Greater Greater Washington

Development


Breakfast links: 14th, car-centrism, and you


Photo by Wayan Vota.
Noise on 14th, from bars and politics: One 14th Street liquor license fight has concluded, and another is just beginning. In the first, Bar Pilar and Saint-Ex successfully sought to change their liquor license. Residents east of 14th charged that Dupont ANC Comissioner Ramon Estrada, his video camera-wielding partner, and former DCCA board member Phyllis Klein were inappropriately employing delay tactics to block the negotiated voluntary agreement. The newest fight will surround the planned Local 14 bar near 14th and Swann, whose proposed rooftop deck until 2 or 3 am has residents concerned. (14th & You)

Huge garage better than daytime neighborhood activity?: CakeLove, located just two blocks from Metro and whose business thrives thanks to the many residents and workers in the area, advocated tearing down the Reeves Center to replace it with a giant parking garage. The daytime office workers in that building patronize area businesses and help keep them successful, especially the non-bars; if anything, 14th Street needs more daytime activity. They're still linking to this article from their directions page, which also encourages people to double park. How about advocating for some 15-minute restricted parking or performance-based parking, which would really help their business? (Geoff H, Melissa)

DC, MD fix it first; VA widens it first: Smart Growth America evaluated states' stimulus spending from the first 120 days. DC is spending 41.5% of its share on transit or bike/ped investments, and dedicated 100% of its road budget repairing existing infrastructure rather than adding new capacity. Maryland put only 6.1% to transit/bike/ped, but also used 100% of its road budget for repairs. Virginia, on the other hand, put 5.2% to transit/bike/ped but only 60% of its road budget to repairs, with the other 40% going to building new capacity, despite 54% of its current roads not being in "good" condition. (Gavin Baker)

Pedestrian strikes front of fast-moving police cruiser: Last year, a DC police officer driving a cruiser struck and killed a pedestrian; now, the family is suing, claiming police altered the crash scene. Reporter Michael Neibauer notices that the police report used especially ridiculous language, claiming that the pedestrian "ran into the right side of a marked police vehicle" without also mentioning the cruiser's speed. That's pretty close to "A person struck a bullet moving in the opposite direction." (Examiner)

And...: Arlington has banned the County government from buying bottled water, as the bottles involve fossil fuel consumption to make and transport, then often end up as litter (Gavin Baker) ... Metro is moving the 1000-series to the centers of trains, but has to shuffle cars between yards before they can complete the task (Post) ... How would you recommend train operators announce when 6-car trains will be pulling to the end of the platform, forcing those standing at the wrong end to walk down? (Get There)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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If it's left to the train operators to announce that the 6-car trains will be pulling to the end of the platform, that saves those people waiting at the wrong end at most a few seconds - if the platform is crowded, there will still be a crushing mad rush (and that's assuming that the announcement is intelligible and comprehensible to begin with). Instead, why not put signs on the platform that say something like "All trains will be pulling to the end of the platform. Please move down the platform to board 6-car trains," and then a big arrow?

by Johanna on Jul 1, 2009 9:13 am • linkreport

somehow I think people who work at the Reeves center aren't buying overpriced cupcakes.

But the performance parking raises an issue: you've made a good case for it. But wouldn't that overall increase traffic on U st if people "know" they can pay $2 for a 30 minute slot? Granted a parking garage would be worse. Again, Arlington does it right -- look at the huge garage under Clarendon Commons which also brings enormous foot traffic.

by charlie on Jul 1, 2009 9:26 am • linkreport

So METRO is going to move the 1000 series cars to the center of trains. And the 3000 series car in front or back is really going to do better if there is another crash? (GGW-Are Metro's 1000 Series cars safe? Can Metro do anything about it? http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=2702)

This sounds only slightly less useful than TSA airport security measures.

by kenf on Jul 1, 2009 9:29 am • linkreport

Michael Schuman, who writes books about local economies, also advocates for the parking structure at that location, highlighting the Cakelove proposal I argued with him about it at a DC Economic Partnership presentation a couple years ago.

