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Tax break for empty church land?: Vincent Orange wants to give a tax break to the National Shrine for undeveloped land. CFO Gandhi warns granting the break would encourage many other churches to leave land fallow and ask for tax breaks. (WBJ)

Washington's boom, poorly explained: Locals generally panned Annie Lowrey's New York Times magazine article on DC's growth. It broadly confuses DC with the suburbs and its argument that "peak Washington is already past" is tenuous. (DCist, WBJ)

Tysons gets buses: Fairfax plans new bus service in Tysons to transport Silver Line riders. A circulator will serve all 4 Tysons stations every 10 minutes. (Post)

More condos are bad, say condo owners: Residents of one Georgetown condo building hired lawyers to stop a developer from building another condo building next door, claiming that the development would bring traffic, noise, and crime. (WBJ)

Suburban officials criticize DC: Economic development officials from Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William said DC does not collaborate very well with the region. A DC spokesman says the counties are just trying to "elevate their own status." (WBJ)

Tide turning on driver responsibility?: Brian Williams reports on distracted driving and its toll in human lives. Going beyond what most journalists do, he also called for tougher penalties for drivers who kill people. (Boston Streets)

Metrohenge Dupont is today: If you go onto the Dupont South escalator at 12:30 today, you will be bathed in a shaft of light. The sun lines up perfectly with the escalator creating "Metrohenge Dupont." (Express)

Amtrak eyes new bridge and tunnel: Amtrak plans to begin preliminary engineering work this year on replacing the B&P Tunnel in Baltimore and for the bridge over the Susquehanna River. MARC also uses both. (RT&S)

And...: Congress passed on a number of new monuments and museums last session. (WBJ) ... DDOT wants your pictures of people moving around DC. (NCH) ... Amtrak's WiFi will get faster. (Post) ... Few people take advantage of their SmarTrip rebate. (Post)

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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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I would wholeheartedly support a "National Shrine for Undeveloped Land."

No wait... I read that part the wrong way.

by Adam on Jan 14, 2013 8:58 am • linkreport

I will keep saying it, and the folks in the cheap seats will continue to ignore it, choosing rather to believe that DC has found a new paradigm and that everything will be peaches forever. That what has happened here in the past ~decade was nothing more than an unsustainable boom paid for by hundreds of billions of inflated spending, first by a GOP whose math skills are remedial, and second by a Democratic President trying to dig the nation out of worst, most damaging recession in 75 years.

The article may be blurring the lines a bit between the District proper and the rest of the DC Metro, but so what. The District is tiny, 60 square miles. If you were in the center of the District, you could drive to its border in any direction (off rush hour) in 12-15 minutes. What happens in the District is also happening in the suburbs. It doesn't negate the fact that DC (the city or the region) is being supported now, drastically more than it ever was in the past by Uncle Sam.

Yes, yes…those of you who ignore the issue like to fall back on the fact that DC is the seat of the federal government, seemingly ignoring the fact that it has been for more than 200 years and DC had been a run down shell of a city for the past 40 years despite the presence of the Federal Government, yet the sheer volume of spending occurring now trumps anything in the history of the city, including (inflation adjusted) the spending during WWII.
People really don’t understand, is the volume of federal procurement dollars pumped into the local economy. Federal procurement, it sounds innocuous but Uncle Sam spends 80 billion a year in the DCMSA on procurement alone, not salaries/wages, but service contracts. Thats up from ~30 billion in 2001. More than half a trillion procurement dollars has been spent in the DC area since Bush took office. This is on top of the 35 billion in salaries the feds pay every year in the DCMSA.

DC added population for the first time in 50 years starting in ~2000. By 2010 it had added approximate 25,000 people (approx 200 people per month). This was during the largest, most "frothy" real estate market the area and the nation had ever seen. Yet since 2010, the District has added people at a rate 5 times that, 1000 people a month and yet critics of this article somehow belive it has nothing to do with the fact that the DC region is the jobs mecca of the nation, and that for millions of College graduates the past 5 years, the ONLY option for a decent job. No, it seems people here believe that DC's new found renassaince is becaue of all the new bike lanes and food trucks, and has zero to do with Uncle Sam.

Total Federal Spending on a yearly basis in the MSA has nearly tripled in a decade, from ~65 billion a year to 170 billion. Let that sit in for a second and think about it. In the past 11 years, federal spending in the DC economy increased by ~105 billion per year, EVERY year. And people wonder why there has been a massive housing boom and retail expansion of companies looking to capitalize on that money. Yep…nothing to see here folks.

While the MSA is large, Baltimore to Richmond, the lionshare of the procurement it is spent in Montgomery County, Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun County. This 80 billion isn’t spent on planes and tanks, but “services”. 80 billion a year spent on DC Region specific contracting, a large percentage of it the ridiculous “support services” junk the Feds should be embarrassed to spend money on. Small agencies spending millions a year hiring 20 to 30 something’s to literally take meeting notes and assemble PowerPoint slide decks so the 30 year old Fed doesn't have to.

