Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Know your rights


Photo by KCIvey on Flickr.
Public or private?: Are some sidewalks in Silver Spring actually private property? That's the question in a free speech case where a man was cited and then banned from part of downtown Silver Spring. It's not the first time a civil liberty issue has arisen at this spot. (Gazette, Ben Ross)

Legal video: Montgomery County sheriffs arrested one man for taking a video of a traffic stop even though what he was doing was almost certainly legal. (DCist)

How downtown is like Downton: How are parking minimums like the Downton Abbey argument between Lord Grantham and Matthew Crawley over modernizing the estate's farming? Richard Layman draws the connection. (RPUS)

Sequestration looms: Many jobs in the Washington area will be at risk if sequestration goes into effect Friday, and Metro could lose significant ridership. (Examiner, Post)

Fairfax trail closed a year: VDOT has now closed part of the Fairfax County Parkway Trail for nearly a year. It was supposed to reopen by the end of 2012, but remains closed and officials are mum about a new opening date or temporary detour. (FABB)

A studio in Fairfax: Fairfax County is looking to encourage affordable studio apartments for low-income residents. Until now, no developer has built an all-studio apartment building in Fairfax. (Fairfax Times)

What's in a license plate?: DC license plates will now say "District of Columbia" instead of "Washington, DC" thanks to an order from Mayor Gray. (Post, Pam J)

And...: One 5A bus was involved in a crash on I-66 that sent 4 to the hospital. (Post) ... The Silver Spring Transit Center portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail opens. (Patch) ... Think your place is small? Check out these Hong Kong apartments. (Atlantic Cities)

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

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I have no idea what FFX Co is thinking with this studio idea. Evidently they have never heard about projects style development and the segregated reality that occurs between the classes when you do create one.

Why are we moving backwards? What it should be using from its point of zoning control is larger variety in multi-family building, from studios to 3brs. Hell there should be some multi-family options that are like townhomes contained in a highrise if they really are serious about providing ALL options.

I am all for more smaller units to help lower income working individuals (based on the fact that studios and one bedrooms rent for basically the same as 2brs) but doing it all in one building will be a disaster.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 25, 2013 8:51 am • linkreport

It may be worth mentioning a portion of the Fairfax County Parkway Trail has been closed for a year not the entire trail.

by selxic on Feb 25, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

selxic: I have corrected the link to say "part of." Thanks.

by David Alpert on Feb 25, 2013 9:08 am • linkreport

The issue of what is private and public is of extreme importance, esspecially since the private realm is becoming more responsible for building our gathering places than the public realm. All the rights enumerated in the constitution and what not don't exist in private "life style" centers and if that's where we are going to meet as a community, they need to clarify what constitutes public space. Like the public space requirements in new construction, even though they are built and maintained by the developer, the legal jurisdiction should be the local elected government.

by Thayer-D on Feb 25, 2013 9:14 am • linkreport

The deal with the license plates looks like a bid to move up the statehood ladder. "District of Columbia" is on par with state names.

by Arrgh Street on Feb 25, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

RE: Fairfax Affordable Studio Apartments

I'm often astounded how this country seems to be almost completely devoid of residential options, which in my opinion the greatest missing elements include both accessory dwellings (which GGW has already covered actively) as well as boarding homes aimed at any demographic other than seniors.

At an average of 3-5 rooms per bathroom and about twice that for kitchen amenities: it reduces unit sizes considerably such that affordable units can become marketable *without* subsidies.

They may not be as high quality, but they contribute to an incremental stepping-up in socioeconomic scale, a sense of shared space and common use, & a greater sense of self-accomplishment when a resident is not as reliant on the government. Furthermore, as more can be produced by market-forces: they can help ensure more people have homes they can afford instead of living on welfare or out on the streets.

by Bossi on Feb 25, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

Supervisors also had concerns about potentially allowing people to construct rental apartments in their homes.

“That’s fine in a city … [but] you can’t have these in single family residential communities,” said Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock), referring to the basement efficiency apartments that are common in many cities.

Fun fact, even in "the city" this is where you have the ADU's. And many, many people my age (post college, working, especially married people with whom roomates isn't the best option) wouldn't be able to live in Fairfax without them.

Also, good idea on allowing Churches to build housing on their land.

by drumz on Feb 25, 2013 9:37 am • linkreport

@Drumz Also, good idea on allowing Churches to build housing on their land.

