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  • Michael, I think the recent growth in the number of carfree households is significant in the current economic context. (The census shows almost 92,000 carfree households in 2010 and more than 100,000 carfree households in 2016.)

    From 2010 to 2016, median income in DC increased 12% after adjusting for inflation. That's median income, not average, so it's not unduly biased by super-rich residents. So the context is increasing prosperity, and still the number of carfree households is growing.

    That suggests that some of the carfree households are carfree by choice. They choose to spend their income on a better location that give access to more job opportunities, amenities, and walkable, multimodal communities.

    And I think carfree households represent the tip of the iceberg. Many car-owning households are expressing a preference for compact, walkable, multimodal communities. A majority nationwide, in fact.

  • Full time, permanent bus lanes are the only path forward to meaningful transit improvements on 14th Street and they are long overdue. The only study we should be undertaking is how to best install a dedicated 14th Street Transitway, including an option to convert to light rail in the future. Nothing less.
  • Hm?
  • Yes, we have information about the number of households (and their composition) that are car-free, but you have presented nothing that can be used to approximate the percentage of new DC households that are car-free (and, I am not really sure what that number would tell you if you had it, since it wouldn't capture how those households might change over their tenure.)

    Certainly, the information that I cited, along with the more recent Census data,  definitely shows that we have not had a dramatic increase in car-free households since 1990, if anything, a modest decline.
  • Agreed. It's more complicated. On the blocks around me, in DC, it looks like builders did 4 or 6 at a time, identically. For each street further from the main Ave near me, the houses are slightly smaller lots and lose a little bit of volume. Affordable at many different income levels. In the census from the 20s, a police officer, John Murphy, was the first owner. He had two sons and a wife, Mary. Only needing to build, basically three walls, and also only needing a max 2x10 joist to just barel must have saved much money in construction costs.
  • Michael, it's the best information we have at the moment, and even if it's off by a few percentage points, the main point stands. Some 100,000 households in DC are living carfree and the numbers are growing.
  • The studies indicating racially-discriminatory lending practices use income as their primary indicator but fail to factor in credit scores or debt to income ratios due to lack of publicly available information.  This is like evaluating companies without looking to cash flow.  Sure, you can do it, but your conclusion could be very wrong.
  • If your ideas were actually the criteria for having the library rebuilt--I guarantee you the site would have remained in its current degrading condition.   There are much easier and less expensive fights for increased density than trying to push a 12-story building in the heart of Cleveland Park
  • @Tony, you've got to watch the new season of Planet Earth!! Never thought I'd cite David Attenborough in a GGWash comment thread...
  • Laurence:  First, there is a problem with your methodology.  You are comparing the net change in households with the net change in car-free households.  That gives you absolutely no information about the number of new households that are car free.  You recognize a critical assumption that no existing car-owning households went car-free, but you haven't recognized your implicit assumptions about the percentage of departing households that are car-free, and the number of departing and arriving households, or other factors such as household formation, or the what percentage of the total number of households is departing or arriving.  I don't know if ACS has tables with the information that you would need to isolate vehicle ownership by new residents, but there is no reason to believe that the Census data supports the claim that 45% of new households are car-free.

    At any rate the information on historic vehicle ownership rates that was posted at the link you provided sheds light on the longer term story:

    "We might want to look at some more reliable Census data:

    1990: 37.4% of DC households were carless (based on Census long form);

    2000: 36.9% of DC households were carless (based on Census long form);

    2012: 36.5% if DC households were carless (based on 5 yr ACS data, since Census long form was abandoned in 2010)."

  • I'd say its a bit more complex because A) many rowhouses have been modified at various points(the addition of mansard roofs to pre-1850 buildings for example is not unknown, for instance) and B) it's the case that buildings appear in pairs, or in closely duplicated patterns or rows, or in occasional cases that part of a row is built at different times or a lot is subdivided and sold to different buyers, or that a originally full-block row is partially restored or replaced).
  • Well the Coalition for Smarter Growth does do a lot of work to get more housing built so you're good on that front. 