Any of these proposals start from bullshit without doing a market study and determining what the various immediate, primary, and secondary retail trade areas are, the opportunity presented by each trade area, transportation modes, and preferred DC policies about how to move people around.

You may recall I made the same point about your post last year on 17th Street, and I make the same point about retail revitalization generally.

Until you nail down the position of the commercial district, and doing what I call a daypart analysis of the business potential at different times of the day and days of the week, all the other stuff is talk.

And some of the issues may be business-specific having nothing to do with access and parking, but the quality of the business.

E.g., after a meeting in the Reeves Building last week, at night, I went with a Ward 4 ANC commissioner over to have a drink at Eatonville. Granted it was a Thursday night. IT WAS PACKED. (A great experience too.)

I think the real issue with Cakelove and similar businesses is that they are focused on daytime business and maintaining daytime hours, and because the area has very limited office (Reeves is about it, and not as significant as people think) and office workers only support 2 s.f. of retail and 5 s.f. of food service (and it could be slightly lower for government workers) that the issue isn't really building a massive parking structure, but the reality that there is limited business potential for his daytime oriented business.

And a parking structure couldn't and wouldn't fix that most basic disconnect. And neither would performance parking, although it is likely a good idea. Parking isn't the issue. It's customers for neighborhood oriented businesses. During the day, there is a limited number of customers, and regardless of how great Cakelove thinks it is (I don't like their cakes and I think they are overpriced and while they aren't as pretty, using recipes from Southern Living I bake a cake that tastes just fine), it isn't so great that people from other areas in the region want to go visit and spend time there, instead of visiting a coffee shop or bakery in their own neighborhood, even a Panera or a Starbucks.

by Richard Layman on Jul 1, 2009 9:48 am • linkreport

@richard layman; that is most rational thing I've read this morning. thank you.

by charlie on Jul 1, 2009 10:41 am • linkreport

"Millions of such bottles are not recycled they have become “a prime source of litter and pollution in the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers,” the Board noted."

Really? How do bottles from Arlington County end up in the Anacostia river? Gov't thrives by interfering with our lives.

by Mark on Jul 1, 2009 10:45 am • linkreport

I love the incredible detail that the Cakelove website goes into re: driving directions to their store from Virginia and Maryland. Good stuff!! It raises a couple of questions:

How many people drive to 14th & U NW from Virginia and Maryland for baked goods? And of that small subset of people living in our metro area who do that, how many of them do not know how to get to 14th & U NW?

I'm sure Cakelove makes perfectly good cakes and such, but I'm also just as sure that there are bakeries of at least equal quality in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. It would take one hell of a good cake to get me to travel that far. I live on Capitol Hill and even from there 14th & U NW seems like a really long way to travel for a bakery.

by rg on Jul 1, 2009 10:47 am • linkreport

Cakelove's eyes are getting bigger than its stomach. The last thing we need at that corner is expansion based on cake batter. I want to tell them to chill and realize they have a good thing (and I do think Reeves' center people are buying their cupcakes). Why do they want to build a whole world based on their successful restaurant? Just be.

Geez.

by Jazzy on Jul 1, 2009 10:48 am • linkreport

Richard, your conclusions are based on the assumption that people within walking distance will always want to walk to a location. I know that often when faced with the decision of walking to a closer store (that doesn't have parking) or driving to one a bit farther (that does have parking), I'll often chose the former for two reasons. Firstly, I'd rather not wasted 15 mins walking somewhere when I can drive there in 5 mins, and secondly if you're out shopping you don't want to have to carry something back on foot. For example, the other day I needed a couple of special cakes. I had thought of Cake Love, but even though it is only about 4 or 5 blocks from my house, I knew they didn't have convenient parking there. So, instead I drove first to Harris Teeter because I knew they'd have parking. Unfortunately, all they had were the sterile sheet cakes that have more preservatives in them than real ingredients ... and are jammed packed with sugar (and air). So, I drove to Cake Love ... and double parked. We need more parking ... Lots more parking!

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 10:53 am • linkreport

"I'm also just as sure that there are bakeries of at least equal quality in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs."

Yes its called Cakelove. Locations Shirlington, Tysons, Silver Spring, National Harbor and Baltimore.

