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


Breakfast links: Stepping up

Photo by elstudio on Flickr.
Tysons working to be more bikable: Fairfax County is implementing a long-term plan to improve cycling conditions across the county, starting in Tysons. They will place bike racks and lockers at the four Tysons Metro stations, lanes & other markings on streets and possibly even bike-safety questions on driver's license exams. (Post, Paul C)

Escalator work accelerating: Metro will repair 8 escalators, 4 each at Gallery Place-Chinatown and Union Station, on an accelerated schedule, using two shifts of workers to shorten repairs from 12 to 8 weeks. (Dr. Gridlock)

Cold keeps shelters full: 2010 has been significantly colder than last year, and that has kept homeless shelters busy and nearly overwhelmed. The upside is that agencies can offer other counseling and various assistance while people are in the shelter. (WAMU)

DC Schools' COO departs: After 18 months as chief operating officer at DCPS, retired Brigadier General Tony Tata is leaving to become Superintendent of the Wake County, NC school system. A number of other Michelle Rhee hires have left in the past few weeks, but key Rhee advisors Kaya Henderson, Jason Kamras, Erin McGoldrick, and Abigail Smith have stuck around. (Post)

Others find same DC population shift: NeighborhoodInfo DC has crunched ACS data to come up with demographic estimates for each of DC's Wards. Their estimates for population change match the analysis we published two weeks ago. If the estimates that Ward 1 shrank while Ward 6 has grown the most are inaccurate, it must come from margins of error in the original data. (Rob Pitingolo)

Travel options on New Years Eve: Metro will be open until 3 am on Friday (and Saturday) night, but will operate on Sunday headways. SoberRide will offer free cab rides home, though these or any other taxi can be nigh on impossible to snag. (TBD)

Norton will fight through 2012: DC's Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is proud of her accomplishments during the last 2 years of Democratic control. Though she expects to lose her vote in the Committee of the Whole in the new House, she will continue to push for voting rights for DC. (WAMU)

And...: Residential property values in Maryland dropped a whopping 22% over the last three years. Outer exurbs in Prince George's saw drops of 35%. (WTOP) ... The New York Ave. bridge in Northeast will get an arboreal accent come 2012. (City Paper) ... Victor Ramirez, state Senator-elect from Prince George's, will sponsor a bill to grant undocumented immigrants in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. (WTOP)

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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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Has anyone ever successfully gotten a cab through SoberRide that didn't take two hours to arrive? It's a great idea, in theory. In practice, it's just a myth. You'll be home in bed before your SoberRide taxi arrives.

by anon on Dec 29, 2010 8:59 am • linkreport

Norton is going to be irrelevant to the GOP House for the next several years. If I were her, I'd be focusing on GOP-friendly policies she could push for DC, like tax breaks that could spur economic development in struggling wards, workforce education, and education incentives. Voting rights is dead and school vouchers is likely resurrected.

My hypothesis of Ward 1's shrinkage is that it has to do with the collapse of the local construction industry and Hispanics leaving for a more economically-viable area. Add to that the transformation of formerly multi-unit townhouses into a single family occupancy.

by Fritz on Dec 29, 2010 9:01 am • linkreport

@Fritz - I thought the townhouse conversations were mainly going the other way, i.e. rowhouses chopped up into 2-3 units each. I think part of Ward 1's decrease involves large, multigenerational families being replaced with singles or couples. Where there may have been 6 or 7 individuals living in one unit, there's now one or two.

by JS on Dec 29, 2010 9:16 am • linkreport

I'm still not convinced about Ward 1's shrinkage. For example, census tract 27.01 has a 05-09 ACS population of 5,416, but the margin of error is +/- 605.

A competing hypothesis would be that the exact same people Fritz mentions that might have left Ward 1 are also those that would be most easily missed by the ACS sampling methodology. The decennial census methodology is very different.

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 9:31 am • linkreport

Also, I'd note that for that particular tract (27.01) the initial GGW analysis showed a population decline from 2000 of -326 people. That is obviously well within the +/- 605 margin of error for that tract.

There's some interesting speculation, but I'm not really sure about the usefulness of this data for redistricting discussions. We'll have to wait for the tract by tract data from the 2010 Census when it comes out from the Census Bureau.

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 9:37 am • linkreport

Does that mean I can illegally immigrate to Maryland so I can go to grad school at UMD, and only pay in-state rates?

DC residents don't really have many good options for attending/paying for graduate school. DCTAG only applies to undergrad, and UDC is, well.....

by andrew on Dec 29, 2010 10:22 am • linkreport

The ACS data is not designed to do the kind of sub-city analysis that you all are trying to do with it. You have to wait for the 2010 data.

by Kate on Dec 29, 2010 10:35 am • linkreport

Re: In-state tuition for Illegals...

I don't see how this is a good idea. Can someone explain it to me?

I thought illegal was illegal. Why should an illegal resident gain in-state tuition, while a legal resident from another state has to pay 2-3x as much.

by Peter on Dec 29, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport


Exactly. The ACS data is not designed to be used to divide up population. Pointing out that somebody else did the same analysis with the same data and got the same result doesn't somehow validate the analysis.

