Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: State of the non-state and adjacent state


Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
Gray: build 10,000 affordable units: In his State of the District speech, Mayor Gray pledged $100 million toward creating 10,000 units of affordable housing. (City Paper) ... Except for credit card readers in taxis, transportation did not come up. (Veronica Davis)

McDonnell gas tax plan struggles: The Virginia House passed Governor McDonnell's transportation plan, but the Senate deadlocked, defeating it. The House version will now "cross over" and the Senate will debate it again. (Post)

Election "rigging" won't pass: The Virginia Senate rejected the bill to allocate electoral votes by Congressional district, while the House speaker is likely to kill the surprise inauguration gerrymandering measure. Democrats cited it as a reason to oppose McDonnell's transportation plan (but hopefully far from the only reason). (Post)

This week in new bills: Vincent Orange and Jack Evans want DC to push to keep the FBI. Tommy Wells would let you get married without needing clergy or court officials, and wants to ban coal burning at the Capitol power plant. (DCist, WAMU)

Post building a landmark?: The DC Preservation League may try to landmark the Washington Post headquarters, either based on its architecture or historically significant events. Designation could lower the potential sale price. (WBJ)

VDOT ignores pleas, crash happens: A cyclist tries in vain to get VDOT and Fairfax County to post signs, paint lines, or do anything about a spot on Richmond Highway that's a crash waiting to happen. Then, he gets hit at that very spot. (FABB)

Connect Tysons and Vienna: The Tysons Corner takes a closer look at the 3 new Fairfax Connector routes which will connect Tysons and Vienna, and has a few suggestions.

Ward 5, green job center?: Harriet Tregoning talks about Ward 5's industrial land and how it could become a hub for green jobs, like building green roofs. (Elevation DC)

And...: More on what's wrong with the TTI ("DC's traffic is #1") report. (Streetsblog) ... Why do we care so much about authenticity? (Atlantic Cities) ... The Air Force wants to build subway tunnels to carry ballistic missiles, or maybe use trucks. (Daily Mail)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Tommy Wells is demonstrating why DC should NOT be turned into a state.

Intereting plug by the mayor.

by charlie on Feb 6, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

If DC Preservation League try to preserve the Washington Post building, they would be further muddying the waters of historic preservation. Surely there are better ways of preserving the legacy of the Watergate Days and whatever fabulous writting took place behind its incredibly dull facade.

Should we be preserving every building that something important took place in even though it deadens the street and has no architectural merit whatsoever? - nay

by Thayer-D on Feb 6, 2013 9:09 am • linkreport

@charlie
Tommy Wells is demonstrating why DC should NOT be turned into a state.

What's the problem with what he proposed? Many states have much more lax rules about marriage officiants than DC.

by MLD on Feb 6, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

How would statehood affect how we get married?

Leaving aside the actual merits of the argument, of course, I don't see how this has anything to do with our status within the Federal government.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 6, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

Marriage -- no. Telling congress how to use a power plant yes.

by charlie on Feb 6, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

Ahhh! Gotcha. As my kids go to school a few block away from that, I have little sympathy for that argument as well.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 6, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

Why shouldn't we be able to tell congress how to use a power plant that pollutes the air we breathe?

by sk on Feb 6, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] If the road isn't safe, don't bike there. How hard is that?

by movement on Feb 6, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

Very happy to see the Senate killed that ridiculous idea. It is not often that doing nothing, while in a terrible situation (wildly underfunded roads) is better than doing something. In this case, doing nothing was the better option.

It is going to take a bridge collapsing to get this situation fixed, and people are going to die. So pathetic that there isn't the political will to just do the right thing and subject gas to the VA sales tax.

by Kyle-W on Feb 6, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

The capitol power plant is the last coal-burning facility in the District. It has short stacks and no scrubbers. I'm fully behind Tommy on this one.

by Sally on Feb 6, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

Movement,
How else are you going to get to Alexandria or cross 495? You could detour all the way to the GW Trail but other than that you're just SOL?

by drumz on Feb 6, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

RE: Fort Hunt bicycle path.

I'm with the fellow in the comments section who said he didn't even realize there was a bike path there. I've used that intersection plenty of times without realizing there was a designated path.