There is no reason to drive to DC for Cakelove...however there are much better places than Cakelove I rather go.

by RJ on Jul 1, 2009 11:03 am • linkreport

Or, you could walk the 4-5 blocks and carry your cakes home and not double park.

More parking = more cars. I am not sure the residents of the community would be down with that.

by William on Jul 1, 2009 11:07 am • linkreport

There's already a large multi-level parking garage in the basement of Reeves. Is it ever full? I don't know, but surely there are spaces available after noon like every other downtown commercial garage.

by Crin on Jul 1, 2009 11:08 am • linkreport

"More parking = more cars. I am not sure the residents of the community would be down with that."

If cars are the problem then ban every car. That's the only fair way.

by Mark on Jul 1, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

Not only did the pedestrian run into the door of the cruiser, but he was a 70 year old. 70 year olds run really fast, right?

by Crin on Jul 1, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

I have been to the Cakelove in Silver Spring. I had no idea there was one in Logan/U st. I wouldn't drive there just for a cupcake. That would be silly. I don't drive the Silver Spring one, either. I'll go there as an impulse buy after shopping at the other places in downtown Silver Spring. It's not a regional attraction, like nightlife.

Now, if they stayed open late to cater to people getting out of bars with beer munchies, they'd be on to something. I'd buy a cupcake after a bar romp anytime. In that scenario, there is no way in heck that I'd be operating heavy machinery and need a place to store it.

by Cavan on Jul 1, 2009 11:12 am • linkreport

William, we're fine with having more cars. More cars means less suburbanites rushing through our streets and using them as freeways to and from work. It means a more vibrant community here ... Relying solely on the demographics of those who depend on mass transit isn't going to get you the vibrant community you get when you make it a welcoming community to people from all parts of society ... including those synched into the 21st century and it's flexible transportation system based mainly on personal vehicles. If all we want are bars and fast food places catering to the 'just out of college' crowd at 14th and U, then we don't need more parking. If what we want are a broader-based segment of the population ... including those more likely to frequent a Cake Love type place, then we definitely need more parking.

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 11:15 am • linkreport

RJ -- that's my point. I was being silly and making fun of the painstaking detail the website goes into re: driving directions from Maryland and Virginia.

by rg on Jul 1, 2009 11:16 am • linkreport

Cavan -- if you need a mid-drinking cake rush, lovecafe is open until 11p on weekends. But, yeah, don't drive there from the bars across the street.

by ah on Jul 1, 2009 11:24 am • linkreport

Lance, and up is down, right?

Just ask the residents of Ivy City just how much all those cars contributes to their neighborhood.

I do think you're on to something with wanting a broader age cross section in the community. I don't think that paving over the city with more parking lots is the way to do that, though. Suburbanizing the city is the quickest way to make it unattractive to those who are willing to pay good money to live in a walkable city. (and clearly there are many, judging by property values in the District) Due to the streetgrid, it will never be attractive to those who crave McMansions.

We already tried suburbanizing the city back in the 20th century. It didn't work. We need to move on from those misguided policies. For a certain generation, the city will always be viewed with contempt. They're lost and you're not going to get them to move into Logan Circle. Long term, if you want a more age-diverse city, you need to attract and retain young people who want to live in a city and who cherish its convenience and vibrancy. Improve services while making sure the city doesn't become a parking lot.

The 1960's called. They want their mistakes back.

by Cavan on Jul 1, 2009 11:26 am • linkreport

Lance, are you seriously arguing that having traffic jams on our streets will make our community more vibrant?

