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Breakfast links: Shelter and growth


Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.
Arlington activists push for affordable housing: Activists in Arlington are pushing for 1,500 units of affordable housing to be built on county land, but will Arlington make it enough of a priority? (Post)

More funding for homeless in MoCo: The Montgomery County Council has set aside new funds to address homelessness. The funding will provide 15 extremely vulnerable homeless individuals with housing and services. (Patch)

Stomp down on pop-ups: Neighbors around Lanier Heights have posted signs in protest of a new pop-up in their neighborhood. The signs indicate a concern about condo-izing the area, and reducing its character and value. (PoPville)

Minimum wage hike gets OK: The DC Council has unanimously sent a bill to increase the minimum wage to the mayor. The mayor is expected to sign the bill. (WTOP)

History has its costs: The historic designation of Spingarn High School is more than doubling the costs of the DC streetcar car barn. The car barn will house a maintenance and repair center for the streetcars once the line is operational. (WAMU)

More traffic forever: Driving is on the decline, but transportation agencies are still predicting increases in traffic to justify new lanes and highways. (Streetsblog)

Suburban transit commuters are rich: A new report finds that suburban transit commuters earn more, on average, than car commuters. This pattern is the opposite in the metro core. (City Paper)

Metro for non-commutes: 17% of trips on Metro don't relate to commuting to or from work. Gallery Place-Chinatown leads in the number of non-work trips. (PlanItMetro)

More than gondolas: While plans for a gondola grabbed the most attention, the Georgetown BID's 2028 plan includes many other improvements such as bike racks, temporary sidewalk widening, and bringing the streetcar to the area. (WBJ)

Northeast is the wealthiest region: New Census data show that wealth and poverty are clustered geographically, with half of the wealthiest counties in the Northeast Corridor. Most of the poorest counties are in the South. (Atlantic Cities)

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Elina Bravve moved to Washington in 2009, after completing a degree in City Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill. She's lived in the Columbia Heights neighborhood since 2010. After recently parting ways with her car, her goal is to learn how to bike around the neighborhood. 

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"More traffic forever: Driving is on the decline, but transportation agencies are still predicting increases in traffic to justify new lanes and highways. (Streetsblog)"

That may be true and I have seen data to show it in DC, but try taking that to a community meeting or council member as a representative of a public agency and say traffic is declining...or as a developer's consultant in front of the Zoning or planning commission. You would be laughed out of the room.

by Some Ideas on Dec 18, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

The sign claims that "ugly" is "destroying family housing."

Aren't pop-ups creating, potentially, more living space for families?

by kob on Dec 18, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

The residents on Lanier also fought Historic District designation so its tough to have much sympathy here. Plus, this sign is posted next to an entirely reasonable renovation.

Choices have consequences, Lanier residents now need to live with it. And yes, I do live in the neighborhood.

by Ryan Sigworth on Dec 18, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

The Montgomery County Council decided to spend 47,000$ each on 15 homeless. And though that much could buy a home somewhere in the US, they're probably still all homeless. There's a lot of looking like you do good but not really doing good in politics.

by asffa on Dec 18, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

@Suburban transit commuters are rich

Very astute!! Homes closer to public transit cost more, therefore wealthier individuals will use the Washington metro more.

by Bill the Wanderer on Dec 18, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

Amazing, the rising prices and population in a neighborhood is actually a sign of dropping values and loss of prestige. Plus an outright, "please move somewhere else" plea.

by drumz on Dec 18, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

The Lanier flyer suggested moving to a new apartment building.