How would the land then be taxed? Isn't all church property tax free? Do residents in dwellings on church property live tax-free? If not, to whom does the tax revenue go? If so, are they then not paying for services?

by Arrgh Street on Feb 25, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

@ Bossi: You are right that America seems to build for how they want to live (McMansion) as opposed to what they can afford (small apartment). The 'free market' is clearly not doing its job. While SFH prices are still low due to lack of demand, condos and apartments are utterly unaffordable in urban areas.

by Jasper on Feb 25, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

In DC (and I would assume most jurisdictions) land owned by a church or similar non-profit but used for profitable purposes can be taxed. Now if you're building low income housing I'm sure there are all sorts of exceptions and so forth.

by drumz on Feb 25, 2013 9:48 am • linkreport

Nothing "almost" about it. Taping a police officer who is on duty, in public, is 100% legal. MoCo will be paying some money to this guy.

by thump on Feb 25, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

re: Layman's article, I like some of the parking provisions Seattle has. Especially that one car-share space is allowed to replace 3 private spots and a spot reserved for in-house bike parking is also given a big bonus on parking requirements.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 25, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

For the record (and so there is limited confusion), the acronym "ADU" in Fairfax County is not the same as what is commonly used on GGW. In Fairfax County it is "affordable dwelling unit" instead of "accessory dwelling unit."

by selxic on Feb 25, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

The guy recording the cops was likely well within his right to do so. However he was acting like an idiot. This is the proper way to handle that kind of stop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aY7NYXDzy8

by dcmike on Feb 25, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

Selxic,
Thanks for the heads up. To be clear I was referring to Accessory dwelling units.

Concern I've encountered about Illegal Boarding houses in Fairfax usually boils down to,

A. Parking (even though most SFH neighborhoods in Fairfax have negligible parking problems, especially when pretty much every house has a driveway/two car garage). It's tougher with townhomes but I chalk that up to bad design/onerous requirements more than just too many people.

B. Anxiety about the changing demographics of a neighborhood and that you maybe made a bad bet on your biggest investment and now the neighborhood will go bad and you'll lose your property values and what not.

by drumz on Feb 25, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

@Jasper: actually there is no shortage of slum dwellings in America's urban areas. They're very affordable...although that's the best you can say about them. Not everything in America is a McMansion or a luxury condo.

The reason there's a shortage of affordable housing in nice urban areas is due to the high cost of land, proffers, regulatory requirements, and zoning. It's not a failure of the free market. If it was, there would certainly be developers lining up to make some money by building in that niche. Instead, they build McMansions and luxury condos because that's where the demand/profits are given the regulatory constraints.

by Falls Church on Feb 25, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

I'm glad the mayor spends so much of his time on such important matters. If someone asks me where I'm from, I'm proud to say "Washington" or Washington, DC." "DeeCee" sounds so, well, "Peegee."

I'd like the option to get a license plate without the propaganda slogan "Taxation without Represntation." If the president has that option, so should we residents. I also wish they'd bring the Capitol dome back as at least an option on the license plates. It was an easily recognizable symbol (unlike the current stars and bars) and a good way to promote the city to tourists.

As for statehood, it's a political non-starter -- as least not for 25 years after Marion Barry has truly (and dearly) departed.

by Creative Urbanist13 on Feb 25, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

@dcmike-Copwatch's M.O. is pretty confrontational. They go looking to make a statement and usually do. While I certainly don't think it always paints them in the best light, they are well within their rights.

by thump on Feb 25, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

@Creative Urbanist13. You can request a slogan-free tag. I'm glad to see the legal entity making a comeback. "Washington, DC" is a postal convention. There is no such entity in law. Ditto with people referring to "the city" when it comes to DC Government.

by Paul on Feb 25, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

@Creative Urbanist13 drive a government opened car with government plates and you can have that option. The president didn't have special DC plates, he used plane government plates.

by Kate W. on Feb 25, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

I'm glad the mayor spends so much of his time on such important matters.

Doubt it required much of his attention at all. Since he does have a cabinet who can delegate.

If someone asks me where I'm from, I'm proud to say "Washington"

As in Washington state?

DeeCee" sounds so, well, "Peegee."

They're same-sounding consonants. What did you expect the abbreviated version of District of Columbia to sound like, VA?

by HogWash on Feb 25, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

No one that I know who lives in the city calls it Washington locally. I'll use it for foreigners who might not understand DC but almost never in the city. I'm fine with Washingtonian though since DC-er just sounds stupid and I'm not going to say "Resident of the District of Columbia" every time.

by Alan B. on Feb 25, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

Likewise, go out West and people will assume you're from Washington state.

Of course especially locally there can be a difference between DC and Washington based on context.

Agreed Falls Church.

by selxic on Feb 25, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

I guess I can tape over my license plate to obscure the "Taxation without Representation" slogan on the plate. As I recall there was a Supreme Court case that upheld on First Amendment grounds someone who had taped over "Live Free or Die" on the New Hampshire plates. But it will probably be just my luck to be stopped by some Barry-era police recruit who would have a problem with that case.

by Creative Urbanist13 on Feb 25, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

@Creative Urbanist13
Someone already answered this above - you can get tags without that slogan if you so desire:
http://dmv.dc.gov/node/156462
All new registrants receive "Taxation without Representation" tags automatically. If you are obtaining new regular tags and do not want the Taxation without Representation tags, please inform the DMV employee at the time of registration, and you will receive the 'www.dc.gov' website tags.

by MLD on Feb 25, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

But it will probably be just my luck to be stopped by some Barry-era police recruit who would have a problem with that case.

