Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: What can you do?


Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
Not so accountable: The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found that Jim Graham violated ethics rules by intervening in the lottery contract. But it says can't punish Graham for actions before the Board was created. (Post) ... The Post editorial board calls for Graham to resign.

Hot rent: Check out a heat map of rent prices for the DC area. Not surprisingly, rents seem highest in the favored quarter and near the Metroplaces people most want to live. (WeLoveDC)

Green Line report sheds little light: A report on a summer Green Line incident where riders abandoned the train doesn't have many details on why communications broke down and how to avoid a similar event in the future. (Post)

U Street isn't most-liquored: Liquor moratorium boosters say U Street has the most concentrated liquor licenses in the city, but that's just because they use a larger radius in calculations; actually, it still has fewer than Adams Morgan and Dupont. (IMBY DC)

Hip to be Bethesda?: Some Montgomery lawmakers want to make Bethesda hipper with more night life. It has good walkability, transportation, and dining options, but is currently hamstrung by rules that food sales must equal alcohol sales. (BethesdaNow)

Smart Growth locally: The history of Smart Growth in the area demonstrates that it is environmentally sound, helps revitalize cities, and allows some people to live car free and spend more money in the local economy. (Ward 3 Vision)

Where to park: Some new residents are still bringing cars with them while number of on-street parking spaces is not going up. Residential permits cost significantly less than buying market-rate parking, leaving DC's streets with many rarely-used cars. (Post)

Next Interior head likes bikes?: Sally Jewell, the new nominee for Secretary of the Interior, likes bicycling and also the oil industry. (Streetsblog) ... Since there are no oil pockets under the Mall, maybe she'd support making it more walkable and bikeable?

Transit tidbits: The company installing cell service in Metro files for bankruptcy, likely delaying the project. (Examiner) ... People who ride transit feel more connected to their communities. (Streetsblog) ... Metro says there never was a 24-car train. (City Paper)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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Attn moratorium proponents: the only people helped by a liquor liscense moratorium are the current restaurant owners.

Also U street has been a center of nightlife for longer than pretty much anyone has been alive.

by Drumz on Feb 8, 2013 8:33 am • linkreport

Re: the Post article on parking, they didn't cite any source other than the number of new residents that there are more cars in the city. It's just guesswork, and not even very educated guesswork at that.

What about car registration and RPPs? Have they gone up? Down? Stayed the same? There ARE actual numbers and data we could use to estimate the amount of cars in DC, but new residents is a clumsy and imprecise metric.

The whole article is lazy speculation masquerading as journalism.

by Tim Krepp on Feb 8, 2013 8:49 am • linkreport

Hey Tim, I actually sent in that article and I actually agree with you on the tone of the piece. The only reason I thought it was worth sharing was because they quoted a number of city officials and talking about raising the RPP rate. Also the idea that people do essentially use public parking spaces to stores for long periods of time.

by Alan B. on Feb 8, 2013 8:57 am • linkreport

@Alan B, It's certainly something that SHOULD be included here, so thanks for that. No criticism of GGW for posting it or you for submitting it.

I think the idea that people use public streets for what's essentially long term storage is something that should be examined. I do it, frankly. I drive a few times a week, but certainly not daily. And for families, zipcar or car2go aren't really an option, as we need car seats for the kids.

There's quite a few public services we don't pay for (sidewalks, use of the road, etc.). Long term parking on the street is one I DO pay for, although a comically low $35 a year. There's certainly room for discussion on raising it.

But we should at least use the real numbers (hint, hint: WaPo). How many RPPs are there issued per year? Does it make sense to raise the price of them across the board when parking is scarce and transit is plentiful in some areas while the opposite is true elsewhere?

by Tim Krepp on Feb 8, 2013 9:07 am • linkreport

Totally agree. I pretty much had the same exact thought when reading the article. Not only how many cars are coming in but where are they going. Some parts of the city are gaining residents more than others though. It's one to add a car to Anacostia and another thing to add it to Adams Morgan area.

by Alan B. on Feb 8, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

At this point, what's more interesting to me is the political solution to the RPP problem. There are plenty of sensible economic solutions--smaller zones, higher prices, limits on RPPs per household/escalating rates for extra cars).

The challenge is how to make implementation of any of those approaches more politically palatable to residents.

