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Breakfast links: Council politics to development politics

Weaver's ad: Bryan Weaver, who is challenging Jim Graham for Ward 1 rep on the DC Council, has a really fun video riffing on Paul Wellstone's famous 1990 ad. At the end, Weaver stands in front of Graham's yellow VW bug convertible and talks about how he rides Metro, a not so subtle dig at the common criticism of the incumbent. (DCist)

Kwame drowning in debt: Kwame Brown's fiscal trouble is more serious than previously reported, Mike DeBonis discovers. Brown is over $700,000 in debt, including a boat which he's now trying to sell, and 3 credit card issuers have sued him to collect unpaid bills. But Vincent Orange isn't much of an alternative. (Post)

Metro morsels: Riders are speaking up against "seat hogs" ... Metro has graphed bus speeds to try to streamline routes ... Dr. Gridlock discusses recent escalator woes, which one union says they can fix. (Post)

More highways: Despite having little money for infrastructure, Montgomery DOT just won't stop planning new highways. They're now studying extending the Midcounty Highway, and one route would cut right through a meditation retreat center. (Post)

Tysons vs. whom?: Tysons' future growth will probably come at the expense of farther-out communities, not DC and inner areas like Arlington, experts say. (Capital Business) ... Speaking of farther-out communities, there's a public forum today on development around Herndon's future Metro station. (Post)

Cooler buildings: Forget silly arguments about abolishing air conditioning. Roger Lewis discusses how to design buildings to maximize the efficiency of air conditioning and reduce the need. (Post)

In development, or not: Unions are sure to oppose Wal-Mart coming to DC, and Mike DeBonis clarifies that only "large tract review," a usually-cursory approval process, would stand in the store's way ... Skadden, Arps won't move to CityCenter DC, further confounding efforts to sell out the long-delayed development. (Post)

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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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Wow, I never thought I'd see the day that Skadden Arps is standing in the way of someone selling out.

by tom veil on Jul 19, 2010 9:43 am • linkreport

Hmm, I'm usually a stickler for Metro etiquette and I'd never heard of "seat hogs" before. Standing of the left and crowding the door are hanging offenses, as far as I'm concerned, but having to stand? If you're not elderly or infirm, who cares? Maybe it's a suburban thing, just move to DC, then you won't need to sit down.

by Steve S on Jul 19, 2010 9:46 am • linkreport

@Steve S

I don't think it's about having to stand, it's about having to stand when there are available seats that people would rather use for their bags.

by Alex B. on Jul 19, 2010 9:52 am • linkreport

seathogs: I don't understand why that rider was so timid. Why didn't she just say "excuse me" and either wait expectantly for the other person to scoot over or climb over him/her if s/he didn't scoot, and then "accidentally" smacking the peron in the head with her elbow or bag if she was forced to climb over.

by Bianchi on Jul 19, 2010 9:53 am • linkreport

I've come to the conclusion that everybody should endeavor to sit down in Metro if possible. I don't care how able-bodied you are feeling, if you are standing up you are most likely going to slow down several people as the exit the train during your ride. It's a ripple effect that causes longer platform stops and doors closing on other riders.

And yes, riders to need to learn to be more assertive.

by Lou on Jul 19, 2010 10:12 am • linkreport

Is it so hard to say "Excuse me, could you please move your bag so I can sit down?" That's not "confrontation" -- it's a polite request.

I routinely put my bag on the seat next to me. Most of the time, the train is empty enough that no one wants that seat. But if someone wants to sit there, all that person needs to do is ask, and I'll move the bag.

I used to move my bag anytime I noticed someone standing. But most of the time when I did that, the person didn't take the open seat. So now I don't bother. But if the person does want that seat, they can ask.

It's also really stupid to have a rule that says you can never put your bag on a seat. If the train is empty, why not put a bag on a seat? Of course, putting your feet on a seat, or putting a wet umbrella on a seat, or something like that, should be against the rules. But even with those things, there are higher priorities: first, go after the folks who eat on the train and leave their trash behind, the teenagers who play loud music without headphones or who aggressively ask passengers for money. In a typical week of commuting, I see all of those things, all of which are already against the rules, and all of which are a much bigger deal than a "seat hog."

by Rob on Jul 19, 2010 10:14 am • linkreport


I don't think it's unreasonable to put bags on seats, but I've seen people do this in the middle of rush hour, not if there's just a few people standing in the car.