Nicely illustrating that new apt buildings are, in fact, an alternative to changes impacting existing rowhouses. Given the continued growth, those who want to maintain the character of their blocks should be more supportive, not less, of easing the creation of density via new multifamily buildings.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 18, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

Though it also suggested that "real" apartment buildings have parking and yards. Sounds suspiciously house-like to me.

by drumz on Dec 18, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

But I'll humbly suggest that the sign writer look into the Form Based Code. That may alleviate the "ugliness" of the pop ups even though its not suited for preventing change in a neighborhood.

http://www.formbasedcodes.org/files/Image-Comparing-Zoning-Guidelines-and-FBC.pdf

by drumz on Dec 18, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

If you look at location of residence, transit riders in suburbs are slightly wealthier than drivers. But if you look at job location, suburban transit riders are much much poorer than drivers.

by Ben Ross on Dec 18, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

@Stomp down on pop-ups

Right across the street from SEVERAL 6 story straight to the sidewalk apartment buildings. NIMBYs are sick, intellectually disabled individuals, plain and simple. It is precisely because of the governmental fixation on zoning, regulations, property taxes that we have such severe obsession over dirt. LAND is everywhere! You can work anywhere, practically build anywhere, practically live anywhere... it's sad really.

by Bill the Wanderer on Dec 18, 2013 9:47 am • linkreport

Hey Bill, NIMBYs are not the same as "governmental fixations." The two are, in fact, at odds most of the time. (See: U Street moratorium, Spingarn Car Barn, traffic calming on Wisconsin, etc.)

by MetroDerp on Dec 18, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

That's a rear addition, not a pop-up. Few people realize how big rear additions can be, even in historic districts. We have similar sized ones in my block. They're legal and fine because they provide the potential for housing (if the density zoning allowed).

Not so fond of the concrete parking pad which I'm sure replaced permeable ground and probably a tree.

by Tom Coumaris on Dec 18, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

@Bill - Pretty sure people have to work there the jobs are.

by Distantantennas on Dec 18, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

The whole suburban transit thing comes down to travel time and comfort. In the city transit is competitive on both fronts unless you just love sitting in traffic. In the suburbs transit connections are neither comprehensive nor frequent so that it's pretty much a last resort option. I'd say 80-90% of people on my suburban reverse commute bus would appear to be low income. As much as I love transit, it only works if you have complementary land development along the same corridors.

by BTA on Dec 18, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

drumz

nothing about yards - they mentioned a balcony and/or a common roof deck, which indeed are amenities common in new construction (and some older buildings) And MAYBE an auto parking space - since A. the new zoning code still has parking mins outside downtown B. The new zoning code hasnt passed yet C. even without minimums, many developers will continue to build some parking - thats not unrealistic.

Im curious about the bike parking reference. Is that a reference to the size of the TH condos? To needing to lug a bike upstairs? Or that some new buildings have bike parking in the garage or elsewhere outside the unit?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 18, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

Agreed, Tom. Concrete parking pads are heinous. Is that a zoning issue because of the addition? If it wasn't option, DC needs to seriously rethink that requirement. Actually even if it was optional there should be at least a steep fee for adding impermeable surface.

by BTA on Dec 18, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

I agree with drumz that form based codes could aleviate some of the drama associated with adding on to row house neighborhoods, assuming we can agree what is an attractive expansion. This issue needs to be dealt with at some point.

by Thayer-D on Dec 18, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

@kob

The sign claims that "ugly" is "destroying family housing."

Aren't pop-ups creating, potentially, more living space for families?

I think the general - and probably more correct than not - assumption is that these types of expansions are not filled up by families, but rather by live-in housekeepers/nannies or else, if rented out, filled by DINKs who will move out to the suburbs once they spawn or by unattached roommates whose combined incomes drive up overall housing prices.

This is also an ongoing issue with just about all new multifamily construction in DC - the prime tenants are investors parking cash, DINKs who are willing and able to put down 40-50% of earnings toward housing, and groups of roommates who pool resources and can afford rents that most two-wage couples cannot. The result is actually upward pressure on overall rents in this segment of the housing market, rather than downward.

by Dizzy on Dec 18, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

Springarn High School is nice enough, but historic? They must be joking. How is this costing $15 million?

by Richard on Dec 18, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

I think the idea that people without kids can't be family is completely logical and not at all discriminatory.

by BTA on Dec 18, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Springarn High School is nice enough, but historic? They must be joking.