George Mason University does a decent job tallying the numbers on the procurement side. The below is the latest I’ve found but they’ve been compiling Federal spending and procurement data for the DC region for years.

http://www.mwcog.org/uploads/committee-documents/a11eWVZe20120314154000.pdf

Here is the summary folks. Uncle Sam has spent more than 1 trillion dollars in the DC Metro area in the past 11 years in combined salaries and procurement, most of it spent in a 50 mile radius of the Washington Monument. It is unsustainable and history shows us that DC has in the past and will in the future sustain painful cutbacks, the one that’s coming more painful than any in history because of the size of this spending bubble.

by DC on Jan 14, 2013 9:01 am • linkreport

The credibility of GMU's economics department is a hair above the Cato Institute. It's essentially a right-wing think tank with a slightly more effective fig-leaf of respectibility. Not much of a surprise that an article whose sources consist of GMU Econ professor and a Cato hack predicts the end of federal spending, and a righteous fire that will sweep away the parasites as all money devolves back to the yeoman farmer and saloon-keeper in the hinterlands.

It's pure libertarian fantasy. Meanwhile, in the real world, the last dollar that comes off of a US printing press will go into the pocket of a defense contractor. And he's going to be living in the DC Metro area.

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

I actually read that wrong a few times, Adam. It made a lot more sense when I realized it wasn't "National Shrine for Undeveloped Land."

by selxic on Jan 14, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

Yep, it is the same guy the poeple who want to kill the height limit quote.

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2012/09/18/stephen-fuller-talks-housing-policy.html

"As many as 35,000 housing units will be needed annually by 2030 for all new workers in the Washington region, local economic expert Stephen Fuller said Tuesday."

by charlie on Jan 14, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

Of course there's been a ton of money pumped into the DC economy becasue of the government, but the article did sort of underplay how behind DC was in the whole urban rennaisance thing. Thanks to Marion Barry and an incredibly polarized racial climate, DC was 20 years behind the curve, so a lot of the "bubble" is a correction which has now coincided with an undeniable "back ot the city' movement apparent across the country. I've been embarrased at times by how our modern "Rome" slices off a percentage of the cream that flows through our cauffers while the country side starved during the depths of this last recession, but like it or not, most civilized nations need governments, contrary to what Tea Partiers will tell you.
We happen to have that said government here. Could have been Philadelphia, could have been New York, but it's us in this sleepy old swampland, which turns out to be a pretty nice spot. So I say, let the slowdown commence, becasue the amount of creative energy this last boom has brought will soften up the inevitable and waranted slowdown. But DC has come into it's own, and culturally, it's still kind of a wild west place, not with wild and crazy culture, but in that it's undefined and maleable. To say it's all about lobbyists and stuffed suits is a bit dated.

by Thayer-D on Jan 14, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

One last point: the current spending trends don't have to be "sustainable" in order for the District of Columbia to continue to grow and prosper. Federal spending could be radically curtailed, and the District's total wealth increase should DC's share of the total continue to grow. Right now, the lion's share of federal dollars is going to Virginia. As DC continues to gentrify, it'll capture more of that money.

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 9:21 am • linkreport

No, it seems people here believe that DC's new found renassaince is becaue of all the new bike lanes and food trucks, and has zero to do with Uncle Sam.

Show me someone who says it has "zero" to do with Government spending.

At the same time, other cities that are not national capitals have also seen population growth due to an interest in urban living. The trend is broader than just DC.

Of course, by 'this trend' I mean the reinvestment in core areas, not the sprawl out into the suburbs. And you've fallen into the same problem as the NYT piece - conflating elements of the narrative of disinvestment in the District with booming contracting dollars on the regional fringe.

There's also the matter of fact that many of those dollars can and do procude knock-on effects that are more sustainable. Silicon Valley, after all, was a product of a whole lot of government spending on R&D and Military Tech.

by Alex B. on Jan 14, 2013 9:23 am • linkreport

Plus the the actual amount of federal employees hasn't grown. The number of contractors sure has but technology means that the government has had to hire less employees/contractors overall. So the gov't may be spending more (except its not, esp. since the recession despite what the Tea Party says) but its spending more per person because the gov't can get a lot more out of 1 employee/contractor with a computer than the old ways.

So yes, DC has grown but government is also more efficient than its ever been.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

Looking at recent weather, and the forecast for today, it seems hard to believe that anyone will be "bathed in a shaft of light" anywhere in the DC area.

by engrish_major on Jan 14, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

Yes, yes…those of you who ignore the issue like to fall back on the fact that DC is the seat of the federal government, seemingly ignoring the fact that it has been for more than 200 years and DC had been a run down shell of a city for the past 40 years despite the presence of the Federal Government...