More cars actually means more suburbanites driving in and out. In fact, that's the entire reason CakeLove wants to encourage the parking is to bring those suburbanites in. So what we end up with is a city block that is a theme-park for traveling suburbanites rather than a community that serves the needs of its own residents.

by PJ on Jul 1, 2009 11:35 am • linkreport

Cavan, I don't think the mistake that was made in Washington in the 20th century was trying to suburbanize it, but rather I think the mistake that was made in the 1960s in the District was that rather than using its own strenghts to attract people, it simply succumbed to the suburban desires for it to become a place where business was conducted, and roads turned into high-speed off and on ramps for the benefit of commuters rushing in and rushing out. Even the construction of Metro fit this pattern. (I.e., that's why it wasn't really constructed to be an urban rail like the tube in London or the Paris Metro. It was more of a suburban line.) I vaguely remember this period from my earliest times here in the late 70s when the results of these policies were in full effect. The city died each night ... with the mass exodus of 'the average' Washingtoniam to the then all white, and very middle class suburbs of Arlington, Bailey's Crossroads, Silver Spring, Springfield, Rockville, and Bethesda. (Though luckily back then the rush 'hour' really was only an hour or two long and didn't drag out all afternoon and evening like now.)

Fortunately, some recognized this problem back then and stopped some of the most aggregious threats such as the inner beltway which would have trampled U Street and Florida Avenue and DID ruin local streets such as 15th Street NW which was made one way and widened to serve as on on ramp to this freeway, and 17th Street which fortunately never got any further than the 'one way stage'. I.e., we never really tried what you are calling the suburban model ... we didn't embrace the automobile, we instead made ourselves into a massive on and off ramp for others to simply travel through our city. Had we truly embraced the visionary ideals that they embraced out in the suburbs we'd have made ourselves a destination place that including automobilies in its own self-serving transportation system (and made a Metro that was also city serving as well as suburban serving.) Condemning the goodness of the car culture outright in the case of the District's example is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The suburbs were able to capture 'the average person' of the modern age. With all the wonderful things we have to offer by being a city, including walkability, let's also capture the goodness that accessibility for automobiles offers. It's not an either or situation. As places such as Bethesda Row are proving, you can indeed increase your walkability, and transitability, AND include accessibility to that main part of the population which is rightfully using the state of the art transportation system ... aka personal transportation ... or the automobile ... We don't need to go back to the 19th century to allow/encourage walkability. Actually, we wouldn't want to go back to the 19th century to do that. We want to instead join the rest of the metro area which is already in the 21st century. We can have our cake (from Cake Love?) and eat it too!

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 11:51 am • linkreport

Lance, are you seriously arguing that having traffic jams on our streets will make our community more vibrant?

More cars actually means more suburbanites driving in and out. In fact, that's the entire reason CakeLove wants to encourage the parking is to bring those suburbanites in.

"Yes" and "No".

Traffic jams are good. When you have a traffic jam (or place prone to traffic jams, you don't have the suburban (or any other) commuter using it as a cut through. The traffic is more local ... and the amount of cars on the road to people walking automatically balances itself out. Think of places like Times Square. Part of the excitement of Times Square WAS the fact that it was jam packed with cars, pedestrians, and others ... Look at all the old photographs of it. They wouldn't be the same without all the taxis in them. Now it's been sterilized and made into a Disneyfied theme park for people visiting NYC. It no longer serves NYs ... And probably isn't a desitnation for people visiting NY who want to see 'the real NY' ... just for the type of folks who'll go to Las Vegas to see the Eiffel tower ... rather than have to deal with the uncomfortableness of seeing the Eiffel tower in Paris ...

And as for suburbanites coming in to Cakelove ... As someone mentioned they have shops in the suburbs ... Why would anyone want to drive in to here for one when they have that in the suburbes. No, there's nothing wrong with suburbanites wanting to drive into here to enjoy things they can't find at home in their communities, but chances are that if our roads are jammed packed with locals getting around, they'll sometimes take the Metro to get here instead ... and, more importantly, they won't be using our streets and roads as merely thoroughfares to get them somewhere else.

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 12:02 pm • linkreport

Lance -- stop and think about the people who don't think and act like you. And stop and think about what are the most optimal ways for getting around _in the city_ and/or _in a city_ and planning accordingly.

Me, I think and act exactly the opposite of how you act. I prefer to shop closer to me. Then again, I don't own a car. But that closer, for me, can mean shopping in Takoma Park or Silver Spring or at the Giant at Riggs Road and Eastern Ave. across the street in PG County. Since I do this shopping on foot or by bicycle, I think that's ok. My carbon footprint is lower, even if at times my sales tax monies are going to other places.