The anti-streetcar people who fought for the historic designation certainly weren't kidding - their goal was to stop the project, or inflate its costs if they couldn't.

by MLD on Dec 18, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

Call Sprthe high school historic if you like but this is where a separate designation of historic lite would be really useful. In Europe many a solid masonry shelled buildings have been scraped and repurposed for centuries. I don't see why we can't do that here to both save more nice buildings and not make renovating them prohibitivly expensive. History needs to be made relevant today, not always put in a glass box as if from another planet.

by Thayer-D on Dec 18, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

They aren't even doing anything with the current building! It's going to be used for a school in the future. The car barn is going on the LAWN in front of the school building. That's what makes this even more ridiculous.

by MLD on Dec 18, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

After the fire, they just preserved the historic facade on this apartment building in Mt. Pleasant. http://goo.gl/maps/8iWzq Obviously this was a fire, but seems like the same principle could be used elsewhere with less expense.

by BTA on Dec 18, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D

Call Sprthe high school historic if you like but this is where a separate designation of historic lite would be really useful. In Europe many a solid masonry shelled buildings have been scraped and repurposed for centuries. I don't see why we can't do that here to both save more nice buildings and not make renovating them prohibitivly expensive. History needs to be made relevant today, not always put in a glass box as if from another planet.

Very true.

Why not use the shell of the highschool to make the new car barn? Everybody wins!

by Richard on Dec 18, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

Why not use the shell of the highschool to make the new car barn? Everybody wins!

Because they are not tearing down the high school!

This is where the car barn will be: the lawn in FRONT of the high school (I think they have torn down the ugly blue building already):
http://goo.gl/maps/y1XEE

by MLD on Dec 18, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

The first problem is 'Lanier Heights'. What, you mean Adams-Morgan? 'No! this is Lanier Heights, we wouldn't want to be the next Adams-Morgan'. Err, you already are the old Adams-Morgan. 'No, this is a settled neighborhood of families with respect for the area's history'. Um, the history is that this neighborhood has been changing constantly. It has been, variously, a Jewish neighborhood, a Hispanic neighborhood and a den of anarchists, Black Panthers and communists. Who is this self-appointed monarch who wants to decide who lives there? LOL at the definition of a 'real' apartment!

by renegade09 on Dec 18, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

Spingarn was in terrible condition, with something like an 18% graduation rate.

DCPS will do a massive completion renovation and it will at least somewhat be a "trade school" for streetcar training/maintenance/construction, which is freaking awesome!

I've already seen some DCPS high school kids out interning with the streetcar project. Super cool.

by h st ll on Dec 18, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

The residents on Lanier also fought Historic District designation so its tough to have much sympathy here. . . . Choices have consequences."

If this argument is advanced by someone who supported a Lanier historic district, I agree with you. But several times I've seen this writers advance this argument on this board (the dumb neighbors have no one but themselves to blame, they should have supported an historic district), yet then turn around and criticize historic districts as too restrictive on the development that they advocate.

--A person thankful he lives in the Cleveland Park Historic District.

by Art on Dec 18, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

What's wrong with "Lanier Heights"? It's a neighborhood within Adams Morgan. Its topography, land use, history, and architecture are all distinct. You might as well complain about using "Adams Morgan" when you could perfectly well say "DC."

by David R. on Dec 18, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

@David R
Except that:
1. The topography, land use, history and architecture are not distinct, or are marginally distinct from Adams-Morgan. A Lanier Heights subdivision definitely once existed, but its identity long ago became subsumed into Adams-Morgan.
2. Everybody in DC knows where Adams Morgan is, but most people in Adams Morgan, and- dare I say it- Lanier Heights don't know where Lanier Heights is. Try asking a taxi driver to take you to 'Lanier Heights': "Where's that?" "In Adams-Morgan, near Mount Pleasant." "Ah- why didn't you just say that?"
3. When offered historic designation as Lanier Heights, the neighbors rejected it.

