The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Breakfast links: Good luck getting there

Photo by WMATA.
One more on Red, Orange: WMATA has expanded Red and Orange Line service to reach White Flint and East Falls Church. There's no change to bus service yet. Update: Most bus routes have now been restored.

What happens in a storm: A Columbia man stole a front loader to plow neighbors' driveways, and he wasn't the only one (Baltimore Sun) ... One Prince George's resident threatened a plow driver for not plowing his street yet (Post) ... Some shoppers found the Tenleytown Safeway open but unstaffed during the last storm, and a few took items and left money or IOUs; those who left IOUs will be getting a bill. (Post)

Privatization is magic!: The Examiner makes a ridiculous suggestion to privatize snowplowing, just because one company cleared a couple customers' driveways. Plus, it turns out private firms do much of DC's plowing in heavy storms. (RPUS, City Paper)

Cities, ewwww(ing): Former Montgomery County Councilmember Gail Ewing (Potomac) criticizes Smart Growth by trotting out many of the tired stereotypes about cities being crime-ridden and odd new stereotypes about having long lines. (Gazette)

Help Zipcar, make a few bucks: Zipcar is working hard to get their cars out of the snow, but could use a little help (and can pay). They write: "If you're snowed in and have flexibility with work, come shovel and get paid to have fun. Meet Friday, 2/12 [that's today] at 10:30 am at 403 8th Street, NW. $12/hour. Extra shovels welcome!!"

Just 1 foot left for 3-foot passing: HB1048, to require passing cyclists with 3 feet and disallow "following too close," made it out of the House Transportation Committee with a couple Republicans joining most Democrats. It now moves to its largest hurdle: the full House floor. Call your delegate. (VA Bicycling Federation, Gavin Baker)

Walkable, photographable New York: Mayor Bloomberg has made the pedestrianized Broadway in Times and Herald Squares permanent (Streetsblog) ... A man unlawfully arrested for taking photos in the subway won a $30,000 judgment. (2nd Ave. Sagas)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
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 daughter in Dupont Circle. 


Add a comment »

12/hr to shovel snow? you got to be kidding me.
there is a lot more money to be made out there than that.

you can shovel out three rowhouses in an hour, and make closer to 40-60.

by a on Feb 12, 2010 8:56 am • linkreport

I live at Twinbrook. Hopefully that will open soon too. Considering most of the line between Twinbrook and White Flint is underground I would think it wouldn't be too far behind. They've terminated trains at Twinbrook before, so presumably they have the necessary track-switching equipment there.

by Andy R on Feb 12, 2010 10:00 am • linkreport

Re: $30k settlement for taking pictures of the subway - you left out the best part: As the news was filming the story about the guy who was arrested for taking pictures, a "transit supervisor" came up the news crew, put his hand over the cameras and told them to leave. Once they explained they were from the news he backed off, saying he didn't know they were "working press."

Anyway, good for this guy (a normal guy who just likes taking pictures of trains) getting a settlement for this kind of harassment.

by c on Feb 12, 2010 10:04 am • linkreport

Is anybody surprised that plowing is outsourced? Governments barely do anything themselves anymore. Everything is being outsourced. The only thing left for the government to do is to govern the contracts. And boy do they need many people to do that.

by Jasper on Feb 12, 2010 10:17 am • linkreport

Just a general gripe, at Constitution and 1st street NE, across the street from the senate office buildings on Capitol Hill, the Reserve Officers Association of the US didn't shovel anything at all. Amid wide open sidewalks that the AOC cleared with backhoes, there's just a V-shaped trench through the snow that large crowds of people are trying to tip-toe through.

by Steve S on Feb 12, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

A metro train derailed at 10:13am

by Michael Rogers on Feb 12, 2010 11:07 am • linkreport

Gail Ewing's critique of smart growth is as predicted and tired as one would expect.

However, the point that she raises about smart-growth and housing for families is valid.

Young people and empty nesters have lots of options in the smart growth boom. Less fortunate families have certain options open to them. But families who make a decent income don't have a lot of choices in the newer, smarter construction.

I know that jurisdictions prefer tax-generators, and that kids cost money to educate, but it is very frustrating to those of us who aren't 28 or 70 and want to do what's right.

by mch on Feb 12, 2010 11:16 am • linkreport

But families who make a decent income don't have a lot of choices in the newer, smarter construction.

I'm not sure I agree with you - but I don't yet have kids. Can you explain this a little more?

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 12, 2010 11:19 am • linkreport


I guess it means if you want a gigantic house with a lawn then you don't have much in the way of smart growth choices.

Snark aside, I guess it is true that smart growth is more desirable for people who have more compact living requirements.

by MLD on Feb 12, 2010 12:57 pm • linkreport

@Neil, MLD...

If a McMansion's what you're after you'll be spoiled for choice since no one seems to want one anymore. These places will still get built in the current economic environment but at a slower pace. With prices down 60% in the NOVA exurbs, subdividing farms will make a whole lot less sense.