    And the idea that our choices are either small apartments in D.C. Or single family homes in loudoun or move to Texas is false. 

    But even if it wasn't it wouldn't make a new beltway a good idea. If the butterfly effect of that decision means more sprawl in Texas then I guess I'll have to live with that on my conscience. 

  • My reply about that statistic is posted below.
  • The quote should be "the top issue for the Coalition for Smarter Growth for 20 years has been to develop environmentally friendly housing options". If your plan is to force people to do what you want by limiting their options, you suck.

  • This development is meant for people who don't live in Deanwood. It is another chance to drive long-term residents from their communities.
  • The opposition in Hyattsville to redeveloping a long abandoned building and crumbling surface lot is extremely short sighted. The lost tax revenue is a real cost that will be born elsewhere now, likelier in higher taxes on those same opponents - and everyone else too. 
  • The "truth" that cities are not part of the environment?
  • A bunch of Nimby's just got the Hyattsville city council to shoot down a development in that would have been a net environmental gain, replacing several acres of surface lot with town homes, green space, proper storm water management, and hundreds of new trees. 

    Instead, we'll get to keep a crumbling surface lot that is used for city events a half dozen times a year...

  • The truth often has that effect. 

    And thanks for writing. 

  • This is a very well written article.  It calls to mind a small core of folks has been feverishly fighting an Annapolis development (that's right, it's in the city limits - and was annexed by the City in the last century for the explicit purpose of..... (drumroll.....) development (!!!!), and the opponents gleefully call it "sprawl."  Though it is surrounded by tens of thousands of people.  They'd prefer this development put somewhere less sprawly, such as a farm in Howard County or a forest in southern Anne Arundel County.    I can't make much sense of it.  Though I understand why they oppose it, I wouldn't want it in my back yard, either.   Especially if my back yard was a previously bulldozed forest on a beautiful Annapolis waterway. 

    And to the well made point of this article, and those Annapolis anti-growth folks, if the city regulations were clearer and more transparent, there probably would have been a lot less controversy in the first place.  The developer would have known what was realistically possible on the land, and the anti's would know where they could honestly push (ie total # of units) and where they couldn't (ie forest clearing). 

  • I agree there are other options, but they don't really exist at the moment. Get a bunch of new, 1,400 sqft, $300k townhouses built inside the beltway and you will be on the side of the angels while opposing the outer beltway. As it stands, you're doing a better job opposing housing than providing an alternative.
  • No, now the choice is to live in the exurbs or PG county. Or, live in a townhouse closer-in instead of on an exurban 1/2 acre lot.

    The problem with developing the exurbs is that it creates negative impacts on everyone else. So, while some people get cheaper housing, it's at the cost of a worse quality of life for everyone who's neighborhoods those exurbanites will drive through to reach their destinations. 

    There is plenty of demand from both buyers and developers to build greater density where that density is already allowed by current zoning. We don't need to change zoning to open up greenfield locations to new development.

  • Proximity to downtown and areas with residential growth due to Metro (Columbia Heights/U St).  Decent transit service. And the right zoning.
  • I would propose a different bus line, which would be an extension of the Purple Line: run a bus direct from Bethesda to Tysons. I believe this was tried previously over 10 years ago and was unsuccessful but given the massive growth in Tysons, it might be worth revisiting. The proposed route would start at the Bethesda station, stop at Medical Center (connecting to the RideOn 101/future BRT), then hit the Beltway (and use the shoulder and/or toll lanes) before exiting at Tysons to serve the Tysons Corner metro station. 

    Currently, getting from Bethesda to Tysons on the Metro takes approximately 1.5 hours. Driving takes less than a third of that time with no traffic, but could easily reach the hour mark when traffic is blocked up. The bus route would also serve other communities along the Purple Line, as the ride from Silver Spring to Bethesda is estimated to be only about 15 minutes. I would gladly take this over the hassle of driving and finding parking or dealing with the rush hour traffic.