Sure, you can always just ask. I guess the larger point is that you shouldn't have to. The societal rules for etiquette exist for a reason, they help things run more smoothly in places like the Metro - stand on the right, walk on the left, for example.

by Alex B. on Jul 19, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

@Rob, +1.

There are a remarkable number of riders who never take the seat once you make it available to be courteous.

by Matt Glazewski on Jul 19, 2010 10:21 am • linkreport

Some "seat hogs" cannot move over if they are sitting on the outside because the seats are so close together that they need to set on the outside to fit their legs in. I'm 6ft4in and its a tight squeeze. That said, I always try to let others know that the seat is available.

by SJE on Jul 19, 2010 10:24 am • linkreport

Why, when trying to think of easy Monday copy that could be written days ahead of time, did the Post decide to write about "seat hogs," of all phenomena? I, for one, find it extremely annoying when people sit/stand in the middle of the car and don't start moving until the train is at their stop. Then they push through everybody else on the train, demanding "excuse me!" as they work toward the door. Meanwhile, I just got on a few stops ago, so I'm standing closer to the door than you, and I just got six rude people pushing at me from different directions.

Worst offenders: people getting off at Farragut North in the morning. If your stop is coming up, please, make an effort to get near the door.

(By the way, no, I don't think the Post should write about this issue either. I think most of these annoyances aren't worth stories.)

by Tim on Jul 19, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

Yes, seat hoggers are annoying. But so are people who whine that they're too shy to address seat hoggers. This is America man! If you don't speak up, you never get anything.

BTW: There is a pretty decent explanation for seat hogging: personal bubbles. In transit, one often ends up with too many people in their personal bubble. This is unpleasant, yet pretty unavoidable. Seat hoggers are defending their personal space. Note, this is not a justification of seat hogging.

Speaking of metro etiquette. Can we make it etiquette to not bother people entering of exiting metro? No, I don't want your newspapers and flyers. Nor do I care about your charity or political course. I want to go to work, or to dinner.

Roger Lewis +1. energy efficiency can be mandated in building codes. Solar power, solar boilers, planted roofs, white roofs, insulation, sanitary waterless urinals. It all exists. Since we all share scarce energy, it is not unreasonable to mandate that everyone tries to save some. Mandate energy efficiency for new and retrofitted buildings. Include a mandated calculation of saved energy and dollars. Post those.

by Jasper on Jul 19, 2010 10:29 am • linkreport

Has metro made the "graphed bus speeds" public anywhere? Couldn't find it from the wapo article or the wmata site.

by ChrisB on Jul 19, 2010 10:34 am • linkreport

Aisle seats are more comfortable (at least for tall people) than window seats. I don't think it's unreasonable, if I was there first, to take the aisle seat. That's not "hogging". If someone wants the window seat, all they have to do is motion or indicate they want me to let them in.

by David desJardins on Jul 19, 2010 10:37 am • linkreport

I don't think Kwame Brown can recover from this latest revelation. Orange will pound him on it, as well he should. I haven't paid enough attention to this race. If Orange "isn't much of an alternative" then what should we do? Are we just doomed?

by wreckfish on Jul 19, 2010 10:48 am • linkreport

Questions about Tysons development. I am 100% in favor of transforming Tysons into a transit-oriented, walkable urban set of neighborhoods--doing so will definitely improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the area. However, I have recently been thinking about whether this will just encourage additional sprawl.

Rather than locating businesses in a downtown core, we are creating multiple job centers further and further away from the city. Does each center, in turn, push people further away? Or, is there evidence that people flock to these satellite centers? Ultimately, the real estate and rents in these areas will also go up and push people away. For example, there was another article in the Post today about how the Tysons car dealers are all relocating to Chantilly. Will the Chantilly corridor just become the next Tysons Corner?

We're not creating true urban environments. NYC, for example, has rows of car dealers along Park Avenue, with multi-story display decks and windows. Why not create an "auto district" within Tysons that has similar displays and conveniences? If I live in Arlington, I will not want to drive all the way out to Ashburn just to buy a car. Perhaps the point is that if you live in a walkable environment, you won't need a car to begin with. But it just seems like we are continuing a cycle of sprawl and suburban retrofitting.

by Nick J. on Jul 19, 2010 11:05 am • linkreport

? I, for one, find it extremely annoying when people sit/stand in the middle of the car and don't start moving until the train is at their stop. Then they push through everybody else on the train, demanding "excuse me!" as they work toward the door. Meanwhile, I just got on a few stops ago, so I'm standing closer to the door than you, and I just got six rude people pushing at me from different directions.