Ok, one last, last thing: DC has been a "run-down shell of a city" for the last 40 years because DC is a city. We've just emerged from a half-century of nationwide urban decay--a trend that is thankfully reversing. It was de facto regional policy to warehouse the areas poorest within the District lines, and the middle-class outside the city. But the DC region has been essentially recession proof since, what, the end of the 19th century? Now DC is poised to capture a greater proportion of the total regional wealth. If the pie shrinks, but we get a significantly larger percentage of the pie, DC is likely to continue to prosper even in the face of severe cuts in Federal spending. MD and VA, not so much.

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

Vincent Orange wants to give a tax break

Bad idea. Pretty much regardless of whom it's too.

Locals generally panned Annie Lowrey's New York Times magazine article on DC's growth.

And so did ex-local Andrew Sullivan:

"Seriously, could you get any more contemptuous of the nation's capital, one of the most pleasant, modern and livable cities in America."
http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2013/01/contempt-dripping-from-every-sentence.html

A circulator will serve all 4 Tysons stations every 10 minutes.

I had not been in Tysons for a while, but that place still has a long way to go until it's walk-friendly.

Residents of one Georgetown condo building hired lawyers to stop a developer from building another condo building next door, claiming that the development would bring traffic, noise, and crime.

Oh, the hypocrisy. That's how I know my Georgetowners.

A DC spokesman says the counties are just trying to "elevate their own status."

A DC spokesman is also talking out of his behind.

"No place outside of Manhattan, Ribeiro said, “has as much construction as the District of Columbia does right now.”
The guy clearly has not been in Tysons and the Ft Belvoir North area recently.

DDOT wants your pictures of people moving around DC.

Mostly, what I see is pictures of people breaking the law. I was hoping DDOT would open a site like that.

by Jasper on Jan 14, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

Good responses ya'll. I do think government spending will be cut somewhat, and it will have some effects, but nothing drastic. Plus, no one who wants to drastically cut spending can get elected, so that's a nonstarter. Not to mention, as long as the population of the country increases, its likely that the size of government increases.

I had to LOL @ the Cato folks, who are subsidized by the government through their nonprofit status (and who don't produce any tangible products or goods!) are the ones attacking DC for not producing anything of value. Really!?

by H Street LL on Jan 14, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

Also, out of all the churches in DC Vincent Orange picks literally the largest church building in the Western Hemisphere as needed a financial break from the city?

It's 83,000 dollars. Surely a church that includes a gift shop and cafeteria can find that money in one of the offering plates.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

Annie Lowrie, author of NYTmag article, is really confused about Brookland, DC.

"On the final spot on our tour, Abdo took me to his newest, biggest project. We drove north on North Capitol Street, as if we were driving out of the District, to a shabby and decidedly unhip neighborhood called Brookland. It is a mostly older, mostly lower-middle-class neighborhood, underserved by grocery stores and restaurants and overlooked by many of the young professionals farther south in Bloomingdale or Shaw or Capitol Hill."

Lower-middle class???? Yeah, 4-6 bedroom houses that sell for 500,000-700,000 are lower middle class...

by Nick on Jan 14, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

Tysons has a long way to go if you look at it as a whole. Again the limits of Tysons are same size as mid-town manhattan, the entirety of the inner loop of Charlotte, or downtown Atlanta.

It is not a homogeneous mass. There are areas (like any city) that are unwalkable and dangerous, mostly along main thoroughfares. Go look at the Route 1 region of DC and tell me its walk able along the wharf.

Those areas are going to improve. What is in place on Greensboro, Westpark, Tysons Boulevard, parts of Boone, etc are quite walkable and will only be improved with more development filling in gaps in destinations and wider walkways.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

I've lived in DC for over thirty years, and this same article gets published every five years or so. It's always along the lines that twenty years ago or so, Washington was a backwater, but within the last few years it has started to blossom. Different year, same story.

http://www.amazon.com/U-S-World-Report-August-Washington/dp/B008EMC86A

by Juanita de Talmas on Jan 14, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

There are three trends responsible for the District's recent success:

1. Federal Spending
2. Shifting consumer preference toward urban areas
3. Long term shift toward "knowledge economy" + DC's highly educated workforce

Trend #1 could come to an end and federal spending could become a drag on the local economy rather than boost. However, there is no realistic scenario that any politician has proposed where federal spending would actually be less in five years than it is today. We'll likely see spending grow slower than inflation or even zero growth but no actual long term contraction. For one thing, demographics don't support a contraction.

Trend #2 is likely to continue for a while as real estate typically operates in "super cycles" of long duration.

