Posts about Wisconsin Giant
People in Cleveland Park are so eager for the dilapidated Wisconsin Giant to be replaced by a new mixed-use development. Even project opponent Phil Mendelson called it a "third world grocery". But in the 1950s, this was "Washington's newest, most excitingly beautiful food department store."
DCist commenter "DCRez" posted this amazing ad from the store's opening:
The ad calls the store "Another of the city's most modern, streamlined Giant Food Department Stores, surrounded by acres of free parking It was one of 24 Giants in DC, Arlington and Alexandria at the time. There were four Giants east of the Anacostia at that time; now there is one, which just opened in 2007 after a decade of having no supermarkets at all. Meanwhile, current stores in Shaw and Columbia Heights didn't exist.
It was one of 24 Giants in DC, Arlington and Alexandria at the time. There were four Giants east of the Anacostia at that time; now there is one, which just opened in 2007 after a decade of having no supermarkets at all. Meanwhile, current stores in Shaw and Columbia Heights didn't exist.
The DC Council races include some no-brainers, and some tougher calls. First, the no-brainers. Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh deserve your unhesitating vote.
Mr. Wells, finishing his first term representing Ward 6 (Capitol Hill, H Street, Near Southeast, Southwest Waterfront) has made "livable, walkable" communities the lynchpin of his candidacy, both four years ago and now. He's promoted bike lanes, transit, better retail, and performance parking.
His opponent, Kelvin Robinson, has attacked these policies with vague racial innuendo and tried to set up a false choice between these projects and other priorities like public safety. Wells has actually fought very hard on issues like crime and social services (he heads the social service committee), but deserves our vote for his strong urbanist leadership.
Ms. Cheh is unopposed in the primary for her first reelection in Ward 3 (upper Northwest). She won on a Smart Growth platform in a ward that, previously, many people believed was dominated by voters opposed to any development. Vocal groups of residents fight and often sue to block nearly every project, like the Wisconsin Avenue Giant in Cleveland Park or Akridge's project in Friendship Heights.
Ms. Cheh unabashedly came out for development on Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues, and for keeping most of the rest of the ward as it is. That's the essence of Smart Growth: more development in the commercial corridors and on transit stations, less in other places. And she won.
At-large, Clark Ray and Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown are both challenging incumbent Phil Mendelson. I really appreciate Mr. Ray's strong defense of Smart Growth, streetcars and more, though he didn't really bring these issues to the forefront until recently. Also, despite talking with him a few times and asking questions on a TV debate, I haven't come away with a really strong case for where he would show definitive leadership in controversial situations.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mendelson is a smart, capable, and honest councilmember who's been strong on the environment and a staunch defender of civil liberties and champion of same-sex marriage. His civil liberty stances have often led him to oppose crime legislation, and while public safety must be a priority, it's good to have someone asking questions like "is this Constitutional?" to keep the government from overstepping its bounds. But he's also a curmudgeon who tends to oppose changes to the city, like the aforementioned Giant and streetcars moving ahead on any kind of speedy timetable.
The contributors have generally come down on the side of Mr. Mendelson, mostly on the basis of his other good work on many issues outweighing his more obstructionist actions on a few specific points (and on which he has generally lost). Today's Post poll showing Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown in the lead is another good argument to tip the scales. That Mr. Brown has not made any compelling case for being a Councilmember, but most of his support comes from confusion between him and current at-large Councilmember Michael A. Brown.
Unfortunately, the ballot will only say "Michael Brown," a very poor decision by the Board of Elections and Ethics. Therefore, I actually hope Mr. Ray will ultimately encourage his supporters to vote for Mr. Mendelson. It's very likely that there will be a special election soon for the at-large seat held by Kwame Brown, and so Mr. Ray would make a strong contender for that election. (In fact, some have speculated that this was really his game plan all along, and Vincent Orange's too.)
I'll cover the races for Council Chair and Wards 1 and 5 in a subsequent post.
Opponents of the Wisconsin Giant project have filed a lawsuit to try to stop the project. The Wisconsin-Newark Neighbors Coalition, one of several ad-hoc groups that formed to oppose the project, has appealed the Zoning Commission's approval of the project (PDF). Jeff Davis, founder of pro-Giant group AWARE, wrote, "This could delay the construction by an additional one to three years."