Those of us who were complaining about the post regarding shift in ward population weren't complaining about how the analysis was conducted, we were saying it shouldn't have been done at all. The ACS data has a MOE of something like 10% per tract - it's not meant to be a population count by tract.

by MLD on Dec 29, 2010 11:00 am • linkreport

The ACS margin of error could also mean the lost in Ward 1 is even larger. Traditionally, Ward 1's population has been undercounted. Social Compact found this to be the case in 2001. Any one who takes a look at Ward 1 can see that the speculative development housing bubble density for density sake probably created as many abandoned buildings as it built. Also, the population is more transient than ever. For thinking people this data should cause us to reflect, study and maybe look at some policy changes, instead of engaging in simplistic rationalizations and denial.

by W Jordan on Dec 29, 2010 11:23 am • linkreport

@W Jordan

For thinking people, I'd argue this data should cause us to wait for the imminent release of the far more rigorous data from the 2010 Census.

by Alex B. on Dec 29, 2010 11:28 am • linkreport

@ Peter: Can someone explain it to me?

Let me speculate. State senator's job is to advocate for the residents of his district. All of them. Illegal immigrants are residents of his district.

Immigration status and citizenship are issues separate from residency. In fact, immigration is a specific federal issue, not a state issue. The whole shebang in AZ is about whether states have the right to deal with immigration issues at all.

So, if a state senator thinks working for undocumented residents of his district makes him popular with the voting members of his district, this may be a smart idea.

Alternatively, Mr Ramirez may believe that better educated residents will improve the economy in his district, and perhaps increase tax revenue.

Whether it makes sense on the whole or not is a whole other matter. Politics rarely does.

My point is that immigration, legal or illegal, is rarely as simple as one-liners make it seem.

by Jasper on Dec 29, 2010 11:46 am • linkreport

Learned about the escalator repairs the hard way, after I finally got back in town last night. Hauling a 40lb bag down a non-moving escalator was "fun"...

by Froggie on Dec 29, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

@ Froggie: Hauling a 40lb bag down a non-moving escalator was "fun"...

But apparently easier than walking to the elevator?

by Jasper on Dec 29, 2010 1:55 pm • linkreport

@Peter, the rationale is don't punish children for what their parents did.

by Ward 1 Guy on Dec 29, 2010 2:46 pm • linkreport


In state tuition is lower for residents because they've been paying in-state taxes.

Illegals pay the exact same taxes anyone else does. Meaning, NOT giving them the same benefit is essentially stealing. (Social security already collects millions from them and never gives it back).

It's not that out of state residents are screwed over....they have access to in-state rates in the state they've been paying taxes in. What in-state rate would illegals have access to?

On top of that, you should not blame a child for a crime the parents committed.

If mom and dad rob a bank, and their 2 year old is in the getaway car, the 2 year old is NOT charged as an accomplice. Generally the law recognizes that 2 year old's cannot be held responsible for things like that. Why should immigration law be any different?

So it's not only a fairness issue (paying taxes) but it's also a social issue.

How does society benefit by keeping kids out of college....?

And remember, to get the in-state rate you can't just show up a week before school starts and claim it. The article doesn't go into detail about the Maryland version, but in California, you have to go to LOCAL high school for at least 3 years and be clear of any crimes.

by JJJJJ on Dec 29, 2010 4:26 pm • linkreport


When you're rushing to get to the bottom of Gallery Place to catch a Yellow Line train that won't come again for 20 minutes, you tend to go for speed (hauling down the stairs) over convenience (the elevator).


Illegals pay income taxes?

by Froggie on Dec 29, 2010 8:13 pm • linkreport

>> "On top of that, you should not blame a child for a crime the parents committed.

If mom and dad rob a bank, and their 2 year old is in the getaway car, the 2 year old is NOT charged as an accomplice. Generally the law recognizes that 2 year old's cannot be held responsible for things like that. Why should immigration law be any different?"

In your analogy giving the children of illegals all the benefits of a citizen isn't like NOT charging them an acomplice for their parent's bank robbery - it's like letting the child keep the loot.

by Jason on Dec 29, 2010 8:22 pm • linkreport

@ Froggie: Illegals pay income taxes?

Of course:

Money line: The Internal Revenue Service doesn't track a worker's immigration status

To have a SSN, you only need to have been here once legally. And furthermore, SSNs are up for sale, and many people just use one from someone else.

Oddly, the IRS is not even allowed to tell you that someone else is paying taxes with your SSN. Many people only find out by looking at their social security statement. when they call about it, the IRS will acknowledge but do nothing.

by Jasper on Dec 30, 2010 10:31 am • linkreport

Froggie, if they're not paying income tax, it's because their employer is stealing, not them. They, like everyone else, get their taxes deducted automatically on their paycheck. Social security as well. They get hired by using a fake SS number or using the perfectly legal tax id number provided for non-citizens.

And of course, they pay property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes etc.

As for "under the table" wages, all-american-union-joe the plumber is just as likely to fudge an invoice as illegal juan. And all-american barbie is just as likely to under-report tips as maria.

by JJJJJ on Dec 30, 2010 4:16 pm • linkreport

Jason, the benefit is not for citizens, it is for all residents. You don't have to be american to currently receive in-state rates.

Again, in-state rates are about who pays taxes, and nothing more.

by JJJJJ on Dec 30, 2010 4:18 pm • linkreport

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