And I have to agree: from what I've seen as a driver (never ridden a bicycle), Mount Vernon district is not very bicycle-friendly, once you get beyond the Mount Vernon Trail.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 6, 2013 9:50 am • linkreport

ser

In my experience thats mostly the case in FFX - its not very bicycle friendly once you got past the trail - MVT, CCT, or W&OD.

Hopefully that will begin to change with the new bike plan.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

@movement

If the road is congested, don't drive or live there. How easy is that?

All you guys are the same, you want to spend 30 times more for marginal improvements on highways that last for all of 6 months of better service, but when it comes to providing a bike trail or sidewalk for residents at far cheaper cost, you are up in arms

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 6, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

Another point for closing the power plant: it doesn't really serve much real purpose. It provides steam and cool water to the Capitol, but hasn't produced electricity in 52 years. If I recall correctly, there have been attempts to shut it down before, but they were stopped by a coal country senator.

by Austin on Feb 6, 2013 10:02 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:

At least in my neighborhood, I don't see how things CAN be changed at this point. The road simply doesn't have room for anything else, and cyclists are forced to take the shoulder. There's a walking trail that parallels it part of the way, but I have no idea where that dumps out.]

I'd be interested in seeing what the bike plan has to say about it.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 6, 2013 10:06 am • linkreport

@TE
Your "all you guys" comment is uncalled for. I am for intelligent improvements to our infrastructure, not roads (or transit) to nowhere. If you don't believe me, look up my posting history. It is pretty consistent.

This stretch of road is part of my normal commute. I drive it multiple times a week. I refuse to commute by bike because it is unsafe. (My last resort is a combination of buses.) The only time I'll bike there is in the morning on the weekend and even then I am in full-defensive mode, not too different then when I am crossing Rt. 7 in Tysons by foot.

I am all for the guy lobbying for improvements to make the section safe. Until that happens, find another mode of transportation, especially during rush hour at night! If you absolutely positively have no other mode of transportation, then walk your bike across the dangerous area. If you have a death wish then fine but don't complain about it if you get hit.

by movement on Feb 6, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

Shoulder? you have a shoulder to ride on?

I know some arterials where there is no shoulder, or the shoulder is taken by parking. one lane in each direction, 35MPH posted limit (but they drive faster, of course). The only options are to take your chances being passed close in the travel lane, or to ride the sidewalk (but with the parked cars the danger of soming not seeing you when they turn into a driveway is high).

Whats needed in places like that is to eliminate the on street parking in certain sections, and create a shoulder OR a bike lane(s).

There are also places where you can ride on shoulders and service lanes, but there are brief breaks in connectivity, that could be easily addressed with a short side trail. There are also parks that could accommodate bike trails, that would provide routes around some nasty sections.

There are lots of places where cycling in FFX could be improved, with relatively modest costs (either in terms of $$ or in impact on motor vehicle traffic)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

movement

The point of the FABB post, and of linking it here, is to discuss precisely the question of whether the infrastructure there is adequate.

What choices an individual chooses to make with their own safety (as long as they are being predictable, alert, and lawful) is up to them.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport


I'd agree that it is good idea to remove the power plant. Steam heat, however, sounds pretty useful. The larger point is the District mandating Congress remove their steam heat -- for whatever reason -- is exactly the type of problem having a congressionally controlled federal district is designed to solve.

(I mean, I want Pennsylvania Aveneue opened and also E st, but the District can't force that)

Left unsaid is whether that any different than any other state -- i.e. could Virginia force the Pentagon to shut down that ugly power plant by 395? Not sure they could either.

by charlie on Feb 6, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

Movement

Perhaps I came out a bit too judgmental, but it is that kind of blame the rider mentality that makes it impossible to get very cheap solutions to dangerous situations.

Neither the driver or the bike rider did anything wrong (something eloquently noted in that article), it is VDOT who is failing to be anything other than the Department of Giant Roads with ribbon cuttings that is letting us all down.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 6, 2013 10:30 am • linkreport

This stretch of road is part of my normal commute. I drive it multiple times a week. I refuse to commute by bike because it is unsafe.

So then the answer is to denigrate the guy who was trying to make it safer.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:

Sort of a shoulder - perhaps "parking lane" would be a better description. And no sidewalks. At all.

