Posts about Jack Evans
Over 100 friends, readers, and contributors turned out to the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company last night to celebrate Greater Greater Washington's 5th birthday.
Thank you to DC Mayor Vincent Gray, DC Councilmembers Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, and Tommy Wells, Arlington Board member Chris Zimmerman, and everyone else who made it to the celebration!
Many contributors, commenters, and readers joined us for fun conversation, drinks, and cake, including many longtime members of our community and a number of new ones, including contributors for our new Greater Greater Education site.
Councilmember Jack Evans brought a resolution declaring March 5, 2013 "Greater Greater Washington Day."
You can see more images from last night on this Flickr set. If you were at the party, did you snap a few pictures? Please take a moment to share them in the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool for everyone to enjoy!
Over 300 people rallied for affordable housing this weekend with the Housing for All Campaign. The packed house drew Mayor Gray and Councilmembers Muriel Bowser and Jack Evans, all of whom were unified in their commitment to stem the tide of displacement in the District.
Evans said, "We need to make sure the people who were here in the difficult times get to stay for the good times." But the three differed on how to respond to this need.
Mayor Gray promised a big housing announcement at his State of the District address next week, so he didn't make any commitments at this time. The Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force, which the Mayor commissioned nearly a year ago, has recently finished its work. Their report is expected soon, so he's likely waiting for its publication before making a statement.
He did take the opportunity to praise key housing programs that have struggled in the recession, including the Housing Production Trust Fund and Local Rent Supplement Program.
Bowser, however, challenged the Mayor on his housing record. "You can't say you're for affordable housing and take $40 million out of the Housing Production Trust Fund," she said referring to the DC budget in 2012 and 2013 when the administration proposed $18 and $20 million in cuts to the program, respectively.
The Housing Production Trust Fund has created 7,500 affordable housing units in its 10-year history and is respected as a model across the country. It remains to be seen if the Mayor's strategy will include a continued commitment to this highly-successful program.
The next few months will be critical for housing funding. The task force is scheduled to release its report in the next few weeks, and Mayor Gray will announce his housing plan. The Mayor will then submit his budget to the DC Council, which many hope will offer increased investments to make housing affordable to District residents.
"It is time to act," said Bob Pohlman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development. "More than a thousand newcomers are flooding into the District every month, putting more and more pressure on the cost of housing. If we don't face this reality and act now, affordable housing will be out of reach for tens of thousands of DC residents."
What does seem clear is that after years of accelerating housing need and limited political interest in the topic, affordable housing is becoming a key political issue again.
A few DC officials haven't stopped trying to get the Landover NFL team back to the District. Even though one dedicated champion of wooing the team, Michael Brown, is off the DC Council, Tim Craig reports that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is promoting the idea, along with Mayor Gray and dedicated sports fan Jack Evans.
Evans, perhaps reacting to criticism that he'd pour public money into the stadium, insists that the city wouldn't spend any public money on a stadium. However, he says, the city might pay for new streets and parking lots.
It's good he wants to make the team pay for the stadium itself, and as Craig explains, that's likely going to make any deal not appealing to owner Dan Snyder. However, even paying for parking lots is a big expense, and a bad one. New York spent $39 million on parking lots at the new Yankee Stadium.
Plus, they ended up finding the lots going largely empty, thanks in part to a new Metro-North station at the ballpark. The garage operator ended up defaulting on the garage bonds because of low usage. Public spending on garages at any new stadium largely amounts to spending public money to encourage people not to use the Metro that we also already spend public money to operate.
Why do these apparently bad deals keep resurfacing? It's simple: some people think that having professional sports teams here is integral enough to our civic pride that it's worth large sums to get them, even if the deal doesn't pay off economically and wouldn't fly if it were a deal for just a generic private development.
A few months ago, I was on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt right after Jack Evans. We mainly talked about development without underground parking and Evans spoke to that issue as well in his segment. But they had an interesting exchange about sports stadiums, who've had no greater booster than Evans.
