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Posts by Thaddeus Bell



Breakfast links: Legislators propose

Photo by Frank Kehren on Flickr.
Miller's transportation plan: Maryland's Senate president suggests a new 3% sales tax for gasoline for new roads, regional property taxes for the Purple and Red lines, and possibly leasing the ICC to a private operator. (Post)

Punish parents of truants?: David Catania proposed a bill to consider parents criminally liable if their child is excessively truant. The law aims to cut down on the 3,000 students who miss more than a month of school annually. (Post)

Learn how not to cheat: Kenyan McDuffie wants all candidates for office, as well as their campaign treasurers, to take a mandated course in campaign finance rules. Would such training help to cut down on campaign finance violations? (Examiner)

Words from the mayor for life: Marion Barry shares his impressions on Darrell Issa, Newt Gingrich, and Sharon Pratt Kelly in an interview with the City Paper.

DC leads in transit planning: The Washington area is winning the "Transit Space Race," with 45 projects under construction or in planning. The list includes projects far from completion, such as the NoVa extension to the unbuilt Purple Line. (Streetsblog)

MoCo BRT study funds halved: Montgomery councilmembers approved only half of the $1 million Ike Legett requested to study BRT in the county. Members worried about dedicating too much funding before BRT is actually approved. (Gazette)

Next ride is private?: The founder of NextBus is turning his attention to dynamic ridesharing, saying "transit agencies are obsolete." He hopes people will carry around key fobs that would beep when a car willing to pick you up drives nearby. (Next City)

And...: Two different developers are competing to build major shopping centers near Clarksburg. (Post) ... Mary Cheh proposes making mugshots accessible to the public. (DCist) ... New York has picked a winner of its tiny apartment competition. (UrbanTurf)

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Breakfast links: Closures

Photo by Tommy Ironic on Flickr.
Some schools survive: DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson will keep some schools open she had proposed closing, including Garrison and Francis-Stevens in Ward 2, Johnson and Malcolm X in 8, and and Smothers in 7. (DCist)

School closings have costs: Is the pattern of regularly closing DCPS schools the equivalent of a transit death spiral? DCPS estimates this round of closings will save $8.5 million per year, but others disagree, and Muriel Bowser and Yvette Alexander worry many kids won't have alternatives in their neighborhoods. (Examiner)

Gas tax vs sales tax: A Maryland bill would allow local jurisdictions to impose a 2% sales tax on gasoline. (Gazette, JimT) ... AASHTO's outgoing director also suggests a sales tax on gas replace the gas tax. (Streetsblog)

Silver Spring plan too monolithic?: Residents near the proposed Studio Plaza in Silver Spring, which Dan Reed somewhat unfavorably reviewed recently, say the building would destroy their sense of community and is too monolithic in appearance. It also has 1 parking space per unit, which may be too much. (Gazette)

Light rail for Southeast DC?: The Capital Riverfront BID has proposed a new light rail line running from Union Station to St. Elizabeths. How would it relate to existing transit or the planned streetcar network? (WBJ)

G'town argues parking: At the Georgetown parking meeting, some suggested smaller RPP zones while others like being able to commute to Dupont. Charging non-residents to park on side streets was also controversial. (Georgetown Metropolitan)

Parade will show off bilke lanes: When the inaugural parade goes down Pennsylvania Avenue, there will be no way for the TV cameras not to capture shots of the bike lane right down the middle. DC officials are excited about showing off the lanes. (Post)

Darrell Issa, DC's best friend: When many thought House Republicans might try to re-impose the Control Board, oversight chairman Darrell Issa instead turned out to be a big advocate for more DC budget autonomy. How did that happen? (City Paper)

And...: WMATA reached a deal to replace 128 of its 588 escalators by 2020. (Post) ... Chap Petersen's VA anti-dooring bill made it through a Senate committee on a close vote. ... Ray LaHood is optimistic that the Silver Line will receive TIFIA loans. (WAMU)

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Breakfast links: Second term approaches

Photo by TABauknight on Flickr.
Obama takes one step for DC rights: President Obama has agreed to place "Taxation Without Representation" plates on the presidential limousine for his second term. President Clinton used them, but Bush removed them; Obama did not restore them during his first term. (DCist)

Inauguration items: Many bars will remain open until 4 am this weekend. (DCist) ... On Inaguration Day, about 50 bus lines will run different routes and there will be no Circulator service. (Post, Patch) ... For $47,000, you could get a "social media butler" as part of an opulent hotel package. (City Paper)

Norton asks for statehood, again: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a DC statehood bill in the House of Representatives, as she has several times before. Her bill reached a vote only once, in 1993, when it lost 153-277. (Post)

Better biking past the White House: The Secret Service has agreed to better accommodate cyclists going through the White House area, including storing temporary barriers more consistently and parking vehicles out of the way. (CCCT)