Eliminating on-street parking would be the most likely idea, I'd suppose, given what I know of the area in question. And I see that being a pretty big fight in and of itself. Forget a bike lane - I'm not sure there's room for one. Let alone a sidewalk.

@movement:
Forgive me if I misremember, but if this is where I think it is, won't bicyclists be held up crossing Fort Hunt by people waiting to make the right turn onto Route 1? It's a right turn on red from one lane, and given the magnitude of the traffic whenever I'm there I can't imagine it's easy to get a bicycle across.

I wonder if it would be possible to build a decent bike trail parallel to the country club property...

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 6, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

eliminating any free on street parking is always going to be a fight. The places I am thinking of are SFH areas where all houses have at least one off street space, most have two or more. The onstreet is for "extra" vehicles, or for guest parking. And it would not be necessary to eliminate on street parking on BOTH sides of the arterial, or on the side streets. I do think that is what FFX county intends to do.

Whether they create a striped bike lane, or a bikeable shoulder isn't that huge a deal - either would be an improvement and add important connectivity.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

Does this look like an area that is safe for biking?
http://goo.gl/maps/chJFK
Absolutely not! And it can't be fixed with a sign or some paint on the ground. It won't be fixed until the corridor goes through a total transformation, something akin to what is happening in Tysons now.

by movement on Feb 6, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

Of course it isn't. But its not like you can't have incremental improvements. Not everything needs a tysons transformation to simply provide some awareness to check your right side before pulling out.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

Except for credit card readers in taxis, transportation did not come up.

A day after DC gets named most congested city, the mayor of said congested city does not mention congestion in the biggest speech of the year.

DC leadership has not vision.

Tommy Wells would let you get married without needing clergy or court officials,

Arlington is the easiest jurisdiction to get married. Pick up a marriage license at the Court House, cross the street to a lawyer, pay $50 and get married. Should not take more than an hour. DC, Alexandria and Fairfax all require more steps, and/or waiting times. Didn't DC have a blood test as well?

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

@SAdM

Yes, crossing Fort Hunt Rd. is a major challenge due to the large number of vehicles turning right. That is one of the reasons I avoid biking there most of the time.

I doubt Belle Haven is going to be amenable to having a bike path go through their property. To not be distracting, there would need to be a significant buffer of native vegetation and they don't have that much room to work with.

by movement on Feb 6, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

Uh oh, you know an area needs some transpo love when Tysons is its role model. *Self Deprecating humor*

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 6, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

@drumz
The accident was caused by someone turning right into the Hampton Inn parking lot. Generally when you are turning right, you don't expect someone to be biking towards you. What "incremental improvements" would have prevented this accident?

by movement on Feb 6, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

"A day after DC gets named most congested city, the mayor of said congested city does not mention congestion in the biggest speech of the year."

TTI measures by metro area.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

Well, the sign that says "watch for cyclists" for one.

I used to drive through that intersection every day. If you're turning right into the parking lot you've either already passed the cyclist heading north or should be able to see the cyclist coming from the south.

You're turning into a parking lot that has a curb cut on a sidewalk. You need to be looking for peds/cyclists regardless.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

What "incremental improvements" would have prevented this accident?

A sign that indicates that there's a bike trail/to watch for cyclists for one. Paint that indicates that it's more than just a crosswalk for two. Not allowing right-on-red for three.

@Jasper
A day after DC gets named most congested city, the mayor of said congested city does not mention congestion in the biggest speech of the year.

DC leadership has not vision.

The vast majority of the congestion is in the suburbs.

by MLD on Feb 6, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

Not allowing right-on-red.

Bingo! This is a problem all over DC, MD, & NoVA. Drivers nudge up into the crosswalk, look left, and don't pay attention to any peds or bicyclists coming from the right. This is a HUGE, HUGE problem. Place the stop line for the cars further back from the intersection, put in a right-turn arrow, and get rid of letting people turn right on red.

by dc denizen on Feb 6, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

The larger point is the District mandating Congress remove their steam heat -- for whatever reason -- is exactly the type of problem having a congressionally controlled federal district is designed to solve.

