense around Metro stations is great. And DC could do a better job there. But what is stopping Rosslyn level buildings in Friendship heights, Tenleytown, Cleveland Park isn't federal height limits.

I've love to see Logan Circle/Dupont with every building the size of the Cairo. I doubt it would be an interesting.

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

that the higher density buildings in Rosslyn actually diminsh from the quality of life. And that is true as well -- regardless of how you define FAR.

No, it is not true.

Confounding variables, my friend. Crappy buildings might diminish the quality of life (which is also a dubious statement, I might add), but assigning all of that blame to height and/or density is rather lazy. I also think it's factually wrong (there are lots of examples of tall buildings that are nice and short ones that stink).

by Alex B. on Mar 12, 2012 11:03 am • linkreport

@Alex, Doesn't your recent tweet say it all?

"Enjoying EVERYTHING BEING BETTER JUST BECAUSE IT IS NEW YORK while in New York.

You prefer New York because it is New York. And DC doesn't want to be New York. It wants to be better in ways that New York never can be. It wants to be a monumental city where the monuments aren't overshadowed by too tall buildings. It wants to be monumental where the sun shine in the streets and the many green parks and 'parking areas' that line our streets. It wants to be a city of more than just 'industry' and 'fast paced lifestyles' like New York is. Please don't think it's okay to change that on us just because you wish you were in New York instead of here. We actually do like Washington the way it is and what it has to offer. New York is always there for us when/if the time comes that we'd rather live in a 'concrete jungle' with all the excitement which only a city like New York can evoke. Most of us don't want that. If we did, we wouldn't be here.

by Lance on Mar 12, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

@Lance

Doesn't your recent tweet say it all?

I think you have me confused with someone else. I didn't tweet that.

by Alex B. on Mar 12, 2012 11:37 am • linkreport

maybe ... 'Alex B.' isn't Alex Baca'? you're both contributors to GGW, no?

by Lance on Mar 12, 2012 11:44 am • linkreport

If anything Alex is a commenter on here who frequently stresses that height is not the same as density. But anyway, claiming that people want DC to be just like NYC always rings hollow to me because no one actually suggests that when it comes to looking at how to help DC and environs develop in a practical way.

by x on Mar 12, 2012 11:45 am • linkreport

maybe ... 'Alex B.' isn't Alex Baca'?

You got it.

by Alex B. on Mar 12, 2012 11:48 am • linkreport

well, considering that the General Assembly is the entity that gave MWAA authority over the Silver Line to begin with, I'd say the problem falls with them and not MWAA.

Bottom line to Dulles Toll Road users: if you don't like the toll increases, blame the Assembly.

The Assembly gave MWAA authority on the assumption that MWAA would act in good faith in the region's interests. MWAA has failed to do that on this issue and the airport station issue and probably some other issues. I think it's fair to blame MWAA.

Fortunately, and I'm not one to often agree with McDonnell or the R Assembly, but they passed legislation this session to stack MWAA with more governor appointed members. This should hopefully alleviate the problem of MWAA doing whatever they feel like rather than acting in the region's interest.

Yes, the Assembly probably made a mistake in trusting MWAA. Probably won't happen again as MWAA has burned that bridge.

by Falls Church on Mar 12, 2012 12:31 pm • linkreport

Hi Lance. I'm not Alex B. I use my full name when commenting on GGW. Additionally, that tweet was a joke, riffing on the popular trope of everything being better in New York simply because it's not D.C.

by alexbaca on Mar 12, 2012 12:32 pm • linkreport

"The Assembly gave MWAA authority on the assumption that MWAA would act in good faith in the region's interests. MWAA has failed to do that on this issue and the airport station issue and probably some other issues. I think it's fair to blame MWAA."

Smoking the crack pipe of congestion pricing and tolls will to that you every time. They should really put a warning there: thinking about tolls will rot your brain. Somehow, though, I think people will still do it...

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 12:36 pm • linkreport

@Alex B and alexbaca, thanks for the clarification.

@alexbaca, "riffing on the popular trope of everything being better in New York simply because it's not D.C."

... seriously, you've heard people in DC say this? I must be hanging with a different crowd.

by Lance on Mar 12, 2012 12:43 pm • linkreport

Don't worry, Lance. I've only ever seen that on DCist...

by selxic on Mar 12, 2012 12:48 pm • linkreport

Apologies if this was mentioned, but there's a tall residential planned for near the Eisenhower Metro station, and I think it is supposed to be the tallest of them all.

by Jay on Mar 12, 2012 1:00 pm • linkreport

I've decided to start a protest movement on illegal FAA restrictions on building height in Rosslyn....Manhatten on the Potomac here we come. Or dubai. Hell, there are enough Russian prostitutes and Arabs living in the Atrium that I can't tell the difference....

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

"x is better in nyc than dc" is the reverse of the "as a native washingtonian I believe..." coin.

by Canaan on Mar 12, 2012 1:32 pm • linkreport

You need to keep up, charlie. Rosslyn is more like San Francisco now.

by selxic on Mar 12, 2012 1:58 pm • linkreport

@ selxic; wow. I hadn't seen that. Mr. Katz really didn't do much due dilligence (term of art) on the county.

by charlie on Mar 12, 2012 3:39 pm • linkreport

Don't really know how to submit a link, but this Wednesday, Brookings has an online chat with Robert Puentes.

He is the author of Washington's Metro: Deficits by Design.

by WRD on Mar 12, 2012 6:06 pm • linkreport

Distaste for the way MWAA is managing the silver line is such a monorailic perspective (tram of art).

by worthing on Mar 13, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

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