Trend #3 has been going on for decades but there is no end in sight. Our economy is likely to be increasingly knowledge-intensive for the foreseeable future. The DC region is the best educated in the country, so will be a primary beneficiary of this trend.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

Jasper, I had the misfortune of driving through Tysons on Saturday. Even with the metro stations approaching completion, I can't figure out how the area is supposed to be anything but a car-dominated wasteland. Perhaps I lack the vision required to see a redeveloped Tysons.

by Birdie on Jan 14, 2013 9:59 am • linkreport

I'm not so much upset by the content of the NYT article as the fact that author writes about as well as your average high school student.

by Alan B. on Jan 14, 2013 10:04 am • linkreport

@Birdie - and there in lies your problem. You DROVE THROUGH Tysons. IE you were on Route 7, 123 and getting onto the beltway or toll road.

People if you drive into any city and only stay on its main road and never try to walk parts of it then of course it will look unwalkable. Again I bring up parts of 395, Route 1, Anacostia, 14th street north of columbia heights, parts of constitution. If I were to only be driving through DC on these parts Id say... man these hipsters are really full of S, this place is completely unwalkable.

*head slap*

Tysons is no utopia but judging this book by its cover of the main roads is not a fair assessment.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 10:08 am • linkreport

Right now, the lion's share of federal dollars is going to Virginia.

Actually, per capita federal spending in DC eclipses anyone else. Here's the top 5:

District of Columbia $67,982.10
Alaska $12,885.17
Virginia $12,150.14
Maryland $11,645.42
New Mexico $10,436.65

http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/state_expend/percapita.html

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2013 10:10 am • linkreport

Falls Church,

I dont disagree that NOVA is less leveraged to federal spending than DC, but the reason Virginia's per capita is lower is because outside of NOVA exists 5million other Virginians who see sizeably less from the feds

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

@Falls Church

Come on, those "per capita spending" calculations are BS. In that calculation in particular, a huge portion of that DC number is salaries for government employees and contractors working in DC, plenty of whom live in Virginia and therefore pay income taxes in Virginia.

Plus, if you actually do the math out on total spending, Virginia comes in at 90 billion, Maryland at 65 billion, and DC at 38 billion. So that is the lion's share between the 3 states.

by MLD on Jan 14, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

And @MLD a ton of that is our military presence in Norfolk, Belvoir, Pentagon and Quantico. DC has significantly less military presence, especially with the closing of Walter Reed.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

Tysons Engineer,

True, but even if every single federal dollar in VA was spent in NOVA, NOVA would still have less than half the per capita spending as DC. Also, don't forget about all the military bases (like Norfolk) that exist in the rest of VA. There's substantial spending going on in places outside of NOVA.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

@MLD

If we're calculating based on absolute spending rather than per capita, California eclipses everyone. New York is second on the list. Per capita seems like the better measurement.

I don't know the methodology for per capita spending but if it counts VA/MD residents who work in DC the way you are saying, I agree that would certainly skew things.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer, please, tell me where in Tysons I can safely walk. I'm genuinely interested to know. Can someone live in Tysons and fairly easily walk or bike to work, to the store, to entertainment? What I saw were traffic-choked roads (on a Saturday evening. I can't imagine what it's like during a weekday rush), strips malls with acres of parking lots between the road and the stores, generally poor connectivity, and office towers that don't interact with the street.

I know Tysons was built for cars. I know the redevelopment is going to take a very long time. But it is a very long way off and right now it's just nightmarish. Friends who work in Tysons complain that to go anywhere they have to drive because it's just not safe to be a pedestrian.

by Birdie on Jan 14, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

Per capita seems like the better measurement.

Except for the fact that DC is a city and the federal dollars spent "per capita" in "DC" are actually spent mostly on residents of VA and MD who live here.

Only in the GMU economics department would someone BOTH laud DC for its restaurants and culture AND claim that DC is "chasing businesses out." If DC is chasing businesses out of the city, why aren't the great restaurants and culture chased out into Tyson's Corner and PW County?

by JustMe on Jan 14, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

Can someone live in Tysons and fairly easily walk or bike to work, to the store, to entertainment?

Depends on your definition of "easy". I know plenty of people who bike to work in Tysons who live in DC.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

One last think to pick up on oboe's one last thing...
DC has been a "run-down shell of a city" for the last 40 years because all the money that should have been going into revitalizing and growing the central neighborhoods was being squandered in the suburbs. Now the amount of money that's going to be poured into reversing the auto-oriented character of places like Tysons corner will be astounding considering the cost of building a good street car network in DC.

I see Tyson's economy as an integral part of DC's , but when you think about how much bang you're getting for your buck, it's a no brainer, but hey, the free market always knows best. Should be a sitcom.

by Thayer-D on Jan 14, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

@Falls Church,

I was thinking of total spending in the DC metro region, since when we're talking about relative wealth within the region, that seemed most relevant. My point was that as DC continues to grow as an attractive choice for middle-class households in the region, it's conceivable that the wealth of DC proper could continue to grow even in the face of shrinking federal spending.

