Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Suddenly there came a tapping


Photo by maxmborge on Flickr.
The Post in DC nevermore?: The Washington Post might sell its headquarters on 15th Street. Could it end up in Virginia? Maybe. (City Paper)

Gandhi's tell-tale heart: Natwar Gandhi, DC's CFO who presided over fiscal stability and also some scandals, will resign in June to be with his "new love," Indian poet Panna Naik. (Washingtonian)

PG schools would purloin your letters: The Prince George's school system would own the copyright to everything a student creates, or any lesson plans a teacher devises, under a proposed new copyright policy from the county Board of Education. (Post)

The facts in the case of M. Driver: A Crownsville resident complains that DC's new L Street bike lane, traffic lights, and speeding tickets make her drive into DC for work unpleasant and cyclists break laws. WashCycle rebuts the arguments; plus, let's not forget the many cars parked illegally in the L Street lanes. (Post, Examiner)

Retail bugs Golden Triangle: With new development sprouting up all over DC, the Golden Triangle (Farragut, Dupont, and Washington Circle area) is having to work harder to attract retailers, particularly larger and higher-end ones. (Post)

The premature burial of pedestrian safety: Pedestrian deaths declined in Montgomery County, but it is not doing enough to solve the underlying problem: the county and state are not designing and operating streets for pedestrians as well as drivers. (WTOP)

Prevents the descent after the maelstrom: Freshly-mopped floors in Metro stations in winter conditions may seem odd, but that mopping actually makes the floors less slippery thanks to a chemical agent in the mixture. (Examiner)

The system of reaching Doctor Tarr: Some officials are pushing for a transit-oriented site for the new Prince George's hospital, but many developers would like it at their non-TOD sites and have some heavy hitters behind them. (Post)

The fall of the house-ownership myth: A Georgetown professor found homeowners appear slightly more engaged in their communities, but the margin is slight, and argues the massive subsidies for home ownership weigh against such policies. (Dizzy)

Quoth...: Departing DDOT spokesman John Lisle give some funny faux facts about the agency. (BeyondDC) ... People seem to have an irrational bias toward cars over transit. (Atlantic Cities) ... Two huge blimps will protect Washington for up to 3 years.

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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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RE: Metro Mopping

Anecdotally from the number of falls I saw last week: personally, I'm dubious about that chemical agent... all I saw were wet tiles that were quickly covered in freshly re-added muck. I think things would have been far more effective had they done it in halves (or smaller segments), left wet areas taped off, and then reopened when dry.

by Bossi on Feb 4, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

Another DC industry coming to Tysons because we know how to build Class A office space for less than $100 psf.

But don't worry Mayor Gray, only NYC, San Fran, and Paris are your competitors. Fairfax is just some place out in the hinterlands.

;)

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 4, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

I get it -- Super Bowl/Baltimore/Poe

by Alan B. on Feb 4, 2013 9:13 am • linkreport

@Tysons

Well, that is taking a ridiculously oversimplified view of things.

I don't think WaPo leaves the city. Will follow closely, but I don't see it.

PG has one last change here to get some TOD development. If they locate the hospital away from a metro station, they will have lost all credibility regarding smart growth forever. What little they may have left.

by Kyle-W on Feb 4, 2013 9:16 am • linkreport

I don't think its oversimplified

Land development in NOVA psf costs far less than DC, even in areas where the land costs equivalent to DC costs (Tysons sells at about 3-5million per acre). Higher density means an effective decrease in the cost per square foot. Its not that developers are making crappy redevelopment in Tysons, its just that its being done for cheaper.

End of the day a business isn't going to pay 3 times as much on the most costly element of operations outside of payroll for nothing. I hope WaPo stays in DC also, but if they don't Mayor Gray will have to say something other NYC, SF, and Paris are our competitors. It would be a real "Houston we have a problem" moment.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 4, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

Hospital would be a good anchor for a Greenbelt Metro mixed-use development.

by Greenbelt on Feb 4, 2013 9:40 am • linkreport

The Washington Post might sell its headquarters on 15th Street. Could it end up in Virginia? Maybe.

Death spiral.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

@Tysons

Of course, if we keep losing businesses, it is a problem. Not much Gray can do about rental costs PSF.

To be honest, you personally (living in VA I presume?) have as much, if not more of a say in the cost PSF in DC. You can talk to your congressmen, and try and get the height limit changed etc. We can... talk to EHN?

Also, not trying to discuss the height-limit today, but just making a point :)

by Kyle-W on Feb 4, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

That GU study is interesting, and jibes with my own experience. I was pretty involved in my neighborhood when I was a renter and I'm still involved now that I own a home. And I suppose I might be slightly more engaged with my neighbors now, but it's hard to tell.

But what is not hard to tell is how right it is to say that the subsidies to home ownership are insane. I just did my taxes for the first time with the mortgage. I did it without the mortgage and then with just to see the difference. Holy crap. That is a ridiculous, ridiculous subsidy. It needs to be capped. Also, we should consider creating a rental tax credit too, in order to make it more fair between owners and renters.

by TM on Feb 4, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

Re: complainer about L Street.

I'm sure there are some arguments to be made about how drivers should maybe one day get some sympathy as they navigate the busy streets of Downtown D.C. This letter is the exact opposite of that argument.

by drumz on Feb 4, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

I find this entire post a Poe attempt at humor.