DePuyt asked Evans about plans for a soccer stadium at Buzzard Point, and what the District's subsidy might be. Evans asserted that it would pay off economically, but even if it doesn't, he said the District should pay to bring in professional sports simply because of "civic pride":
There's a civic pride that comes from this. When I was pushing the baseball stadium, I used say to people, we're we do it because we want a team. Start with that. Whether it's economically viable or not, who cares? We want a baseball team because Washington, DC was the only major city in America without one.I'd note that actually, most museums get their funds from private individuals, foundations, and the federal government. The District cut arts funding during the recession, and doesn't spend $611 million on a museum. On the other hand, it has contributed to help many local theaters and other prominent arts organizations buy and renovate their buildings over the years.
Do we economically analyze every museum we build? If we did, we wouldn't build any museums. It's a part of our culture.
The early analysis of the presidential election suggests that President Obama can credit much of his victory to a changing American electorate, which is more diverse, better educated and more urban than it was 20 years ago when Bill Clinton became president.
The Washington region is changing as well. It, too, is growing more diverse, and it is now majority-minority. Like the nation, it is also becoming more urban. Neighborhoods in the District, Arlington, Alexandria and Silver Spring are on the national forefront of the trend toward young people and empty-nesters choosing to live in urban communities. And spread-out commercial areas with (or soon to have) good access to transit, such as White Flint and Tysons Corner, are evolving into walkable communities.
These changes bring new types of diversity to our region: a diversity of housing choices and transportation options. We can be a region with many ways to live.
Continue reading my latest op-ed in the Washington Post.
Bruce DePuyt and I talked Tuesday about the Babe's project, a planned 55-65-unit apartment building one block from Tenleytown Metro which will not have underground parking and whose residents will not be able to get resident parking stickers.
A lot of people are nervous about this proposal, but it really should be a no-brainer. The Office of Planning report said that there are 560 parking spaces available for rent nearby. In just the garage at Cityline at Tenley (the building with the Container Store), there are 110-120 spaces going unused each night, and 50 during the day.
That means that even if almost everyone brought a car and just rented a space, everything would be fine. There's a strange legacy assumption that everyone who parks would need to either park in their own building or on the street, but there are actually a lot of garages in Tenleytown.
Plus, Douglas Development is explicitly planning to market the building to people who don't want to have cars. The Container Store at Cityline only sells containers. That doesn't make it a bad store because it doesn't also sell furniture or clothing. If you want containers, go there. If not, shop somewhere else. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with having a building for people mostly without cars, and other buildings and houses and neighborhoods can serve people with different needs.
Bruce was worried that someone with a car would want to buy a unit from an initial owner (actually, it's an apartment building, not condos, but I forgot to mention that on the segment). Regardless, I pointed out that some apartments in some buildings have decks, or more bathrooms, and others don't. People choose where to live based on the available amenities, and not every apartment, condo or house has to serve every need for every person.
This is a simple economic concept, but it seems to escape many people, like Councilmember Jack Evans (ward 2), who was on the show before me. Bruce asked Evans about the proposal. Evans made the odd argument that a building designed for people to ride transit one block from the Tenleytown Metro is a bad idea because there isn't a Metro station in his own neighborhood of Georgetown.
I think it's a major mistake to do that in the District of Columbia. The reason being that the Metro system, the bus system does not work well enough to get people around in the city. I live in Georgetown. There is no Metro. For me to get around I'm taking buses, transferring, it takes me a long time to get anywhere.This thinking reflects one of the most common cognitive errors we see in policy debates. People extrapolate their own experiences to everyone else. If I need to drive, everyone must. If I need a certain size apartment, everyone must. Therefore, the government must force the market to build those things.
We don't all need the same type of housing. Some people do need, or want, large suburban houses with big yards and 4 bedrooms and 2-car garages. We have a lot of those. Other people would rather save money and time and buy or rent a small unit without parking if it lets them live near the Metro.
Our zoning need not force everything into a single mold. That's what 1960s planners tried to do, and we know it was a failure. With the agreement to withhold residential parking permits to residents of this building, there's no way it can negatively effect anyone else. That means there's no reason to forbid Douglas from constructing the apartments they think the market demands.