I'd agree that DC isn't going to get far with their bill banning coal at the plant. That's the wrong approach. A better approach would be to work with Pelosi on her initiative to make the Capitol carbon neutral. Getting rid of coal would be a great step toward that. Second, line up support from the major natural gas producers to counteract the influence of the coal producers. The timing of this is right with the retirement of Sen. Byrd D-WV since he was a major roadblock to getting rid of coal at the power plant.

To play politics, you don't want to piss people off with inflammatory legislation. You need to play the game of influence by lining up powerful supporters. I love Tommy Wells but he's not very good at playing politics as evidenced by how most Council Members are generally pissed off at him.

by Falls Church on Feb 6, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

@dc denizen:
Place the stop line for the cars further back from the intersection, put in a right-turn arrow, and get rid of letting people turn right on red.

The counter to that, in many places in Fairfax County, is that the stop line is already too far back from the intersection to do any good. I can think of two or three places in my fifteen-minute drive to the Metro where the stop line is placed in such a way that I can't see cars coming towards me from at least one direction. Pruning vegetation would help, as would moving the stop line; predictably, neither is being done. *sigh*

And it's only going to get worse in the Route 1 corridor.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 6, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

Re: Affordable Housing

The Mayor should consider that there's actually a good deal of affordable housing in DC...it's just that it's in places made undesirable by high crime and lack of transit options. How about using some of that money to improve public safety in Wards 7 & 8 or transit in Woodridge/Langdon?

by Falls Church on Feb 6, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

@Ser

Put in a request on VDOT's website for pruning vegetation. They're surprisingly responsive. I've had minor issues like a walk signal that got turned the wrong way fixed within 24 hours.

by Falls Church on Feb 6, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

The Mayor should consider that there's actually a good deal of affordable housing in DC...it's just that it's in places made undesirable by high crime and lack of transit options

This is true. But how many people do you know are willing to raise their kids in such areas where there are "pockets" of crime (which is what you get EOTR)? I totally get the argument, move East. But how practical a solution is that? If they built every single unit EOTR, would that really address the affordability issue? I think not.

How about using some of that money to improve public safety in Wards 7 & 8

Not that I'm unopposed but improvements such as what?

Tommy Wells is demonstrating why DC should NOT be turned into a state.

I disagree. He's demonstrating why he shouldn't be mayor.

I love Tommy Wells but he's not very good at playing politics as evidenced by how most Council Members are generally pissed off at him.

Agreed. Never heard of a successful politician who wasn't good at playing politics.

by HogWash on Feb 6, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

@Hogwash

For 30 million a year, DC could put another 300 officers in W7 and W8. It is nonsense to think that DC should be buying further housing in the expensive areas of the city. For example, for the cost of 1,000 units in CH, you can get 2,000 units within walking distance to metro in W7 and W8, and an extra 300 officers. Granted these numbers aren't spot on, but the premise holds.

by Kyle-W on Feb 6, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

@Falls Church: Hrmm...does that involve private property, too? Because I've been told that the bushes in question are privately owned, which is part of the problem.

Still...something to keep in mind, thanks.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 6, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

@ Walker:TTI measures by metro area.
The vast majority of the congestion is in the suburbs.

Hmmm. Denying that there is massive congestion in DC is the first part of the problem. Come on guys. During rush hour, DC is gridlocked. On the road. In metro. And in buses. I have walked faster from Georgetown to Foggy Bottom than the Circulator bus could ride. That is called congestion.

You are right that there is massive congestion throughout the area. Perhaps the mayor should be talking to the govs about fixing some of it.

Oddly enough, we are now in a situation where conservative VA is actually building more transit and roads, while supposedly progressive DC has no vision, and MD is too broke from their last road project to build more metro.

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

If the road isn't safe, don't bike there. How hard is that?

Well, this is an argument against advocating for safety in any case where one could choose to do something else. If there is salmonella in your meat, don't eat it. How hard is that? etc...

by David C on Feb 6, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

Telling congress how to use a power plant yes

I'm not at all sure that being a state would give DC any more say in the power plant operation than it has now.

But yes, by all means, 600,000 people should be disenfranchised to save every other American the fraction of a dollar it would cost to use something other than coal (and it might even be cheaper to switch). That is what our forefather's died for.

by David C on Feb 6, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

At kyle et al

1. There are lower income people who already live in areas subject to rising rents, who want the chance to stay where they live, where they have social connections, etc. Allowing them to do so, might well lower the resistance to the changes that are taking place.