Resident Bill wrote on the Cleveland Park listserv,
I for one am dismayed by the endless bickering and legal maneuvering that hamstrings any effort to make our neighborhood a better place. The Giant controversy is only the most recent and egregious example.WNNC's opposition brief (PDF) in the Zoning Commission case outlines their objections. The neighborhood commercial overlay, which includes the Giant site, prohibits development of the scale in the project. WNNC argues that the Zoning Commission doesn't have the authority to approve the Giant PUD in a way that conflicts with the overlay. Councilmember Phil Mendelson made a similar argument at the hearing.
I have spent many years in countries Americans often regard as "byzantine" and "dysfunctional," looking down on them because they can't resolve any of their problems or resolve conflicts without people tearing each other apart. I'd say Cleveland Park in the past few years ranks with the worst of them in terms of conflict resolution, and we are a small community of generally well-educated and tolerant people with many mutual interests about what makes a neighborhood most livable.
The Office of Planning and the Cleveland Park ANC both have argued, as did I, that the overlay shouldn't trump the project. In its order, the Zoning Commission claimed that it does have the authority to remove the property from the overlay. They are the ones who create overlays, and can also modify them, and make other zoning amendments. The opponents essentially appear to be arguing that the Zoning Commission has to go through a different kind of proceeding to modify the overlay, separate from the approval of the PUD, or have the Board of Zoning Adjustment grant a special exception. The Zoning Commission says that they are allowed to make map amendments in conjunction with a PUD, and this counts as a map amendment.
Ann Hamilton, a resident of the area, sent that brief to the Office of Zoning and participated in the hearing as part of WNNC. Hamilton is also running for one of the officer positions in the Cleveland Park Citizens' Association as part of the "Unity Slate," which has recently emerged in opposition to Davis' "Reform Slate." Likely seeing the writing on the wall from the rush of new members and the backlash when they postponed the elections, the present leaders aren't running, but sources familiar with the candidates say that the Unity Slate represents the old guard's handpicked successors.
The Unity Slate candidate for President, John Chelen, wrote about bringing the neighborhood together and creating a more inclusive and communicative CPCA, similar themes to those we heard from Davis and the Reform Slate. The key differences are in their approach to the actual issues and change in the neighborhood. From all indications so far, from the Giant to the restaurant limitations on Connecticut Avenue, the Unity Slate seems to come down on the side of opposing most change, and the Reform Slate interested in finding ways to improve the neighborhood that most residents can support.
Despite some predictions to the contrary at various points in our history, no US President has ever tried to cancel or postpone an election to avoid losing office. Mayor Rudy Giuliani briefly floated the idea after 9/11, just as his term was about to expire, but backed down during the ensuing criticism. But the Cleveland Park Citizens Association just invoked their emergency powers to delay their annual election until this fall. On its face, it looks like they took this step because many residents of that neighborhood, upset with CPCA's recent direction, joined the group and were planning to elect new leadership.
Any resident of Cleveland Park is entitled to join CPCA by paying $15 in dues. Anyone who joined by May 5th would have been eligible to vote in the election previously scheduled for June 6th. Neighborhood leaders dismayed by the CPCA's current direction, particularly its vociferous opposition to the Giant project on Wisconsin Avenue, were organizing to change CPCA. Their efforts yielded about 75 new CPCA members in recent months, very likely enough to swing the election.
According to Jeff Davis, the head of the pro-Giant project group Advocates for Wisconsin Avenue Renewal (AWARE), Zoning Commission Chairman Anthony Hood "questioned whether the CPCA truly represents either Cleveland Park or the CPCA membership itself since such a small number of CPCA members (32 of 425) voted for their resolution against the Application." AWARE members met with CPCA leaders to urge changes to the bylaws that would enable more residents of Cleveland Park to find out about and participate in CPCA meetings and votes.
Davis and the other AWARE leaders also asked CPCA to nominate supporters of the Giant project to half of the positions, both on the Executive Committee and committee chairs. That would have given them an "equal voice" in the organization without excluding the existing CPCA leaders, who have contributed substantial time and effort to the neighborhood. According to current CPCA President George Idelson, AWARE "said such a 'joint' slate would avoid an acknowledged, organized campaign to take over the entire leadership of CPCA at our annual meeting."
In an email to the Cleveland Park neighborhood list this morning, Idelson wrote,
The Cleveland Park Citizens Association welcomes the many new members who have joined in recent weeks. This is a president's dream come true and we look forward to their active participation. ...Idelson seems to fundamentally misunderstand democracy. Democracy means that people can choose the leaders of an organization. That choice isn't limited to people who come to the organization completely unprompted. Rhetoric, whether true or false, does not invalidate that right. Elections don't always involve people quietly and calmly reaching a consensus.