New housing won't have free parking: A new affordable apartment complex in Alexandria will not provide free parking, but a paid parking lot. Neighbors worry they will park on the street, and the 2 new councilmembers voted against the plan. (WAMU)

Maryland will consider bottle bill: Maryland Delegate Maggie McIntosh wants to create a refundable deposit for cans and bottles. Supporters say it will significantly reduce litter in the Anacostia and Baltimore Harbor. (Trash Free Maryland)

Wells approaching mayoral run: Councilmember Tommy Wells may announce a mayoral election exploratory committee as soon as next month, which would allow him to raise funds and hire staff for the 2014 election. (Post)

Tennessee drops highway: Tennessee has cancelled a $1.5 billion, 65-mile highway segment, citing a lack of funds. The highway was intended as part of the I-69 corridor from Mexico to Canada, whose construction is now uncertain. (Streetsblog)

And...: Is Transit-Oriented Development the new black in DC? (Globe St) ... What words do we use to talk about urban planning? (Atlantic Cities) ... Metro trains are starting to run on the Silver Line, for testing. (BeyondDC)

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Breakfast links: New ways to live and move

Photo by jhembach on Flickr.
Uber takes a taxi: Uber introduced a new service to hail you a DC cab. It costs the standard taxi fare plus a 20% tip. (DCist)

Babe's gets the nod: DC's Zoning Commission last night unanimously approved "The Bond at Tenley," the often-controversial parking-free apartment building proposal on the former Babe's site in Tenleytown. (@Ward3Vision)

Bike to Obama: The best way to get to the inauguration may be on a bike. Some bike sharing stations were removed for the parade, but there will be temporary corrals near the Mall and temporary bike racks near 16th and K. (Post)

A national VMT tax?: Should we replace the federal gas tax with a VMT tax? A GAO report says it would reduce congestion and raise revenues, but implementation costs are high and it might discourage fuel-efficient cars. (Streetsblog)

Call them the Washington Deforesters: Every tree on the site of the Red/Pig/'Skins future training camp in Richmond was cut down despite an agreement to preserve as many trees as possible and plant a new tree for each one lost. It's not Dan Snyder's first escapade with deforestation. (WTVR, DCist)

Will school closings save money?: DC's plan to close 20 schools may barely save DC any money over the next school year, according to a report by DC Fiscal Policy Institute. The $10.4 million savings in staff costs will be nearly equaled by the estimated $10.2 million cost of closures and relocation. (Post)

An affordable little neighborhood: An affordable housing "pocket neighborhood" in Little Rock clusters 9 small single-family homes around a shared green space in a 1 acre infill development near downtown. Could this translate to the DC area? (Switchboard)

"Embarrassing" anti-dooring law?: Some people seem not to read past the title of Virginia's proposed anti-dooring bill, like one Norfolk columnist who calls it an "embarrassing" proposal which "epitomizes all that's wrong with Richmond" without mentioning the actual serious problems dooring poses. (Post)

And...: Justice Sotomayor chose U Street because it's "scruffy" like NYC's East Village. (DCist) ... Massachusetts considers taxing parking lots to fund transit. (Streetsblog) ... How about a Union Market-style "food destination" on Half Street in Near SE? (JDLand)

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Breakfast links: Worrying about parking

Image from Calvin Cafritz Enterprises.
Chevy Chase building draws a fight: A group of residents is organizing to fight an 11-story by-right apartment building at Connecticut and Military. Michael Brown and Patrick Mara were quick to voice opposition to the project, while Matt Frumin and Paul Zukerberg want better communication and transparency. (Georgetown Dish)

Evans demands parking privileges: Jack Evans is really "furious" that the Secret Service won't let DC councilmembers drive to the Wilson Building after 6 am on inauguration day. (Examiner) ... Tim Craig noted councilmembers only asked about their own convenience, not residents' needs, at the inauguration security briefing.

Make cars louder?: Regulators are proposing rules to force electric and hybrid vehicles to make some noise at 18 mph or less, so pedestrians can hear them. NHTSA estimates this will save 2,800 injuries per year. (The Fast Lane)

FTA fixes funding priorities: New FTA rules will make it much easier for transit in walkable areas, and projects that will drive economic development, to get federal money instead of favoring rail in medians of highways. (Streetsblog, Slate)

Baltimore gets new cameras: Baltimore will replace all 83 of its speed cameras after revelations that some cameras' error rates exceeded 5%. (Baltimore Sun)

Cancel games, lose revenue: The Washington Capitals will soon return to the Verizon Center after missing a few months of their season, but Natwar Gandhi estimates the District lost $200,000 for each cancelled game, or $6.4 million in total. (DCist)

Corporations ride free?: A California man who drove alone in the carpool lane with his corporation's paperwork in the passenger seat is contesting his ticket, arguing that as a corporation is a person, he was not driving "alone" at all. (Patch, David E.)