2. Concentrating all low income people in a few areas is associated with worse outcomes for low income people. Also having some diversity in income, SES, background, just might add to the flavor of the areas where incomes are increasing.

I think the bigger problem is not that there is too much guaranteed affordable housing in the higher income areas, but that its concentrated in a few of those areas, and often in unsightly, poorly designed buildings, that are all low income.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

"Hmmm. Denying that there is massive congestion in DC is the first part of the problem. Come on guys. During rush hour, DC is gridlocked. On the road."

Thats inevitable. Theres no more room for additional road capacity in the district. Though I would say there are some side streets that are far from congested.

"In metro."

again, there are some places where there is capacity. But yeah, more capacity is needed, as discussed in WMATA's plan. None of that will happen next year though, esp not the big capacity increases, and it would not have made sense for Gray to discuss it. And the biggest short run improvement, the 8 car trains, isnt really something he has direct control over.

"And in buses. I have walked faster from Georgetown to Foggy Bottom than the Circulator bus could ride. That is called congestion."

I believe DDot is moving forward with plans for the K street transitway.

"You are right that there is massive congestion throughout the area. Perhaps the mayor should be talking to the govs about fixing some of it."

MWCOG is the venue for regional cooperation. Again, I dont think MWCOGs long range plans would have been of interest at the mayors press conf.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

"Oddly enough, we are now in a situation where conservative VA is actually building more transit and roads, while supposedly progressive DC has no vision, and MD is too broke from their last road project to build more metro."

DC recently completed the new 11th street bridge, probably the biggest gap in the regional highway system, has a vision for street cars, transitways, bikes, etc.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

But how many people do you know are willing to raise their kids in such areas where there are "pockets" of crime (which is what you get EOTR)?

That's actually my point. The high crime in Wards 7&8 is why many folks aren't willing to take advantage of the affordable housing there. I agree with the OP who said some of the surplus could be used to hire more police officers for those wards, but I'd really say that the Mayor should go to the Police Chief and ask her what investments in public safety for 7&8 are best. Maybe it's more police officers, maybe it's something else.

Maybe something out of the box...like creating subsidized housing specifically for police officers in 7&8. Would be nice to have more police officers living in those wards, not just working there.

@Ser
I believe VDOT has the ability to trim vegetation on private property when it poses a safety threat. Just like PEPCO can trim private trees that are near their power lines.

by Falls Church on Feb 6, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

For example, for the cost of 1,000 units in CH, you can get 2,000 units within walking distance to metro in W7 and W8, and an extra 300 officers.

I really can't say I know how surpluses are to be used. Is it to fund "anything" in the city or is it more limited. I don't understand why you don't believe "affordable housing" should be spread throughout the city and not solely concentrated in the more depressed parts of the city. There are only two metro stops in W8, Anacostia and Cong Heights. Where exactly would you propose more units be built that are w/in walking distances since most of the area around them are either sfh or existing apartment communities. I'm just not sure "where" these units you suggest will go.

by HogWash on Feb 6, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

The high crime in Wards 7&8 is why many folks aren't willing to take advantage of the affordable housing there.

Yes, that might be one reason, along w/accessibility and schools and all the other stereotypes associated w/EOTR living.

I believe they are discussing how to allocate police resources and make them more effective.

Maybe something out of the box...like creating subsidized housing specifically for police officers in 7&8.

I agree and sounds good but We already have that.

by HogWash on Feb 6, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash

That is not at all what I said. Simply not fair to conflate my words like that. I simply said that you can get much more bang for your buck, and help more people in areas such as W7 and W8, with the added benefit of making those areas safer, hence making the housing that is currently there, and very affordable, more desireable.

Sure, the city can buy 1 BRs in Adams Morgan. They cost $500k each. So the city buys 200 of those units, costing $100 million dollars, and has housing for 400-600 people. Not doing much good. For that same amount, you can but 400 SFHs in cheaper areas, helping a lot more people, and spend some money on more police officers, helping a LOT more people.

Do I think that there should be density bonuses and the like for including affordable housing? Absolutely. Should the two new buildings in Adams Morgan, one at the old theatre, and the one at the gas station have to include affordable housing? Yes.