(And while I have bought products at Hellers and Cakelove, frankly, I'd rather make my own. I think following decent recipes, I do an adequate job. It's cheaper. And more importantly, it tastes better.)

Instead, my choices are based on where the places are located and my transit-foot-bicycle options to get there, since I don't have a car. (Note we are members of Zipcar and do use it, in part for shopping. And we rent cars too. For either, not all the time, maybe a couple times/month.)

At the same time I don't suggest planning initiatives based only on the way I operate. In fact, anyone who makes such type of recommendations almost by definition, are failing to study and define particular market segments, taking into account the nuances of demographics, proximity, and psychographics (the latter includes mode choice).

People would be shocked that depending on the market and other conditions in a particular commercial district, lamentably I will recommend additions to parking inventory. But then I am likely to recommend shared parking solutions, and the creation of transportation management districts, not parking districts, to coordinate it.

It's my job to make recommendations based on the market conditions of particular "regional retail landscapes." That being said, when I go to places that don't have transit or have weak transit, I will make recommendations on transit, bicycling, and walking, consider waterfront and river conditions, etc., based on the particular conditions of the place.

Likely this occurs because I have a broader perspective that typical planners, who tend to be automobile centric, except in cities, don't often have.

by Richard Layman on Jul 1, 2009 12:32 pm • linkreport

Re: if our roads are jammed packed with locals getting around

Transportation policies should as a matter of course, discourage this, or make this costly. Building parking accommodations encourages this. Therefore it shouldn't be supported.

Unfortunately, it does take awhile to get places by driving on city streets, and even in the region. But the reality is that cars take up a lot of space and not that many can be accommodated in the space that exists. Transit moves far more people. That's why it should be encouraged, supported, and extended. And planning needs to shape the futher development of amenities and activity destinations and where they are placed, in particular they need to be proximate to transit, to encourage efficient optimality.

It's stupid to clog the streets with locals to discourage people to come here, or to encourage they come here by Metro. Instead, everybody should be encouraged to travel optimally.

by Richard Layman on Jul 1, 2009 12:36 pm • linkreport

@Lance on Jul 1, 2009 10:53 am:
And this, in a nutshell, is why Americans are fat. "Yeah, why would I walk fifteen minutes to get my buttercream-topped mediocre cupcake on, when I can drive there in five and double park? U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!!!1!!one!!!"

by EdTheRed on Jul 1, 2009 1:07 pm • linkreport

Warren from CakeLove posted a response on his blog.

http://blog.cakelove.com/?p=144

I think this issue might warrant it's own post here on GreaterGreaterWashington. It's not helpful for businesses (or anyone) to be posting quotes like this:

""driving is a fact of life of course and putting the cars someplace is something urban planners have to contend with if they want to support local business.""

by Jim Malone on Jul 1, 2009 1:12 pm • linkreport

Transit moves far more people.

I am trying to square this with the fact that those who use transit to commute are the (tiny) minority. (I understand that right now transit is almost maxed out.)

What am I missing?

by Jazzy on Jul 1, 2009 1:20 pm • linkreport

Richard, no need to be an elitist and force your views onto others. Just because you walk or bike doesn't mean everyone else has to. You do not have a right to tell others how to live.

by Mark on Jul 1, 2009 1:29 pm • linkreport

@Mark:
How do bottles from Arlington County end up in the Anacostia river? Gov't thrives by interfering with our lives.
You might have a point about trash from Arlington not flowing upstream to the Anacostia. But the last part's inaccurate.

This decision isn't "interfering" with private citizens' lives -- it's a decision about what county government can do. Arlington didn't ban bottles countywide, just from Arlington government.

by Gavin Baker on Jul 1, 2009 1:41 pm • linkreport

Mark, how is it not also elitist to presume people's lives to be planned around a piece of machinery that costs tens of thousands of dollars?

And I noticed you ignored the bit about bottles from Arlington ending up in the Potomac River? Why is this, because it was inconvenient to your point, or because you're still trolling?

by Daniel M. Laenker on Jul 1, 2009 1:49 pm • linkreport

On the other hand, I also want to say I agree with EdTheRed. Cakelove is pretty overrated. But whether I like them or not has very little to do with whether they want to enable their customers' sense of entitlement to block traffic.

