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


Breakfast links: Thinking about tomorrow

Photo by randomduck on Flickr.
Avoid a DC shutdown: Congress ought to ensure that a government shutdown won't also force a DC government shutdown. So far, leaders of neither party have paid much attention to this danger.

Why not Walmart: Local business leader Andy Shallal lists some reasons to oppose Walmart coming to DC, and what DC could do instead to create jobs. (WAMU)

Burke wants calmer parkway: Residents of Burke talk about how to improve pedestrian safety along a parkway which runs right past a school, where drivers often speed and don't expect to see children. County officials resisted doing anything at a recent community meeting. (Patch)

Express buses begin on ICC: Two new express bus routes will start running on the ICC today. One runs from Gaithersburg to BWI while the other runs from Gaithersburg to Fort Meade. They are free for the first 2 weeks. (WUSA)

College Park considering CaBi: It's not just Alexandria that wants to join Capital Bikeshare: College Park is considering joining as well. Arlington's consultant worries College Park is thinking about placing their stations too far apart. (Examiner)

Complaints do not equal failure: Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans said yesterday that the 15th St NW cycle track "isn't working" because it delays drivers. But success of the lanes should be measured relative to the intended goals, not complaints from constituents. (TheWashCycle)

Biddle challenges opponents' candidacies: Recently elected Council member Sekou Biddle is challenging the validity of the candidate petitions of opponents Pat Mara (R), Bryan Weaver (D), and Jacque Patterson (D). He had originally planned to challenge Vincent Orange's petition as well but chose not to at the last moment. (City Paper)

Gray calls for deeper SUV investigation: After Tommy Wells' preliminary report on the city's vehicle acquisition failings, Mayor Gray is asking City Administrator Allen Lew to perform a full investigation on the topic. (City Paper)

And...: Sulaimon Brown plans to sue the Gray administration for his dismissal last week (WUSA) ... You can now buy your very own "I wish this was..." stickers to draw attention to places that could be greater in your neighborhood ... Want to know how to argue for narrower streets in the face of community opposition? (Strong Towns)

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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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I was getting reading to do a GGW bashing on the burke piece. Drove through there on Sunday so it was fresh on my mind. But if you two-click into the piece, there is an older argument which shows how lazy and stupid VDOT and FCDOT can be.

And it's funny after sidewalk bashing yesterday, you have to turn around and demand sidewalks for bikes in the suburbs.

The CaBI piece isn't about stations being too far apart, it should be about how to use bikesharing like a bus line.

by charlie on Mar 1, 2011 9:11 am • linkreport

Perhaps Andy Shallal is not the best advocate for the working poor. Have you seen the prices at Busboys?

by Eric Fidler on Mar 1, 2011 9:20 am • linkreport

@Eric - the prices for food at Busboys are cheap for a sitdown restaurant. Plenty of options in the $6.95 to $10.95 range.

Now I do find the beer expensive ($8 for magic hat?) but you can't have everything.

by Paul on Mar 1, 2011 9:31 am • linkreport

re Walmart:

I didn't see any legitmate critiques, just more of the standard "swinging at windmills" rhetoric that Walmart haters rinse and repeat every time one opens.

Disclaimer, I dislike Walmart and am usually their biggest critic. But not every situation is the same, and our situation is literally screaming for a Walmart.

And waxes poetic with : "We need businesses that respect D.C. and its uniqueness, that respect citizens and embrace the many threads that make up the fabric of our city".

Great, where are they? We went through a 8 year real estate boom and credit free for all where everyone was starving for mortal development risk and money so easy to come by that anyone with a functioning heart qualified for millions. Yet, these 4 areas, all of which have been screaming for affordable retail options for decades (3 of them are straight up ghettofied waste lands) saw nothing.

So I ask you Andy, where are they? What are these businesses you so desire and why haven't they moved to these dejected parts of DC, provided lots of super affordable shopping options and provided ~1200-1300 unskilled labor positions that DC is in such dire need of right now? What businesses will these Walmarts run out of town? None exist in those areas, and you are sorely mistaken if you think the ones that do give their employees "benefits" and offer anything more than a basic minimum salary.

Folks like you think it is more dignified for an unemployed poor person to stay unemployed and stay on the public dole, rather than take a perfectly suitable, secure and long term job at "gasp" Walmart.

Until you yourself decide to invest ~half a billion in DC building 4 stores, just give up with this swarmy "respect citizens and embrace the many threads that make up the fabric of our city". It makes no sense.

by freely on Mar 1, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

If you were going to judge Shallal on his advocacy for the working poor, shouldn't you be assessing the wages he pays rather than the price of the food at his restaurants?

by Alex B. on Mar 1, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

CVS and WalMart sell the same crap, except at WalMart it's less expensive. What's the problem? It sounds like someone doesn't want to lose out on their $8 Magic Hats. WalMart will sell cases (of Natty Light) for that same price. It's win win.

by aaa on Mar 1, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

For Burke Centre parkway the first thing is to realize they built a 45-50 mph highway and tried to make it 35mph. Of course people are going to speed. That said, the paths along the side are too narrow and meandering for bicycles.

by Canaan on Mar 1, 2011 9:50 am • linkreport

If Walmart wants to be welcomed into DC they should make all of their proposed stores part of mixed retail/residential developments with their store being the anchor, but not the only, store.

