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Breakfast links: Keeping people from getting hit

Photo by pinelife.
Marlene is making Conn. Ave safer: The Examiner interviews Marlene Berlin, who leads IONA Senior Services' pedestrian advocacy initiative and is kicking off a study of ped safety on Connecticut Avenue.

Live in Ward 6? Walk?: Apply for DC's Pedestrian Advisory Council, which will soon be created. Councilmember Tommy Wells is requesting applications for the Ward 6 representative. I'll follow up when other Councilmembers start considering their appointments.

Seattleites, panhandler rescue woman on tracks: When a woman's wheelchair malfunctioned and she fell off the platform at Union Station onto the Metro tracks last week, two tourists and a panhandler notified the station manager, climbed down to help the woman up, and retrieved her chair. (Post)

That's some delay: A MetroAccess driver stranded three people, including a 90-year-old woman, on a vehicle for five hours. WMATA officials won't yet talk about what happened. (Examiner)

Spelunking below Dupont: Community leaders and reporters including Katherine Shaver got to tour the old trolley tunnels under Dupont Circle. Arts groups are still interested in bidding for the space. (Post)

Also in the DC Council: Council committees discussed simplifying DC's corporate tax laws to make the District more friendly to small businesses, while students and civil liberties advocates disagreed about "safety zones" that would increase penalties for crimes committed near schools or transit stops. (WBJ, Examiner)

Poverty becoming a suburban problem: A new Brookings Institution report finds that poverty is growing at a faster rate in suburbs than in central city cores. (WBJ)

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


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Safety zones are insane. The location of a robbery, rape or assault does not change the crime.

by Jasper on Jan 22, 2010 9:44 am • linkreport

Now if we could just lower our corporate income tax rate from the ridiculous 10% (9.975% to be exact) to compete with Virginia's 6.0% or at least compete with Maryland's 8.25%.

by Eric F. on Jan 22, 2010 9:51 am • linkreport

dc is way punitive when it comes to business taxes and onerous small business regulations that take too much time and money from regular dynamic entrepeneurs - and then they wind up leaving for virginia or Maryland.

by w on Jan 22, 2010 9:51 am • linkreport

RE Dupont Underground: If it's already a full circle, why not turn it into an underground Velodrome, similar to (minus the wide open space in the middle). This would go well with a bike station, similar to Union Station, and would provide a unique sports venue for DC cyclists. You could even run races like the Red Bull Mexico City race (

by Scott on Jan 22, 2010 10:20 am • linkreport

I'm not so negative on safety zones. The existing concepts seem reasonably well tailored. For example, drugs around schools. Drug sales are bad, but it's particularly pernicious near a school, where it may well be preying on school kids or at least exposing them to dangers of which they're not even aware (pretty sure I would be more likely to realize a deal is going down, and steer clear, than an 8 year old.)

Indeed, it's not terribly different from having higher fines for speeding in school zones, which is easy to justify because the risk of accidents are higher there.

But I agree that expansion without careful consideration is a bit silly.

by ah on Jan 22, 2010 10:21 am • linkreport

Scott: It's not a full circle. See the map on the Post page. It's 2 semicircles that connect to long tunnels which then join up at the far ends. You could bike around in a long loop, but would have to make a very tight turn at the far ends.

The Connecticut Avenue vehicular underpass is what's in the middle and why the circular parts don't connect.

by David Alpert on Jan 22, 2010 10:27 am • linkreport

Typical autos, interfering with potential cycling facilities. Oh well, it was a nice idea while it lasted. Perhaps someone could apply for a few million in stimulus funds and fund an underpass to cross Ct. Ave. If anything, it would make cycling across Dupont Circle much easier than crossing multiple intersections at rush hour.

by Scott on Jan 22, 2010 10:30 am • linkreport

@ W and Eric F.

DC has to pay the bills. If we could simply tax the personal incomes of out of state commuters, the corporate income tax as well of DCs other onerous taxes (eg. restaurant, property) might be reduced.

by Steve S on Jan 22, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

Darn it, David! Why do you have to crush the new hope and vision Scott provided with a dose of reality? ;-)


by EZ on Jan 22, 2010 10:59 am • linkreport

While it's easy to scapegoat the commuter-tax prohibition, neither Virginia nor Maryland tax commuters to their states yet they still have lower corporate tax rates. We already tax commuters somewhat with our 6% sales and 10% restaurant taxes (which, unfortunately, also apply to city residents).