Otherwise, I don't see why you can't have it all wrt smart growth. It's not as if the choice is always PW County vs. Dupont Circle; there's a lot of in-between. Many developments have amenities that are perfect for families at every stage. This blog always posts articles on the benefits of walkable neighborhoods for kids, teens and adults. Sure you might want a bigger house with more private space but that doesn't mean it needs to be on a cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere.

Housing for middle-class families seems like the logical next step in smart-growth development. If there's not a market for it yet, there will be soon enough as all these young couples living in the city are probably not ready to abandon urban amenities for a place in the burbs. The places where demand for housing is greatest shows that we're in a full-on backlash against suburban expansion. Where there's more demand for walkable/transit-oriented/infill development, more will get built. Though cooperative local governments and reform of urban public schools would certainly help that along...

by c on Feb 12, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

photo of the plows WMATA rigs to the front of its maintenance trains to "plow" tracks:


A photo of the jet powered snow blower MTA uses to clear tracks in New York:

It would be great to see a post about what equipment is available compared with what metro has.

How much does a jet powered snow blower cost? How much track can it clear per hour?

by Mike on Feb 12, 2010 1:44 pm • linkreport

With regards to housing choices I think that is because a lot of smart growth (especially in this region) is happening in the more urbanized areas where it doesn't make sense to build single family homes near high traffic metro stations. Out in Fairfax though there are plenty of things that could be done in the name of smart growth that integrates single family homes. And there is the simple fact that most lots are too large and use space poorly anyway.

by Canaan on Feb 12, 2010 1:44 pm • linkreport

And after reading the article by Ms. Ewing I'm shocked at some of her reasoning. She thinks smart can be bad because the government is saving money.

I think her point is exemplified by her final line "It is ironic that for all these years, elected officials and planners have talked about cleaning up urban areas because the environment is so bad. Today, we are also making room for more people to have that urban experience by creating more urban areas."

Ms. Ewing, there is a difference between cleaning urban areas and using better policy for maintaining sustainible growth.

by Canaan on Feb 12, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

But families who make a decent income don't have a lot of choices in the newer, smarter construction.

It means that you can't live in a moderate single-family house with enough yard for children and a garden, in a close-in, non-car-dependent neighborhood, with public schools where the children can reasonably be expected to get a good education without substantial extra parental time and effort, unless you have a lot of money. Or at least you couldn't, based on what we knew about the area, when we were looking for a place to live. Which explains why we live in the sticks. And which shows, as Cavan often points out, that demand for such houses exceeds supply.

by Miriam on Feb 12, 2010 2:29 pm • linkreport


You ask a good question. Mostly, as a parent, I'm looking for the same things everyone else is looking for (walkability, good mass transit, diversity of buildings, etc.) What, besides the things that everyone else is looking for, makes (or would make) smart growth developments attractive to parents?

I haven't paid a lot of detailed attention to new smart developments as I'm generally quite happy with where I live (Capitol Hill). But, in general, these are things I would look at if we chose to move.

1. Space. I'm not talking McMansion (and wouldn't want it if offered), but a 1 bedroom isn't enough for families, and even a two bedroom is strecthing it. I know some people that raise kids in a two bedroom apartment, and many more that have tried it, but it's pretty tough. It's not really a question of square footage, but rather seperate spaces to preserve some sanity. My kids are small now, but I imagine it's going to be even more important as they grow to teenage years.
2. Interior walls - Sound like a small point, but you need good soundproofing. Kids are loud (and I wish to God they weren't) but they are. Whether it's a row house or an apartment, you don't want your screaming baby waking up your neighbors, nor do I want my next door neighbors's party waking up the baby that finally went down. Courtesy is required in urban living, but sound construction makes it easier.
3. Park space - With small or non-existent lawns, you need programed playground areas for small kids as well open areas for older kids sports (and adults as well). Parks are critical "third places" where a sense of community develops.
4. Schools - walking distance (elementary) and good quality. No brainer
5. Retail - No different than anyone else, but quick and easy access to grocery stores go from a nice to have to a critical requirement real quickly with kids.
6. Yards - I could actually get by without my yard, except for having a dog. Taking a two year old and a five year old out in a rainstorm every time the dog needs a walk would get old. A yard, however small, very much enhances the quality of life with kids.

All in all, the "development" I live in is very conducive to raising kids. My section of the Hill was built in the early twenties as a mass development, and it shows how the modern smart growth movement doesn't have far to look to build new housing conducive to a range of households, be they singles, families, or senior citizens.

by TimK on Feb 12, 2010 2:38 pm • linkreport

I was wondering why I saw white people shoveling out zipcars this morning, now I think I understand.

by Josh on Feb 12, 2010 5:01 pm • linkreport

Heh, I was at a rite aid in california last week with not a single employee to be found. I was about to grab an item and pass it by the security detectors by the front door in the hopes that someone would come, but I finally spotted an employee being useless in the back

by J on Feb 12, 2010 9:08 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us