Even if they do bulldoze a public building for the express purpose of making parking more convenient for them, it'll make 14th Street even more of a crazy slalom course for drivers. So nothing actually changes for driver safety in the end.

by Daniel M. Laenker on Jul 1, 2009 1:56 pm • linkreport

Just because you walk or bike doesn't mean everyone else has to. You do not have a right to tell others how to live.
So the alternative is to bulldoze a large office building and build a parking garage as an economic rent for a single business interest in the area because they have trouble thinking up ways top optimize their business model for the market they have and would rather change the character of the entire community to suit their needs?

Traffic jams are good. When you have a traffic jam (or place prone to traffic jams, you don't have the suburban (or any other) commuter using it as a cut through. The traffic is more local ... and the amount of cars on the road to people walking automatically balances itself out.
So we should sit in traffic and pollute up our own air in order to discourage other people from driving through our neighborhood? Talk about biting your nose to spite your face.

Think of places like Times Square. Part of the excitement of Times Square WAS the fact that it was jam packed with cars, pedestrians, and others ... Look at all the old photographs of it.
Most of the nostalgia for the "gritty" New York of the past comes from people who never had to give their kids $20 in "mugger money" in the mornings as they walked to school.

and, more importantly, they won't be using our streets and roads as merely thoroughfares to get them somewhere else.
I am a little confused as to how having parking garages in lieu of actual stuff to do is going to make people want to hang out here. How about we let people who want to go through go through and worry about enjoying our own neighborhood for what it is?

by PJ on Jul 1, 2009 2:14 pm • linkreport

PJ, what on Earth does "mugger money" have to do with traffic congestion and double-parking?

by Daniel M. Laenker on Jul 1, 2009 2:17 pm • linkreport

As a New York resident myself, I can say with some authority that even if the new Times Square is "Disneyfied," the old Times Square wasn't exactly great either. The nostalgia for the old strip joint center of times past is somewhat silly.

Remember even 1990s New York? Lots of it sucked. A lot.

Oh, and you can still get your yellow cab traffic jam in Times Square. Trust me, I get to walk by/drive through that hellhole all the time.

by Just Another Hack on Jul 1, 2009 2:31 pm • linkreport

PJ, what on Earth does "mugger money" have to do with traffic congestion and double-parking?
About as much as comparisons to 1980s Times Square have to do with aughties U Street.

Lance tried to evoke imagery from old pictures of Times Square to say that having more car traffic in the city is a good thing. Never mind that cars per capita in New York, even back then, were much fewer than it is in DC now. In fact, if you think the parking situation in DC is bad don't even bother going to Manhattan.

by PJ on Jul 1, 2009 2:42 pm • linkreport

I like the way Warren complains about Metro that among other things it is slow and it closes early. As someone who has lived in DC since before they built Metro, I can attest that Metro is much faster than the mammouth traffic jams that regularly clogged up downtown previous to 1975 if Warren wants to talk about "slow". And as for Metro closing "early" - yeah - I can't remember the last time I had an urge for a CakeLove cupcake and just couldn't go there because the Metro had already closed for the day. Right. What hours are you open again, Warren? Maybe we need to petition Metro to extend its hours to more closely comply with CakeLove's hours of operation

by Andy on Jul 1, 2009 3:16 pm • linkreport

I like how Warren cites as a limitation/weakness on metro's part that it doesn't go to National Harbor. !

by Bianchi on Jul 1, 2009 3:30 pm • linkreport

And besides, people have been complaining about car traffic through Times Square all the way back to the sepia-toned days that Lance is referring.

