Greater Greater Washington


Breakfast links: Raising the charge

Photo by soukup on Flickr.
DC residents want tax hike: The results of DC's budget survey have been released. District residents (those who replied, at least) overwhelmingly do want to raise taxes to balance the budget. Will this be part of the Mayor's proposal, due out Friday?

Bethesda could charge for Saturday parking: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett wants to start charging for parking at municipal lots in downtown Bethesda. Some businesses worry it will drive off business, while others realize it will drive parking turnover, increasing the number of customers. (WAMU)

Taxi surcharge needn't be so narrow: A regional body says the DC Taxi Commission had no reason to exempt cab trips ending outside DC from the $1 fuel surcharge. (WBJ) ... Could this now be just another reason for drivers to discriminate against certain trips? Update: The surcharge has been extended to interstate trips.

Alexandria wants green space from DoD: Since the Department of Defense took over the Mark Center, it replaced most of the open space in the development's original plan with parking garages and an inspection facility. Now Alexandria wants DOD to compensate the city for that loss of public space. (Examiner)

Howard County to improve Rt 1: Residents and planners in Howard County want to improve bike and pedestrian facilities in the county, particularly within Columbia and eventually on Route 1, which currently has no sidewalks at all. (Elkridge, MD Patch)

Mapping DC's public art: A new venture,, is crowdsourcing a map of the District's publicly accessible art installations, from Smithsonian galleries to side-of-building murals. (Housing Complex) ... What about temporary art like this? (14th & You)

Rhee defends test scores: Former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee defended the test scores of students at Noyes Elementary School after a USA Today report questioned the voracity veracity of the school's jumps in achievement scores. (WUSA)

Bikesharing hot in hot places: Tel Aviv, Israel and Doha, Qatar have recently added bike sharing programs. (The Bike-sharing Blog) ... Miami Beach opened its new DecoBike system, which is priced in a conspicuously different fashion from CaBi. (The Independent)

And...: Vehicles belonging to some members of Congress owe $15,000 in outstanding DC traffic fines (WUSA) ... Justice Antonin Scalia got a ticket for rear-ending a car on the GW Parkway (Post) ... Amtrak will begin tweeting delays of more than 60 minutes on the Northeast Corridor (Baltimore Sun) ... Strict zoning laws prohibit food trucks from operating in Alexandria. (Examiner)

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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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@Rhee defends test scores:

It should read "veractiy," although I can understand why USA Today would question someone eating the jump in test scores...

by rsn on Mar 30, 2011 9:06 am • linkreport

Will Alma Gates decry the tax survey "game" and imply that the C100 is better suited to provide input on whether to increase taxes?

by ah on Mar 30, 2011 9:09 am • linkreport

Interesting point about the GW parkway ticket.

The feds don't have a speed limit. So they have to sign a compact with Virginia to enforce Virginia laws on the parkway.

Which court does it go to?

by charlie on Mar 30, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

Tel Aviv, Israel and Doha, Qatar have recently added bike sharing programs. (The Bike-sharing Blog) ... Miami Beach opened its new DecoBike system, which is priced in a conspicuously different fashion from CaBi. (The Independent)

Ah, but this is apples and oranges. Biking in DC will never work because it's hot, and there are hills. While Tel Aviv has hills and is hot, it's a dry heat. And while Miami is hot and humid, it's fairly flat.

Ergo, no one will ever ride a bike to work in DC.

by oboe on Mar 30, 2011 9:19 am • linkreport

I'm sure it will go all the way to the Supreme Court. ;)

by Matt Johnson on Mar 30, 2011 9:21 am • linkreport

Charlie -

DO you know what effect this has when the GW parkway is in DC on Columbia Island? Who enforces traffic law there?

by Max on Mar 30, 2011 9:26 am • linkreport

That Gray "survey" on taxes is a total joke.

Here's essentially the question it asked and how it gauged the responses:

Question: Would you support higher taxes and fees to pay for DC services?
1. No
2. Probably
3. Yes
4. Absolutely
5. Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh God, yes!

When you couch a fake survey in such a way that the responses will justify your pre-determined decision, it's not a legitimate representation of residents' views.