[However,] this campaign [to register voters for the CPCA election] has been fueled by false charges that the Association opposes all change and development. It has distorted our position on the Giant development ... That the campaign was orchestrated was demonstrated by some 60 bundled applications received by certified mail just before the specified cut-off date, by anonymous leaflets, and by private emails urging residents to join CPCA to "stage a coup."
The campaign urged people to join by a certain date, to be eligible to vote for this competing, unnamed slate. Demonizing an association and encouraging a chaotic election is hardly normal. This is Cleveland Park, not some third world country. We are deeply dismayed over the divisiveness this campaign has caused in our community. Development issues can be contentious, but they ought not be used to tear the community apart.
We need some time for cooling off. Time to reflect on the issues. For these reasons, CPCA's Executive Committee has executed the emergency powers granted in our bylaws to postpone the election of officers until the Fall. This is clearly an emergency. In the interim, we will seek ways to mend this tear in our neighborhood fabric.
Our nation's elections were contentious at least since Thomas Jefferson and John Adams ran against each other in 1796, and probably before that back to the first Congress, not to mention state legislatures and town meetings back to the founding of the Virginia and Massachusetts colonies. When the Democratic-Republicans disagreed with the Federalists about the nation's direction, the Federalists didn't say that Jefferson's "wild claims" were going to "tear the nation apart." Or maybe some did, but elections went ahead just the same, and in 1800, Jefferson beat Adams.
"Demonizing an association" for an election is very normal; almost every federal election involves at least one candidate railing against "Washington." Postponing an election is far more evocative of a "third world country" than running a voter registration drive to democratically change policy.
There's nothing wrong with a group of people organizing to get residents involved in decisions. Nor is it unusual for a contentious issue to spur many people to get involved in politics. As long as most residents agreed with most actions of CPCA, there was little reason to take the time to get involved. Idelson seems to feel that the sudden wave of voter registrations reflects a small group that doesn't represent what he sees as the longtime consensus of the neighborhood. Instead, it's he who is out of touch with a community dismayed by the priorities of its leaders.
The citizens' associations frequently come under fire for their undemocratic tendencies. While they claim to represent the community, closed boards make many decisions, including filling vacancies without elections. The Dupont Circle Citizens' Association only allowed people who were members before January 2009 to vote in their recent election. Robin Diener may not have won election as President had newer members been able to vote. But in DCCA's case, the Board nominated a mixture of newer and more long-time residents with diverse voices, all of whom won except for the office of President.
It's too bad that CPCA first took a position without pushing for broad involvement by its members, then spurned the suggestions from the large group of residents upset with its processes, and finally postponed the election. CPCA has taken membership dues from the new members but denied them their voice. This gives enormous ammunition to critics of community organizations. That's too bad, because community groups fill an important role in our local civic fabric. When a few members disenfranchise their neighbors because they don't like the rest of the community's opinions, they instead become a harmful knot in that fabric.
Do citizens' and civic associations represent the broad interests of residents, or very narrow factions within a neighborhood? Recently, growing numbers of residents have started to question the long-standing role of these groups as the voices of residents in the civic discourse. The Dupont Circle Citizens' Association (DCCA) faces a contested election next month, where a slate of candidates nominated by the current Board seeks to bring the neighborhood together and represent the broader resident interest, while competing candidates, nominated from the floor, would keep the organization on one specific, partisan side of major issues.
Citizens' and civic associations have existed in DC for a long time. When DC lacked home rule, they played an especially important role to amplify resident needs to a frequently uninterested Congress. They then had to fight for a better city during decades of a completely dysfunctional District government. Today, our government is much better, but residents still need a voice.
However, many residents have started asking whether these organizations, often tightly controlled by small groups of individuals, really represent the broader consensus. The major issues before our government have evolved, from fights for provision of basic services which unite all residents, to debates about housing and business growth whose answers are less clear. The many residents of Cleveland Park who support the Giant project on Wisconsin Avenue, for example, felt shut out when the Cleveland Park Citizens' Association met to oppose the project and provided little notice to members or the community.
Many Councilmembers, elected ANC Commissioners, and leaders of neighborhood organizations have worked hard to bridge those disagreements and build consensus on the difficult issues of the day. Moreover, many of them have also attempted to bring more residents into the conversation, to better represent all residents, whether they have lived here for thirty years or three months. Others, on the other hand, have resisted efforts to grow these organizations' membership, preferring to limit the decisionmaking to the existing activists and maintain the status quo in leadership.