For example, what about increasing the RPP rate in any area where residents get an extra parking benefit -- e.g., resident-only parking for 24 hours. Or increased prices if an area's unlimited parking is limited to those in the ANC SMD, instead of ward. In other words, raise the prices only in exchange for a tangible benefit. For those areas where parking is less scarce, keep the price the same but don't add exclusivity.

by ah on Feb 8, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

RE: Parking

DC's population may be going up but OP has been saying that the number of cars registered in DC has been flat/declining. The issue may be that certain areas are changing demographically. Households that used to own 0 cars are being replaced by wealthier households that own 1 car, 1-car households are being replaced by 2-car households, etc.

Though I suspect that the reality is that in plenty of these places it has always been difficult to park but people just insist that it's a new phenomenon driven by bike lanes or whatever.

by MLD on Feb 8, 2013 9:40 am • linkreport

One thing the city could do sooner rather than later is to assess streets are zoned RPP, where there isn't demand to need it. In other words, there are plenty of neighborhoods where residents have gained RPP privileges, solely for the opportunity to park in another neighborhood for more than 2 hours.

Another is to revisit the 72 hour rule that was repealed a decade ago. If a car is parked in the same spot for more than 72 hours, a ticket was issued (assuming enforcement). If you wanted "car storage" you had to pay for it privately, or use your own driveway/garage. Right now, there is no incentive to do that.

Finally, on smaller RPP zones, it is clear that is where things will probably go, but how much is that sloughing the problem from one street to another?

by Andrew on Feb 8, 2013 9:48 am • linkreport

This is a discussion that needs to be had. However, if we do raise rates, do we raise them uniformly? I live on the 5000 block of 7th street. We do not have RPP. The 4800 block does have one, though their parking situation is identical to mine (very easy to park directly in front of your house, or at worst just around the corner.) If we raise this thing to $200 or $300, that block sits empty. Literally, no one on the fringes would buy an RPP (I know I wouldn't if I was on that block, I would just park a block down)

There are issues here that need to be looked at. Perhaps the 4D permit is cheaper than the 1C permit?

by Kyle-W on Feb 8, 2013 9:50 am • linkreport

Actually the data on car registrations was just recently released. While it had been going down, last year it increased from 278,915 to 284,674. That's about 6,000 more registrations (although it's not clear how many are newly present cars. Maybe people are just more likely to register now).

by TM on Feb 8, 2013 9:50 am • linkreport

Jim Graham violated ethics rules

Another one to add to the list Thomas, Brown, Brown, Barry, Grey...

rents seem highest in the favored quarter and near the Metro—places people most want to live.

That is an argument to build a lot more metro stations and rentals on top of metro stations.

rules that food sales must equal alcohol sales

Doesn't VA have a stricter rule as part of any alcohol license? Works fine. I love that every bar in VA sells good food.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

Since the DMV has the registration addresses for the cars in DC, one could think OP or someone could pull together a block-by-block look at how many cars have RPP stickers on each block? Might give an idea of hot spots.

by MLD on Feb 8, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

@MLD
My neighborhood's cars have gone from mostly sedans to more and more SUVs. As all this new families are having children, the SUVs are multiplying. Many of these newbies are using their cars a lot more than the families that lived here before. It's like they are living a suburban life, but in the city. Most of these new families are not from DC, though. Many are from places that are very suburban.

by dc denizen on Feb 8, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

Another data point is change in methods for commuting to work for Washington, DC residents (takes out the commuters who reside elsewhere). in 2010, there were approx 334k in the workforce and 300k commuting to work. 43% were doing so in car, truck, or van either alone or in pool. 37% were identified as using mass transit. If you look back twenty years to 1990, you can note only marginal changes. The number in the workforce was somewhat lower at 304k. 47% were commuting to work in car, truck, or van either alone or in pool. And almost the same percentage -- 36% -- were identified as using public transportation. So maybe the crowds that seem to constantly grow on Metro are suburbanites? Maybe getting DC residents OUT of cars and IN TO ANY OTHER FORM of transport for commuting is HARD.

by Tom M on Feb 8, 2013 10:04 am • linkreport

Tom M

There are probably more DC residents reverse commuting to suburban jobs now, jobs where auto is much more competitive with transit in convenience, time, cost (due to free parking) etc.

