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


Breakfast links: Concealed intentions

Photo by nevermindtheend on Flickr.
Bag inspections not really optional: Most people agree that if bag inspections are optional, they can't possibly be very effective. WMATA apparently knows that too, but they're still going to tell you the bag checks are optional. (TBD)

TX Rep wants to carry concealed weapon in DC: A Texas Representative is introducing a bill that would allow Congress members to carry concealed weapons upon entering the District, because parts of the city are dangerous. (WAMU)

Streetcar substation problems on H Street: DDOT is looking for a location to place a temporary power substation for the H Street streetcar line since the permanent substation will be installed in the parking garage of a yet-to-be-developed building. Several options have been proposed and subsequently shot down. (TBD)

Gen Yers don't want McMansions: The National Association of Home Builders is recognizing the different housing preferences of Millennials compared to their Baby Boomer parents. Surveys have shown as 88% of Millennials want to live in an urban setting. (Yahoo!, Steven Yates)

LaHood defends HSR: US Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood responds to last week's Post editorial criticizing high-speed rail. Would Eisenhower have waited to begin the Interstate system until every penny was available and all detractors on board, he asks. (Post)

See a film about Columbia, Maryland: The Our City Film Fest shows independent films both long and short that are focused on or set in the Washington, DC region. One short documentary this year will explore the history of Columbia, Maryland, the regions first planned communities after the New Deal-era greenbelt towns movement. (Yachad DC)

Driver who killed cyclist gets 8 years: A former UMd football player who struck and killed a cyclist in Germantown last summer has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for manslaughter by motor vehicle. Apparently you have to blow a 0.18 BAC to be held accountable for killing another road user. (TBD On Foot)

What to do with school boards?: Jay Mathews examines the positives and negatives of the dwindling numbers of school boards. Reduce the responsibilities of school boards so they can concentrate on the quality of education, he says, leaving the drudgery of building maintenance and transportation to other government entities. (Post)

And...: The dismissal of a decades old lawsuit between the US Department of Justice and the Old Dominion Boat Club has cast doubt on Alexandria's waterfront plan. (WAMU) ... WMATA has updated their bicycle page to make their bike policies and programs more clear. (PlanItMetro) ... It seems Courtland Milloy is both technologically inept and generally hypocritical. (TBD, 14th & You)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
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. 


Add a comment »

In related news, a whopping 88% of Baby Boomers want their Generation Y children to get a real job and move out of the basement. The remaining 22% have senile dementia and didn't understand the question.

by monkeyrotica on Jan 18, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

Which portion of the 110% of baby boomers are you in monkey? ;-)

by Erik Weber on Jan 18, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

TX Congressman to DC: Do as I say, not as I do.

by Josh C. on Jan 18, 2011 9:47 am • linkreport

Sadly, Erik, it sounds like one needs to do even more than "blow a .18 BAC" to be held accountable for killing a cyclist. Fraser (the drunken killer in Gaithersburg) actually blew a .19 according to TBD (and had previous DUIs), but also was driving 69mph (in what I believe is a 45mph, suburban 2-lane road), and then stepped on the face of the dying man he had just hit with his SUV. *That*, apparently, is enough to garner some punishment.

Fraser actually seems to be getting off relatively easy. But without minimizing in any way the seriousness of his crime(s), I would gladly knock a few years off his sentence if those years could somehow be imposed on the several other cyclist- and pedestrian- killers in the DC area who have gotten off without any prison time at all. Although I know a lengthy sentence for Fraser may matter greatly for the family of Stanton Miller (and my heart goes out to them), it seems like we'd all be better served if, rather than imposing a severe sentence on 1 in 10 (or 5, or 7) drivers who kills or injures a cyclist or pedestrian, as we're doing now, we instead focused on making sure that dangerous driving is very likely to be both noticed and punished, even if the punishment itself were less severe.

by Paula Product on Jan 18, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@ refused bags checks: What worse (from the link): He later told board vice chair David Alpert that “[a]t some point in time, as we work with the FBI and as we work with the Department of Homeland Security, we establish why” a person declined the check.