@Kyle-W: I think it's even money whether or not the POST leaves the city. I don't see the advantage for them of being headquartered in downtown DC any more, unless they're tethered to the name on the masthead.

Oh, well; yet another example of DC's regulations chilling and killing local business. (Sorry.)*

*Not very.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 4, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

What's up with the missing comment count at the end of each post on the homepage?

by ChrisB on Feb 4, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer,

$3-5 million an acre? Wow, gee...hardly compares to the 30 million an acre the land underneath the MLK library is worth, or the 50 million an acre the land under 7th and G across the street.

"because we know how to build Class A office space for less than $100 psf."

What, you think VA has some genetic knowledge unavailable to the rest of the world?

Macerich's new office/hospitality towers in Tysons is ringing in at $357 sq/ft. Renovating existing office space for new tenants in Tysons runs $70-90 sq/ft, and thats just replacing interior finishes, not touching base building structure of systems.

Tysons has the upper hand because the land costs are a fraction of the cost to build in the District, not because you have some magician contracting force that developers in the District don't have access to.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

@DCr

I missed the part about 3-5 million an acre. Just for reference sakes, my land in northern Petworth/Brightwood is assessed at 3 million an acre. I could certainly buy into land downtown being worth 10+ times more than land in Brightwood.

by Kyle-W on Feb 4, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

ChrisB beat me to it. I was trying with various browsers just to be sure. It's universal.

by selxic on Feb 4, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

ChrisB and selxic: I'm on it. I actually switched over last night to a slightly new version of my code, which I modified to allow for some future features of the blog, but there are a few little bugs left.

If anyone encounters weird behavior or error messages, please shoot me an email. If you got an error message, it's most helpful if you can paste the entire thing. Thanks!

by David Alpert on Feb 4, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

The issue on illegal parking on the L st bike lanes is about delivery trucks, not cars.

And yes, having them double park in the traffic lane is also pretty bad.

by charlie on Feb 4, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

Tysons has the upper hand because the land costs are a fraction of the cost to build in the District, not because you have some magician contracting force that developers in the District don't have access to.

Ding!

Exactly. Reminds me of exurban folks who pat themselves on the back for their fantastically efficient anti-poverty initiatives. Why can't DC just do the same thing! Leave aside the fact that the poverty numbers are radically.

It's like the old joke about how to become a multi-millionaire: First, start with a million dollars.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

The letter in WaPo from a lady in Crownsville complaining about the bike lanes on L street is a perfect example of why WaPo has already moved to the suburb.

by dc denizen on Feb 4, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

ChrisB and selxic: The bug of comment #s not appearing is now fixed. Please let me know if you encounter any more problems. Thanks!

by David Alpert on Feb 4, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

"...he poverty numbers are radically."

...different.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

1. The Washington Post owns their building, so they're not paying rent. If they moved and suddenly had to pay rent, that would be a big determining factor.

2. There seems to be no shortage of firms willing to pay market rate for D.C. real estate, some of those companies are even profitable.

by Adam L on Feb 4, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

The Prince George's school system would own the copyright to everything a student creates, or any lesson plans a teacher devises, under a proposed new copyright policy from the county Board of Education.

That pretty much amounts to theft of copyright. Shameful.

by Jasper on Feb 4, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

Why in the world has it taken this long for Ghandi to resign. I mean, considering the number of big ticket scandals under his purview, you would think he would've been gone.

[Deleted to avoid flamewars.]

I just don't know how I feel about the gov't being able to give away public airwaves for free. Of course this would be a boon to the big tech firms. But should the gov't be in the business of doing this on such a large scale? Would it create even more gov't? Would it eventually eliminate the need for cellular contracts?

by HogWash on Feb 4, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

I have to hope that the PG County Schools copyright thing is just a poorly written attempt to be able to use lesson plans across schools and use student work in advertising/promotional materials.

Because otherwise it's just idiotic.

Why in the world has it taken this long for Ghandi to resign.
Because he's not resigning due to scandals and nobody's forcing him out?

by MLD on Feb 4, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

@Hogwash, it is Gandhi, not ghandi.

The sad history of District politics is everyone has a sell by date, and he exceeded his.

Really, the last remenant of the control board era. We are still suffering from his and Tony Williams's decision to move spending away from infrastructure to show budget surpluses, but overall he did more good than evil.

I didn't look up DC bond rates, but I doubt they moved much today. Which is the best testimony to his service than I can imagine...

by charlie on Feb 4, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

Why in the world has it taken this long for Ghandi to resign. I mean, considering the number of big ticket scandals under his purview, you would think he would've been gone.

I think this graph of DC budget surpluses during Gandhi's tenure speaks to why he was appointed four times by three different mayors. The scandals weren't entirely his fault...although the surpluses weren't all his doing either. Nonetheless, he was a steady hand at the tiller at a time when DC needed competence at that position more than anything else:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-deficits-and-surpluses/2013/02/01/c4dbd5fe-6ccb-11e2-bd36-c0fe61a205f6_graphic.html

by Falls Church on Feb 4, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

Post circulation:

DC = 81,040
MD = 166,431
VA = 182,652

Maybe moving out of DC makes sense.

by Olde Skool on Feb 4, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

[Deleted to avoid flamewars.]

by washcycle on Feb 4, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

the gov't being able to give away public airwaves for free

With the nominal amounts they charge now, they are already "giving them away". At least under this new proposal, the public would actually benefit, and not the big telcos.

by Vicente Fox on Feb 4, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

We are still suffering from his and Tony Williams's decision to move spending away from infrastructure to show budget surpluses

Put another way, Tony Williams and Gandhi saved the city from financial ruin and bankruptcy or the very least, from the Control Board.

by Falls Church on Feb 4, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

@FallsChurch, not really.