A driver, talking on a cell phone, started to make an illegal U-turn across the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes and almost hit Bill Walsh. He recorded the experience in a video:
Cyclists have been pleading for action against dangerous and illegal U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue for some time. Justin Antos captured a recent U-turn on his camera as well, and many cyclists have reported the similar experiences using the #stoputurnsonpenn hashtag.
Councilmember Tommy Wells wants to stop the practice. His staff have obtained crash reports from DDOT for Pennsylvania Avenue and have been analyzing them for some time. Based on those reports, it appears that U-turns are by far the most common cause of bicycle-related crashes in the Pennsylvania Avenue lanes.
Here is the police narrative from one report, for a crash on October 27, 2010, where a taxi driver injured a cyclist:
DRIVER #1 STATES WHILE HEADING EAST BOUND IN THE 600 BLOCK OF PENNSYLVANIA AVE NW HE ATTEMPTED TO MAKE A U-TURN AND STRUCK VEHICLE #2 [A BICYCLE]. DRIVER #1 STATED THAT HE DID NOT SEE THE PERSON ON THE BIKE WHEN HE TURNED.Solutions: Enforcement? Bollards?
THE DRIVER OF THE BICYCLE STATED THAT ALL HE REMEMBERS WAS BEING STRUCK BY A VEHICLE AND DID NOT KNOW WHERE THE VEHICLE CAME FROM.
THE DRIVER OF THE BICYCLE WAS IN THE BIKE LANE WHEN HE WAS STRUCK, THE BIKE LANE IS A UNPROTECTED MEDIAN FOR BICYCLE TRAVEL.
WITNESS #1 A DC POLICE OFFICER WHO WAS IN A MARKED PATROL WAGON WAS BEHIND VEHICLE #1 AND STATED THAT HE SAW VEHICLE #1 MAKE A U-TURN AND STRIKE THE PERSON ON THE BICYCLE.
THE PASSENGER IN VEHICLE #1 STATED THAT SHEN [SIC] THE CAB PICKED HER UP HE WAS TALKING ON HIS CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING AND THAT WHEN HE STRUCK THE PERSON ON THE BIKE HE MAY STILL HAVE BEEN ON HIS CELL PHONE.
What can be done? Police could more strictly enforce the no-U-turn rules, and DDOT could add more clear signs or markings. Walsh himself made this suggestion:
Most of the crash reports Wells' office provided show that police did indeed ticket drivers for U-turns after crashes, at least when it was clear from the driver's statements or witnesses that a U-turn was involved. The fact that many drivers admitted to the U-turn may tell us that drivers don't realize it's illegal or unsafe, and the right signs might help.
On the other hand, police don't seem to ticket drivers for U-turns when there's no crash, and many federal and local police cruisers often actually park right in the lanes.
Darren Buck suggested more plastic stanchions or "flexposts." There are already short sets of these at each corner to make it clear to drivers that they shouldn't use the bike lane as a turn lane, but their absence in the center seems to give drivers license to make U-turns:
Earlier plans for the bike lanes included bollards along the whole length of the blocks, but the Commission on Fine Arts, a federal panel which reviews projects on federal land an in key areas near federal property, wasn't thrilled:
The Commission approved the proposed design without colored pavement on the bicycle lanes or median, noting the importance of the avenue's design character as a prominent visual symbol of the nation. The Commission also recommended against the installation of reflective plastic stanchions, commenting that these would be intrusive and incompatible elements in this iconic streetscape.DDOT ultimately decided to go ahead with some stanchions at the corners anyway, apparently believing this was a reasonable compromise between CFA's desire to keep objects out of Pennsylvania Avenue and safety. It may be time to revisit that decision and install stanchions mid-block.
Any physical changes, Wells points out, will probably not happen until after the Inauguration in January, when all of the traffic signals and other objects on Pennsylvania Avenue get taken out for the parade. DDOT will have to re-install the existing bollards at at that time, which would make it a perfect opportunity to put more bollards in while they already have crews out there.
Shaw residents will soon not be able to enjoy resident parking privileges in Logan Circle, while far more distant residents of neighborhoods like Georgetown and Kalorama will get special entitlements. That's the consequence of the recent redistricting and Evans' successful fight 2 weeks ago against a bill that would have kept parking zones from changing.