This dichotomy recently bubbled to the surface in Dupont Circle, where DCCA President Joel Lawson recently resigned over disagreements with certain members of the DCCA Board. Lawson had brought a new vitality to DCCA, bringing in many new members, including myself. However, some members of the Board, though only a small minority, weren't so pleased by this evolution away from the control of those who had controlled the group and the agenda in the past.
Matters came to a head during the debate over renewing the 17th Street liquor license moratorium, which prohibits new liquor licenses and prevents alcohol-serving bars and restaurants from expanding into neighboring spaces. That moratorium has helped preserve neighborhood retail on 17th by preventing rising rents from pricing out stores that don't make high profits from alcohol, but has also comes at a cost to businesses on the corridor.
Five years ago, when the moratorium last came up for renewal, DCCA was a highly partisan force pushing for a hard-line position. Arguments between businesses and residents created deep rifts in the neighborhood. This year, Lawson and several ANC Commissioners were determined to avoid similar acrimony.
An ANC Committee chaired by Commissioner Jack Jacobson, who represents part of 17th, convened several neighborhood "listening sessions". Many residents lined up on both sides of the issue, and those opposed to the moratorium prepared to criticize DCCA's partisanship. One speaker at the first listening session blasted DCCA for representing only the interests of a small subset of residents.
However, these opponents soon found themselves surprised, as DCCA voted to support a compromise the committee hammered out. The compromise extends the moratorium, but reexamines it in three years instead of five. It allows two businesses to expand laterally, so that some establishments, perhaps Hank's Oyster Bar or the Komi restaurant, can grow beyond their narrow townhouses. And it encourages "summer gardens," but only in the rear of buildings facing Stead Park and away from residents on 17th. Fundamentally, though, the agreement preserves the moratorium. People on both sides wished for more, but ultimately I believe this is an excellent agreement that will maintain the special qualities of 17th while also allowing for some positive growth.
At the same time, the long-simmering conflict within DCCA also reached a boil, especially between Lawson and Second Vice President Phyllis Klein. I will not go into specifics, but I, too, have had disagreements with Klein over neighborhood issues. When the DCCA Board could not resolve the situation, Lawson chose to resign. In the aftermath, however, the Board decided not to renominate Klein for a seat on the Board.
The Nominating Committee chose John Hockensmith and Susan Dunn as Vice Presidents. Hockensmith was a Vice President during the past year, and Dunn the year before. They also renominated Judith Neibrief and Nancy Hartsock as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively. When I have interacted with these individuals, I have found them to all be thoughtful, responsible, and very interested in building a better and inclusive neighborhood.
These individuals aren't extreme partisans when it comes to major neighborhood issues, and they are certainly not necessarily on "my side." In fact, some of these candidates are close friends with frequent Greater Greater Washington commenter and fellow neighborhood activist Lance. As anyone who reads the comments knows, Lance disagrees with me on many issues. However, he has always dealt with the Greater Greater Washington community and with myself honestly, forthrightly, and with a genuine desire to improve the neighborhood. I believe that, whether I agree with them or not on specific policy issues, Hockensmith, Dunn, Neibrief and Hartsock will do the same.
The Board also nominated several new individuals who hadn't previously served on the DCCA Board: Ron Clayton, Marisa Uchin, James Dudney, Haru Shimura, and Maureen McLellan. Uchin ran last year for an ANC seat, and while I supported the ultimate winner, Jack Jacobson, I was also impressed by Uchin. I don't know the rest of these individuals, but believe they will bring more residents into DCCA and reach out to constituencies who currently feel alienated by past factionalism. Dudney is a board member of Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, while Shimura and McClellan have actively helped organize recent DCCA events. The Chair of the Nominating Committee, Ellen Mercer, explained the Board's selection of these individuals by saying, "For years, I have heard many active DCCA members talk about how much we (DCCA) need new members, new blood, and new focuses to complement the ongoing work."
The Nominating Committee originally planned to nominate Robin Diener as President, but the day before the slate was announced, she suddenly pulled her name from contention. Therefore, they chose Clayton as the nominee for President. Clayton's professional background is in marketing, and his resume includes a long list of civic activism work, including as a career counselor at gay and lesbian centers, a volunteer for the Whitman-Walker Clinic, at the Kennedy Center, and in DCCA.
