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Breakfast links: With an eye to the future


Graph courtesy of MWCOG.
Washington in 2040: The newest growth forecasts estimate that the Washington region will be home to 8.6 million in 2040. Federal employment and manufacturing are expected to shrink, while the service sector will boom. (Region Forward)

Healthy Potomac needs more forests, less sprawl: The Potomac River watershed needs more farmland and more forest to filter polluted rainwater. Many farms have fallen prey to developers and have been paved over with impermeable surfaces. (Post)

Bipartisan proposal to raise gas tax: Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and George Voinovich (R-OH) have the courage to propose gradually raising the gas tax over the next three years, for a total increase of 25 cents per gallon. (National Journal, Eric Fidler)

Bike sharing should be revenue neutral: After a look at the funding mechanisms underpinning various bike sharing systems, Adam Voiland argues that in austere times ahead, bike sharing systems should seek ways to be at least revenue neutral. (Examiner)

Park Service limits public input: The NPS bungled a recent public input "workshop" for its proposed Washington Monument subterranean screening facility. NPS officials refused to allow on-the-record comments and refused to take notes. (Post, Eric Fidler)

Transit riders save thousands: According to the last Transit Savings Report from APTA, transit riders in the DC area can save as much as $9,500 annually based on current gas prices. Savings in the Washington region were 14th in the country. (APTA)

Behind the bag fee victory: How did Tommy Wells beat the plastics industry to pass the bag fee where so many had failed? Smart politics, outreach to religious groups east of the river, organized groups, and blogs. GGW gets a shout-out. (OnEarth Magazine)

Should we try strict liability?: In the Netherlands, automobile drivers are automatically held liable for insurance purposes if they strike a person on a bike. It's unclear, though, if this only applies if the cyclist is obeying traffic laws. (BikePortland)

And...: Marcel Acosta, a federal appointee to the WMATA Board, has been elevated to a voting position. (Post) ... DC Water has the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world. (We Love DC, Eric Fidler) ... The winner of TBD's Nationals uniform design contest is a Metro fan. (TBD)

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

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The NPS-Washington Monument story should not come as a surprise to anyone. Government agencies routinely fail to take their public consultation obligations seriously. Sure, they meet with the public and collect comments, but most of the time the undertaking in question is a fait accompli.

Back in a dark period of my professional life, I worked for a large consulting engineering company that made a boatload of money from doing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act work for highway departments. I was sent to a one-day workshop held by a public relations firm to learn how to "manage" the public during workshop sessions like the one reported in the Post.

Archaeologist Tom King is an artful critic of such consultation shams. He has an interesting blog and an interesting new book: Our Unprotected Heritage Whitewashing the Destruction of Our Cultural and Natural Environment.

by David Rotenstein on Nov 12, 2010 8:53 am • linkreport

Once we've made roads revenue-neutral, then we should move on to making bike sharing revenue-neutral. But it's insane to say that government should lose money on roads, but not on any other means of transportation.

by Rob on Nov 12, 2010 8:55 am • linkreport

Farms have "fallen prey to developers"? Mmkay. Might not a more accurate statement simply be that farmers have sold their land to developers? A wee bit less victimizationist.

And the Tommy Tax succeeded because the DC Council is one of the most liberal legislatures around. All sorts of feel-good legislation gets enacted. Whether it actually accomplishes anything is usually besides the point. Just look at the charmed life of Phil Mendo - he's one of the most liberal, criminal-friendly members of the Council. Yet he keeps getting reelected year after year. In DC, you can pass just about any idiotic bill into law and the voters will keep voting their council members back into office. Although now with a GOP House, maybe that may change?