You've got this exactly backwards. When you get on a train, and you've got a ways to go until you're stop, you make your way to the center of the car; you don't grab the pole as close to the door as possible, and hug it like your life depended on it.

There's always plenty of room in the middle of the car, but folks are unwilling to move in, because they don't want to lose their prime real estate by the doors. To blame the folks who are trapped by such rude behavior is a little oblivious.

by oboe on Jul 19, 2010 11:21 am • linkreport

isn't some sort of passive cooling part of LEED certification?

@NickJ; what you may be missing is the connection between development and car dealers. They are large local landlords who buy a lot of cheap land. Being family owned, they like to turn that into something more usable in 40-50 years. Longer time scale than if corporate owned. Also, their business is portable; cars are a large enough investment that you tend to seek out retail option, and not shop at the closest car dealer.

The numbers of Tysons's rent raise the issue of why anyone would take their business to Tysons once rents go up. It isn't the best corporate destination -- it is a good retail destination. But business goes to Tysons because it is cheap, not because it is good. I'm sure once metro goes there it will be a bit better, but honestly wouldn't you still want to be in Reston rather than Tysons?

by charlie on Jul 19, 2010 11:22 am • linkreport


I think that comment was more talking about people who are sitting in the middle of the car and don't get to to head to the doors until the train has come to a complete stop at their destination.

Instead, someone could get up out of their seat the stop before and start making their way towards the door.

If people don't do that, you end up with the situation where most of the people get off the train, and then new riders try to get on - and there's that one person who's late and still trying to get off, fighting against the flow of people trying to get on.

by Alex B. on Jul 19, 2010 11:25 am • linkreport

@wreckfish There's talk of a write-in campaign, which actually seems pretty plausible at this point given just how awful the two candidates are. Not sure if any candidate has stepped up to the plate just yet.

And, damn. If Bryan Weaver's ad isn't a home-run, I don't know what is.

by andrew on Jul 19, 2010 11:25 am • linkreport

All this and nobody brings up the benefits of longitudinal seating? I'm only 6' tall and my knees feel like the caps have been scraped off by my metro rides. Longitudinal seating would let everybody sit comfortably but not 'hog' adjacent seats, leave more space in the aisles for people to occupy and still have room to walk around when the exit approaches. Combined with 4-door cars and it's a big gain for small money when refurbing cars or buying new ones.

I think Matt Johnson told us that 3-door 7000 series cars with longitudinal seats would have us lose less than 10% of current seat counts.

Longitudinal seating FTW as far as I'm concerned.

by HM on Jul 19, 2010 11:27 am • linkreport

Seathoggers are annoying, but people should just learn to speak up and ask.

What's far more annoying are several other behaviors people have brought up here.
- Sitting in your seat in the middle of the packed train until the doors open at your stop, then having to rush up and plow through people to get out.
- Standing in the doorway or taking three steps into the car and then stopping when 67,000 other people are trying to get on.
- People wearing backpacks who insist on not moving to the middle and try to squeeze aside to let people by, but still manage to block the entire aisle with their backpack.

by MLD on Jul 19, 2010 11:31 am • linkreport

@Tim and @MLD
I disagree with the complaint about people not heading for the door until the train reaches their stop. By this reasoning, it's okay for touron families to cluster near the doors as soon as they get on at Ballston and stay there until they reach Smithsonian. This philosophy is also why people insist on standing while seats go unoccupied -- because they're getting off "in a few stops."

Getting out of your seat or leaving your spot in the aisle "early" will force others to stand or let go of their handholds while the train is still moving, which they shouldn't have to do.

I don't make someone move until the train stops because I don't want to put them at risk of falling (the trains are jerkiest as they approach a stop). Yes, it means that I have to move faster to get off, but people who are standing in the aisles and near the doors should understand that. You can't always get on a train, but you get always get off one.

by Banksy on Jul 19, 2010 11:34 am • linkreport

The difficult bit for Vincent Orange is that the most votes he's ever gotten is 15000 (a suspiciously exact number but it does come from BOEE) in the 2002 General election for Ward 5 council; when he ran for mayor in 2006 he got a whopping 3075 votes city-wide. Kwame Brown, on the other hand, had the fortune to win an uncontested Democratic re-nomination in 2008 (with 35348 votes) and then was on the same ballot in the city-wide election that also featured Barack Obama for president. Turnout was large and Kwame Brown got 172272 votes.