Having cars drive through a neighborhood is not a bad thing. They add eyes on the street and can improve the sense of safety. But there has to be a balance, and a rational analysis of what policies result in the most optimal outcomes, not which policies make it easier for one slice of the population who is tied to an unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle.

by Reid on Jul 1, 2009 3:31 pm • linkreport

As usual you amplify unsubstantiated BS. I guess your well is dry.

by wrenzi on Jul 1, 2009 3:36 pm • linkreport

Years ago when I arranged for the Reeves Center to be open to the public as a condition of Utopia and Coppi's coming to U Street, I would never have imagined a bakery would eventually demand the rest of the building as a parking garage. Whatever the quality of their baked goods, they do have the best huchspa.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 1, 2009 3:50 pm • linkreport

In all fairness, I don't think what the owner of Cake Love is arguing for is a parking garage for the bakery. What I'm reading ... and it makes a whole lot of sense to me ... is that the Reeves Center served its purpose as a stimulus to bring people back into an area that was the core of the burned out area from the 68 riots ... and that now that District-owned property could again be used as a catalyst for bringing 14th and U to that next step ... i.e., helping it become a center city area of more than just bars and restaurants. I.e., used as a parking garage, that District owned property could help the 14th and U Street area become a real 'center' with night and day uses. He gives downtown Bethesda row as a good example. I remember when Bethesda was strangling itself because of lack of parking. The planning folks there wisely rectified the situation by putting city owned parking garages in the middle of underused areas. (Note that these garages though not underground, are also not conspicuous. Anyone who's been up there lately knows how successful their endeveour was. Even for someone coming from DC, I find that area now a definite draw. Unlike some of our similar areas such as down around the Convention Center, I know when I drive up to Bethesda I'll have free parking on the weekends. And all else being equal, driving 10 mins to go downtown or 20 to go to Bethesda and not having to pay an extra $12 or so in parking money just to see a movie ... I'll end up in Betheda instead. They're definitely on to something smart. But then, they can probably afford to pay their planners more than we can.

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 5:33 pm • linkreport

as of today Bethesda raised their parking rates to $1 per hour, including weekends.
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dpktmpl.asp?url=/content/DOT/Parking/Bethesda/bethesda-rates.asp
car addicts are being driven further out i guess.
no.more.cars.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 1, 2009 6:24 pm • linkreport

Mark, I love that you think that I want to impose walking-biking-transit on people, which are efficient urban mobility modes, but that forcing non-drivers to subsidize automobility, and requiring car ownership to be able to get around relatively efficiently in most places, and suburbanizing the center city around the car isn't "social engineering."

It's sort of like how Barney Frank says conservatives against abortion believe in children from conception to the point of birth, and then they are on their own.

You can't have it both ways.

At least if you want to be able to call yourself intellectually honest.

As far as Warren Love goes, his ideas are pretty typical for small business owners. People on 8th Street SE used to say that the Eastern Market metro plaza should be converted into a parking lot. Just because he doesn't know his market and how to leverage an urban location doesn't mean that we should extend his lack of knowledge by doing what he said.

When I was a Main Street manager I used to say that one of the most important tools was either brass knuckles, a crowbar, or a 2x4 to use while "working" with merchants.

by Richard Layman on Jul 1, 2009 8:02 pm • linkreport

Richard- I can sure relate to the 2x4 comment over here. Places like the Black Cat, 9:30, and Town with capacities over 2000 each rely mostly on transit-oriented customers and hence create much less problems than a few much smaller bad apples that encourage automobile customers. Not surprisingly many of the customers who are the most obnoxious to neighbors are also the most obnoxious in the bars and really aren't worth the trouble. Initially owners will take the entitlement attitude but once they realize the jerks we complain about are also the jerks they hate too it's usually smooth sailing.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 1, 2009 8:46 pm • linkreport

My experience is that it has become as difficult to park in Bethesda, at least in the interesting parts, as it is around 14th and U (though it isn't Dupont or Georgetown yet). That is, you can usually find street parking no more than about twenty minutes' walk away from where you're going.

The parking garage experience there: drive all the way to the top, bumper-to-bumper, to discover that there are no open spaces (there is no indication _before_ you enter that the facility is full), awkwardly turn around on the top level, and drive bumper-to-bumper alll the way back down and out (past a steady parade of about-to-be-disappointed folks driving up -- hey, this _is_ keeping a few dozen more cars at any one time off the streets for fifteen or twenty minutes), and then pay through the nose for valet parking.

