Greater Greater Washington

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Breakfast links: Fewer in the force

Photo by Alex Guerrero on Flickr.
Police part with DC: DC's police force is shrinking. Why? Chief Lanier says it's just officers, hired during a spree in the 1980s, retiring, but many say they left out of frustration with policies, compensation issues, and a culture they say doesn't support proactive police work. (City Paper)

Fewer black cops: In DC, black officers now make up just 55% of the police force, compared to 67% in 1998. Is it a problem? Some say it fits the city's changing demographics, but others worry white officers will struggle to effectively patrol black neighborhoods. (Washingtonian)

Courts on Brookland density: DC courts have rejected plans for a six-story, 200-unit apartment building near the Brookland Metro, saying it's too big for the location, even though the ANC, Office of Planning, and Zoning Commission support it. (WBJ)

DC's most dangerous intersections: DDOT wants to make changes at its five most dangerous intersections, including repainting bike lanes (14th St and Columbia) and changing traffic rules (Firth Stirling Ave and Suitland Pkwy). (WTOP)

MoCo hikes property taxes: Montgomery County property taxes will increase by 9% this year to help decrease overcrowding and close the minority achievement gap at county schools. (Post)

Sports facility for more housing: A Loudoun developer will build an indoor sports facility for the county in exchange for approval to build nearly 700 more residential units at its huge mixed-use development in Ashburn. (WBJ)

Subways show their age: As city populations boom, subway systems in New York, Boston, and DC are struggling to keep overcrowding and delays at bay, thanks to years of lacking investment in rail infrastructure and maintenance. (NYT)

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Breakfast links: Stuck on safety

Photo by Tim Evanson on Flickr.
Tri-state take two: Regional leaders put together a draft agreement for a new 6-member safety oversight committee to watch over Metro. DC, Maryland, and Virginia legislatures are expected to vote on the agreement later this year or early next year. (City Paper)

Fairfax on SafeTrack: Here's how Fairfax Connector buses will make SafeTrack a little less painful for riders. Manager Nicholas Perfili says with the short turnaround it was important to plan new routes that would be easy to implement and easy for riders to understand. (Post)

Uber ups its carpooling: Uber will expand their carpooling service to more of the region during SafeTrack, but they won't cap surge pricing. (Post)

DC's congressional overlords: The House of Representatives voted to nullify DC's 2013 vote for budget autonomy. Speaker Ryan said that allowing DC to spend local tax dollars without congressional approval would undermine the Constitution. President Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it gets to his desk. (Post)

Big bucks to best MD traffic: For $100 million, Maryland is asking companies to compete to design an innovative solution to I-270's traffic problems. (Post)

Housing buzz words in DC: "Dupont," "Circle," and "Metro station" were the most common buzz words used to attract renters on Zillow in DC in 2015. (UrbanTurf)

2-bedroom rent is too damn high: To comfortably rent a 2-bedroom apartment the US, workers must make $20.30 per hour, but the average hourly wage is $5 less than that. Maryland has the second worst rent gap in the US. (CityLab)

Popular vote for park preservation: Vote to pick which National Park historical sites should get preservation grants. DC's Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain, outside Union Station, is competing for a portion of the $2 million available. (DCist)

A grade for landlords: Toronto is considering a plan to grade landlords on living conditions, and post the grade in building lobbies, similar to New York City's health inspection grades for restaurants. (CityLab)

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Breakfast links: Rape on Metro

Photo by Beth Jusino on Flickr.
Metro doesn't mention crime: Last month, a woman was raped at knifepoint on a Metro train near Glenmont. The assailant was arrested that day, but the attack only became public a month later. Metro has changed its policy to be more forthcoming about violent crime. (Post)

Obama sticks up for DC: President Obama threatened to veto a Republican-backed bill which would repeal DC's budget autonomy while blocking funds for abortions, marijuana legalization, and needle exchanges. (Post)

Presidential neighbors: The Obama family will be moving to Kalorama next year. Obama will be the first president to stick around the District since 1921. (DCist) ... While sensible, the symbolism of Kalorama is unfortunate. (Washingtonian)

Mom is my roommate: 32% of young people live with parents, the highest percentage recorded since records began in the 1880s, according to a new report. The arrangement now beats out living with a partner, which peaked in 1960. (CityLab)

Starter home struggles: The region's supply of entry-level homes continued to shrink dropping almost 14% since last year, according to Zillow. Low inventory and a strong job market, among other factors, may be to blame. (Washingtonian)