When sub-neighborhoods like this are invented (or resurrected as in this case), it is usually to advance an agenda of exclusivity. See also 'Reed-Cooke' and 'Tivoli North'. People are entitled to call the neighborhood whatever they like but it's pretentious.

That said there are enough pretentious people who turn their nose up at the idea of Adams-Morgan that I won't be surprised if 'Lanier Heights' sees broader use in future. Also, 'Lanier Heights' has a distinct boundary with Adams-Morgan on Google Maps, so all newbs will think that it is its own place, and not an obsolete designation for part of the broader neighborhood.

by renegade09 on Dec 18, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

@renegade09

Neighborhood borders in and of themselves like cities, are arbitrary boundaries that add no value to a land use discussion. I don't get your point.

by Bill the Wanderer on Dec 18, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

And now a moment of silence for all the jobs being lost as a result of the new DC minimum wage that is 59% higher than federal.

by Burd on Dec 18, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

Also, 'Lanier Heights' has a distinct boundary with Adams-Morgan on Google Maps, so all newbs will think that it is its own place, and not an obsolete designation for part of the broader neighborhood.

Place-making, or the idea of making an area "it's own place" that's distinctive, adds to diversity and makes a city more interesting. If the folks in Lanier Heights want to make their area distinct from Adams Morgan like it was in the past, more power to them -- as long as it's more than just distinct in name only and they truly make it distinctive culturally from Adams Morgan's. That shouldn't be hard to do since Lanier Heights is a quiet, leafy residential neighborhood while Adams Morgan is known most for being an arts and entertainment district.

by Falls Church on Dec 18, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

@Burd sounds like you want to enrich the 1% at the expense of the 99%...even more than has been happening over the past 30 years at such an obscene pace.

by DaveG on Dec 18, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

@renegade09

Topography: have you walked from Harvard St. up to Columbia Rd. recently? That's probably a 200-foot climb. Lanier Heights is built on a series of ravines that drop down into Rock Creek. The street grid breaks down there, following terrain rather than compass directions.

Architecture: more likely to be Wardman-style houses, circa 1900, two or three stories. The rest of Adams Morgan is characterized by taller, Italianate houses, three stories and built on the same narrow lots as the Old City.

Land use: a crust of commercial buildings on Columbia, and otherwise residential. Eighteenth St. is - and has long been - a major entertainment destination.

Placenames change. They pass in and out of use, or they describe an area that's too small or too large.

Adams Morgan is a rambling hodgepodge of a neighborhood, consciously created from what had been separate places. There are natural geographic divisions between its onetime components. Even today, the Reed-Cooke and Kalorama groups hold much of the civic organizing power. I'm not surprised that people in residential areas want to speak with more precision.

by David R. on Dec 18, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

So what are they going to do with Spingarn? Can they give it to some CDC to redevelop as affordable housing?

by BTA on Dec 18, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

@David R.
This is barely worth discussing, but what you write is nonsense. Adams-Morgan is all built on hilly ground. It's a hill up 16th, it's a hill up 18th and it's a hill up Columbia. The houses north of Columbia are not unique because they're on a hill. The architectural styles are much the same. Taller Italianate houses in Adams-Morgan? That's not a reasonable generalization; there are plenty of rowhouses and apartment buildings of all sizes, just as in 'Lanier Heights'. Lanier Heights has the Argonne, which is probably the biggest apartment building in the local area, and several other buildings on up to 10 levels. You are confusing 18th Street with Adams-Morgan. Adams-Morgan is more than just 18th Street and is largely residential.