And...: WMATA adds express rush hour bus service on New Hampshire Avenue between DC and Maryland. (WAMU, Kelly B) ... Unemployment in the DC area remains at 5.3%. (Post) ... The budget autonomy vote will go ahead as planned on April 23. (Post) ... A spate of problems are afflicting the new Boeing 787. (NYT)

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Breakfast links: Don't pay more

Photo by jcolman on Flickr.
No Metro fare hike: WMATA will not propose a fare increase in the 2014 fiscal year, as its policy is to change fares every other year. Last year, fares rose 5%, and ridership declined. (Post)

Trump doesn't want to pay: After winning a bid to redevelop the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, Donald Trump doesn't want to have to pay taxes on the commercial space in the property. (WBJ) ... Union Station just agreed to pay the same tax, but still may challenge in court DC's right to levy it. (Post)

Nathan would block referendum: DC's attorney general Irvin Nathan called for the elections board to cancel the April referendum on budget autonomy, saying the referendum exceeds DC's legal powers. The Council unanimously supported the move, and Mayor Gray reluctantly signed the bill to authorize the vote. (Post)

Bike to walkable suburban districts?: As suburbs are retrofitted with new denser, walkable developments, will residents be able to access those neighborhoods with methods other than cars? Can bicycles solve the "last mile" problem? (WABA)

Short blocks cut small city traffic: Small block size may reduce traffic more than mixed-use development in smaller cities. These smaller mixed-use areas are unlikely to be self-sufficient and so attract traffic from other areas. (Streetsblog)

Inauguration closes bridges, stations: During this month's presidential inauguration, the 14th Street, Memorial, and Roosevelt bridges will all be closed to automobile traffic, although the Memorial bridge will be open to pedestrians. The Smithsonian, Archives, and Mount Vernon Metro stations will also be closed. (Post)

O'Malley wants more and cooler schools: Maryland's governor proposed spending $336 million to build and improve schools in the state, and to add air conditioning to the 180 of 1,400 schools without it. (Post)

One way to higher VA gas tax?: Dave Albo (R-Springfield) might suggest raising the gas tax but giving Virginia residents an income tax break to compensate, ultimately just charging visitors more. (Post)

And...: Amtrak adds nighttime Acela service between DC and New York. (Post) A developer launched another app to help locate DC's food trucks. (DCist) ... CityCenterDC will have some swanky condos, but "Central Park living," not quite. (Post, City Paper)

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Breakfast links: Whether to build it

Photo by Raoul Pop on Flickr.
Tysons trees safe?: Fairfax's DOT has recommended dropping a highway exit ramp through Spring Branch Park in Tysons Corner. Nearby residents want to keep the forested area between their homes and the more urban Tysons. (Post)

TOD for New Carrollton?: The developer building TOD at Rhode Island Ave has announced plans for a major project at New Carrollton Metro, with 2 to 4 million square feet of office, retail, and housing on 39 acres Metro owns. (Post)

No bowling alley for Georgetown?: People living in condos above Georgetown Park Mall oppose a bowling alley and restaurant with outdoor patio, saying they fear it will create too much noise. The ANC voted to oppose the plan unless owners reach a binding agreement with the residents. (Georgetown Dish)

2013 critical for Purple Line: Rushern Baker says 2013 is "make-or-break time for the Purple Line." Maryland needs to find money to qualify for matching federal funds, but the state's Transportation Trust Fund is nearly empty. (WTOP, Ben Ross)

Silver Spring parking more pricey: Parking rates rose in Silver Spring and Bethesda. Some people say they'll now take the bus instead. That's probably good. (Gazette)

What's changed in Ward 3: Ward 3 Vision looks back at the development debates in the Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenue corridors last year, from the AU campus to Safeway, and predicts over a billion dollars in new development coming to the area.

Market answers for urbanism: Market Urbanism talks with GMU's David Schleicher about ways to help nearby residents benefit economically from new development, and whether smart growth and market urbanist adherents should be friends.

Thank lead for crime wave: More evidence suggests drops in crime since 1970 come mostly from less lead in paint, car emissions, and more. Lead removal coincided with crime's decrease, other theories don't seem to fit the facts, and lead indeed makes people more aggressive. (Mother Jones via Gothamist)

And...: Mary Cheh proposes a bill requesting President Obama put "taxation without representation" on his limo's plates. (DCist) ... Virginia considers allowing gubernatorial reelection. (WAMU) ... Metro reopens elevators at Bethesda station. (Examiner)

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Breakfast links: Welcome to 2013

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Tejada to focus on affordable housing: Arlington's new County Board chairman Walter Tejada claims he will focus on affordable housing during his term. The average rent of $1768 and single-family home price of $695,000 are unaffordable for many. (Post)

Dispute brings down NextBus app: The NextBus DC app stopped operating December 20th, thanks to a dispute between 2 tech companies involved in operating it. Bus riders can still use Metro's own tools to view bus arrival times. (Examiner)

Talk ped safety in upcounty MoCo: After 2 pedestrians were killed crossing streets in upper Montgomery County and the county DOT refused to mark a crosswalk, ACT is organizing a forum on upcounty pedestrian safety for January 26.