Now, it will be interesting to see how Gray explains his budget's tax increases with his recent statements about not being in favor of tax increases. No doubt he'll just blame it on Fenty and Gerri Hall.

by Fritz on Mar 30, 2011 9:31 am • linkreport

Re: Bethesda Parking - It would be a great idea to start charging on Saturday's providing that; 1) There are enough spaces for extended parking - 2 hour spots in the first couple of floors in the garage are a bit inadequate for dinner; and 2) Bethesda Elm, Lot 31, and the Waverly Garage switch from coin meters to something where you could use a credit card and/or just pay for time (Like the Downtown SS Garage).

As it is right now, I don't even go to the Bethesda Elm Garage, it's a mess on the weekends. Personally, I'm willing to cough up the buck or two extra to park next door at the Bethesda Row Garage. It's just not worth circling that entire garage, getting to the top and finding no spaces. The demand is clearly there (for the Elm Garage). However, some of the other lots don't fill up quite so full on weekends - Performance pricing anyone?

by GinChevyChase on Mar 30, 2011 9:32 am • linkreport

@Max; I'm pretty sure Park Police have concurrent jurisdiction throughout DC, so they can enforce DC speed limits on Columbia Island.

However, it is confusing, and I've noticed a real lack of enforcement there.

by charlie on Mar 30, 2011 9:35 am • linkreport

oboe -- fwiw, the ability to bike to work in DC is considerable, and you don't have to get the whole world to bike either for work, school, or other activities to make a significant difference in transpo effectiveness and personal times saving. Given that 50% of trips typically are 3 miles or less, a bike has an opportunity for trip capture of an incredible proportion.

But a system of services and programming, not just infrastructure, need to be in place to make that more likely to occur.

WRT the Deco Bike pricing scheme, fwiw, my business group proposed a not dissimilar pricing scheme for Chattanooga. The idea is that tourists don't pay for the ongoing investment and should pay more to use the system. The only way we figured out how to charge differential rates for residents (mapped to the MPO) was to map it to zip code on the charge card. So that residents of the MPO would be charged the resident rate, and nonresidents the nonresident rate. OTOH, the nonresident rate would entitle the user to longer trips than the typical 30 minute max. time.

by Richard Layman on Mar 30, 2011 9:40 am • linkreport

Oh, and we would never do a 5 day for the price of 3 like CaBi is doing. That merely leaves money on the table for no good reason. Given the high cost of maintaining a bikeshare bike, and that the likelihood of itinerant users are not really price sensitive, I can't understand the decision (especially from a direct marketing standpoint).

by Richard Layman on Mar 30, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

@Richard Layman

Unless I read it wrong, I'm pretty sure that oboe is being facetious in his comments.

by Adam L on Mar 30, 2011 9:50 am • linkreport

@charlie: I would assume that since it's federal territory, it would be in a federal court of some sort.

Think of it like Metro Transit Police. It's one police force, whose jurisdiction is the whole Metro system. But they're subject to the laws of the individual jurisdiction where a crime takes place, and the courts enforce those laws. So, for example, if Maryland makes it illegal to each or drink on transit, but DC doesn't, Metro police can only enforce that law when passengers are in Maryland, not DC.

Anyway, I assume it's similar with the GW Parkway. Either Virginia state police or NPS police enforce the laws, but since it's federal land, no matter what police force writes the ticket, it would go to federal court.

by Tim on Mar 30, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

Yeah, Fritz hit it on the head. They survey was a total joke. I actually participated in it 3 times, all of them saying I was not a dc resident just to prove a point.

Which brings me to my final point, it is lunacy to count any responses by the 300 people who admit to not being dc residents. All of their responses should have been thrown out of the larger pool of responses and I would hope that he simply throws this survey in the trash.

Statiscally legit surveys like this are so easy to do. It simply reflects the overiding opinion Gray has as to the stupidity of his constiuents that he would even waste the electrons of the google net by putting it out there.

by freely on Mar 30, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

Re: DC tax increases. More accurately it would be, "District residents (those who replied, at least) overwhelmingly do want to raise [someone else's] taxes to balance the budget."

by Paul on Mar 30, 2011 10:01 am • linkreport

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, is the go-to court for all traffic offenses on federal property in NoVa (includes the parkways, military bases/Pentagon, Arlington Cem., etc.). Traffic court is Friday at 9am. I've sat through plenty of traffic hearings waiting for my civil cases to be heard at 10am when the traffic docket is running over its prescribed hour.

by Simon on Mar 30, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

sometimes I'm dense. It did seem out of character for oboe...

by Richard Layman on Mar 30, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

The question on the tax survey makes the results almost meaningless:
"How strongly do you agree with the following statement: In balancing the budget, the District Government should consider revenue enhancements. Revenue enhancements include fees and taxes."