After the Board nominated its slate at the official nominating meeting, a group of members nominated alternatives from the floor. They nominated Diener for President, Klein for Second Vice-President, Carol Mitten for Secretary, and Dave Mallof and Lex Reiffel for Board seats. Mallof and Reiffel have been staunch advocates for extending the moratorium indefinitely and without any change. They were active in DCCA during the previous moratorium fight, when DCCA took a fiercely partisan position. According to Mercer, the Nominating Committee had also considered Mitten, but was told she lived outside the neighborhood and was thus officially ineligible.
DCCA members will meet on Monday, May 4th to choose their officers. I plan to vote for the Board slate, and hope other residents of the neighborhood will do the same. Whatever your position on issues, it's important that the neighborhood associations try hard to include as many residents as possible, and to represent a broad resident point of view. The position of individual candidates on the moratorium is now moot; ABRA has already held its hearing on the issue. DCCA could potentially try to bring legal action, but that would create even more division and push it quickly on a path to irrelevance and extinction.
The question for DCCA members next month is whether they want the leadership to comprise individuals who've divided the organization, driven off an inclusive President, and pushed the group toward hardline positions that are not shared by large numbers of neighbors. Or, they could choose leaders who will reach out to wider groups of residents, building bridges and forging constructive solutions that might not please everybody, but might be the best consensus we can reach together.
Whatever happens at DCCA, more neighborhood organizations will face similar questions if they aren't already. Neighborhood consensus on some issues will shift over time, and many residents won't want to keep re-fighting the same battles of the past. These community groups can try to broaden their appeal and continue to fill an important role as the voices of residents, or they can marginalize themselves as the bullhorns of a dwindling group stuck in the past while new methods of organizing, like blogs, speak to and activate residents. There's plenty of room for traditional organizations and new media to work together constructively, and as one who prefers a vibrant civic sphere, I hope the organizations will choose the inclusive route.
Councilmember Phil Mendelson (at-large) testified against the proposed Giant development at Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street on Monday. His was the only testimony aside from the official presentations by the Office of Planning and DDOT, as cross-examination by the many individual parties in opposition, each representing a small number of nearby residents, consumed the entire evening. The Zoning Commission hearing will resume for its third, though likely not final, night on April 23rd.
Here is Mendelson's testimony. He makes two points. First, he believes that this area ought to remain "low density commercial" and that the Giant proposal is not low enough for him. Second, he argues that the neighborhood zoning overlays ought to remain sacrosanct, trumping the development plan.
The commercial corridors are the right place to put higher density along Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues. Much of their length, including near the Giant project, are already moderate or even high density. At the first installation of this hearing, Councilmember Mary Cheh argued for Smart Growth on these corridors and sees "broad-based support" for her viewpoint within her ward.
While Cheh looks forward to a better Ward Three, Mendelson looks backward, to the anti-development neighborhood fights of the 1980s when he was an ANC Commissioner and helped downzone the area and institute the overlay. Then, cities were demolishing valuable, walkable neighborhoods to replace them with isolating and ugly suburban-style buildings that we're now arguing over whether to tear down. Many of the Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) communities successfully blocked in the 1980s would indeed have damaged their neighborhoods. But today, many PUDs instead repair those scars by filling in gaps with attractive, vibrant streetscapes.
This area has a zoning overlay that prohibits PUDs from exceeding the height that's otherwise allowed by zoning, and the Giant proposal goes about one story higher. In his testimony, Mendelson argues that if the Zoning Commission approves a PUD that violates the overlay, that would not only "destroy" this neighborhood but the sanctity of overlays in general. We need zoning tools that aren't so rigid.
The PUD process intentionally provides latitude in exceeding zoning requirements in exchange for greater scrutiny, deeper resident involvement, and community benefits. The overlays unilaterally prohibit certain types of latitude, as in this case, or ban PUDs entirely, as in Dupont Circle. This patchwork now just makes it more difficult to improve the most politically-connected neighborhoods, even when, as in this case, most residents support the project. Slavish adherence to these overlays today, simply because they were necessary twenty years ago, would condemn today's good ideas because some people, like Mendelson, are still preoccupied with yesterday's bad ones.
Opponents of the Office of Planning's Low and Moderate Density Residential zoning recommendations will argue the same points at tonight's hearing, part of the comprehensive zoning rewrite process. The report suggests, among other things, replacing the crazy quilt of overlays with a more generalized system that accomplishes the same purpose. The proposal would replace the current broad zones like M, C-2-A, and R-5-B that impose the same setbacks, side yards, building heights, lot coverage and more on diverse neighborhoods, supplemented with completely nonstandardized overlays.