The problem with the current corporate tax rate is that it results in the ad hoc abatements to groups like CoSTAR and now possibly Northrop Grumman, which are large and well-connected, while smaller companies don't get such special treatment. A small company can just move to Virginia and get the 6% rate by right, whereas in DC it requires lobbying the Council and mayor for a tax abatement.

by Eric F. on Jan 22, 2010 11:35 am • linkreport

Correction: Maryland has a "non-resident" income tax rate of 1.25 percent.

But the point special treatment through abatements still stands.

by Eric F. on Jan 22, 2010 11:44 am • linkreport

The lack of commuter taxes in the DC/MD/VA metropolitan area is a facially neutral policy with a seriously disparate impact. The overwhelming majority of commuters are coming from the suburbs into DC. (Consider, all the flex-lanes, to include all five lanes of Rock Creek Parkway, favor the regular commuting pattern.) VA and MD might not tax a few thousand reverse commuters from DC but the district is still getting the fuzzy end of the sucker by a long way.

by Steve S on Jan 22, 2010 11:53 am • linkreport

VA and MD might not tax a few thousand reverse commuters from DC but the district is still getting the fuzzy end of the sucker by a long way.

Perhaps, but generally you are taxed where you live as a first position. If you work somewhere else and are subject to tax because you work there, generally you can deduct the income taxes already paid to your state from the amount owed to the second state, meaning you roughly pay the difference in what the two taxes would be. So the way DC "wins" in that situation is that it can absorb any increment its taxes would call for, and of course drive away many commuters who would be annoyed with having to pay an extra tax and fill out two tax returns.

by ah on Jan 22, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

Steve S - I dont know how long that you have lived here- but I was born here and I can still recall , as a boy, when DC didn't have the huge city bureaucracy we have now- many of them freeloaders still in place from the Barry era, who are deadwood.

At one time DC actually had the LOWEST taxes in the 5 state region- and all kinds of shoppers would flood the downtown on weekends and holidays. Many would come to DC to buy cigarettes and booze- which was alot cheaper or downright tax free in some cases. I still recall going downtown in DC as a kid with my mother & grandmother- and all of the little stores and businesses. When Walter Washington, barry & Kelly came in, they put up huge tax increases and they drove much of our business out of the city- including a very vibrant mom& pop store culture [ they were mostly Jews & Greeks- and they lived above their stores].

Of course- people who have just moved to DC know very little about the REAL history of this place and they always assume that what we have now is the way it has always been.


by w on Jan 22, 2010 12:50 pm • linkreport

Eric F- you are basically correct.

DC has consistently ranked at the dead bottom in national surveys of business/ entreprenural environments.

The urge to tax the hell out of regular wage earners
[ while simultaneously giving out bennies to the Lerner family and major sports and big national chain enterprises]

has driven much of the vitality out of the city that was once here. All that you have to do is to walk in any old city neighborhood and you will see how many houses used to be real stores not even 50 years ago. the city has done ZERO to forster small business which is the real backbone of this country and of all cities. They give out tax money away to big shots who are not even residents of this city- in particular- these onerous and nonregulated tax increment financing sweetheart deals - while old time restaurants [ yes- there actually are MUCH OLDER restaurants than Ben's Chili Bowl] get squeezed and shut their doors.

Now it is is bookstores, bike shops, hardware stores- the important businesses that are closing.

Why is the city government so slow or reluctant to act?

BECAUSE THEY ARE ON THE TAKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by w on Jan 22, 2010 12:58 pm • linkreport

I believe two things:

The total taxes paid by Virginia, Maryland and DC residents is not really that different once you factor in real estate and car taxes etc.

Second, I think over time as the grey belt of suburban poverty grows and gentrification turns DC more and more into Manhattan, demographically, the tax burden will grow much more in VA and MD relative to DC.

by Reid on Jan 22, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

Reid- this is already beginning to happen.

You are thinking ahead and being perceptive !!

by w on Jan 22, 2010 1:08 pm • linkreport

I agree with Jasper. The idea of a safety zone is ridiculous. The entire city should be a safety zone.

Incidentally, a sign on a nearby school ominously prohibits alcohol consumption within 1000 feet, a distance which happens to include my living room and back porch, where I am wont to hang out and drink beer...

by Ward 1 Guy on Jan 22, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

@w--the decline of downtown happened in every urban area starting slowly from the 50s and picking up steam in the 60s & 70s. DC could have remained a Congressional colony and this would have happened. Businesses locate where people are and nothing stays vacant for long in all but the truly poor areas of DC.

by Rich on Jan 22, 2010 8:49 pm • linkreport

They are trying to turn dc into disneyland. I only patronize local business.

by shamus on Jan 23, 2010 11:47 pm • linkreport

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