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Photo by jennifer yin licensed under Creative Commons

Greater Greater Washington writes about where we live, work, and play, why we make the location choices we do, and what forces shape these places.

Many people would like to live in safe, diverse, walkable neighborhoods with access to transit, stores, parks, good schools, and other amenities. While our region has more walkable urban places than most, the demand still exceeds available housing, making these places more expensive (and prices keep rising rapidly).

We must ensure that there are enough housing choices so everyone who wants to live in such a neighborhood can choose to do so. We should ensure that housing in desirable areas is available to people at many points along the income spectrum, and take action to fight segregation. And we can improve the vitality of all neighborhoods by encouraging new retail and amenities to improve the quality of life for all residents.

  • Best sprawl photo ever

    Both Streetsblog and Smart Growth America used this photo of San Antonio, from Kaptain Krispy Kreme on Flickr, on recent stories about the Bush administration seeking to raid the transit fund to pay for highways. It really is a terrific illustration of sprawl gone mad.  Keep reading…

  • NYC discusses blank walls

    Streetsblog spoke with New York’s Department of City Planning about the new blank wall buildings going up on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue, which Streetsblog and I criticized. DCP explained why they didn’t require retail, and how the minimum parking requirements forced garages onto these buildings.  Keep reading…

  • Less parking at 14th and U would solve many problems

    At Wednesday’s Dupont Circle ANC meeting, architect Eric Colbert presented revised plans for the 14th and U development proposal. The ANC still wants to make it smaller, but beyond the classic fight over density, this project is a perfect example of the silly and detrimental effects of minimum parking requirements. Current zoning requires one space per two units for…  Keep reading…

  • Poplar Point may get a deck over I-295

    Mayor Fenty has chosen Clark Realty to develop Poplar Point, a large waterfront site near the Anacostia Green Line station. And Now, Anacostia was rooting for Clark, most significantly because their plan included building a deck over part of I-295, connecting Poplar Point to the rest of the Anacostia neighborhood. If you can’t convert a freeway to a boulevard, covering it…  Keep reading…

  • Public spaces on public radio

    Roger Lewis, architect and Washington Post columnist, discussed urban public spaces on the Kojo Nnamadi show on WAMU today. (Cleverly, in the membership drive appeal during the show, the WAMU staff referred to the public square-like nature of public radio). Lewis talked about many interesting topics, like the evils of single-use zoning, and about Rockville Town Center, which…  Keep reading…

  • The favored quarter, illustrated

    The Option of Urbanism talks about the “favored quarter”, the pattern in almost every city’s suburban development where most of the wealthy white people settled in certain parts of the region, leading to mall developers and employers wanting to locate there, leading to more highways there, making property values rise and more wealthy white people, malls, and jobs locating there.  Keep reading…

  • Audio interview with Christopher Leinberger

    Leinberger is the author of The Option of Urbanism: Investing In a New American Dream, which I’m currently reading. Leinberger explains how government policy has favored the creation of more sprawl (which he calls drivable sub-urbanism) over walkable urbanism. Rob Goodspeed has a good review of the book. In this podcast on Planetizen, Leinberger explains the key points…  Keep reading…

  • Parking isn’t a good reason to move the Rockville courthouse

    The Montgomery County courthouse, in the county seat of Rockville, is old and badly needs replacing. Maryland is ready to pay for a new courthouse on a downtown site formerly occupied by the library, but some people want to move it. There are good arguments for moving it and for not moving it. There are also some very bad arguments. In particular, many who advocate changing the location…  Keep reading…

  • Digging the parking hole deeper

    The Washington area is deeply schizophrenic about whether it wants to be a city of driving and parking or of people and transit. While DC is working hard to put mixed-use high-density development next to many of its stations, plans in Foggy Bottom and West Hyattsville call for more parking than should be necessary. Whether a city is car-dependent or transit-accessible is…  Keep reading…

  • Maryland’s missed opportunities

    Rethink College Park has a thoughtful roundup of the great promise but disappointing results of the Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Act of 1997. That law created incentives for development in denser, transit-accessible parts of the state over the creation of more sprawl. Unfortunately, it hasn’t lived up to its promise, blocking some sprawl but failing to stop…  Keep reading…

  • New Partners: Congestion pricing and transportation finance

    The panel at the New Partners conference on transportation finance featured NYC’s congestion pricing hero Bruce Schaller, and Michael Replogle of Environmental Defense. As David Burwell of Project for Public Spaces said when he introduced the panel: The transportation trust fund is broke—not just broken, but broke. Actually, the highway fund is broke now, and the…  Keep reading…

  • New Partners: Earl Blumenauer and Mary Landrieu

    Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, whose district includes Portland, joined in a roundtable discussion. Blumenauer had strong words for the Bush Administration on its transportation policy, especially the recent commission report, where language in favor of increasing the gas tax was cut out. Blumenauer: the commission was set…  Keep reading…

  • New Partners: The Yards and public-private partnerships

    I’m at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference, a major annual conference on Smart Growth. I’ll be liveblogging the conference today. The first panel I’m attending is about the development called The Yards in Near Southeast and how partnerships between GSA and Forest City are revitalizing this area. Katherine Aguilar Perez, VP of Forest City: “Smart…  Keep reading…

  • Why buildings aren’t better

    Boston’s architecture critic gives his reasons: care, cash, and consensus. I agree with some of the points and disagree with others—I don’t think architectural disagreement is a new thing, and there were plenty of bad cookie-cutter buildings in the past that are gone now.  Keep reading…

  • Alexandria wants new Metro stations

    Members of the Alexandria City Council want developers to contribute to new Metro stations as part of potential new developments in Potomac Yards (between National Airport and Old Town Alexandria) and Eisenhower Valley (where the Blue Line goes west from Old Town to Van Dorn Street). Via Ryan Avent.  Keep reading…

  • “Structure of voids” and chain restaurants in Ballston

    Last weekend, we visited a friend who recently bought a condo in Ballston. Zachary Schrag highlights the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor as the region’s biggest success from Metro’s original construction, creating a new transit-oriented Smart Growth development around the subway, and it’s true: there were people and shops and other signs of life everywhere,…  Keep reading…

  • Three projects to watch

    All over the region, consulting organizations are going through the legal requirements for Environmental Impact Statements, necessary for any major project: convening public scoping meetings, collecting input, evaluating alternatives, and so on. They’re doing this in downtown Columbia, along Rockville Pike, and on both sides of the 14th Street Bridges, used by I-395,…  Keep reading…

  • Walkability’s comeback

    Planetizen links to an article in Governing Magazine that says what anyone in Adams Morgan or Park Slope or San Francisco knows: walkable neighborhoods are on the rise. But it’s not just old cities: Plano, Texas has a booming Smart Growth development. And “it’s not just the New Urbanists who are talking the language of walkability now,” writes the author,…  Keep reading…

  • Cannon almost stopped the Lincoln Memorial

    A fascinating story in the Washington Post Magazine explains how Illinois Congressman and Speaker of the House Joe Cannon (who has a House office building named in his honor) fought the establishment of the Lincoln Memorial on what was then a swamp along the banks of the Potomac, preferring a smaller memorial near Union Station; years later, he admitted he was glad he had lost that fight.  Keep reading…

  • The Yards waterfront park squeezes bikes to the edge

    NCPC has preliminary plans online for a new watefront park at The Yards, a new development next to the Navy Yard in Southeast. The park has many very nice features including a large terraced lawn, a landscaped garden, and a cool-looking pedestrian bridge (though one NCPC staff recommends be made to look more open, light and inviting). But the designers seem to have forgotten about bikers,…  Keep reading…

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