    Even with the extra stop at Medical Center, this would save a significant amount of time, address the complaint that the Purple Line doesn't serve Medical Center and, hopefully, make the case for extending the Purple Line in the future to become a true, multi-jurisdictional, loop.

  • There is a whole range of options between the city and the exurbs; you don't have to move to Texas.  The metro stops in PG County have been insufficiently developed; if they are developed intelligently, they can house a lot of people.  There is a reason that there is all sorts of development on New York Ave, east of Florida.  That new development will also house lots of people.  These options are clearly better for the environment than moving to the exurbs.
  • Well, I don't think that most environmentalists would accept that there is nothing else we can do about housing affordability in the urban core except sprawl out.

    However, another environmental angle to affordability (that is connected to thought about the morality of growth) is the argument that households of all sizes can and should consume fewer square feet per person. So, while housing prices per square foot in Metro-accessible areas are rising, for example, it is still possible for most households to locate in these areas. The average US household consumes about twice as many square feet per capita (something like 400 sq. ft.) than the average global household (UN stats are more like 215 sq. ft. pp, I think).

  • Have you heard of redlining or even more recently, racially-discriminatory lending practices?

    Have you heard of the Fair Housing Act? Redlining doesn't exist anymore and the studies I've seen alleging racially-discriminatory lending practices are deeply flawed.

  • I think the relative environmental effects have changed though. The choice was to live in the exurbs or the city. Now the choice is to live in the exurbs or Texas (unless you have a lot of money or are good with a studio apartment). You're not going to convince everyone to settle for a studio, so you're chasing people to Texas. Is that good for the environment?
  • I've wondered for a while why 14th street blew up so much. It's not near a Metro station and there is nothing physically unique about it compared to other streets to make it boom the way it has. Was this just the most business friendly artery between U street and downtown or was something else the catalyst? 

  • None of the environmental or traffic effects have changed though. So not only would an outer beltway be environmentally destructive it wouldn't even work. 

    For all the times GGW is accused of shilling for developers the biggest boosters the outer beltway are developers who want to keep the sprawl machine growing. Once its suggested that an outer beltway come with strict land use controls or be heavily tolled the little support it has dries right up. 

  • the top issue for the Coalition for Smarter Growth for 20 years has been opposing an Outer Beltway

    That might have made sense 20 years ago when there were affordable city alternatives for potential exurban residents, but please consider that is no longer really the case.

  • I can't even parse this to formulate a response, but thanks for reading!
  • When the Europeans cede the land back to the Native Americans, will they then cede the land back to the tribes they forcibly took it from? How far back do we need to carry the chain of ownership?
  • The new Cleveland Park library is a disappointment.  As a DC-owned property, the District should have mandated that it be mixed-use, including affordable housing.  They easily could have put 10 floors of housing on top.  DC should have said, no housing, no new library.  It would have generated revenue for the District, included some affordable units, and been a start to filling in Cleveland Park's density hole.
  • First of all, cities are not "the environment". Cities are man made piles of junk isolated from real nature for the most part. The aim should be to make cities as clean and safe for humans as possible. But there is no reason to limit development in a "City". That's idiotic. Development is the entire point of a city because again, cities are not "the environment". Hello? 
  • Virtually every hunter-gatherer population has been displaced and every agricultural population has been conquered. What's absurd is pretending Native Americans have a special or unique grievance because by geographic accident it occurred after the historic record started.
  • +1

    Denying that Native Americans were the rightful owners is so absurd, I won't comment on it.

    The second point is unfortunately still too relevant. Class should also not be a barrier. Yes, renters do deserve rights as well.
  • Patrick M. on June 18, 2018 at 2:36pm (This is what Arlington residents think about their county)
    I see these same signs all over Del Ray and they make me want to vomit for pretty much the same reasons. The only people moving in here are the same, most likely college educated, two income households or near retirees who are spending all that equity they built up while participating in the DC housing boom. 
  • Michael, yes, I see now that the 88% figure is wrong. (Here's a corrected link to the source.)