Instead, OP suggests a system with a set of variables, like height, setback, and yard size. Each neighborhood or even each block can set those variables differently. To begin, the new rules would set those variables at the same values as the current zones or overlays. Then, OP will work with local areas to better customize them for that community's needs, whether reducing or enlarging the permitted densities, heights and setbacks.
This system gives communities more control, rather than less. Nevertheless, some people have criticized the proposal on grounds that actually argue in favor. One resident of the Dupont Circle neighborhood attacked the plan at a recent forum with Mayor Fenty, for example, claiming that it would undo the hard work of residents in the northeastern part of the neighborhood who recently succeeded in downzoning their blocks from R-5-B to R-4. But the new recommendations wouldn't undo that at all. In fact, had the plan already been in place, they could have actually changed their zoning more quickly than the multiple years it actually took.
From the rhetoric, opposition to this proposal seems to stem from uncertainty. Groups of activists in certain areas fought hard to plant local obstacles to development over the past twenty years. Any change to those hard-won rules may appear more likely to weaken than strengthen them. For those only concerned with protecting their particular exemption, that might be true. But the overall system makes more sense, while striving hard to protect communities' ability to manage change.
The 1980s are over. Not all PUD proposals will enhance neighborhoods. But many will. It's time to focus on the good of our city rather than blind adherence to a set of overlays. For the zoning code, a more flexible system could preserve the overlays' goals while also softening their sharp edges. For the Giant PUD in particular, this is a good project with strong community support. If an overlay prohibits a popular and positive improvement to the neighborhood, it's time to reexamine that overlay.
- DDOT has rejected several suggestions for pedestrian improvements in Mount Vernon Square. Neighborhood resident Matt Yglesias is not pleased. (Life in Mount Vernon Square)
- The bad economy may deter legal challenges to DC representation in the House, if the voting rights bill passes. (DCist)
- Bicycle police harassed a cyclist downtown, telling him (incorrectly) that he was required to register his bike. (WashCycle)
- 77% of respondents in the Cleveland Park listserv's unscientific poll support the Giant development.
- Montgomery County's policy of giving parking fine money to the local parking district causes the districts to underprice parking and keep time periods really low to encourage fines, charges Ben Ross of the Action Committee for Transit. Performance parking would be fairer to all. (Ryan Avent)
- Building a skybridge across Wayne Avenue between the parking garage and the future Silver Spring library requires amending Silver Spring's revitalization plan, and the County Council plans to try. Park and Planning officials and a majority of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board oppose the $684,000 bridge. (Gazette) ... Previously: we shouldn't build the bridge nor too much parking.
- Marc Fisher argues that PG's scocer stadium deal with United is bad for taxpayers, and DC made the right choice by not doing a stadium deal. (Post)
- Residents are fighting the scale of the proposed JHU "Science City" at Belward Farm in Gaithersburg. For once, Smart Growth activists probably agree. (Gazette) ... Previously: we should put the transit in first.
- Transportation Examiner Katherine Hill is pleased that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley kicked off stimulus spending by overhauling the Laurel MARC station.
- Opponents of a downtown Wheaton library argue it should stay "modest", but the best thing for "modest" Wheaton, including reducing crime, would be a downtown library. (Just Up the Pike)
- Arlington can finally turn its red light cameras back on. Cameras have been shown to reduce fatal accidents to drivers and pedestrians. The Virginia legislature forced them to be turned off, then changed its mind, but VDOT just now gave the needed approval. (WTOP)
- Arlington's long-awaited bike sharing program is happening. The County issued an RFP for an operator to share responsibilities with the County. (WashCycle) ... Previously: can it be compatible with DC's?
- HOT lane construction will be forcing pedestrians crossing the Beltway on Braddock Road to follow a 1.6-mile detour for at least 12 months. (WashCycle)
- Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood suggested replacing the gas tax with a VMT tax. Matt Yglesias isn't so sure that's a good idea. The gas tax, at least, specifically discourages burning gasoline. ... Way previously: A year ago, experts discussed the idea at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference. ... Update: President Obama put the kibosh on the idea, Alex points out.
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- Latest Metro map drafts add Anacostia parks and other tweaks
- Short-term Washingtonians deserve a voice, too
- DC Council makes major policy changes overnight
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Public land deals have both benefits and pitfalls
- PG planners propose bold new smart growth future