The problem with not spending on infrastrure it it takes years to show up. So, Fenty came in and starting blowing money on social services instead.*

All part of The Plan, really. Ramp up spending for existing DC residents and make sure their kids move to PG.

That being said, Gray is the first real post-CB mayor -- the rest more or less followed in their footsteps. And given the continuing constraints he hasn't acted that differently.

* Williams also blew a lot of the ballpark but at least has the balls to force down a tax to pay for it.

by charlie on Feb 4, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

The issue on illegal parking on the L st bike lanes is about delivery trucks, not cars.

Incorrect, it is both delivery trucks and private autos. I've confronted both. Private cars seem to want to wait "just a minute" to pick up/drop off someone. Delivery vehicles are there longer so it's easier to get pictures.

by thump on Feb 4, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

Giving anyone, let along Gandhi (or Williams) credit for budget surpluses, all of them 2000 and on, when you had both a national real estate boom so frothy and without fundamentals due to incredibly lax Fed policy and cheap money, and:

an increase in Federal spending in the DCMSA from 65 billion a year to 170 billion a year from 2000 to 2011...

is simply ridiculous.

Not that anyone was watching year after year from 2000 to 2008 as the city was racking up surpluses, but they were doing it while simultaneously exceeding the budget(s) they passed

So yes, while it is nice that DC has had surpluses, DC's largest real estate boom in the hisotry of the city (like the rest of the nation was experiencing) and the Federal government having dumped more than a TRILLION salary and procurement dollars (mostly procurement) into the local economy during that 11 year period "might" have had something to do with the surpluses.

Lastly, the fact that Gandhi oversaw scandal after scandal in his department that resulted in the city losing more than 100 million dollars in the past 5 years, and his inability to predict said yearly surpluses (which is actually damaging to city finances as the city can't appropriately plan financing and budget issues) is reason enough to have canned him years ago.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

@Ser Amantio di Nicolao:

I find this entire post a Poe attempt at humor.

It was Allen good fun.

by Gray on Feb 4, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

Does anyone still read the paper version of newspapers anyway? The future is online and the post probably doesn't need a massive physical presence when communications technology. As much as I like the idea of the Washington Post building, it might not be the best use of resources in that location.

by Alan B. on Feb 4, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

[Deleted.]

Lastly, the fact that Gandhi oversaw scandal after scandal in his department that resulted in the city losing more than 100 million dollars in the past 5 years, and his inability to predict said yearly surpluses (which is actually damaging to city finances as the city can't appropriately plan financing and budget issues) is reason enough to have canned him years ago.

He "saved" us so all the metric we use to judge other's performance is irrelevant.

[Deleted.]

by HogWash on Feb 4, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

@DCr:

So yes, while it is nice that DC has had surpluses, DC's largest real estate boom in the history of the city (like the rest of the nation was experiencing)

That might explanation might get you through 2008, but it certainly won't explain the $420 million surplus in 2012. Plus the idea that DC's real estate boom was in any sense a "bubble" akin to what the rest of the nation was experiencing just doesn't jibe with reality.

Washington Zillow Home Value Index
US Zillow Home Value Index

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

Giving anyone, let along Gandhi (or Williams) credit for budget surpluses...

The same could be said about the Clinton surpluses during the roaring 90s. There were many factors other than his policies that led to the surpluses.

Lastly, the fact that Gandhi oversaw scandal after scandal in his department that resulted in the city losing more than 100 million dollars in the past 5 years

Gandhi was not found at fault for any of those scandals after thorough investigations by an inspector general (unlike many other DC politicians/appointees who have been found at fault for their various scandals). He has since instituted controls that better catch wrong-doers and those new mechanisms successfully caught some attempted fraud recently. But, I get it. The buck stops with the guy on top. However, if the buck stops with him when there's a scandal, the buck should also stop with him when things go right.

Sure, his forecasts haven't been spot on and he didn't invest in the systems needed to obtain better data that could more accurately predict DC's rapidly improving finances. Nonetheless, no less than three mayors have credited Gandhi for his stewardship of DC's finances from total mess to the point where our worry is forecasting the precise size of hefty surpluses.

The problem with not spending on infrastrure it it takes years to show up. So, Fenty came in and starting blowing money on social services instead.*

Gandhi (particularly under Williams) was known as Dr. No for ratcheting back on spending, possibly to a degree that resulted in a lack of infrastructure for the future. However, it makes more sense to get your financial house in order and then later borrow money at low interest rates to develop infrastructure rather than borrow money for infrastructure when financial markets think you may be bankrupt.

Gandhi's outstanding performance isn't just my opinion, here's a snippet from his most recent confirmation hearing:

Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi fairly sailed through his D.C. Council confirmation hearing Thursday. A parade of luminaries — including a former mayor, former council members, business and labor officials — heaped praise on Gandhi during the two-and-a-half hour hearing, and he heard only a smattering of criticism from behind the dais.

For two and a half hours, the majority of the witnesses likened Gandhi to a savior, reminding Councilmembers how far D.C. has come since its days of financial ruin in the 1990s.