I see at least two issues with this questions right off the bat. One, it makes revenue enhancements rather abstract instead of using a phrase like "raise taxes on people like me." Secondly, it asks if the government should consider it. I think you have to be a pretty fervent Tea Party advocate to say the government shouldn't even consider some revenue enhancement.

by Steven Yates on Mar 30, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

Note: Michelle Rhee defends against the USA Today investigation by call them "enemies of school reform."

So glad she's gone. So glad she's gone.

by HogWash on Mar 30, 2011 10:17 am • linkreport

Yes The survey, like most, is a joke.

by HogWash on Mar 30, 2011 10:20 am • linkreport

Re: Bethesda Parking--

They should absolutely charge on Saturdays. They should also increase parking costs across the board. Quantity demanded is way too high at current prices.

by WRD on Mar 30, 2011 10:43 am • linkreport

Hold on. The real news in that $15,000 parking fine story is that Congress gave themselves their own parking lot at DCA!?

Can we talk about that instead? Seems like a definite abuse of their position.

by andrew on Mar 30, 2011 10:48 am • linkreport

That survey has pretty much been fisked over at DCist. It is worthless. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the pro-tax groups skewed it.

by Blogo on Mar 30, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

It's all how the question is asked. If they asked "are you willing to pay higher income, property and sales taxes?" it would have been interesting to see the responses. Public surveys can be easily shaped to get the desired answers -- just ask the pollsters in Belarus, Cuba and North Korea. One city, baby!

by Bob on Mar 30, 2011 11:18 am • linkreport

@Bob, you don't even need to get that picky. At a MINIMUM such survey's should have 1) single vote per IP address, 2) no default answers, and 3)requirement to answer each question.

This had none. You could answer as many times as you wanted. I have no doubt some did.

by blogoo on Mar 30, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

We don't know if they filtered out duplicate IPs, do we?

by David Alpert on Mar 30, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

Andrew, congressional parking at DCA is a very, very old story.

by charlie on Mar 30, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

@david. Probably not. If they put such little work into the survey design, there is no reason to think that they filtered out for IP addresses. It just reeks of a last minute "let's show we care about your opinion" job that was done in an hour.

by blogoo on Mar 30, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

@david, also, the only real question they asked was about a general concept of "revenue enhancements" which could include fees and taxes.

Why didn't they ask a question about spending cuts to get a clearer picture of how people think?

They did not take this survey seriously and you should not either.

by blogoo on Mar 30, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

The price of parking in Bethesda went up significantly not so long ago. Last year I think. Currently it's at or near market rate for much of the city, as demonstrated by the fact that on weekdays when I drive to work, I can park more cheaply in private garages than in public ones. Perhaps they should consider targeted increases near Bethesda Row, rather than the blunt instrument of increases in all county garages here.

by Nate on Mar 30, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

I agree this survey does nothing more than allow its interpreter to justify an already foregone conclusion. How was David's suggestion that he use the redistricting game results any different/more scientific .... and immune to self serving interpretation?

by Lance on Mar 30, 2011 1:02 pm • linkreport

Well Lance, first of all David hasn't released the results of his game, so it's hard to argue that what he has done was a result of a foregone conclusion. Secondly, the "question" in David's game was rather neutral, as opposed to the survey question which was very poorly worded. And with something like redistricting it's hard for the "common man" to have a self interested position in redistricting (perhaps making sure you are in one district or another, but outside of that I'm not sure how it serves one's self interest to decide whether a given census tract goes into one of two Wards you don't live.

But I think the main thrust of your argument is that David's game is, granted, not scientific (no random sampling, self-selection, etc.) but it does represent the voice of the people that did it (which I'm guessing numbers in the hundreds). And since it's not scientific, it should be disregarded. If this is your position, then I purpose that you and the Committee of 100 stop commenting except in the form of statistically significant scientific data.

by Steven Yates on Mar 30, 2011 1:19 pm • linkreport


The budget survey and the redistricting game differ in several ways:

Timing. The budget game was only release well after the Mayor's budget has been formed internally. There's simply no way it can have a real impact on the decision making process. The redistricting tool is here right now, at the beginning of that particular process.