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

That's exactly right oboe, especially since it's already showing up in housing prices. The more central neighborhoods are soaking up a disproportionat amount of the home sales dollars even though they've shrunk. Why wouldn't it happen in terms of government dollars? Isn't one a reflection of the other? The privat sector's massive investment in Tyson's Corner is more writting on the wall as to where the future will be.

by Thayer-D on Jan 14, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

@Birdie
I lived in DC and worked in Tysons for about a year. I didn't have a car, and I was working 2 jobs about 2 miles apart not directly connected by buses, so I did a lot of walking. It wasn't pleasant, but it was more do-able than in many suburban places.

@Nick Nevermind the geography - Shaw & Bloomingdale might be a little south of Brookland, but they're mostly due west.

by Lucre on Jan 14, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

@Birdie... by the tone I don't think you are genuinely asking. I already noted Westpark, Greensboro, parts of Spring Hill, Tysons Boulevard, Boone Boulevard, Gosnell, Anderson.

In other words, all the roads that you and other mall goers never go on and then scoff how theres too many drivers and congestion in Tysons.

I live next to a grocery store (Harris Teeter) as do 8000 other people within 1/4mile. I am within 1/4mile of atleast two dozen high end restaurants, 6 not so high end restaurants not all of which are within the mall (see greensboro). I have easy access to a bus that circulates Tysons as well as connects to Arlington, Reston, and DC.

Are there some improvements that can be made? Yea but the right of way is actually already there and it will be quite easy to do so. For the next 40 years only 77 million in improvements is necessary for all bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. To me that sounds like its not a far way off, it just needs to start happening (something being delayed by VDOT out of political spite... whole other story).

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

Wow...I am a little shocked at the level of purposeful denial here.

Yeah, all those numbers are crap and GMU is Cato incarnate. It is clear you didn't bother looking through the presentation because the data was referenced.

Imagine my surprise that the GGW crowd thinks the BLS, Census etc are a bunch of partisan hacks.

Federal spending in the DC Metro area has been growing at more than 16% per year for the past ~12 years, a rate that far exceeds any historical comparison, even that during WWII. It is far from sustainable.

And yes, Uncle Sam added just under 50,000 civil servant positions in the DCMSA since 2001, the lionshare under Bush so saying that federal employment locally hasn't grown is simply untrue. We have the head quarters of a brand new Cabinent Level Federal Agency (DHS) with a budget of ~35 billion last year.

I am really suprised at the effort people will go to to ignore history, and to play off the fact that in a decade, local federal spending increased by more than 100 BILLION dollars as some normal thing that will continue unabated.

by DC on Jan 14, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

@ Tysons Engineer

I agree with you on walkability in Tysons. Every rezoning application before Fairfax County has included a requirement to increase sidewalk and trail facilities and their inter-connectability. Of course, approving a plan does not immediately yield new walkable paths, but there will be a major effort to build facilities this year so that, when the Silver Line opens, there is greater pedestrian access.

@ Birdie

Pedestrian access improvements will be concentrated near the four stations. There will be areas where pedestrian access is non-existent for many years.

by TMT on Jan 14, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

Tysons' problem is that all of its roads are main roads.

If 1, 395, 295, 50, and North Captiol all met in the same place, I would indeed conclude that DC is an unwalkable wasteland.

As it is, they don't all meet in the same place, and most of these corridors can be easily crossed and are bordered by walkable neighborhoods.

However, Tyson's is basically a 1-mile rectangle bounded in by 123, 7, 495, and the DTR...and not really much in between.

I'm sympathetic to the "get off of the main roads" argument, but Tysons really doesn't seem to have any secondary roads or neighborhood streets.

by andrew on Jan 14, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

@TMT If Tysons West is any indication, the pedestrian improvements WILL be early on as it is a main driver for retail lease rates. Bad sidewalks and bad walkability mean tougher times leasing. Tysons west recognized that and improved their inter parcel walkways before VDOT ever asked.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

@Falls Church
I believe this is the report these calculations are usually based on:

http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/cffr-10.pdf

If you look through the tables it becomes pretty clear that there are lots of things counted in the "DC" number that inflate it. If you look at the table on page 1 it breaks out retirement/disability/direct payments compared to things like procurement, grants, and salaries and wages. DC's total consists mostly of those last three. If you then go on to the tables where it breaks down grants/procurement/salaries by agency, it's clear that lots of those are just put under DC because that's where the agency is located. Over 1/3 of DC's "grants" number is USAID - those are likely foreign projects. DOE, DOT, and Treasury also have big numbers for DC but that money isn't really spent here. On the salaries number it appears that it's just counting where they work (that is, where the money is spent by the agency), not where they live.

California eclipses everyone. New York is second on the list. Per capita seems like the better measurement.
Well we were only comparing the states in this area because we were trying to get a handle on the effect the government spending has on states in this area. CA/NY have big numbers because they have lots of people, so those lots of people get more of the direct payments. If you look at the percentage breakdowns it's clear.