So, if you refuse, you're gonna be investigated and followed. That's not freedom. That's tyranny.

by Jasper on Jan 18, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

Surveys have shown as 88% of Millennials want to live in an urban setting.

Cue an endless round of claims that "sure everyone wants to live in the city, but once you have kids you have to move out", ignoring the DC baby boom--and subsequent renaissance in DC elementary schools--completely.

This combined with the fact that couples are waiting later and later--and having fewer and fewer children, if at all--is going to completely transform the fabric of urban spaces. Heck, it already has in the top 5-10 cities in the U.S.

by oboe on Jan 18, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

@ Jasper I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you've never been exposed to actual tyranny.

by jcm on Jan 18, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport


Nonsense. Jasper's an asylum-seeker from the socialistic Hellscape that is Old Europe. You can't even know the terrible things he's witnessed...


by oboe on Jan 18, 2011 10:51 am • linkreport

@ oboe

Many cities have urban public schools that are as good as or superior to their suburban counterparts. While DC may be showing some improvement, it certainly isn't one of them at this time. And I say this as a childless married "millennial" who is keeping an eye on these things.

by Joe on Jan 18, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

I certainly hope those observations of the younger generation are correct, but I'd prefer to see more of an apples to apples comparison. If 88% of Millenials want to live in cities, what percentage if boomers felt the same way when they were young?

In the end, to a large degree people's preferences are going to be shaped by their options. Hopefully those home builders will produce more urban neighborhoods for the younger generation to actually live in.

Along these lines, there's a great exhibit at the National Building Museum about the US Worlds Fairs inthe 1930s. It's quite surprising just how utterly didactic the fairs are. They had so many exhibits that were like: "You WILL live like this. This IS what you want."

by TM on Jan 18, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

About HSR: Would Eisenhower have waited to begin the Interstate system until every penny was available and all detractors on board?

This is irrelevant. The Interstate system had a well-defined national defense purpose, which makes cost/benefit analysis a dubious proposition. That argument cannot be made for HSR. As several commentators and I have pointed out, HSR is not good in and of itself. It has to be justified in terms of cost/benefit analysis. Moreover, some unintended consequences are already apparent, such as the possibility of inducing sprawl.

by Chuck Coleman on Jan 18, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

I think the most interesting trend will be what will happen to suburbs in the coming decades. Cities will continue to be cities, but suburbs might actually transform into a more urban and walkable version of themselves. Either that or they could become ghost towns.


Though while not explicitly what you are looking for, there is some information out there regarding Gen Y's attitude toward cars versus previous generations (I think a similar story was linked to in a previous edition of Breakfast Links):

by Steven Yates on Jan 18, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport


While DC may be showing some improvement, it certainly isn't one of them at this time. And I say this as a childless married "millennial" who is keeping an eye on these things.

Not sure what your experience is in this matter, but as a Gen Xer with a young kid in DCPS elementary school, I beg to differ. Between public charters and DCPS, the number of elementary schools that are a viable option for middle-class parents have exploded in the last decade.

You'll argue that there aren't any viable middle-schools at this point, but folks who decide to have a baby don't move out of the city because the middle-schools stink. And there's no reason why the economic (and cultural) factors that have done so much to improve the lower grades won't eventually do the same for the middle grades.

by oboe on Jan 18, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

@Chuck: The argument can be made that HSR does have a well-defined national security purpose in that it can reduce our national dependence on oil. We get that oil from places where the governments or people or both don't necessarily like us or our policies. The money we spend on oil props up regimes in places like Iran, Venezuela, Russia etc. Yes, it could have unintended consequences. It could also, just as easily concentrate growth around the rail, leaving undeveloped land undeveloped. Speaking of unintended consequences, hasn't the highway system resulted in massive horizontal development, congestion, pollution and negative health impacts?

by thump on Jan 18, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

@Steven Yates:

True, though it's a continual source of disappointment to read articles here on GGW about some new infill plan out in the counties that launches with great fanfare--only to be watered-down and undercut by short-sighted political compromises.

The cynic in me says that a transformation of the suburbs can never occur, as there will always be some cost to a motivated majority that the voters won't bear.