If the district is going to actually acquire affordable housing, does it make sense to buy in expensive areas? Unequivically no.

Also, as far as where they should go. It appears there is a significant amount of land just north of Southern Ave, within .3 miles of Southern Ave station that look like they could possibly be good candidates.

by Kyle-W on Feb 6, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure we can just public safety our way into making housing desirable by hiring more police. The problem is really a concentration of poverty to paraphrase what others have said. On top of that once you'd been jailed as an adult, you can kiss goodbye most of your job prospects which only makes illegal activities all the more tempting. As an aside, maybe we need to give out a lot more public service instead and use those hours to clean up some of the litter that collects on the side of some roads.

More affordable housing throughout the city is necessary and it doesn't all have to be created equal. We can't just use EOTR as dumping ground for poor people. I think Falls Church's idea of creating targeted subsidized housing for certain groups (maybe teachers, social workers as well, etc) is interesting though we'd still need to have appropriate income qualifications.

At the end of the day there is always going to conflict. There is no solution that will benefit everyone, and just about any solution is going to have negative impact on some people. I think completing the streetcar network is one huge potential project that could stimulate a lot of higher density housing development. Seems like the city has given up on it and im not entirely sure why.

by Alan B. on Feb 6, 2013 1:08 pm • linkreport

@ Walker:DC recently completed the new 11th street bridge, probably the biggest gap in the regional highway system

Then why isn't he talking about it?

It's not that I am denying that DDOT is doing anything. DDOT is doing a lot. CaBi, streetcars, 11th St Bridge, bike lanes, etc.

The problem is that a mayor is supposed to lead these efforts, and should not be ignoring important issues in his most important political speech of the year.

more capacity is needed, as discussed in WMATA's plan. None of that will happen next year though, esp not the big capacity increases, and it would not have made sense for Gray to discuss it. And the biggest short run improvement, the 8 car trains, isnt really something he has direct control over.

But the big capacity increases will never happen if the mayor does not call for them. He should be lauding WMATAs new plan and calling for action on digging new lines in the District, blue & yellow. He should acknowledge that there is no more road capacity and that therefore all new capacity must come from transit, be it bikes, bus lanes, street car or metro.

And as for having control over getting 8 car trains in metro, I hear he has M$400 lying around. That might help WMATA get those electrics installed quicker.

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

That is not at all what I said. Simply not fair to conflate my words like that.

I don't know what you're referring to here.

So the city buys 200 of those units, costing $100 million dollars, and has housing for 400-600 people. For that same amount, you can but 400 SFHs in cheaper areas, helping a lot more people, and spend some money on more police officers, helping a LOT more people.

Don't developers get tax breaks for creating affordable units that are almost always below market? I think where we disagree is your belief that affordable housing should be limited to "cheaper" areas.

It appears there is a significant amount of land just north of Southern Ave, within .3 miles of Southern Ave station that look like they could possibly be good candidates.

Forgot about Southern Avenue being in W8. Not sure what area north of the station you're referring to because there isn't a lot. Once you get NE of Southern Avenue, you're already in Maryland.

by HogWash on Feb 6, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

So, one option is to have all units purchased by the affordable housing fund be in cheaper areas, and rely on IZ for new affordable units elsewhere.

Another seems to be to spend less on affordable housing, but to improve public safety (and transit?) to make existing affordable housing more desirable.

It would be useful to see A. numbers for existing affordable housing by area, B. likely loss of existing ADUs due to redevelopment and rent increases C. Planned new ADUs from IZ. I am not sure that absent policy interventions to create new ADUs, there will be "enough" (though how many is enough in DC is itself debatable, depending on ones views on how many lower income folks will move to the suburbs, and how many should so move). If the total number is inadequate, then improving quality of life in the affordable areas (though desirable in itself) will not necessarily cause more units to exist. As for the combo of buying/building ADUs in cheaper areas, and relying on IZ in pricier areas, exactly how much that succeeds in deconcentrating poverty within the district (again, I note that full deconcentration requires movement to the suburbs) will depend on the volume of new construction.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

Not sure what area north of the station you're referring to because there isn't a lot. Once you get NE of Southern Avenue, you're already in Maryland.