I guess I can't understand how one could think that DC residents are such benefactors of federal largess that they receive to the man over five times the amount of spending that residents of any other state receive. I would think that would prompt second-guessing of the data.

by MLD on Jan 14, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

@Andrew

I literally just named a handful. I could continue, but again to anyone not from Tysons its just not the mall right? Ridiculous bias, whats the point of even discuss.

I evidently live in a 19story building with ground floor retail in the middle of nowhere.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

The NYT article reminds me of a real one-sided piece that appeared in TIME magazine last year. They both seem designed to appeal to the 'reduce the debt' folks.

I also feel like those articles conflate the overall size of federal spending with DC area jobs. Much of the federal budget is in redistribution - social security and medicare don't really equate to DC jobs. The military budget does, but it's certainly not the case that a big uptick in federal correlates with a bunch of new DC federal employees.

The other thing these articles seem to get confused on are (a) the wealth-extraction practiced by federal contractors/consultants and (b) DC's resurgence as a city over the past few years. As a number of commenters here have pointed out already, they're separate phenomenon, even if there's some relationship there. Frankly, though, the boosters of a revitalized DC proper aren't by default big fans of the trend to contract out government work.

by Austin on Jan 14, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

I would also assume that a portion of the 16% growth in federal spending in the DC area is the result of BRAC closures and moving those jobs from around the country to the DC area.

by MLD on Jan 14, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

@DC,

I am really surprised at the effort people will go to to ignore history

It would help if you were to expand on what "history" you think folks are ignoring. DC's devastating contraction during the Panic of 1875?

When the DC area catches a cold, the rest of the country gets pneumonia. The "drown the government in a bathtub" types at Cato and elsewhere may not *like* that reality, but until the structure of our government is radically altered, that's the reality.

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

@ andrew

You are correct in your criticism of the lack of many secondary roads in Tysons. That is why the new Comp Plan includes the construction of a grid of streets that will function similarly to the existing grid of streets in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor. Each rezoning application includes the construction of one or more portion of the grid, and the County is also imposing a funding requirement on the landowners to pay for the construction of grid segments not included in a redevelopment proposal.

@ Tysons Engineer

Much of the credit for early construction of sidewalks/trails near the new rail stations must go to Providence Planning Commissioner Ken Lawrence. He has been a bulldog in the effort to make sure people near the stations can get to and from them when rail arrives. His long-standing efforts are paying dividends.

by TMT on Jan 14, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

Jim Moran quoting Richard Florida !

by Tom Coumaris on Jan 14, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

@Birdie,

I did some work in Tyson's for several months last year and commuted by bike. W&OD to Gallows Road to the Galleria. I have to say I was shocked when they installed a bike lane nearly to Leesburg Pike.

Also, since my office was attached to the mall, things were quite "walkable" in a Logan's Run sense. Out in the harsh atmosphere of the surface world, not so much.

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

Walking in Tysons really depends on where you live. Where I live, off International Drive, I can walk to my office (0.5 mi), to both malls with Tysons Corner Center being the furthest at less than 1 mi. I can walk to the Harris Teeter and I can walk to my car dealership when I drop off and pick up my car during the work day. Even better, I'm going to be able to walk to two of the four Silver Line stations that are located in Tysons. It's getting better every day and I've lived here for over fourteen years.

by Little Red on Jan 14, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

+1 @LittleRed Thank you, someone who lives in Tysons finally speaking. I swear its always clowns to the left and jokers to the right when it comes to Tysons. Either DC belittles it because all they see is the mall, or Fairfax belittles it because all they see is the mall.

The reason this place looks bad aint because of Tysons, its because of where you guys are driving... TO THE MALL!

When Arbor Row begins and completes construction next year parts of Westpark with high walkscores will really become urban enclaves.

Either way, I am fine with you continuing to go to mall, please stay off my very easy to walk streets in your cars.

Thank you,

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 14, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

The biggest factor in the DC renaissance was the creation of the Control Board by...dare I say it, a Republican Congress.

The Control board stripped the old guard of its power and permanently neutered Marion Barry in a way that the voters of DC never had to guts to. It also gave the city its only competent mayor, Anthony Williams.

As much as people in DC may hate Newt Gingrich, the reality is that he actually liked DC and felt that the city could be much more than it was when he became Speaker in 1995. Bob Dole was also a champion for DC, as was Jack Kemp (who would later use his status as a former Congressman to lobby for DC voting rights on the floor of the House).

Newt's greatest asset, and biggest flaw, is that he has always been a "big idea" man, who messes up the details. Improving DC was one of his "big ideas." His staff realized that working with Barry and the council was impossible. The only way to save DC was the do an end run around the political leaders. The Control Board did that and in addition to saving the city from insolvency, it brought about competent administrators in many city agencies and for the first time in DC's history, competent professional staff as opposed to political patronage hacks.