2012's many bar closures: MPD police chief Cathy Lanier closed bars at a rate of more than 1 per month throughout 2012. Last month's closure of Bohemian Caverns was the first for a reason other than a shooting, stabbing, or drug trafficking. (Post)

A political 2012: A few DC politicians make an early exit, and others win their 1st elections, in DCist's rundown of 2012 in DC politics.

Free transit on big days?: Los Angeles offered free transit rides on New Year's Eve, while New York didn't. Should DC offer free rides on Inauguration Day, asks Richard Layman? (Atlantic Cities, RPUS)

Black gentrification vs. white: In one gentrifying Chicago neighborhood, the gentrifiers are black, not white. That's meant more neighborhood enthusiasm for the demographic changes, but also, the press hasn't depicted that neighborhood's changes like they have in other, racially-evolving neighborhoods. (Atlantic Cities)

And...: Prince William County will have two local newspapers. (Post) ... Temperatures measured at DCA are unrepresentative of the broader Washington region. (Post) ... Lowe's may come to DC's Dakota Crossing, near the new Costco. (WBJ)

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Breakfast links: Transportation projects for the new year

Image from VDOT.
VA's Outer Beltway coming: Officials displayed plans to build Virginia's portion of the Outer Beltway, from Loudoun to Prince William. Nearby landowners are eager to build new sprawl subdivisions along its length. (Post)

What counties want: Both Montgomery and Prince George's want more transportation funding from the coming state legislative session, for the Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway, and roads at National Harbor. Rushern Baker also hopes to win right to levy a 5¢ bag fee. (Post)

More info on Jack's: The Park Service says they canceled Jack's boathouse lease
because the owner's name isn't even on it and they want to switch to a modern concession contract. The owner says NPS didn't return calls or letters about it over the past few months after first giving conflicting information. (Post, City Paper)

Arlington peaking?: Despite 3 decades of growth, and continuing development, a University of Virginia study projects Arlington's population will fall in each of the next 3 decades. What trends account for that prediction? (Sun Gazette)

Year's most annoying in development: The City Paper dubs the zoning rewrite "much ado about nothing" (lots of conflict for a tiny change), parking exceptions "most tedious" (they're almost always granted, but only after a very long process), and Howard Town Center's $11 million abatement the "least-necessary tax break."

Regulations make alley living pricey: Toronto tried to legalize alley dwellings that could be built for only $100,000 per unit, but laws and review boards added fees and restrictions that can add hundreds of thousands to the cost. (Toronto Star)

DC faces higher fiscal cliff: DC's concentration of federal government jobs mean that the area would be the hardest-hit in the event of a "fiscal cliff." According to Mayor Gray, DC tax revenue could fall by $50 million. (WAMU)

And...: Ike Leggett wants to start funding BRT studies. (Gazette) ... Richmond gives the Redskins training camp final approval. (WBJ) ... SoberRides will be available through New Year's Eve. (Examiner) ... One of Annapolis' "trolley" tour operators is shutting down to avoid having to give tours to same-sex married couples. (DCist)

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Breakfast links: Where to put it

Photo by Oran Viriyincy on Flickr.
Where to put industrial uses?: Ward 5 councilmember Kenyan McDuffie is fighting the many undesirable land uses concentrated in his ward. City officials say DC needs industrial land somewhere, but can some of it be outside the ward? (Post)

Georgetown boathouse may stay, after all: The National Park Service has pulled back from plans to evict Jack's Boathouse from its location along the Potomac in Georgetown. (Post)

Football opens doors?: Metro will stay open one hour longer this Sunday for the Redskins' final regular-season game. How about those Nationals' games? (Post)

Insure-as-you-go?: Occasional drivers often receive no discount for their infrequent car use, but a new Oregon car insurer has introduced a per-mile car insurance, marketed at car owners who don't use their car full-time. (Atlantic Cities)

2013: the year for budget autonomy?: DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says she is "optimistic" about DC's budget autonomy in the 2013 Congress. (WAMU)

Even truckers want transit: The owner of a trucking company tells Vancouver, Washington, that it needs a light rail connection across the Columbia River to Portland. (The Columbian, Ben Ross)

And...: Metro's new real-time information screens are now on. (DCist) ... Did you know you can recycle Christmas trees? (WAMU) ... The elevators in the Bethesda Metro station are scheduled to open soon. (Examiner)

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