So says the person who doesn't like to refer to DC...as..well DC..because it sounds too much like it's border county PG. Couple that w/the Barry focus and me thinks we've found the common denominator.

by HogWash on Feb 25, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

@dcmike, Acting like an idiot, much like recording a police stop, is perfectly legal.

In my opinion, the problem is that the officers involved in these kinds of 'contempt of cop' arrests face no real consequences for their actions since the taxpayers are stuck with the bill. If the law were changed to make police officers personally liable (i.e. the inevitable settlement plus legal fees comes out of the individual cop's pay) for actions they know (or should know) violate the law and/or departmental policy you can bet these abuses of power would become a whole lot less common.

by Jacob on Feb 25, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

@ hogwash

What is the common denominator?

by sk on Feb 25, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

What is the common denominator?

Creative doesn't use DC because it sounds too much like PG. Also doesn't want to deal w/anyone who was hired by Marion Barry. PGC is majority black. Marion Barry is black.

Common denominator is black.

by HogWash on Feb 25, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

What is the common denominator?

I believe the implication is that @Creative Urbanist13 is not a US citizen.

by oboe on Feb 25, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

Jacob, I agree wholeheartedly that sworn officers should bear sole liability for their own transgressions.

And yes, being an idiot is not against the law. Myself, I expect to receive to receive the same level of respect that I show others. If I'm acting like a know-it-all arrogant child, I would expect to be treated as one.

That being said, I strongly believe in the taxpayer's right to record and monitor the activities of the those I entrust to uphold the law. After all, we're paying their salaries. It's truly amazing to me, in this day and age of constant surveillance that there are still police and sheriffs departments that are not 100% equipped with carborne video and audio recording equipment. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that municipalities' legal departments must think cameras would lead to increased liability rather than reduced. Scary.

by dcmike on Feb 25, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

They used "taxation without representation" for shock value, and now it's worn off. "District of Columbia" will renew the shock. Most Americans think "District of Columbia" is in South America. Good for the Mayor.

by Turnip on Feb 25, 2013 7:37 pm • linkreport

"Most Americans think "District of Columbia" is in South America. Good for the Mayor."

Indeed. It calls to mind the old Jay Leno joke, that Marion Barry shouldn't be mayor of the District of Columbia. He should be mayor of a district in Colombia.

by Creative Urbanist13 on Feb 25, 2013 10:14 pm • linkreport

For Hogwash, a history lesson is in order:

"What is the common denominator?
Creative doesn't use DC because it sounds too much like PG."

Creative watched as DC threw off its toxic local government under Marion Barry, which was followed by significant improvement under Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty. It was nice no longer having Washington, DC be the butt of jokes. While Washington's government improved, many of the political nomenklatura under Barry slithered across into Prince George's County, as that county's political culture perfected the "pay to play culture" of the "old DC." Creative does not want Washington, DC to become like PG, and fears that there has been backsliding under the current administration.

"Also doesn't want to deal w/anyone who was hired by Marion Barry."

You may not be aware that under the ex-Mayor-for-Life, MPD was recruting police candidates who had failed the police exam multiple times, some of whom had criminal records. It used to be said that if you got in a traffic accident, you hoped the Secret Service cops would come by rather than MPD because of the latter's level of incompetence and worse. Many of the worst recruits of that sorry era were purged by Charles Ramsey and later Cathy Lanier, but some unfortunately may still be around.

"PGC is majority black. Marion Barry is black. Common denominator is black."

Your insinuation is, in a word, "Hogwash."

by Creative Urbanist13 on Feb 25, 2013 10:28 pm • linkreport

While Washington's government improved, many of the political nomenklatura under Barry slithered across into Prince George's County, as that county's political culture perfected the "pay to play culture" of the "old DC."

Sure, and your examples of PG pols involved in pay to play who were formerly DC pols are what again? I'll wait.

You may not be aware that under the ex-Mayor-for-Life, MPD was recruting police candidates who had failed the police exam multiple times, some of whom had criminal records.

So you're making accusations against an entire police force hired w/in a certain time frame? Ok sure. And what are the numbers for this one as well?

by HogWash on Feb 26, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

@ Creative Urbanist13 - Re : DeeCee
In the San Francisco Bay area that set of initials (Delta Charlie) will be interpreted as "Daly City". My preference is for "Wash.,D.C." Your other option is "Pound Laundry" (from "The Digging of the We-ans").

by Ted K. on Mar 3, 2013 9:08 pm • linkreport

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