“Dr. Gandhi has been here two terms. And in my view, he has inspired confidence and stability in our finances that did not exist prior to his being here," Evans said after the meeting. "And so as a consequence of this time as the financial markets are a little uncertain, both national and international, it’s important to have a steady hand at the helm.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, it was labor leader Geo T. Johnson of AFSCME District Council 20 who put it most poignantly: “I look at the sewer that the city was in. ... People forget really easy where this city was, [and] it don’t take a whole lot to go back.” Gandhi, he said, “exemplifies what a CFO is about.”

“I happen to think this public realm is centered ... on public trust,” Williams said. “That’s the center of our community, and it’s very, very precious. I think it’s really the driver as to why we are where we are. ... Central to that is a good custodian, a good steward of our financial affairs, and that has been Nat Gandhi.”

by Falls Church on Feb 4, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

Oboe,

I gave two reasons for DC surpluses. You completely ignored the second, which is actually the real reason.

" increase in Federal spending in the DCMSA from 65 billion a year to 170 billion a year from 2000 to 2011...

And to add more granularity to the fiscal picture, that total federal spending increased from 135 billion / yr in 2009 to 170 billion in 2011, a massive 26% increase in 2 years. The District has had two surpluses in a row now, not because District leadership figured out something that eludes avery other mayor or govenor in the nation, but because Federal spending (which constitutes just over 40% of the DCMSA economy, has been on a crazy tear the past decade, the last 2 or 3 even more so.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

@Oboe,

Just for a physical example of the kind of money we are talking about:

- A dollar bill is ~ 16 sq/inches in area.
- Increase in Federal Spending in the DCMSA increased by 105 billion (65 to 170)
- The land area inside the DC beltway us 280 sq/miles.

Single dollar bill laid out end to end, and side to side, each bill covering 16 sq/inches, multiplied by 105 billion covers 418 sq/miles, an area 1.5 times the land area inside the beltway.

You could literally cover all the land inside the beltway 1.5 times with a dollar bill just with the yearly increase in amount of money spent by the Feds locally from 2000 to 2011.

Take the example a step further, the Feds have spent more than a trillion dollars in the local economy in the past ~11 years, which means you could swap out those single dollar bills for $10 dollar bills.

DC's increased pace of rennasaince the past 3 years came with the rest of the nation was stuck in the worst recession in 70 years, and we think that it had nothing to do with the massive increased levels of federal spending in the local economy? C'mon....

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

Sorry, I addressed the first reason because it was so laughably off-base. I ignored the second because it wasn't really an argument. The "total federal spending" in "the DCMSA" is so broad as to be meaningless. How much of that did the DC government capture, and how much went to MD and VA? What was it spent on?

Anyway, it's a bit silly to look at the massive growth of the Federal government since, what, the 1930s and say that somehow only the last 10 years have been unique in their ability to drive growth in DC proper--and that all other factors are irrelevant.

What happened under the (larger) Reagan spending increases?

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

@DCr:

If you took all the money spent locally in the last decade by the federal government and turned it into pennies, it would require more donkeys than have ever lived to carry them across the Memorial Bridge.

I've found this kind of stuff obfuscates more than illuminates.

Anyway, the point is that in decades past, huge increases in spending to federal contractors in the DC metro region have *not* resulted in a rebirth of the city of DC. It's resulted in wealthier suburbs.

So your explanation is lacking.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

Reagan spending increases weren't larger. Total federal spending in the DCMSA went from 19 billion to 40 billion per year, the 8 years he was in office from 1981 to 89, an increase of 100%.

It has increased from 65 billion to 170 billion a year in a 10 year period (8 for Bush, 2 for Obama), or 260%.

Only someone who is trying to ignore the clear facts of the issue, or someone who isn't on friendly terms with math would say such a ridiculous thing "The "total federal spending" in "the DCMSA" is so broad as to be meaningless."

I don't know if you are making a joke or serious.

Of the 170 billion, 35 billion was spent on salaries for actual federal employees, the remaining 135 billion spent on local fedreal procurement, i.e. federal contracting. Contracting has existed since the first days of the nation, but never in the scale that it exists today.

The District is literally at the heart, geographically and politically of the US Federal government, and the DCMSA. I don't know the dollar amount captured by the District but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to grasp that the District, through increased income (personal and business), property, sales taxes etc is going to capture "some" of it.

I end this with turning it to you. What do "you" think the massive influx of money into the DCMSA and District specifically has been due too the past 3 years, a period where the rest of the nation was in the depths of the worst recession in 70 years? What do the 60,000 people who have moved to the District in the past 12 years do for an income, what industry if not for Uncle Sam is supporting and driving this growth?

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

"I don't know the dollar amount captured by the District but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to grasp that the District, through increased income (personal and business), property, sales taxes etc is going to capture "some" of it."

it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that there are far more federal contractors, a fortiori, defense contractors, in NoVa than in DC. And almost all DoD federal employment in the region.

And not to mention that many of the folks who DO work in DC, do not live there.

If anything DC residents are overrepresented among law firms, lobbyists, think tanks, and NGOs which are connected to the federal govt, but where employment does not necessarily vary with federal spending in the region.

Again, the question is why did the Distric not see these kinds of changes from the Reagan build up - which whethere it was larger or not, was clearly very large - and which DID see massive growth in the suburbs, IIUC?