The shunning economy: A Virginia man filed a discrimination lawsuit against Airbnb after being denied a room rental. Gregory Selden, who is black, alleges his requests were only accepted after creating accounts with white profile pictures. (WBJ)

District of data: The District's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development launched the Ward Indicators Tool which provides access to economic data on investment projects by ward. ( DC)

Preparing for the surge: Fairfax will operate an express bus service running from Reston to the Pentagon during Metro's planned SafeTrack single tracking next month. Officials are also encouraging teleworking during the safety surge. (Reston Now)

Sidewalk's closed. Now you'll know: Last year Montgomery County passed a law requiring construction sites to post signs when closing a sidewalk, yet not a single sign has been posted. Officials hope to change that by next week. (Bethesda Magazine)

And...: Check out this totally rad "straddling bus" concept being tested in China. (CityLab) ... Shaw's 7th and 9th streets take home the "Great American Main Street Award" for 2016. (Borderstan) ... A new tool from DC's economic development office graphs projects they're involved with in each ward. (DMPED)

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Breakfast links: Step up

Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr.
Stood up by Walmart, again: Mayor Bowser flew to Las Vegas for a shopping center convention so that she could confront Walmart executives about backing out of two stores in low-income neighborhoods. But the company's real estate representatives aren't going to the convention this year. (Post)

Potomac Yard overhaul: Parking lots and big box stores will make way for walkable retail, office space, and over 700 residential units at Potomac Yard. The project should be at least partially complete before the new Metro station opens in 2020. (WBJ)

MVP MBT: There were a record 1,313 bike trips on the Metropolitan Branch Trail on Bike to Work Day last Friday, beating out the record for the Metro shutdown and the last Bike to Work Day. (City Paper)

Plaza plans too big?: The plans for the SunTrust Plaza in Adams Morgan keep changing. The latest changes will try to address the ANC's concerns that the proposed building is too big. (Borderstan)

Planning pick in Montgomery: Here are the candidates for the open spot on the Montgomery County Planning Board. The board is expected to make some big decisions on the Bethesda Downtown Plan and a development impact policy this year. (Bethesda Magazine)

Metro couture: Show your appreciation for Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld with this t-shirt. Proceeds from the shirts, which are emblazoned with his image and the words "In Paul We Trust," benefit two local non-profits. (DCist)

Building blocks for success: There's a correlation between the neighborhood you grow up in and your future economic status. Does that extend even to the block you grow up on? (The Atlantic)

Rural recovery: Rural communities are not creating new businesses at the rate they used to. Unsurprisingly, this is not great for post-recession recovery. (Post)

And...: Here are some ideas for transit alternatives that Prince George's and DC should consider during SafeTrack maintenance. (Prince George's Urbanist) ... Here's what the swanky interior of the National Harbor MGM will look like. (Post) ... With fewer people driving to grocery stores in London, many parking lots are transforming into apartments. (CityLab)

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Breakfast links: You're fired

Photo by Drew McDermott on Flickr.
WMATA management shakeup: WMATA GM Paul Wiedefeld fired 20 managersincluding seven senior managers—on Friday in a move to restructure leadership and reinforce the need to hold the transit agency's employees accountable. (WAMU)

SafeTrack's low-income impact: Low-income Metro riders will feel the most pain when SafeTrack begins. WMATA can lend a hand by informing these riders of alternatives and encouraging free or reduced-cost bus service. (CityLab)

SafeTrack prep: Local jurisdictions and transit agencies are still figuring out how to adjust service once SafeTrack begins. ... Federal agencies should expand telework options, says the Office of Personnel Management. (WTOP)

Mixed-use for Herndon: Herndon wants to redevelop its downtown, and has narrowed its plans down to two mixed-use proposals. (Reston Now)

Changes for Bethesda, too: Downtown Bethesda's Hyatt Regency is awaiting planning board approval to liven up its ground floor at Bethesda Metro Plaza. Plans call for more restaurant or retail space and upgrades to the plaza. (Bethesda Beat)

Hotel supply and demand: 14 new hotels including the Trump International will open in the region by the year's end. But demand is slowing, and some worry that a downturn for the local hotel industry is just around the corner. (Post)

More real estate sticker shock: In April, one in five DC homes on the market were listed at over $1 million dollars. But it could be worse—over 50% of listings right now in San Francisco are above the million dollar mark. (UrbanTurf)

Language shift is no accident: A growing number of journalists, government agencies, and others are acknowledging that calling car crashes "accidents" sends the wrong message. After all, nobody says "plane accident." (NYT, Vox)

And...: Arlington residents complain about complainers. (ArlNow) ... Auctions to rent apartments are a horrible idea. (CityLab) ... 40% of Manhattan's buildings couldn't be built under the current zoning code. (NYT) ... How accessory apartments boosted affordable housing in Durango, Colorado. (CityLab)

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Worldwide links: California's crisis cause

According to California's governor, his state's housing problem isn't that it's not spending enough on affordable housing, but rather that it's way too hard to get a building permit. China is building lots of subway systems, and Jane Jacobs may not have paid enough attention to infrastructure. Check out what's happening around the world in transportation, land use, and other related areas!