And its certainly true that huge numbers of metro rail users are suburbanites.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 8, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

Maybe commuting to WORK is the key thing to influence if as a matter of values/preference you want fewer cars. RPP's are a fee paid by people who do NOT use their auto for commuting. Most areas in DC limit parking WITHOUT a RPP to two hours beween 7am and 8:30pm. If you do NOT have a RPP you can park unimpeded before 9:59am and 6:30pm. That is when many car commuters need to park. After that, their cars are elsewhere. Performance parking has hiked meter rates where many people commute to, but what about garage rates and parking provided at low or no cost by employers. Maybe the focus could/should be on affecting those costs. Maybe RATHER than on people who park more than 2 hours in RPP covered areas....

by Tom M on Feb 8, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

@Tim Krepp RE: Zipcar & Car2Go

I have always wondered why no solution has been created to have some sort of built in carseats for those companies vehicles. We drive our one son around enough that having to move a carseat, or even a booster, in and out of different vehicles all the time would be maddening.

by gooch on Feb 8, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

RE: Rent Heat Map

If you zoom into Silver Spring there are little blue dots surrounded by the larger color for the area. The blue dots must represent the MPDUs in various buildings and the overall zone color the "real" rent once MPDUs are not taken into account. At least, that is how I read it.

by gooch on Feb 8, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

Let's see if there's enough pressure on Graham to actually resign or whether he'll at least get the Marion Barry treatment.

The Heat Map shows why simply building housing near transit isn't a cure-all.

The Smart Growth article lost me at the first sentence.

Seriously metro? The company selected to do the work can't complete its work because the wireless companies haven't been paying their invoiced. The wireless companies turned around and blamed Metro and it's employees. And now the company filed Chapter 11 so they won't have to complete the work? And how long have we been at this again?

by HogWash on Feb 8, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

My neighborhood's cars have gone from mostly sedans to more and more SUVs. As all this new families are having children, the SUVs are multiplying.

It actually is possible to drive children around in a sedan, not an SUV. Even in the suburbs.

/pet peeve

(@dc denizen, to clarify: it's not you I'm peeved at.)

by Miriam on Feb 8, 2013 10:30 am • linkreport

The Heat Map shows why simply building housing near transit isn't a cure-all.

Has anyone argued that it was?

by drumz on Feb 8, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

Finally, on smaller RPP zones, it is clear that is where things will probably go, but how much is that sloughing the problem from one street to another

While it doesn't solve the problem entirely, it does allow for more targeted solutions. In neighborhoods where parking isn't capacity constrained, how do you convince people RPP fees should go up? There's not much of an argument.

But if you're in a neighborhood where parking is very tight, if you limit parking to only those in the neighborhood it may be more palatable to those folks to endure a higher RPP for greater exclusivity.

by ah on Feb 8, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

Re Heat Map...

Are Cap Hill rents really as (relatively) affordable as this map suggests? What gives?

by JFMAMJJASON on Feb 8, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

The DC heat map, especially as compared to the Boston one, shows the stark DC difference in rents between the western half and the eastern half. (That map is outdated though).

Urban planning should include encouraging development in under-used transit-accessible areas.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 8, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

and I don't see where the IMBY article says U has fewer licenses than A-M or Dupont. It says A-M has 85 in 1400' while U has 107 in 1800'.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 8, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

Doesn't VA have a stricter rule as part of any alcohol license? Works fine. I love that every bar in VA sells good food.

VA's rule is less strict. Beer/wine doesn't count and liquor can be up to 55% of sales.

These kind of restrictions prohibit true bars and nightclubs from existing in MD/VA. One one hand, that reduces noise and problems from late night drunks. OTOH, it discourages young professionals (who are large net contributors to the tax base) from living there. A nice compromise would be allowing higher alcohol sales but charging a fee for that kind of license. The money from the fee could be used to abate the negative externalities from true bars and nightclubs.

by Falls Church on Feb 8, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

Did anyone else watch the City Council confirmation hearings for Kathryn Allen for the Zoning Board on public access? I was pretty dissapointed in her ability to answer even simple questions by the panel and her suburban mentality when it comes to development. The best part of the hearing was watching David Grosso grill her about Smart Growth issues. I felt like cheering the television. Unfortunately, I imagine she'll just be rubberstamped.

by I. Rex on Feb 8, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

@ JFMAMJJASON: It looks like that may be showing the weirdness of the methodology used. It looks like the heatmap uses padmapper as its data, and I'm guessing it divides the total rent by the number of bedrooms. A lot of the rowhouses that rent there list large closets and small offices as bedrooms, so that might be influencing the data.

On the other hand, in places like Chinatown, apartments have a more consistent 1br/2br listing style.

Just a guess, anyways.

by Austin on Feb 8, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

Folks from NW have a lot of nerve criticizing Barry when they vote to re-elect Graham over and over again. That is all.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

@gooch It might work for boosters but not for LATCH safety seats. Those things are a bitch to get in one time, and not something I'd want to mess around with moving. Especially on cold days when it's hard to buckle them in with frozen fingers!

by Tim Krepp on Feb 8, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

@ Falls Church:VA's rule is less strict. Beer/wine doesn't count and liquor can be up to 55% of sales.