It's a huge advantage when 172000 people have voted for you already in recent memory, going up against someone for whom only 15000 people have voted, all in a single ward, some eight years ago.

by thm on Jul 19, 2010 11:44 am • linkreport

I really enjoyed the Bryan Weaver ad. I'm a ward 1 resident, and I'll probably go ahead and vote for Graham, but the ad made me curious.

Also, I'm surprised anyone thinks Kwame's debt is going to result in real problems for him come September. There's no way Orange beats him and the filing deadline has passed. He'll win going away. Hopefully, he'll use the big pay raise to settle his credit card debt.

by jcm on Jul 19, 2010 11:44 am • linkreport

Midcounty Highway is an essential roadway to complement the development of the I-270 corridor cities. It has been planned for decades as the "Eastern Arterial" to serve development east of I-270, much like Great Seneca Highway (AKA Western Arterial) supported development west of I-270, including Science City and much of Kentlands and Germantown. Completing Midcounty Highway will provide a direct connection from Clarksburg to the ICC, bypassing I-270 and relieving local traffic. It supports the planned employment in the Germantown Master Plan and will also encourage the redevelopment of the Lakeforest area in Gaithersburg which has been long planned as a highrise commerical district. In addition, the complementing bikeway will link the ICC trail to all the major trail systems in Upper Montgomery County allowing for improved non-auto mobility. The east side of I-270 has seen little development for over a decade since the completion of Montgomery Village while the west side has seen fantastic developments in Kentlands and Germantown. With the completion of this master-planned road network, an informal beltway around the corridor cities will be created, and the balance of development will again shift to the center with redevelopment in Olde Towne, Montgomery Village Town Center, and Lakeforest. Midcounty Highway will complement the CCT and is a priority infrastructure project for Upper Montgomery County, which has seen disinvestment on the part of the County government which has focused resources Downcounty and East County, where the County has basically upgraded every road in the US 29 corridor. Greenfield development occuring in Clarksburg is based on the notion that Midcounty Highway would be completed from Clarksburg to the ICC. We cannot allow East County politicians such as Leggett starve essential infrastrucutre projects in Upper Montgomery County.

by Cyrus on Jul 19, 2010 11:49 am • linkreport

Seat-hoggers are nothing compared to short wet-haired snubby mademoiselles and suitcase carrying suits clustering around the poles who are SO freaking concentrated on that "Express", they don't have a remote idea they are blocking everything. Can't you just wait until it gets less crowded or reach your office?

by Anders on Jul 19, 2010 11:59 am • linkreport

Thanks for linking to the Weaver ad. THat was awesome. Not sure if I'll vote for him, but definitely will give him a look. For me, seeing him standing in front of the stalled Bowen YMCA project and criticizing Graham's awful abatements for Perseus (without naming anyone) was powerful. I hope they clean up that mess of an abandoned lot on W between 13th and 14th.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jul 19, 2010 12:26 pm • linkreport

...the complementing bikeway will link the ICC trail to all the major trail systems in Upper Montgomery County allowing for improved non-auto mobility.

Except the ICC bike trail will not be built. The road itself is too expensive, so there's no money, plus, according to the powers that be, the bike trail is too environmentally destructive. Funny, right?

by kinverson on Jul 19, 2010 12:51 pm • linkreport

I for one find the Kwame Brown debt to be can someone run up debt of that amount and be put in charge of overseeing a city. This speaks volumes about his organizational skills, competence, priorities, and frankly intelligence. Don't you think it puts him at incredible risk of being susceptible to bribes??!! This is an outrageous revelation and should disqualify him from winning if the voters have any brains and if the media will focus the attention this deserves.

by Bill on Jul 19, 2010 1:19 pm • linkreport

As a very tall person myself, I have to say I find the complaints from other somewhat tall people here to be BS. Suck it up, people. Take a seat, any seat, and don't hang your legs, bags, etc in the aisle. Extremely annoying. Got on a train once and some Neanderthal has his legs spread like he's about to give birth - moving toward the center of the car, I (truly) accidentally knocked his knee pretty hard since the car was crowded and I didn't expect anyone would situate themselves that way. On the way out I (somewhat) accidentally stepped on his foot. It's PUBLIC transportation, doofus!