I agree with you that placenames change and I agree that rich NIMBYs always look for ways to dominate local land use decisions, just as they do everywhere. Many times, the appearance of pseudo-neighborhoods reflects gentrifiers' wishes to cut themselves off from aspects of the surrounding area they don't like. In Lanier Heights, they had their shot at historic preservation and snubbed it. One of the things I like about Adams-Morgan is that the neighborhood name reflects its character as a union of different peoples. (sadly it is getting less diverse.) Neighbors north of Columbia can pretend to be something special if they want but when I hear the name 'Lanier Heights', I will always think that it's coming from somebody who thinks they're too good for Adams-Morgan. (Or else a newb whose knowledge of the neighborhood comes from Google maps.)

by renegade09 on Dec 18, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

There is no "Lanier Heights." It exist on a map, and that's it. You either live in Adams Morgan or Mount Pleasant. My apt is technically in Lanier Heights, even though it is two blocks from 18th and Columbia, which is about the center of Adams Morgan. The subdivison, on this map, is nothing but some houses. It doesn't constitute a neighborhood, with common meeting areas, stores and commerce. If people want to ID themselves as living in "Lanier Heights" I say go for it, but it's a fiction.

by kob on Dec 18, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

I've lived in DC 13 years, no one ever calls it Lanier Heights.

by BTA on Dec 18, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

I agree with David R. There is a distinction among Adams Morgan residents at least between Lanier Heights, Kalorama, and Reed-Cooke. Sometimes the distinction is superficial. In this case, anyway, it's not: I live a block away and in a historic district, so the pop ups won't encroach on my section of Adams Morgan, for better or worse.

by dno on Dec 18, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

If people want to ID themselves as living in "Lanier Heights" I say go for it, but it's a fiction.

My wife used to live in Lanier Heights and while she never used the name and barely new the name existed, she definitely identified as being from a distinctive part of Adams Morgan. Walking around Lanier doesn't feel like walking around Reed-Cooke or Kalorama. Lanier is a place regardless of whether its name has fallen in disuse.

Maybe it shouldn't have a name but it's definitely a place.

To say that Reed-Cooke or Kalorama don't exist as places would be a fiction too. For example, Kalorama gentrified years before Reed-Cooke did (back then, gentrification happened more slowly) -- which is something that would only happen if they were distinct places.

by Falls Church on Dec 18, 2013 11:30 pm • linkreport

Does anyone use the name "Reed-Cooke" except the RCNA? I guess there is also the zoning overlay but other than that I haven't heard people use it.

Neighborhoods are socially constructed geographic areas; if nobody uses the name or identifies it as a separate space then what is the point? It barely exists as a separate defined space except for people with a neighborhood association and an axe to grind.

It's kind of amazing to me how many little micro-neighborhoods are defined in DC.

by MLD on Dec 19, 2013 9:03 am • linkreport

@Dave G

No, I'm for bringing jobs to DC's large areas with double-digit unemployment rates.

Sounds like you don't care that many companies will admittedly avoid doing business in DC b/c of this new 59% premium on the fed'l min. wage.

by Burd on Dec 19, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

I don't Kalorama is the most well known neighborhood either. However, in their case there is a strong embassy presence due to proximity to Mass Ave so it has a certain cachet. In general if your neighborhood is less thatn 1/4 mile sq and doesn't have a distinctive cultural amenity (eg Chinatown) few people are going to feel the need to recognize it as separate. Of course it's a free country so you can call it whatever you want. I group West End and Burleith in the same category of non-existence.

by BTA on Dec 19, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

Burleith - definitely one of those "neighborhoods" where people complain about being lumped in with Georgetown, but what is there to distinguish it from anything else?

by MLD on Dec 19, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

I lived in 'Reed-Cooke' for 6 years without ever hearing anybody say they were from 'Reed-Cooke'. I'm genuinely not sure where 'Kalorama' is, even though my bedroom faced onto Kalorama Road. Anybody remember the ridiculous 'SoMo'?:

http://www.popville.com/2012/10/adams-morgan-main-street-launching-new-neighborhood-nickname-somo/

by renegade09 on Dec 19, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

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