    I checked the census data for 2010-2016. DC gained 19,229 households total, and gained 8721 carfree households. If we assume that none of the existing households went carfree during that time, then 45% of new households were carfree.

    The overall percentage of carfree household rose from 35.7% in 2010 to a peak of 36.7% in 2013. Then it dropped slightly to 36.4 in 2016.
  • Eve Zhurbinskiy on June 18, 2018 at 12:16pm (Vote for these candidates in DC Tuesday, June 19!)
    GGWash has not taken a position on Initiative 77.
  • Mike T on June 18, 2018 at 11:33am (Vote for these candidates in DC Tuesday, June 19!)
    Does GGW have a position on Initiative 77?
  • I think Councilman Gray is right that "East of the River" has developed a negative connotation and that some sort of rebrand would be helpful for the area. "East End" or "River East" both seem to work for me.

    That being said, what will really help improve the connotation of Wards 7 and 8 in the long run is bringing quality new retail and housing choices to the areas around Metro. In that regard, Metro's proposal to offer its Deanwood commuter lot for joint development is important. I sure hope that we can eventually begin engaging on that topic in this thread, rather than debating about a moniker.

  • I can't wait to see you cede all the land in the area back to the Native Americans.

    This is a nonsensical response to what Tony said: the Native Americans don't own the land.  They lost control of it via commercial sale, diplomacy, or force of arms.  While you can debate the morality of those actions, the fact remains that ownership changed hands.

  • @Laurence:  That 88% number has been totally debunked, multiple times, yet still pops up whenever someone wants to make that claim.  Try running the same calculations on the following year's ACS data, or almost any other year, and you get an entirely different conclusion.  In fact, for one of the years, the number of additional cars exceeds the number of additional households, so your can't really replicate the calculation. 
  • 1. I can't wait to see you cede all the land in the area back to the Native Americans.

    2. Yes it will. Have you heard of redlining or even more recently, racially-discriminatory lending practices?
  • The lowdown on the lawsuit against DC over gentrification

    Stupid. 

    1. You don't have a "right" to live on land you don't own or in places you can't afford.

    2. Your skin color will not prevent you from living anywhere if you can afford it. Gentrification is not racially motivated nore is it caused by race.  

  • Yes, the East End is already a thing - it's particularly common in commercial real estate circles. Specific boundaries vary, but it's the mirror of the West End, bracketing the CBD (Farragut Square/K Street) on either side. 

    This East End is also appropriately sized for an 'end.' East of the River is not an 'end,' nor a single neighborhood - it's ~25% of the entire city's land area! 

    Wikipedia (I know, I know) lists 41 separate neighborhood names for Wards 7 and 8. That's not an 'end' IMHO. 

  • Michael, if people want to live where a personal car isn't necessary, there are many areas of DC where they can do that. More than 37% of households in DC are car-free. And in recent years, the huge majority of people moving to DC has been carfree -- 88% by one estimate.

    Also, many suburban communities have been redeveloping to become more walkable, bikable, and transit oriented. Fifty years ago it was difficult or impossible to live without a car in places like Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville, Pentagon City, Clarendon, Ballston. Now many people are living in those areas without owning cars.

    For the typical household that owns two vehicles, compact mixed-use development has numerous benefits. There are many destinations in close proximity, so trips are shorter and more easily combined. And many car-owning households prefer to walk, bike, and ride transit some of the time. This is not just about one or two big cities. Today about a third of Americans live in places that are dense enough for regular transit service. The bottom line is more convenience, safety, and economic opportunity.

  • I see real estate people use East End to refer to the area around Judiciary Square, Capitol Crossing and North Capitol, but only occasionally. It's more common to see Union Station, Mt Vernon Triangle and now Capitol Crossing. At least in my experience.
  • "MoCo voters say the county isn’t friendly to business"

    Hopefully they take action at the polls by not voting for Elrich. Alpert et al wrote an excellent editorial on why he was a terrible choice for county executive.

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