Photo by Travis Wise on Flickr.

It's the permits: California Governor Jerry Brown wants to reduce how long it can take to build new housing in his state. He says there's already plenty of money going toward affordable housing, and that the real focus should be on making local permitting processes less lengthy. (Los Angeles Times)

Smaller metros get more metros: China has been on an subway building frenzy. 26 cities have systems, while 39 others have projects approved. The Chinese Government also recently changed the rules to allow cities with more than 1.5 million people to build new systems. The old minimum was 3 million. (Reuters)

Disadvantaged cities: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf says that state regulations across the country are hostile toward cities. With his state's budget discussions approaching, Wolf said the state has too often left cities to fund themselves, giving residents raw deals on things like school funding and utility rates. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Missing infrastructure: Jane Jacobs has taught us a lot about how to build great places, where walking around is easy. But she may have also had a a blind spot, as she often neglected to talk about systems and infrastructure, like transit and water pipes, that stitch neighborhoods together. (Common Edge)

Transit mapping tech: A few years ago, Tiffany Chu and some friends put together a program that would allow transit planners to map out routes and immediately see the impact of those decisions based on data. Today, Remix is the toast of planners everywhere who want an easier way to get more people to ride the bus. (Curbed)

The disappearing dive: Dive bars are disappearing at a rapid pace. At the same time, it's increasingly common to see bars that claim to be dives, but are actually washed out versions of the real thing. Many blame the gentrification while others say it's just pure economics, as $2 bottles won't pay the rent. (Eater)

Transit Trends

In this episode of Transit Trends, my co-host and I sat down with Iain Macbeth of Transport for London to discuss how the information from a connected car can improve transportation systems worldwide.


Breakfast links: Get with the plan

Photo by Ben Schumin on Flickr.
SafeTrack 2.0: Metro released its revised SafeTrack maintenance plan that now incorporates FTA recommendations. The first surge starts June 4 on the Orange and Silver lines between Ballston and East Falls Church. (Post)

Make way for the bus lane: Arlington might make a rush hour bus lane on Lee Highway between Courthouse and Rosslyn during SafeTrack closures. (ArlNow)

Enough housing?: In 2015, DC's population grew by 1,000 people per month, but the city only added 3,400 housing units overall. (Urban Turf)

New Communities success: Redevelopment of Park View's garden-style public housing into mixed-income housing is finally getting some traction. The project, part of Mayor Williams New Communities initiative, will bring a mix of over 450 apartments, townhomes, and rowhouses to the neighborhood. (WBJ)

McMillan Park's new park: Public space at the redeveloped McMillan Park project will include a community center, playground, plaza, and a "grand staircase". Construction should begin this fall. (WBJ)

Express extending: Design and construction for the extension of the I-95 express lanes another two miles south into Stafford County will start soon, and should be complete by the summer of 2018. (WTOP)

Toe tapping for affordable housing: The dearth of available affordable housing in urban areas has numerous causes, but subsidy programs have yet to really move the needle. The real solution? Substantially increase housing supply to lower prices. (Bloomberg View)

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Breakfast links: All about access

Photo by Ryan Stavely on Flickr.
Office space shift: With increasing office vacancy rates in and around DC, office building owners are starting to sell off suburban space for properties near transit and bikes lanes, which are still thriving. (Post)

Capitol B for bike: A group of Architect of the Capitol employees who bike started their own group to advocate for bike lanes, bike parking, and other ways to make it easier to bike to and around the Capitol complex. (AOC)

Dedicated funding from the Dome: Regional Congressional representatives met with Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld yesterday to discuss how they could support WMATA funding. The lawmakers want to create a dedicated funding source for Metro's operating expenses, but say it won't happen this year. (WAMU)

Cycling stress no more: This map shows how stressful biking is on every street in Montgomery County. Many of the county's Metro stations are surrounded by high-stress streets. (CityLab)

Taxi tastes: DC taxis can now deliver lunch. The Taxicab Commission believes this new service will increase driver incomes by up to $10,000 per year.

