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


Three years ago, GGW was born

Greater Greater Washington started publishing three years ago yesterday.

Photo by colleenita on Flickr.

What were we writing about then? Quite a few things that were still relevant today.

Parking policy: Tommy Wells spoke at a Coalition for Smarter Growth forum about parking and how he himself became a convert on performance parking because of all the cars the baseball stadium was going to bring to his neighborhood. He had devised the "livable, walkable" slogan for his campaign, then discovered a whole community of people who believed strongly in this philosophy.

Sidewalks at construction sites: DC instituted a policy requiring covered sidewalks or pedestrian walkways during construction, instead of the then-common practice of just forcing pedestrians to cross to the other side of the street.

Last week, TBD reported that the Convention Center hotel is apparently not following this practice at 9th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW.

Potomac Yard station: Alexandria officials were talking about getting developers around Potomac Yard to pay for a new station. That tax structure has become a reality and the environmental review begun; will the station get built on time?

Our first mission statement: My vision for this blog, three years ago:

Urban centers and walkable suburbs in America are experiencing a renaissance, including the Washington, DC region. Unfortunately, too many people are forced to leave great neighborhoods to find affordable housing or good schools. If people want to live in single-family homes, they certainly may. But everyone should have the choice to live in an apartment or townhouse in a walkable, safe, livable neighborhood.

People make a city great. Downtown job centers, historic neighborhoods, and new edge cities should all be full of people, walking to do errands, sitting outside at sidewalk cafes, enjoying parks, living life, and interacting with each other. Unfortunately, the streets of downtown DC are fairly empty during the day and even quieter on weekends, with little more than one inward-facing office building after another. We should encourage more mixed-use development downtown, with more residences and more retail shops, enabling restaurants to operate all week and more people to live near where they work.

We should continue the trend of building new, mixed-use neighborhoods in areas such as Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, College Park, Rockville, Silver Spring and Tysons Corner as well as the District of Columbia, where people can live, work, eat, shop and find entertainment in walking distance. We should construct buildings that engage a vibrant street life, with stores and restaurants and human-scale features, rather than cutting themselves off from the wider world.

We should expand Metro and build streetcars in DC to allow more people to get to work and other destinations without need of a car. We should put higher density development near transit stations, to enable more people to travel without cars, and so that the region can grow without adding traffic congestion. We should make it easier for people to get to work by walking or biking or rollerblading if they wish, with adequate and safe sidewalks, bike lanes and paths.

We should stop building new highways which only foster more driving and more traffic. And we should set appropriate prices for driving in and out of our city, or using parking spaces in our neighborhoods, so that people who choose to own cars, use the roads, and park pay the fair cost of the land they are using, without being unfairly burdened or subsidized.

The Washington, DC area is already great. DC itself has some of the most beautiful, mixed-use, and transit-accessible neighborhoods in any American city. Arlington and Bethesda contain Smart Growth areas that are models for cities everywhere. As the region grows, we must preserve what already works and expand what is possible, to ensure that there are enough great neighborhoods for everyone who wants to live, work, shop or play in one.

This still seems to apply just as strongly today.
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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Congrats! Onto the next three years!

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

Whew! ... Glad to see GGW made it out of the 'terrible twos'! ;)

by Lance on Feb 6, 2011 12:41 pm • linkreport

Happy Birthday!

The thing that makes this web log so great is the fact that we care for each other by not only encouraging each other through our words, but our actions. That's special, if you ask me.

I think that while 2010 was a 'banner' year in the eyes of some for the impetus of a paradigm shift in the eyes of the general public towards sustainability, there's more hard work to be done, but we all know what the end result will be: lively destinations, spaces, and places that we can all get to via multiple modes of transportation. I sincerely believe that community involvement and moreover engagement is the real secret to success, but to convince the casual passerby, we must evoke positive emotions about this cause for which we all love so dearly.

I, myself, know that such encouragement can be possible, living in Prince George's County. Although I live outside the Beltway (barely), I frequent inside it to visit relatives, and as I see the areas that could do with some sprucing up, I am starting to recognize that such results I see today have been the result of poor design many decades ago, no doubt through limited or no concept of sustainability concepts and/or practices.

I bring this up because I want to share the success of Fruitvale in Oakland, CA (that was actually necessary because there is an Oakland, MD) and the Fruitvale Transit Village, which was centered around a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Light Rail Station. I think that many of the challenges and opportunities the Fruitvale community saw are what is happening now; only difference is, Fruitvale is a success story, while Prince George's County is not there yet. Nevertheless, since, unlike other areas, a large majority of the necessary pieces are already in place (with new ones scheduled to break ground in some 6 years) there is reason for optimism.

I would like to know if anyone else agrees that positively inciting the community via emotional appeal and open public meetings is the best way to generate the necessary groundswell support necessary for the scope of transit projects that are on tap for many of the Metro stations here.

Forgive the lengthiness of my post, but I think the only way to get the elephant out of the room is to acknowledge its presence first.

by C. R. on Feb 6, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

Congratulations, Dave and all, for three great years! I'm looking forward to see where this all goes as we move forward together.

by Bryant Turnage on Feb 7, 2011 1:09 am • linkreport

...and the town hasn't been the same since...

by Froggie on Feb 7, 2011 6:46 am • linkreport

Uh, the "Sidewalks at construction sites", while laudable, has been hell for getting permits to do even very simple Public Space work.

by Bob See on Feb 7, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport


by Gavin on Feb 7, 2011 11:02 am • linkreport

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