Regional economic growth is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for growth in the district. What was also necessary was good management in the District, so it could take advantage of that growth. That does seem to have changed, and the discussion of federal growth does not contradict it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 4, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

While riding my bike on the L Street cycle track a couple of days ago, I watched a cop pull over a car that tried to make an illegal left turn in front of me at a green light. Thanks DCPD.

But now that the pylons are gone at the cycletrack entry points, Barcode apparrently thinks the cycle track is a valet and unloading area.

by aaa on Feb 4, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

@DCr:

Recheck your math - 65 billion to 170 billion is an increase of 162%, not 260%.

The growth under Reagan (110%, using your #s) is somewhat lower given the shorter timeframe.

Either way, you certainly prove Repub. Presidents keep the contracting gravy train flowing!

by jd on Feb 4, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Also, I wonder if that rise over 10 years is steady or mostly represents a spike associated with the stimulus bill. Any one who loves math - like me, an actual rocket scientist - know that the shape of the curve is more important than the slope between the two end points. For example. A plot of people killed by atom bombs over the 20th century would show zero in 1900 and zero in 2000. But it would be wrong to say that there was no growth in atom bomb deaths in the 20th Century.

by David C on Feb 4, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

Sorry, but your assertion was not "DC benefits from Federal spending" you argument was that DC's improving fiscal picture is a result of Federal spending in the years 2000-2013. That the only two factors driving that were a (largely non-existent) DC housing bubble and Obama's largess, showered on DC.

My answer to that was, obviously, Federal spending has been going on for a long, long time. I gave the counter-example of the Reagan years, when federal spending was arguably higher, per year, and yet the District cratered--while the suburbs flourished.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

I end this with turning it to you. What do "you" think the massive influx of money into the DCMSA and District specifically...

If you're going to "turn it around" you'll first need to actually show there *was* a massive influx of money into the District. What you've done is thrown up some unsourced numbers about the greater metropolitan Washington region. We have no idea if the money coming into the District was higher or lower than in years past.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

Oboe,

I ask again, specifically what industry(s) are currently driving District growth? All of the people moving into the District with higher incomes have to be working somewhere, for some industry. What is it? You seem fully convinced that DC's rebirth has nothing whatsoever to do with federal spending, yet are unwilling to identify one industry that is a legitimate economic driver. Why?

Again, Reagan spending was NOT more. I stated it clearly above. Total federal spending in the DCMSA in 1989 (last year of Reagan) was 40 billion. It Doubled in his term. Inflation adjusted that is 74 billion in 2013 dollars. It is actually 170 billion. Clearly Reagan spending was not more. Full Stop.

@Awalkerinthecity: "it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that there are far more federal contractors, a fortiori, defense contractors, in NoVa than in DC"

So what you are saying is that none of the people who have moved to the District in the past ~ decade work for a contracting or defense company in VA or MD?

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

Lawyers, lobbyists, tech folks, all the people who run/fundraise the PACs, University profs, International Business, Embassy staff, Think Tank staff etc etc.

Lawyers alone - big law associates start out at 160k or so. That can easily buy you a nice enough house in DC on that income alone, not including a spouse/roommates. Big law partners average 700k a year and there are a ton of them. A ton. All it takes is some percentage of all the professions I listed above having a desire to live in DC instead of the burbs and absent any other changes there can be a big influx of DC wealth/real estate. Do you think all (or even most) of the 1100 people moving to DC monthly work in government?

by H Street LL on Feb 4, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

District of Columbia piece of the MSA's total federal spending pie went from 28.2 billion in 2000, to 61.9 in 2010. Increase of 120%

Maryland (Counties within the DCMSA) went from 45.1 billion to 96.3 billion during the same period, a 113% increase.

Virginia (Counties within the DCMSA) went from 62.7 to 136.1 billion during the same period. A 117% increase

Consolidated Federal Funds Report 2010

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

@DCr

Wow, 3-5 million for empty land or parking lot. Your examples are built structures. I'd point out that for class A office the assessed per acreage value is in the 100s of millions per acre also in Tysons.

You also are citing construction costs, I meant lease costs. There is no such thing as commercial space constructed for less than $100 in capital psf.

There is a magic stick in Tysons, its call less regulation against development and greater height and FARs which reduce the effect of land cost.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 4, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

Tysons Engineer,

You clearly said "build" in two different posts above

And it doesn't cost $100 sq/ft to lease office space in DC. Even if you meant lease costs, average Office lease costs in the District were $49.93 sq/ft, in Northern Virginia it is $31.48 (Cassidy Turley Survey of Office space 4th qtr, 2012).

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 4:46 pm • linkreport

DCr, can you give me a little more to go on for that data. Telling me the name of the book to look in is still the equivalent of saying "look it up". I seem to recall someone saying that those numbers don't really tell you what they think they do. For example, if the Park Service is allocated money to buy jeep rangers for every park, that might be assigned to DC (because HQ handles it), but it isn't really DC spending.

by David C on Feb 4, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

A curb wouldn't be the worst idea for the L Street bike lane. That's what they do on a downtown street in Montreal (where I first rode Bixi, later to become CaBi) and it works pretty well.

They could also have signs every 10 feet that say "NO PARKING OR STANDING HERE EVER. IF YOUR CAR IS IN THIS LANE, MOVE IT IMMEDIATELY, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU."

by Gavin on Feb 4, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

H Street LL

There are fewer lawyers in DC in 2012 than there were in 2009 (30.6 vs 34.1). Numbers are in thousands.