by Josh S on Jul 19, 2010 1:33 pm • linkreport

I remember when I first got to Washington, and seeing window seats free (even if someone was on the aisle) and thinking "WINDOW SEAT!" I was so excited I took it, even if I only had two stops to go (we're talking buses here of course). To some extent, I still have that excitement. Window seats rock.

by Jazzy on Jul 19, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

@ Jazzy: Oh, the view from the window seats in metro.... The many shades of dark grey concrete... The fantastic views on overused interstates and underused railroads... And all that without any obstruction of overhead wires!

by Jasper on Jul 19, 2010 3:53 pm • linkreport

@Bill. I'm reserving judgment on this Brown business. Is there any evidence that this has affected his work on the Council? He didn't get over 172,000 votes by being a bad council member. Considering the article didn't give any indication that Brown himself has engaged in overspending city funds, this remains a personal fault not a political one. I do think failure to pay city taxes on time (see Michael Brown, Marion Barry) is outrageous and worth considering at the voting booth.

by Tmichaels on Jul 19, 2010 4:43 pm • linkreport


"Except the ICC bike trail will not be built. The road itself is too expensive, so there's no money, plus, according to the powers that be, the bike trail is too environmentally destructive. Funny, right?"

That is not accurate. The most significant parts of the ICC trail are currently being constructed by SHA including segments. These segments will link up with existing or planned shared use paths along nearby roads that is part of the comprehensive ICC trail plan. The most significant gaps are at Northwest Branch where the Parks Department will construct a trail to fill in the gap, including an extension of the Matthew Henson Trail. The other major gap is at Paint Branch where a future park trail may be located along the ICC to complete the ICC trail. Building major trail projects is very costly and sometimes has to be done in phases. This is how the ICC Trail will be completed. Remember that is was the environmental activists and other anti-highway groups that killed the ICC Trail.

by Cyrus on Jul 19, 2010 5:32 pm • linkreport

Seathogs, never been an issue that i've seen -- speak up. I've politely told, not asked, many a one of those that i'm going to sit there, and have always been able to sit.

Bigger problem are people crowding doors and blocking passageways in the cars -- them i don't talk to aside from a pointed 'excuse me' as i shove through, and i pointedly step on the toes of anyone standing in a doorway when i'm entering or exiting a train car. Step out of the train and back on if you have to stand in the door, like a civilized person, people.

by dcseain on Jul 19, 2010 5:48 pm • linkreport

I tend to agree with Bill on Kwame Brown. But who are our choices? Just Brown and Orange? Not sure that is much of a choice. I have thought Brown was decent until I heard about this debt. It says a lot about his, and I do think it puts him in a compromising position.

by Jazzy on Jul 19, 2010 6:22 pm • linkreport

Seat hogs--like escalator standers people who won't move right, are mostly a non-problem. DC is full of people who want their needs anticipated rather than utter an "excuse me".

Brown has always been an obvious empty suit but, unfortunately, so is Orange.

Graham has been a better Councilman than he was a Director of Whitman-Walker, but it's time for someone new.

by Rich on Jul 19, 2010 8:52 pm • linkreport

I've noticed my share of seat-hogs, but also many people who move to the aisle seat when their stop is coming up because they don't want to be blocked in. They'll gladly give you the window seat if you ask, and then you won't have to get back up 20 seconds later. But I think that standing in doorways, putting feet on seats or poles should be banned along with eating and other disruptive behavior. Give us a number where we can text offenses, and/or have plainclothes officers ride trains and issue fines.

by Matthias on Jul 20, 2010 4:44 pm • linkreport

That meditation retreat center which the land it sits on, isn't it protected land like the agriculture areas close by?

by Zac on Jul 20, 2010 6:23 pm • linkreport

kinverson- Except the ICC bike trail will not be built. The road itself is too expensive, so there's no money, plus, according to the powers that be, the bike trail is too environmentally destructive. Funny, right?


Whats funny is the clowns that are still trying to argue against the ICC knowing good and damn well that the ICC should have been built many years ago and will not Dare to argue against New Highways being Built in Northern Virginia......

by tim on Jul 21, 2010 1:13 am • linkreport

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