Shaw moved from Ward 2 to Ward 6 in the recent redistricting. A line in the redistricting committee report proposed keeping parking zones fixed as ward boundaries change, and the Gray administration sent the Council legislation to do just that. But Evans successfully blocked the bill on July 10, which means that Shaw residents will soon lose Ward 2 parking stickers and gain Ward 6 stickers.
Meanwhile, Logan Circle will soon get a pilot program reserving one side of every street for Ward 2 residents only. This will make it far easier for Ward 2 residents to park in Logan, even if they live at the other end of the ward in Georgetown or Kalorama, but harder for residents of other wards to park there, including the people of newly-6 Shaw.
DC parking zones are fundamentally unfair
Unlike almost all other cities, DC sets zones for its resident permit parking (RPP) program based on political ward boundaries, rather than a some objective and geographic standard. Our zones are also very large, larger than many other cities; instead of only helping residents park in their own neighborhoods, people get special rights to park in other people's neighborhoods so long as they are in the same ward.
Some people really like that. When redistricting moved the Palisades from Ward 2, which spans downtown, to upper Northwest's Ward 3 in 2002, residents objected. They were not upset because they didn't want the Ward 3 councilmember to represent them, but because they liked having a special privilege to drive to places like Foggy Bottom or Logan Circle and park with special resident privileges.
However, this is unfair to residents of the more desirable parking areas. At a recent parking hearing, Anne-Marie Bairstow of Woodley Park argued for smaller zones. She said that many people drive from other neighborhoods to Woodley Park, use their resident privileges to park, and take Metro. This deprives actual Woodley residents of the benefits of the RPP system.
It's also unfair to people who happen to live over a line. Palisades residents suddenly lost a privilege. Adams Morgan residents, who are in Ward 1, or Bloomingdale residents in Ward 5 never had that privilege in the first place.
This isn't the purpose of RPP. DC has a program to favor residents of an area in the competition for on-street parking spaces. It could limit that to only the immediate neighborhood, which would be fair, or perhaps it could instead give the privilege to anyone in the District, but giving it to an arbitrary set of alternative neighborhoods is not.
There's reason to be extra sensitive to this issue because redistricting moved Shaw out of Ward 2 and into Ward 6. Shaw happened to be the lowest-income and most-minority section of the ward, which has now gotten even richer and whiter. That gives this policy action an added economic and racial effect, whether or not that was the intent.
When Kingman Park moved from Ward 6 to 7, it stayed in Zone 6, so there is precedent already for keeping neighborhoods in zones other than their ward.
Upcoming Logan restriction will further discriminate against Shaw
Evans' office also recently proposed setting aside one side of every street in Logan Circle for Zone 2 parking only. Normally, most residential streets allow people with the right zone sticker to park all day, and people without it can still park during the day for 2 hours and nights and weekends without limit. But a few years ago, parts of Wards 1 and 6 started having one side of each street restricted so that people without the right zone sticker couldn't
ever park there at all park there at all during RPP enforcement hours.
Evans decided to suggest this for Logan as well. However, his staff and the Logan ANC turned down a suggestion to limit the special privilege to people actually in Logan. If they had done that, this would have put equal limits on the people of Shaw and people of Georgetown (and Dupont, where I live). If this bill had passed, then Shaw would have still gotten the privilege, though people of Bloomingdale, the Palisades, or Columbia Heights would not.
Instead, we have an even less fair outcome than either of those.
Shaw doesn't only lose out; they do gain the ability to park with resident privileges in Ward 6, including H Street, Barracks Row, and around the ballpark. That includes a lot of streets that only allow Ward 6 parkers on one side. However, while there hasn't been any kind of ward-wide poll, at least some Shaw leaders had specifically asked to stay in Zone 2, suggesting that residents preferred 2. Most of 2 is closer to Shaw than most of 6.
The best solution is to let DDOT, or some sort of independent commission, set parking zone boundaries based on neighborhoods and geographically-similar regions instead of political wards, as most other cities do. Or the zones could correspond to ANCs, with a provision that people right near an edge can still park in an adjacent zone.
But taking privileges from Shaw without taking them from other neighborhoods to the west isn't the right answer and isn't fair.
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