Federal Government there is more for the same period, 210.5 vs 200.2. I was actually surprised because the bulk of federal spending isn't in salaries but procurement, yet the District added more fed's.

There wasn't a catagory for lobbying specifically in the employment stats, but simply admitting them makes my case for me as the number of lobbyists increases when federal spending does as every industry and special intrest group in the nation spends money to lobby Congress for their piece.

(DC DOES Employment Stats)

Care to try again? DC added 60,000 residents. They have to work somewhere. You gave me lawyers which there are now fewer of, and 10,000 more feds (which makes my point for me) where there are more. You are about 50K short.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

"There wasn't a catagory for lobbying specifically in the employment stats, but simply admitting them makes my case for me as the number of lobbyists increases when federal spending does as every industry and special intrest group in the nation spends money to lobby Congress for their piece."

lots of lobbying is about changes in the tax code, in regulations, etc. I don't think its all that strongly correlated with the size of federal expenditure.

Even if all 60,000 new residents are civil servants, it does not follow that, in the absence of changes to DC govt over the last two decades, they would otherwise have lived in DC. Or that, in the absence of growth in civil service jobs, they would not have (since the total numer of civil service and other jobs in DC is so much bigger than the total number of employed people resident in the district)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 4, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

@DavidC,

It is a census publication. You are going to have to Google it, it will take you to the website and link.

Procurement dollars are broken down by MSA, and they are tallied into the MSA where they are actually spent.

If the NPS buys jeeps at a dealer in VA, the money is added to this MSA. If they are bought in Phoenix, they goes in Phoenix's column.

In your example (because HQ handles it) then technically all the 3.8 trillion federal budget would be allocated to the DCMSA, because "HQ" (Congress) handled it.

It is assigned by MSA, which is a geographic designation.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

"@Awalkerinthecity: "it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that there are far more federal contractors, a fortiori, defense contractors, in NoVa than in DC"

So what you are saying is that none of the people who have moved to the District in the past ~ decade work for a contracting or defense company in VA or MD?"

there are clearly some folks who reverse commute from DC to the suburbs, but they pay a substantial premium to do so. A much higher premium, I might add, than it was in the 1990s. So Ive got to think that if large numbers are doing so, despite increased relative housing prices,there must be a change involved in the desirability of the District.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 4, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

Well, I would argue the amount of lobbyists would increase if there are budget cuts as the jockeying for maintaining your preferred status increases. Either way, its a huge amount of people and money. The massive Super PACS are a new development.

Link to your lawyer stats? And besides, as I noted if more of those lawyers (who may work in DC but live elsewhere) decide to move in to DC that would boost real estate prices.

DC city gov budget is ~10 billion a year. I remember reading years ago that 1/3rd of SF Gov employees were making over 100k a year before benefits. I'd imagine its slightly smaller here but the city budgets are similar. 10 billion a year from city gov alone.

You didn't address IMF type folks, nonprofits, embassies, tech, restaurants/bars, other high end service folks, high end construction/remodeling/infrastructure projects etc etc

by H Street LL on Feb 4, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

"If the NPS buys jeeps at a dealer in VA, the money is added to this MSA. If they are bought in Phoenix, they goes in Phoenix's column."

If NPS correctly records it that way. Are you sure they do?

"In your example (because HQ handles it) then technically all the 3.8 trillion federal budget would be allocated to the DCMSA, because "HQ" (Congress) handled it."

Im not sure you understand what HQ means in the world of specific agencies.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 4, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

H street,

You would be wrong
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php

Lobbying funds spent in 2012 was a total of 3.28 billion total US.

It was 3.52 in 2010, up from 1.56 billion in 2000. Again this it total funds spent to Lobby congress nationwide, and isn't all spent in the District, but even if we assumed it was then there is an additional 2 billion per year in the District economy in the past 12 years.

Actual DIRECT federal spending in the District increased by 34 billion a year during that same period.

So even if we assumed every last dollar spent in teh nation to lobby was spent on K street, it would 17 times smaller than the actual direct federal funds spent in the District.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 5:17 pm • linkreport

The Consolidated Federal Funds report only differentiates on where that money was paid, not where the person lives who earned it. That's a big deal if you're going to try to split up the money by state (DC/MD/VA) and then say that this has a direct impact on the DC budget. Plenty of those people who work in DC do not live there and therefore pay a lot less in taxes to DC.

That federal spending has a big effect on the DC economy is undisputed; it's your misplaced absolutism and oversimplification that clearly only this increased federal spending led to DC's surpluses that people have an issue with. Since clearly federal spending has increased in the past and the result was DC still managing to end up with the Control Board.

by MLD on Feb 4, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

Awalkerinthecity.

If you think the Census numbers are botched, and have been on a yearly basis for decades, thats your right I guess. But to make your point you will have to provide hard facts to counter the data. Please do. I would like to see it.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

WaPo's proposed sale is something that's common in the newspaper business and might not necessarily herald a move. The NY Times sold their building and leased it back, of course it was a relatively new building on prime real estate. WaPo doesn't use a lot of the space it owns, having, for example, moved its printing presses to the suburbs. They also provide offices for people who haven't really needed them for years like Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.