Thanks for the update.

These kind of restrictions prohibit true bars and nightclubs from existing in MD/VA.

I have no problem with that. It improves nightlife, rather than deteriorate it.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

I don't like that heatmap really. It's not nuanced enough. Rent in a class A vs class B unit are different. Also a one bedroom and 3 bedroom arent really comparable. I think it would be better to take average rents for each type of unit and show % difference across areas of the city. Easier said than done, but much more useful.

by Alan B. on Feb 8, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

OTOH, it discourages young professionals from living there.
That's a stretch.

by selxic on Feb 8, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

I think it's true to an extent that lack of nightlife affects where young professionals live. I've had that conversation with many of my friends about living in DC vs inner suburbs. It's a combination of not wanting to get a car and not being willing to be a drunk driver or endure long transit trips when I do go out. Lots of us are even reverse commuters for that reason.

by Alan B. on Feb 8, 2013 12:02 pm • linkreport

I have no problem with that. It improves nightlife, rather than deteriorate it.

That's your personal preference. There are clearly many people who prefer nightlife that includes true bars and nightclubs. It makes sense to cater to those kinds of people (in addition to folks like yourself) when they're large net contributors to the tax base.

@selxic
Why is it a stretch to say that if an amenity that some people (perhaps "young professional" was an unnecessary generalization) like is lacking, they would be less likely to live there? Bars/clubs are like playgrounds for some people. Wouldn't you agree that a lack of playgrounds would discourage families with kids from living somewhere?

by Falls Church on Feb 8, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

Folks from NW have a lot of nerve criticizing Barry when they vote to re-elect Graham over and over again. That is all.

I feel like there's some satire here that I'm missing. I'm a little slow today . . .

That said, as one of Graham's constituents (though not one that votes for him), this is no surprise. He's as shady as any other member of the Council, amd more than most. No chance he'll resign, though, and (sadly) virtually none that he'll be unseated.

by dcd on Feb 8, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

Young professionals are dispersed throughout the region but I imagine "access to jobs" and cost is a huge factor in where they decide to live. There are a lot of young professionals coming from areas where there isn't a large urban footprint. Many of them might prefer suburban living than urban.

by HogWash on Feb 8, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

I agree, Graham should resign. I won't be voting for him again.

by Alan B. on Feb 8, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

Falls Church, there's an implication to your posts that there is no night life in Virginia and what does exist doesn't count because it doesn't fit your vision. Especially regarding bars, I'm not sure how to judge authenticity.
I'm not sure if the bars in Maryland and DC I go to are real and true because they serve quite a bit of food too.

by selxic on Feb 8, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

If the reports are true, it's a shame that the people of Ward 1 continue to reelect him. I mean, what kind of people would do that? jk...:)

by HogWash on Feb 8, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

"DC's population may be going up but OP has been saying that the number of cars registered in DC has been flat/declining." I don't know whether OP has been saying this in the last month or so, since someone pointed out a significant flaw in their data at a recent community forum in NW.

Apparently OP uses US census data, which for these purposes excludes "light trucks" - meaning SUVs and certain types of minivans. So, yes, if you exclude SUVs and many types of minivans from the count, then the number of "cars" registered in WDC may indeed be declining. OoooPs!

by Bob on Feb 8, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

It also makes sense to put limits on RPP in new developments in transit oriented corridors, which is what Arlington does when a developer seeks to build less off-street parking than zoning requires. Otherwise, the impact is just more and more vehicles on already jammed streets, whether those cars are used every day for commuting or "stored" for occasional use. DC-OP lets developers talk the talk, but Arlington has them walk the walk.

by Bob on Feb 8, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

Apparently OP uses US census data, which for these purposes excludes "light trucks" - meaning SUVs and certain types of minivans. So, yes, if you exclude SUVs and many types of minivans from the count, then the number of "cars" registered in WDC may indeed be declining. OoooPs!

I would assume they just get their data from the DMV; at least the last time I heard them say it that was where the information was from.

There was a separate incident where some economist person published a paper about how car ownership in the US was lower than Europe, because they misinterpreted the BTS data in the way you are describing: (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/its-official-western-europeans-have-more-cars-per-person-than-americans/261108/)

Gotta love how these articles are up there with basically no correction stating that they are wrong.

by MLD on Feb 8, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

At the very least, this is what Graham should do. Ask the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability how they would sanction him if they could while simultaneously promising to self-impose the sanction no matter what it is. Then he isn't getting off on a technicality. That would show ethics and political courage. If he doesn't he deserves to be voted out (and may deserve it anyway).

by David C on Feb 8, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

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