Deep down Newt and a few other Republicans (like Lee Atwater who was forever branded a racist for the Willie Horton ads but who was actually a very moderate voice in the GOP) thought that if the Republican party could break the stranglehold of the unions and the racial demagogues in the cities, they could improve conditions and turn city residents into Republican voters. It didn't work out that way for a lot of reasons, but the idea was there and DC certainly is better for it.

by dcdriver on Jan 14, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

@Little Red How much does all this walkability cost.

In terms of the NYT article, I think I have an easy exercise. Imagine the DC metro area boundaries as defined by Census. Now imagine there were no federal gov't at all in this area, no federal agencies, no congress, no white house, etc. If that were the case, than the question is real simple, would this region be the same. Would there be as many people living here, would there be as many people making this much money, would housing prices be as high, heck would Metro even exist. If the answer to these questions is no, than obviously the federal govt's presence plays a role in shaping this region. Because without the federal gov't, there wouldn't be the need for the hundreds of thousands direct federal employees, the thousands of contractors whose sole purpose is to do federal gov't work, and k street lobbyists and lawyers would have no reason to be here. Even by Metro's own account, 40% of rush hour riders are direct federal employees, plus who knows how many other federal contractors.

So I think we can all say at the least, this area as a whole would not be the same if there were no federal gov't presence.

by Nickyp on Jan 14, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

Although I don't know how much "Moon Colony Newt" should be credited with Washington's renaissance, dcdriver is certainly right that the positive impact of the control board and Mayor Tony Williams was huge. I wish that we had Tony Williams back again. Barry is still around, but he's been reduced to the role of a crazy (racist) uncle rattling around in Ward 8's attic.

by Bob on Jan 14, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

@Nickyp--

Correct. If not for the Federal government, DC would be lucky to be Baltimore but without the harbor, Hon' and Berger cookies.

by Bob on Jan 14, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

DC has been a "run-down shell of a city" for the last 40 years because all the money that should have been going into revitalizing and growing the central neighborhoods was being squandered in the suburbs.

And welcome to the latest rendition of DC's Urban Legend.

FWIW, I hate driving in the Tyson's Mall area as much as I hate riding the trains on weekends..

by HogWash on Jan 14, 2013 1:12 pm • linkreport

If not for the federal government there probably wouldn't be a big city here at all. Maybe the small "twin cities" of Georgetown and Alexandria, or it would just be outer exurbs of Baltimore.

by David Alpert on Jan 14, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

@ Hogwash,
I can see your point and I should have been more precise. The line between a suburb and a city is arbitrary in my view as cities have been incorporating thier "suburbs' for centuries. It's the type of development, not the jurisdiction that's relevant. Furthermore, suburbs got a bad name becasue of the type of development that's associated with it, not where it's located. The suburbs of the 1880's to the 1920's where designed for anyone to occupy, not just those with access to cars.

by Thayer-D on Jan 14, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

Although I don't know how much "Moon Colony Newt" should be credited with Washington's renaissance

Sure, it's easy to poke fun, but I notice you don't even mention his plan to illuminate highways by using orbiting mirrors to reflect the light of the moon.

As Ezra Klein put it, "Just as having a lot of pens doesn’t make you a great writer, having a lot of ideas doesn’t make you a great thinker."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/newt-gingrichs-big-bad-ideas/2011/08/25/gIQAtSPWNQ_blog.html

by oboe on Jan 14, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

I don't think anyone is saying the federal government presense does not help the local economy. People are right that this city would be wholly different (if not non-existant) if it wasn't for it. But that was 220 years ago that this decision was made. It's kinda like saying, "Well NYC would be different if the traders decided to form a market/exchange in Boston/Philly/where ever in the 18th century"

America's cities are shaped by decisions made hundreds of years ago. Places like Chicago/NYC/DC have benefited because the main industries (exchange/government/commerce) continue to be big pillars of america today. While other cities based on other industries (think detroit/baltimore/pitt) struggled in the modern era because their industries changed for the worse in america.

by jj on Jan 14, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

@ JJ you are correct in that there are other areas that depend on a major industry, aka Detroit. I think NYC is in a better position because it has multiple big industries: finance, entertainment, media, fashion, sports, etc. If one of them went away, there's enough still left.DC area is different in that the high housing prices, high income counties, low unemployment rate, are all attributed to the largest driver around here, the federal gov't. And people see that and read about it, and get mad that their tax dollars are financing the richest counties in america. I think it would be a good idea, and in this area's interest, to diversify into things that can stand without having anything to do with the federal gov't.

by Nickyp on Jan 14, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

Funny reactions to that NYTimes piece:
http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2013/01/contempt-dripping-from-every-sentence-ctd.html

by Jasper on Jan 14, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

Juanita - you got it!!