NoVA is not the center of the metro area, so if that's a consideration DC/MD would make more sense. The idea that they will do more local reporting seems to mean that other things get gutted more. the only way their local coverage would improve would be if they hired people who know the area and want to cover it. they don't seem very successful at doing that. If the Post does move to NoVA it probably will reflect the kind of thinking that led them to outsource sales and circulation to Manila. A paper that's counting pennies but not thinking about the bigger picture is headed in the wrong direction. The Post has been rapidly losing paid circulation and the paper itself is a shadow of its former self.

by Rich on Feb 4, 2013 6:17 pm • linkreport

MLD,

I get that, I do. But I've asked many times here for someone to identify what "specifically" the repeated surpluses are from. From what industry? I never said "all" the surpluses came from the Feds. We know 85 million of it came from speeding cameras and another 100 million from dc agencies not spending their entire budgets. But at the same time, you and everyone here seems hell bent on completely ignoring the herd of elephants in the room, and i dont know why. That there is more than 100 billion dollars per year being spent in the DC area then there was a decade before, all of it federal and that DCs biggest surplus also came during the nations worst recession in in seven decades. If you can identify another industry whose spending in the DC economy increased by 100 billion per year the past decade, please point it out.

H street. As I said in the post, the stats came from DC Does employment stats.

You say broad subjects like "tech". Be specific. What tech? Weapons tech ( employing highly paid technical pros) or Livingsocial tech ( employing a tiny number, and falling of marketing people making 30 to 40 k a year?

Go to the employment stats website and identify what outspends the federal government int the district.

by DCr on Feb 4, 2013 7:30 pm • linkreport

Dcr But I've asked many times here for someone to identify what "specifically" the repeated surpluses are from. From what industry?

Well then, you've been asking the wrong question. Surpluses don't come from industry. They come from managing your spending and taxing such that the first is less than the latter.

The reason DC has a surplus is that they cut spending and raised taxes and budgeted conservatively to have one.

by David C on Feb 4, 2013 9:12 pm • linkreport

@ DCr

No, $85 million of the surplus did not come from traffic cameras. It was $27 million.

Here is what comprised the $417 million DC surplus for FY 2012:

$100 million - from DC agency underspending
$91 million - from dedicated revenue streams (i.e. bag tax,
$78 million - from higher than expected business taxes
$68 million - from higher than expected sales taxes
$53 million - from estate taxes
$27 million - from traffic cameras

by revitalizer on Feb 4, 2013 10:51 pm • linkreport

But at the same time, you and everyone here seems hell bent on completely ignoring the herd of elephants in the room, and i dont know why.

Nobody's ignoring the elephant in the room. Is 100 billion more regional GDP/investment more than the growth in the crucial industries of other large cities? This number is meaningless without something to compare it to. And how many square miles the dollar bills that make that up would cover is not a useful comparison. Economies are big, we know that.

Furthermore, what is your point in pointing all this out? That DC just had to sit back and wait for the dough to roll in? That the people running the city have/had nothing to do with increasing city revenues, or attracting development in the District, or (most importantly) attracting more PEOPLE (and therefore income tax revenues) to live in the District?

As pointed out above, a full quarter of the surplus is from DC agencies spending under their budgets. That's not revenue.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2013 8:30 am • linkreport

MLD, find something to compare it to then and come back and tell us. I've laid out the facts multiple times here and while everyone keeps say "but, but, but", they don't actually provide any actual data to refute it.

Here is is, the overwhelming bulk of the Districts growth and subsequent surpluses the past decade have been due to the enormous increase, in both real and persentage terms of Federal spending in the DC metro area.

As I said above, District of Columbia's piece of the MSA's total federal spending pie went from 28.2 billion in 2000, to 61.9 in 2010. Increase of 120%

The Districts GDP in 2010 was 105 billion. This is up 6% from 2009 and up 14% since 2007. The US GDP during that same period rose on 4%.

During the years of 2000-2008, the District of Columbia GDP grew at an annual rate of 6.5% in nominal terms and in real terms the economy grew by 3.1%

"All from above"
Federal spending in District of COlumbia in 2000 was 28.2 billion. District GDP in 2000 was 75 billion. Federal spending accounted for 37% of the Districts economy in 2000.

Federal spending in District of COlumbia in 2010 was 61.9 billion. District GDP in 2010 was 105 billion. Federal spending accounted for 58% of the Districts economy in 2010.

Facts are hard to fight. It doesn't get any clearer than this. Federal spending as a proportion of the District economy grew by 57% in that ten year period.

Finally, if reams of census and BLS data is unconvincing, you can take it right from Gandhi's own mouth, and I quote

"In D.C., where federal spending accounts for 60 percent of the city's annual economic output, according to the District's chief financial officer, Natwar Gandhi, the effects could be significant." (July 30, 2012 Interview with WAMU)

And I would say that yes, in general the city had only to sit back and collect the money and nothing the city has done has really changed that.

Case in point, DC's population grew at an average of 200 residents per month from 2000-2010. A time including Tony Williams and Fenty where people generally appreciated the way the city was operating, and could tell that it was an improvement over the Barry years. No one was indicted, or forced out of office.

In the past 2 years, Gray is mayor, his administration has been absolutely plagued with scandal since day one, the folk heros of Gabe Klein and Rhee are gone. Two council members have been forced out of office by the US Attorney and the Mayors entire top 5 members of his campaign staff have taken plea deals with the Mayor looking like he is next. Yet, DC population growth increased by more than 500% in these past two years to 1100 residents a month.