Or better yet, they should seek out developments trying to secure an anchor store, such as the proposed Howard Town Center on Georgia Avenue, and partner with them. Don't let them come here with a big PR campaign and plop down their big box in the middle of city. Big box is an exurban concept that relies on lots of vehicle traffic and lots of parking. It is anti-urban and will retard the redevelopment of the city.

See the big box discussion here:

by Steve on Mar 1, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

This government shutdown business is yet another instance where the Home Rule Act is sorely lacking. Whatever happens with Congressional representation or statehood, the District needs the right to make its own laws, manage its own streets and building heights, and administer its own budget, with narrower areas of federal intervention.

by Gavin on Mar 1, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

I thought we settled the Walmart issue by pointing out they are all by right developments with no city money (except one). You can rant until you are blue in the face, but there is nothing that can stop them. And I, too, am not a Walmart fan. I would never shop there. But as freely points out, those neighborhoods could generally use some economic development - of any kind. Perhaps once they get on more stable economic footing, then more businesses, local and otherwise, will be interested in coming.
Success of the bike lanes should indeed be measured by the intended goals, but it is also fair to consider their overall impact. I would think you'd have to give them at least a year before reaching any conclusions, though. Then you measure the number of people benefiting from their existence versus the number who are suffering. Tweak from there.
The Strong Towns posting on arguing for narrower streets is nonsense. A "six-decade-trend" of no investment in neighborhoods? What are they talking about?

by Josh S on Mar 1, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

Doesn't anyone use the subjunctive case any more? It should be "I wish this were..." Not was. Thanks, Joan (What If God Was One Of Us) Osborne, for cementing bad grammar in our heads.

by Michael on Mar 1, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

Michael: As a matter of fact, when Malcolm did his own variant of the sticker thing with lolcats type text on photos, he switched it to the correct grammar.

by David Alpert on Mar 1, 2011 11:12 am • linkreport

Alex, somebody already complained that Shallal is "exploiting" poets.

In that particular case I agree with Shallal, but his refusal to pay poets who perform at his restaurant reduces his moral authority to argue that Walmart has an obligation to pay its employees more.

by Eric Fidler on Mar 1, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

I'd be more worried about what Shallal pays the busboys at Busboys and Poets, not the poets.

by Alex B. on Mar 1, 2011 11:38 am • linkreport

Thanks, David. I'm glad some of us hold-outs still find use for and appreciation of the nuances of English grammar.

by Michael on Mar 1, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

Like the Oxford Comma?

by Matt Johnson on Mar 1, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

If Walmart wants to be welcomed to the community, they will buy me a nice pony.

That's the issue, reduced to its lowest terms, of the anti-Walmart folks.

by Fritz on Mar 1, 2011 12:20 pm • linkreport

RE: 15 ST cycletrack

Clearly, people evaluate investments/programs by the total effect instead of limiting it to the intended goals. Why would anyone seriously _want_ to ignore (positive or negative) outcomes outside the potentially limited view of a program's intent?

by Geof Gee on Mar 1, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

As someone who grew up in Burke and learned to drive along that parkway two thoughts:

1) The Trail/sidewalk network is severely lacking. Most sidewalks are actually trails that aren't lit and end randomly and start on the otherside of the street with no crossing. It's a huge problem and prevents effectively walking everywhere and creates random crosses by people away from lights.

2) Everyone goes at least 15 over on the parkway, if not more.

Combine the two and you have a bad situation.

by JJ on Mar 1, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

@Cannan and JJ: great point about the trail/sidewalk.

Why do I suspect FCDOT could put lights and or improve that network?

by charlie on Mar 1, 2011 12:40 pm • linkreport

Very poor arguments about Walmart. He doesn't really address the lower prices that proponents of Wal-Mart claim, nor does he back up his claims that Walmart evades taxes.

I don't shop at Walmart but it seems to me that bringing lower prices and a wider selection of food products to those areas is a positive sign.

by Justin on Mar 1, 2011 6:27 pm • linkreport

@Justin and others

You guys must be Wal-Mart plants. I don't think most dc residents really believe wholly the Wal-Mart mantra that says lower prices are good for everyone.

This is a highly informed, and left-leaning city (I am a DC native from near one of the proposed Wal-Mart stores), and we understand the devastating economic effects Wal-Mart is likely to have on the future of DC retail, and on wages, not to mention the poor design/planning of the stores that the surrounding areas will have to grapple with for decades to come.

You guys are doing a great PR job, and you deserve kudos for that. You even have the Washington Post and local unions squarely in your pocket. I can't believe there isn't more discussion of this blatant fact. In New York, by contrast, you guys could do a better job: the media there are covering low income New Yorkers fighting Wal-Mart as a future blight on their neighborhoods. Get with it, DC and realize that you are being played.

by Matt on Mar 2, 2011 8:39 am • linkreport


How do you respond to this?

by WRD on Mar 2, 2011 10:12 am • linkreport

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