Results. The budget survey's results are questionable. Even if the redistricting tool's output isn't scientific enough for you, the tool itself nevertheless has independent utility merely by showing the public at large the kinds of decisions that will need to be made. The budget survey does no such thing.

by Alex B. on Mar 30, 2011 1:30 pm • linkreport

@Steven Yates I'm not sure how it serves one's self interest to decide whether a given census tract goes into one of two Wards you don't live.

If you believe in what, for example, Wells stands for but not, for example, what Barry stands for ... Does it matter that you live in one of the two wards ... or not?

by Lance on Mar 30, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

@ Matt, charlie: it will go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Then the question becomes whether Scalia deems it necessary to recuse himself. Thomas surely won't think he'd (Scalia) have to.

by Jasper on Mar 30, 2011 3:33 pm • linkreport

@charlie The feds don't have a speed limit. So they have to sign a compact with Virginia to enforce Virginia laws on the parkway.

Huh? I'm pretty sure the feds can enforce traffic laws on federal roads, of which the GWP is one. And why wouldn't there be a speed limit? Just as there are laws to keep left, use your headlights, and don't pick your nose.

by Jack Love on Mar 30, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

I suppose, but how much "damage" can you do and stay within the rules? I'm a Wells fan (though I also live in his Ward) and in my map I ended up giving him huge tracts of land to a rather extreme extent. However, those tracts had few people in them and equally few development opportunities (the Mall, East Potomac Park, etc.). But I couldn't give him domain over the entire city, as his Ward had to be in the 70k's. The most influence you can have is taking a Ward with fewer people (7 or 8) and making so it's at the top end of the Ward limit. I'm just not sure how much better my life would get with my preferred councilman getting a few thousand more people.

by Steven Yates on Mar 30, 2011 3:40 pm • linkreport

If you believe in what, for example, Wells stands for but not, for example, what Barry stands for ... Does it matter that you live in one of the two wards ... or not?

Sure, but that's not really the question at hand. Under any redistricting plan with a realistic possibility of passing the Council, we'll still have a Councilmember Barry and a Councilmember Wells, and they'll still represent about the same number of people. Any census tract you give to Wells instead of Barry means that Barry picks up the same number of people somewhere else. Even if you don't live in Ward Six or Ward Eight, you may have an intense interest in keeping Wells and/or Barry on the Council, but your personal stake in which particular people are represented by Barry and which by Wells is probably minimal.

Of course, this goes out the window if the C100 is planning on submitting a proposal to redistrict Wells out of office. If that's the case please let us know, so the voters and the Council can make an informed, scientific, decision.

by cminus on Mar 30, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

@Steve Yates 'I'm just not sure how much better my life would get with my preferred councilman getting a few thousand more people.'

The question here isn't how much more secure your life would be, but rather how much GGW's objectives would be advanced were Wells to end up with more 'urban area ripe for hipster development' ... vs. getting say more of Anacostia where they don't want the streetcar or anything that could mean hipster takeover ... And might not make a good political base for him. This is just an example ... a speculative one at that ... But the fact stands that GGW could 'do harm' to other viewpoints in competition to its own.

by Lance on Mar 30, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport

I suppose in the abstract something like that could happen. But for your specific concern, Ward 6 can't get much bigger, so any gain it makes has to be balanced by a loss somewhere else, so it's not like GGW's agenda is better served by Wells getting the Convention Center or Trinidad at the expense of the SW Waterfront or Near South East.

Also, Wells already has H Street, so that's a near stranglehold on hipster development, and I have to figure the next hipster neighborhood is Anacostia.

But GGW does have an agenda, that's true (just like C100, and various other groups). And I'm sure the maps are created by a disproportionate number of GGW readers. It doesn't mean their view is irrelevant.

by Steven Yates on Mar 30, 2011 4:56 pm • linkreport

@Steven, 'Ward 6 can't get much bigger, so any gain it makes has to be balanced by a loss somewhere else, so it's not like GGW's agenda is better served by Wells getting the Convention Center or Trinidad at the expense of the SW Waterfront or Near South East.'

Actually, it might be ... if the Convention Center or Trinidad will get him more of a political base ... both in terms of voters AND political supporters (read: 'political donors'). Believe me, each and every Ward CM knows exactly which areas he'd/she'd like to be in a position to have influence in.

by Lance on Mar 30, 2011 7:12 pm • linkreport


Very good point.

They should raise the price enough to just barely keep the garages full at peak times. And they should lower them when demand is low. Basically, they should profit-maximize with respect to each garage (or even each space) to the maximum extent possible.

by WRD on Mar 31, 2011 5:28 pm • linkreport

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