Maybe this big chunk of green space?

by MLD on Feb 6, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

Maybe this big chunk of green space?

Possibly. But that isn't north of the station...it's due west.

by HogWash on Feb 6, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

I think the poster was referring to Southern Ave the street when he said "north of" since he specified the proximity to the station later.

by MLD on Feb 6, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

Hmmm. Denying that there is massive congestion in DC is the first part of the problem. Come on guys. During rush hour, DC is gridlocked. On the road.

I think the problem here is that the "solutions" available to DC are not often recognized as such by folks who are used to seeing things in the context of rural or suburban environments.

When you hear DC politicians address congestion now and in the future, it'll be things like multi-modal, projects like the 11th street bridge, etc, etc... Bikeshare is a congestion solution. The disconnect is that suburban (and resident) car commuters want a "fix" to relieve automotive congestion. And there isn't one.

But the answer is, while congestion is a big issue for a small percentage of DC residents, congestion is a huge issue for almost every suburban resident. If you ask most of my neighbors why they live in DC, high on the list will be a lack of congestion. That's because they can walk, ride their bikes, take short transit trips, or have a relatively easy reverse-commute.

Obviously someone who car commutes from Springfield every day to Dupont Circle is going to think DC is *incredibly* congested. But most DC residents (setting aside those who live in "suburban" areas of the city) don't have that experience.

by oboe on Feb 6, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

I wonder if any jurisdiction anywhere in the world has ever considered a progressive tax by size of dwelling unit? Obviously many potential downsides: does it discriminate against large families, discourage high income people to locate there, etc? But on the upside you would probably get a lot more smaller units. I have a lot of concerns about reducing some of the minimum sq. footages (220 in SF, 275 in NYC or thereabouts), but I'm starting to come around to it as a tool for limited areas.

by Alan B. on Feb 6, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

I'd disagree (but not really) congestion is a problem for me because of all the &*^# drivers coming in from outside of the city that slow down traffic on 16th st and downtown to a crawl.

by Alan B. on Feb 6, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

The disconnect is that suburban (and resident) car commuters want a "fix" to relieve automotive congestion. And there isn't one.

Well, I wouldn't say that is true. There is one thing that could fix congestion, but they probably won't like it: pricing.

Toll the roads, price the parking, all with prices that reflect an intense demand for a fixed supply, and we could solve those congestion issues pretty fast.

by Alex B. on Feb 6, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

Progressive tax by size of dwelling unit?

Isn't that called "property tax"?

Do we need to encourage smaller units? Seems like most of the new construction is smaller units.

by MLD on Feb 6, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

property tax is on value, not size.

I do not see why there is a need to encourage smaller units, just to allow them.

Oboe@not all suburban residents are concerned with congestion - there are retirees, telecommuters, and folks who live very close to their workplace (esp in the favored quarter) for whom its only a minor issue. Thats one of the reasons its hard to get consensus on solutions

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 6, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

Isn't that called "property tax"?

Yes and no. Property tax is based on the assessed value, I was thinking of something that gets more towards the utility of the space. IE a house subdivided into two apartments (potentially housing more people) shouldn't be taxed more than a single family home of the same size even if its property value is higher. The problem is ideally it would be a per capita kind of thing rather than household which can vary greatly in size. I suppose it's a bit of a VMT problem. That was why I phrased it in the form of a question, it definitely wasn't a fully formed thought and I was asking if anyone had in fact ever seriously looked into it.

by Alan B. on Feb 6, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

@ oboe:I think the problem here is that the "solutions" available to DC are not often recognized as such by folks who are used to seeing things in the context of rural or suburban environments.

If you read my subsequent posts, you'll see this interpretation of my words is wrong. This is you projecting what you think that I think. It's wrong, and rather full of prejudice.

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

A day after DC gets named most congested city, the mayor of said congested city does not mention congestion in the biggest speech of the year.

Two things: First DC was not named "most congested city". The Washington Metropolitan Region was named the most congested region. Big difference.

Second, my larger point was that a) DC isn't the most congested; and b) fewer DC residents are affected by auto congestion than suburbanites.