Federal spending accounted for 37% of the Districts economy in 2000. It accounted for 58% in 2010. FULL STOP.

by DCr on Feb 5, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

In the 1980s total employment in the district increased (per BLS) yet the population of the district declined, I believe. Clearly its not just a matter of watching the money roll in, as previous increases in employment in the district were accompanied by population decline, and (eventually) financial crisis.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 5, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

"As government hiring faltered and contracting spending tightened, the health-care industry has emerged as the chief driver of the region’s job growth."

"The education and health services sector has been growing steadily in the Washington region since 2004 and now employs about the same number of people here as the federal government. It employs more than half as many people as the professional services industry.

The growth shows little sign of slowing. The sector is forecast to increase more than 10 percent by 2017,"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/health-care-drives-job-growth-in-the-washington-area-as-contracting-pulls-back/2013/01/17/b664204e-5056-11e2-950a-7863a013264b_story.html

BTW you never responded to the billion plus in SuperPACs, or the increase in spending by DNC, DSCC and their Repub counterparts etc. And I don't think showing 2 billion in growth in lobbying really helps your point.

What evidence do you have that drastic cuts will be implemented? I'm actually hoping the sequester goes through, but that is still up in the air and its only 7.4% cuts to the military and select discretionary programs. Hardly draconian. Of course, as long as the economy (2.2% last year) and the population of this country continue to grow, any dramatic federal cuts seem extremely unlikely. And the party which (allegedly) favors large cuts just was trounced in nationwide elections and is facing a demographic nightmare.

by H Street LL on Feb 5, 2013 10:03 am • linkreport

H Street,

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

Federal spending accounted for 37% of the Districts economy in 2000. It accounted for 58% in 2010. FULL STOP.

Federal spending in District of COlumbia in 2000 was 28.2 billion. District GDP in 2000 was 75 billion. Federal spending accounted for 37% of the Districts economy in 2000.

Federal spending in District of COlumbia in 2010 was 61.9 billion. District GDP in 2010 was 105 billion. Federal spending accounted for 58% of the Districts economy in 2010.

And what does superpac money have to do with anything? That money was spent nationwide paying for TV commercials, print ads and paying staff. You are grasping for unsourced straws without data. I gave you the census and BLS data above.

I will say it again...

DIRECT Federal spending accounted for 37% of the Districts economy in 2000. It accounted for 58% of the Districts economy in 2010. FULL STOP.

by DCr on Feb 5, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

You keep saying FULL STOP. I don't think that word means what you think it means.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 5, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by DCr on Feb 5, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

[Deleted] there isn't a direct 1:1 relationship between how much the government spends in DC according to CFFR and DC budget revenues or surpluses. Especially since a ton of what is "spent in DC" flows out of DC pretty quickly, in the form of wages/salaries paid to people who do not live in DC.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

Look

its obvious that the folks moving into the district are working somewhere. No one is claiming that natwar gandhi somehow magiced them out of the ground, and magically provided a way for them to live on free frozen yogurt. Any source of jobs they hold, you would take as evidence that DC management had no impact on growth. The problem is not your data sources, its that the way you have conceptualized the issue, your hypothesis (DC management had no impact on growth) is, in effect, unfalsifiable.

The question is - why in this surge of DC employment, did DC manage to capture so much (esp via increases in residents, esp affluent residents) while in the past, such surges were accompanied by decline in population, and associated impacts on tax revenues.

Reiterating that there are more jobs, and discussing which sectors they came from does not answer that.

There seem to be only three reasonable answers. 1. the sheer scale of the increase is so big that its easier to capture 2. DC is managed better and is more attractive 3. Theres a nationwide paradigm shift toward cities

I could see arguing against 2, in favor of 3 (which I believe to be part of what is going on). You seem to be focused on 1, but while 1 may be true, simply reiterating the scope of the surge fails to prove it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 5, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

Well, I'm not wading into it, but full stop just means the period at the end of a sentence. That's not how you're using it.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 5, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

Federal spending in District of COlumbia in 2010 was 61.9 billion. District GDP in 2010 was 105 billion. Federal spending accounted for 58% of the Districts economy in 2010.

You're conclusion is wrong. Government spending - including spending by the District - was only 32.7% of the total economic output of the District of Columbia in 2008, and it's not much higher now. Not every dollar spent in DC goes to the DC GDP. Using your number, you're actually arguing that DC's non-fed government GDP dropped by $4B over the decade, which is just crazy considering how many more businesses and residents DC had in 2010 compared to 2000.

The question is - why in this surge of DC employment, did DC manage to capture so much (esp via increases in residents, esp affluent residents) while in the past, such surges were accompanied by decline in population, and associated impacts on tax revenues.

Yes. This. While it is true that the federal government is spending more in DC, it is also true that DC is capturing more of it. And that is happening because of all the changes that have been made over the last 15 years (and more). Because of Metro and dropping crime, and little things like outdoor seating and bike lanes etc... DC has created a city that is more livable and so more people spend more time (and money) here. Hotels charge much more. There are more restaurants and they capture more of the tourist dollars. Etc...

Yes, DC's economy is tied to the federal government, but DC has continued to do well over the last few years even as jobs in the DC area have dropped - because we're competing better with the other areas in the region. So that is a very big part of these surpluses. Federal employment went down in 2009 and 2011.

Look at chart 11. The prediction is that the GRP will grow faster than the federal government spending.

Yes. The federal government is spending more money in DC. But DC is capturing (and multiplying) more of that money than they did in the past. And the latter is a bigger part of increases in GDP than the former.

by David C on Feb 5, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

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