"in 1996 dysfunction reigned." LOL - in 1996, there were articles saying how bad it was in the 80s. It wasn't that bad in 1996. In many ways, neighborhood retail was so much better then. Now, what there is left of it, is just bad.

Such a strange combination of awful retail and overpriced housing we have now.

Good observations from the article:
"Hiring became secondary to contracting, and more and more public projects were outsourced to private firms.

"The agencies winnowed their rolls, but over the curse of the Clinton years, their budgets expanded, and in many cases, the work just went to contractors. Those contractors often came at a bloated cost, too."

"In the process, tens of thousands of new workers, often well-paid young white-collar professionals in areas like technology, bioscience and engineering, also entered the local economy. And many of these young professionals, as Abdo hoped, worked 14-hour days and wanted to live near work, friends, coffee shops and yoga studios." - There! She said it.

"But the contours of Washington’s wealth are far different from those in other boom towns. In New York or San Francisco, inequality has become fractured: the upper middle class has pulled away from the middle class, and the rich from the upper middle class, and the really rich from the rich and so on. Washington, though, has become an increasingly two-class town. About a third of households make less than $60,000 a year, while around 45 percent make more than $100,000 a year. Relatively few are what might be traditionally considered middle class." - Didn't know it was so many.

"There’s something unsavory about having a capital city doing outrageously well while the rest of the country is limping along"

About all those glittering restaurants that are proliferating (and apparently also going down), plate for plate, the best food is still in the suburbs. Ask anyone who's native of another country. They scoff at the DC restaurant with their country's cooking.

by Jazzy on Jan 14, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

@Nickyp: I have no idea but since property owners in Tysons have their own special tax district to help pay for all this, I would think the burden on taxpayers outside of Tysons isn't as great you might think it is.

by Little Red on Jan 14, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

About all those glittering restaurants that are proliferating (and apparently also going down), plate for plate, the best food is still in the suburbs. Ask anyone who's native of another country. They scoff at the DC restaurant with their country's cooking.

And by some sort of miraculous conception, the suburbs are somehow better able to prepare "native" food than in DC proper? A bit of exaggeration here? Ok, a lot..

by HogWash on Jan 14, 2013 3:57 pm • linkreport

No miracle whatsoever. Perfectly logical explanations.

That's where the populations are, for one. And secondly, the rents are far less expensive.

You just don't see the proliferation and variety of foods in DC like you do in the suburbs, particularly the northern Virginia suburbs. There are also just tons of grocery stores (Latin American, Middle Eastern (Lebanese, Egyptian, Iranian), Chinese, Korean, etc)

by Jazzy on Jan 14, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

the suburbs are somehow better able to prepare "native" food than in DC proper?

The best Korean, Chinese, and Indian food is in the suburbs. Possibly DC does well with Thai food, and they definitely have the lock on good Ethiopian food. But it's mostly undeniable that DC's ethnic food situation is a mixed bag.

by JustMe on Jan 14, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

You just don't see the proliferation and variety of foods in DC like you do in the suburbs, particularly the northern Virginia suburbs. There are also just tons of grocery stores (Latin American, Middle Eastern (Lebanese, Egyptian, Iranian), Chinese, Korean, etc)

Well sure I can definitely agree with that. I imagine the sheer expanse of areas outside of DC has a lot to do w/it its ability to run the entire smorgasbord of native options. That's a bit different than suggestion that natives must travel to the suburbs in order to get "native" food.

Now since we're talking about native food...DC's "southern" offerings leave a lot to be desired...starting w/Acadiana and ending w/Vidalia's.

by HogWash on Jan 14, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

Thanks for the daily beast link - glad other people are eloquently pointing out how idiotically wrong the NYT author was about Brookland.

by Nick on Jan 14, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

"There’s something unsavory about having a capital city doing outrageously well while the rest of the country is limping along"

Well there are actually folks in DC trying to get the rest of the country doing better - they have frequently been stopped by politicians who come from the rest of the country.

I mean jeez, why should someone running a restaurant in Tysons feel guilty because some congressman from Ohio buys off on anti-keynsian rhetoric.

The ordinary residents of Metro DC do not decide macroeconomic policy (and of course residents of the District, have even less say than residents of Maryland and NoVa)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 14, 2013 5:11 pm • linkreport

like it or not, most civilized nations need governments, contrary to what Tea Partiers will tell you.

I have yet to meet a Tea Partier who advocates anarchy and zero government. I'm guessing you haven't either, but that didn't stop you from taking a ridiculous cheap shot.

by Colin on Jan 14, 2013 6:44 pm • linkreport

"There’s something unsavory about having a capital city doing outrageously well while the rest of the country is limping along"

Sure, and there's something unsavory about CEOs making millions of dollars while their companies are laying people off. Welcome to capitalism and democracy. The optics may not be great but somehow it gets the job done.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2013 6:52 pm • linkreport

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