A peek at the pier: Here's what the 7th St Pier, coming to the Wharf next year, will look like. The pier includes a retail kiosk, docks, and floating plants. (UrbanTurf)

DC, fitness king: For the third year running, the DC region has been crowned the "fittest" metropolitan area in the US. One big contributing factor: people in the region walk more on their way to transit. (Washingtonian)

Two stories too tall: Santa Monica activists want to require a ballot vote for any building over two stories, which would only worsen the region's housing shortage. (LA Times)

City slides over in Sweden: After learning that the ground beneath the Swedish mining town of Kiruna was growing too unstable to support a city, officials created a $1 billion plan to relocate the existing downtown to a new, more compact location. (CityLab)

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Breakfast links: The living isn't cheap

Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.
Six figures for two bedrooms: A new report says families in DC need an annual income of at least $119,271 to afford a two-bedroom apartment if they are to spend less than 30% of that income on rent, which is recommended. (DCist)

Watch the boom: Check out Crane Watch, the Washington Business Journal's new tool that aims to track every major construction project in the District. The project currently maps 85, with more to come. (WBJ)

Strip mall tease: While mixed-use developments are in-demand across the region, long leases and legal barriers can make redeveloping older strip malls a difficult and slow process. (Post)

Filling the Metro gap: Taxi and ride-hailing companies are preparing for a big increase in demand once SafeTrack starts. Uber and Lyft are prepping their drivers, Zipcar is expanding its fleet, DC taxis are offering shared rides. (Post)

Arlington by the numbers: As part of National Public Works Week, Arlington has released some stats about its accomplishments this year. The county has fixed 217 water main breaks and filled 12,100 potholes. (ArlNow)

Another avoidable death: A driver struck and killed a small child in New York City, reminding people of an ugly truth: If you want to kill someone with no consequences, make sure to do it with a car. (Gawker)

False car alarm: A man claiming to be in possession of anthrax drove his truck onto the Mall causing road closures around the Capitol. Later testing for the infectious substance came back negative. (WTOP)

Death by TSA: Long waits at airport security lines are pushing more people to drive, meaning the TSA may be may be causing more deaths than it prevents. By the same logic, shutting down Metro would cause more deaths than it would prevent. (Vox)

And...: A new study maps and ranks Maryland's 30 worst traffic bottlenecks. (WTOP)... Local artist Anthony Dihle makes some colorful posters of DC neighborhoods. (Washingtonian) ... Enjoy some classic footage of the cycling scene in 1950s Amsterdam. (YouTube)

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Breakfast links: Shelter shifts

Photo by Forsaken Fotos on Flickr.
Helter shelter: The DC Council will vote today on a revised shelter plan that uses city-owned land for all shelters. Chairman Mendelson says it will save the city a lot of money, but Mayor Bowser's office says it will take away school modernization funds and delay closing DC General. (WAMU, Post)

Shelter priorities?: The property owner of the proposed site for the Ward 6 shelter stands to gain a personal condo on the shelter site and a 1500% increase in property value if a zoning variance goes through, with few restrictions on the rave-like parties in the events space adjacent to the shelter. (Post)

Before the shelter: DC is trying to keep families out of homeless shelters with a new prevention program. Since September, the program has helped 1,378 families, and only 144 have been referred to shelters. (City Paper)

Toward dedicated Metro funding: Regional organizations are crafting a proposal to establish a region-wide, dedicated funding source for Metro, likely through taxes. But getting Maryland and Virginia legislatures on board will be a challenge. (WBJ)

Toke tax bonanza: A study says the District could stand to generate over $10 million a year if allowed to tax marijuana sales. (City Paper)

Wavering on the Wiz: Congress Heights residents, DC Councilmembers, and a sports economist have some reservations about the planned Wizards facility at St. Elizabeths. (WAMU)

Slow on speed restriction communications: Some think Metro didn't do a very good job communicating about the system's latest speed restrictions. The speed restrictions caused serious delays on the Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines yesterday. (Post)

Streetcar promo director's cut: Check out the alternate, and much sadder, ending to the streetcar's campy "How to Ride" video (and a ton of highly redacted emails on the subject), thanks to this FOIA request. (Vice)

And...: Are DC architect Suzane Reatig's polarizing modernist buildings under-appreciated? (City Paper) ... The hulking, black "Death Star" building near H St and Massachusetts Ave NW is getting a makeover. (WBJ) ... There's a petition to create a protected bike lane on R St. (Borderstan)

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