I certainly didn't mean to hurt your feelings or demonstrate my prejudices.

by oboe on Feb 6, 2013 2:19 pm • linkreport

tax on property size is what let to all those tall slender houses along the canals in Amsterdam

by Tina on Feb 6, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

Denying that there is massive congestion in DC is the first part of the problem. Come on guys. During rush hour, DC is gridlocked.

No. It really isn't. Here's a list of the 100 worst intersections in America. Not one intersection in the region makes the list. If we had gridlock, that would not be the case. Nor do we make the list of most congested highways.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/24/traffic-intersections-worst-lifestyle-autos_intersections_full-list.html

by David C on Feb 6, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

Our metro area did have 5 in the top 100 in the latest version of that list:
http://www.inrix.com/scorecard/uscorridors.asp

by MLD on Feb 6, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Tina, that makes sense since I'm Dutch at heart, even if barely so by ancestry.

by Alan B. on Feb 6, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure we can just public safety our way into making housing desirable 

While this is anecdotal, the thing I always hear from potential tenants about living in W7/8 is that they're hesitant because of the crime sitiation. It's not schools or amenities or even accessibility (although the housing in question is near metro stations so that wasn't a factor) but crime. Fix the crime problem (easier said than done) and those wards become great options for middle class affordable housing.

by Falls Church on Feb 6, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

I think the poster was referring to Southern Ave the street when he said "north of" since he specified the proximity to the station later.

Oh ok. Maybe it's just a slow geographic day for me. I just didn't understand your map circling the chunk of green space west of southern avenue

by HogWash on Feb 6, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

MLD, good find. But even so, none of those are really in Washington, DC. They're all in the suburbs. The suburbs have congestion.

by David C on Feb 6, 2013 3:46 pm • linkreport

@ oboe:Two things: First DC was not named "most congested city". The Washington Metropolitan Region was named the most congested region. Big difference.

Not so much. DC is the heart of the region. It is congested as well. I expressed that above. You live in a state of denial.

Second, my larger point was that a) DC isn't the most congested; and b) fewer DC residents are affected by auto congestion than suburbanites.

I was not talking about car congestion alone. I specifically included transit congestion. I can not identify bikers and metro riders, but when I look at car tags, there are plenty of DC tags in the congestion I see.

I think your assumption of Washingtonians experiencing less congestion can only be true if those Washingtonians only travel short distances. However, there are plenty of examples of Washingtonians that commute elsewhere. They get stuck in DC as well. Not so much outside of DC, because by then they're reverse commuting.

I do not understand why you make a distinction between Washingtonians and suburbanites. We are all people trying to get somewhere in DC. If DC does not do anything, more and more jobs will leave the District to the suburbs. Apparently, the WaPo is considering it now. GW is expanding in VA. The FBI will move. DC will loose revenue if it looses jobs because it is unreachable.

Finally, let me reiterate. I was only commenting on the fact that the mayor did not mention the subject at all. I maintain it shows a lack of vision which will keep DC congested. That is not good.

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash

It is a diagonal street. You say West, I say north. We are both correct. Either way, it is a huge chunk of land, in DC, a very short walk from the Metro.

by Kyle-W on Feb 6, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

@movement, Ser, et al,

Jumping in a tad late here, but the bike incident is of interest. Until I transferred to Norfolk I lived at Huntington Gateway and used that path often. Though I'm glad someone bothered VDOT to build the path to begin with, it is very bike-unfriendly for reasons already cited. Unfortunately, short of a major area transformation (or building the occasionally-proposed interchange on Route 1 at Huntington Ave/Fort Hunt Rd), things won't change. A "No Turn On Red" is likely to be a non-starter from VDOT because of the *HUGE* volumes that come up Fort Hunt Rd to turn onto Route 1...they "need" that right turn on red in order to avoid gridlock on Fort Hunt Rd. Several of the striping changes suggested in the letter go against the MUTCD, though VDOT could do something about the signs. Short of Fairfax County Police doing some serious and CONSISTENT enforcement, there's not much else that can be done.

I've almost been creamed at that location, especially heading home (i.e. coming from Old Town/Wilson Bridge). #1 problem is drivers who don't bother to look right when they stop...they only look left to see the cars coming down Route 1. #2 problem is those drivers who'll run the red without even stopping.

by Froggie on Feb 6, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

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