I think the make-up (both physical and political) of the exurbs makes any kind of reform impossible. In the land where everyone drives, when it comes down to a question of doing the right thing, or adding another lane of traffic, it's always the lane of traffic that gets added.

The only thing that looks likely to stop that trend is bankruptcy--though, of course, if there's no money for another traffic lane, there's no money for light rail (or urban infill, etc, etc...)

I'm afraid that--rather than ghost towns--we'll see the exurbs with their cheap housing become more and more the slums of the region. Those who can live in the city (or Bethesda, Alexandria, etc...) will do so, and those who can't won't. (You already see this in certain neighborhoods in places like Wheaton, Aspen Hill, where the demographics are pretty much older folks, working class folks, and group houses).

It won't be a matter of preference, just as for the last 50 years it didn't matter if you preferred the city over the suburbs, if you had kids, you lived in the suburbs. Twenty years from now--even if you really desire a 4500 square foot house with two family rooms and a pool--you'll live in the city "for the kids". That's where the decent public schools will be.

by oboe on Jan 18, 2011 1:12 pm • linkreport

@ jcm: @ Jasper I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you've never been exposed to actual tyranny.

Correct. And your argument is? You have to have been exposed to something to recognize it? You wanna argue that being examined, and investigated for refusing a "voluntary" search is a sign of the expanding freedom in the US?

by Jasper on Jan 18, 2011 1:59 pm • linkreport


My background and interest in the matter is probably broadly similar to yours except that I'm a few years younger. I think we are broadly in agreement w/r/t the trend toward improvement in DCPS. I was just pointing out that we're not there yet when it comes to having viable options to the suburbs throughout all grade levels of the school system. Many cities do. It's a goal that can be achieved.

by Joe on Jan 18, 2011 2:05 pm • linkreport


The reduction in fossil fuel imports from HSR will be trivial, so national defense cannot be an argument. Moving troops and equipment around by road was an argument. I'm not saying that it was a good argument.

by Chuck Coleman on Jan 18, 2011 2:12 pm • linkreport


Sure. I was just arguing that currently we're *mostly* there as far as primary school--which really is the first big step. Really, when looking at close-in suburban schools in comparably priced areas to DC, it's not at all clear that MD or VA is an improvement. Look at public schools in DelRay, or Hyattsville--they're arguably worse.

I know for a lot of my neighbors, moving to Gaithersburg, or some similar place isn't really an option.

by oboe on Jan 18, 2011 3:06 pm • linkreport

@Chuck: My guess (I only did a brief search for differences in oil consumption) is that HSR would actually produce a significant reduction in oil imports. You have to take into account a reduction not only in VMT but also plane trips not taken. Additionally, oil isn't going to get cheaper. It's going to get a lot more expensive. That means that for every barrel we buy, that much more money is going to people/countries we find disagreeable. Even the military sees cutting our dependency on foreign oil and seeking alternative forms of energy as critical to national security.

by thump on Jan 18, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

"So, if you refuse, you're gonna be investigated and followed. That's not freedom. That's tyranny."

I don't know why you all are bashing this.

"Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I am not a terrorist. I don't want my belongings searched. I have a Constitutional right to not have my bags searched. Riding on the metro is not probable cause. Asking me to give up my rights is ridiculous.

by Brian White on Jan 18, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport


DC has poorer kids than most of its suburbs, but are the schools doing a worse job at educating the kids they have? I don't know. How do you know how good the schools are in the suburbs vs. DC? What evidence are you using?

If you took a kid at random from MoCo and made her go to a DC school (DCPS or PCS) would she do better or worse? If you picked a kid at random from DC and made her go to a MoCo school, would she do better or worse? I'm curious what the evidence is and whether it goes beyond average test scores or proficiency rates (instead of growth).

by Ward 1 Guy on Jan 18, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

@Brian White -- I think it was pretty clear in the video that if you decline to have your bag searched you will be observed in hopes of finding probable cause to search you.

Which seems like a serious questionable use of law enforcement resources and not the kind of thing we do in a free society.

by Kate on Jan 18, 2011 10:00 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper You're presenting me with a false binary choice. There's plenty of room between "expanding freedom" and "tyranny".

by jcm on Jan 18, 2011 10:16 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