I'm sure we could replicate this in DC, but I'd just as soon leave it to the experts in Montgomery. (Experts in PR, that is, not in transportation.)

And I now take Metro when I have to go to Bethesda.

by david on Jul 1, 2009 8:58 pm • linkreport

"It's sort of like how Barney Frank says conservatives against abortion believe in children from conception to the point of birth, and then they are on their own."

I never quite understood this statement from Barney Frank. It makes little sense. It's really about parental responsibilty ... both before a birth and after a birth. I think those who would support Barney's statement tend to view all responsibility for all individuals (pre-birth and after-birth) as being "societal".

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 9:34 pm • linkreport

Back to 14 & U......I recall the bad old days of the 90s, when Union Row was a very good foreign car garage I used to patronize. The impact of the Reeves Center seemed negligible. Given the spread of the population, the idea of a branch city hall (a common post-riot approach) seemed mildly anachronistic. Then as now, neighborhood business was dependent on who lived in the neighborhood. The daytime businesses now are a hodgepodge of chain eateries, semi-hip places, furniture stores and a smattering of fast food and low end retail. None of it generates a lot of flow except around noon and commute times. The furniture stores generate out of neighborhood traffic, but not the other stuff and the furniture stores would leave if the rents hiked up too much--they need big, relatively cheap space. I'm not sure that a parking lot will stimulate something else. More likely it would be the normal evolution of the neighborhood that would do that and it could be that like 18th St in Adams-Morgan the daytime retail will wither rather than grow (despite having a big parking lot) or it could be Connecticut Avenue or 17th Street, which have a great deal of life through the day.

Cakelove predated the overpriced cupcake craze and might live beyond it, but they have a pretty unexceptional product and I'm not so sure I'd bother worrying how parking impacts on their business and live close enough to care.

by Rich on Jul 1, 2009 9:49 pm • linkreport

As far as Warren Love goes, his ideas are pretty typical for small business owners. People on 8th Street SE used to say that the Eastern Market metro plaza should be converted into a parking lot. Just because he doesn't know his market and how to leverage an urban location doesn't mean that we should extend his lack of knowledge by doing what he said.
My goodness, why doesn't Warren love open a store on 18th street in AM? He'd make all kinds of money. Better than another pizza slice place.

by Jazzy on Jul 1, 2009 9:56 pm • linkreport

You know, Richard, you might win more people over if you don't casually make statements about abortion in a transportation-related forum, or suggest that entrepreneurs only respond to the threat of physical violence.

Just saying.

by Daniel M. Laenker on Jul 2, 2009 12:36 am • linkreport

The first point, although I could have said it a different way, is how incredible it is that people utilize extremely circumscribed ways of thinking, in ways that are truly disconnected from a more holistic approach. It reminds me of how I would write papers in 10th or 11th grade, and quote only 1/2 of a sentence, because that supported my argument, whereas the entire sentence did not. (One of the reasons my own writings are long is that I never want someone to be able to respond "yes, but" not out of petulance, but with authority, because something I state is incomplete or wrong.)

The second was a joke referring to intransigent attitudes and communicating the depth of difficulty of having to deal with it.

I focus on linking theory to practice, and having practice generate theory-supported understandings. When you are mixed up in the doing, it's never easy.

by Richard Layman on Jul 2, 2009 7:06 am • linkreport

What U Street really needs is more bike parking and more space for pedestrians. The last thing it needs is more municipally subsidized parking structures.

by neb on Jul 2, 2009 9:00 am • linkreport

I know that often when faced with the decision of walking to a closer store (that doesn't have parking) or driving to one a bit farther (that does have parking), I'll often chose the former for two reasons. Firstly, I'd rather not wasted 15 mins walking somewhere when I can drive there in 5 mins, and secondly if you're out shopping you don't want to have to carry something back on foot.

Hmmm, I'm with Lance on this one. I never walk anywhere if it's possible to drive. Especially when I'm picking up massive quantities of cakes and baked goods to snarf down. I wish you all would let me snarf myself to death with cakes in a motorized wheelchair like a good middle American.

by ibc on Jul 2, 2009 2:47 pm • linkreport

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