And does anyone understand what strict liability would actually mean for ALL vehicles? It would jack up everyone's insurance rates significantly - including all public transportation systems. So by all means, we need strict liability. Just so long as everyone's ready to pay more for bus services, groceries, deliveries, and just about everything else because of the increased cost of using ALL vehicles. But hey - at least it will make some cyclists happy. Maybe!

by Fritz on Nov 12, 2010 9:07 am • linkreport

Good point Rob. We should puncture the conceit that roads are somehow not heavily subsidized.

by SJE on Nov 12, 2010 9:08 am • linkreport

@Rob

Agree. This whole "XYZ government program should be revenue neutral" argument is either feel-good BS or a disguised attempt to bleed the government dry. There's no reason why certain parts of the government can't make money while others lose money.

by MLD on Nov 12, 2010 9:11 am • linkreport

I'm not sure why the headline writer opted to emphasize a need for more farmland - farmland can be extremely hazardous to water quality. Farming may be nice and pastoral, but it's hardly 'green' in the environmental sense. From the article - third graf:

Even existing farms contribute to the problem, the report said. They're studded with pesticides, nutrients, other chemicals and manure that wash into the river, which is the source of the region's drinking water.

There's nothing inherently green about farming. Instead, we should be advocating to change farming practices to reduce run-off - things like buffer planting strips, drainage improvements, low-till farming, use of cover crops to reduce erosion, holistic methods that reduce the need to fertilize, etc.

by Alex B. on Nov 12, 2010 9:16 am • linkreport

Not sure what bikes would do if there were no roads.

Aren't those two senators both retiring? Some courage

by Charlie on Nov 12, 2010 9:25 am • linkreport

@Charlie - Introducing a bill in a lame-duck session by two retiring Senators is clearly a profile in courage.

by Fritz on Nov 12, 2010 9:34 am • linkreport

Carper is not retiring. He will serve in the 112th Congress and is up for reelection in less than two years. He is almost certain to run for reelection -- he is in his second term and is only 63, a baby by Senate standards.

by rg on Nov 12, 2010 9:35 am • linkreport

Yeah.... didn't they just very recently conclude that farms are (by an extremely large margin) the largest source of pollution in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers?

by andrew on Nov 12, 2010 9:36 am • linkreport

@RG; my bad. And any move on an increased gas tax is welcome....

One way to thing about bike sharing it is a explicit subsidy designed to bring non-car owning, single people into an area. They are the best type of residents: not the highest taxes, but very little government expenses (education and health care). And they spend a lot of restaurants, coffee, etc generating sales taxes.

by charlie on Nov 12, 2010 9:47 am • linkreport

@Fritz: Even though I am right of center in my politics, I'm mulling registering as a Democrat largely to see that if I did run for office how many people would vote for me, regardless of politics, solely because of the D after my name. I'm to wager that a lot of said voters are not served by their politicians (i.e. Jim Graham and gentrifiers) well because of the blind propensity of minority populations to vote Democrat by default.

And yet DC isn't as solidly blue as many parts of New York (state) where vestiges of machines exist. In what other state does son get elected governor less a generation after father was governor and in what other state does a city (namely Albany) has 4 mayors in 75 years?

by Jason on Nov 12, 2010 9:49 am • linkreport

@ Jason - I think Massachusetts and Kennedys has the Cuomos beat.

by ah on Nov 12, 2010 11:30 am • linkreport

In what other state does son get elected governor less a generation after father was governor

Well, California (Pat Brown, governor 1959-1967, father of Jerry Brown, governor 1975-1983 and current governor-elect), North Carolina (W. Kerr Scott, governor 1949-1953, father of Bob Scott, governor 1969-1973) and Vermont (Erastus Fairbanks, governor 1852-1853 and 1860-1861, father of Horace Fairbanks, governor 1876-1878), to name three.

by cminus on Nov 13, 2010 8:13 am • linkreport

Yes! Raise the gas tax, which hasn't been increased since 1993. It's a flat per-gallon tax rather than a percentage, so the tax has actually decreased in real terms as the cost of gas increased. So a better solution would be a percentage tax. And raising it by $0.25 isn't very bold -- we should raise it by about $1, phased in over 30 years or so, as a way to actually fight oil and car dependency and reshape our communities. (The financial burden on poor Americans could be mitigated by making the tax partially refundable for people below a certain income level.)

by Gavin on Nov 14, 2010 4:37 am • linkreport

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