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.
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.)
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)."
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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'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.
Denying that Native Americans were the rightful owners is so absurd, I won't comment on it.
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.
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.
1. I can't wait to see you cede all the land in the area back to the Native Americans.
The lowdown on the lawsuit against DC over gentrification
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.
"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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