Land UseRSS

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.

  • EveryBlock and more for DC

    EveryBlock is a new site that lets you see everything going on in your block: pictures people upload, inspection violations in local restaurants, building permits, and more. Here’s my old block in NYC. It looks like it could be a very useful tool for citizens to keep up with what’s going on in their neighborhoods. Rob Halligan is pushing to bring it to DC—that would…  Keep reading…

  • Stopping the bank invasion

    Belmont, Massachusetts is the latest town to consider zoning rules that let them keep their downtown from being taken over by banks. Banks can pay higher rent and generate less noise than other establishments, so landlords love them, but a good downtown needs a mix, and banks don’t generate foot traffic nights or Sundays. Via Richard Layman.  Keep reading…

  • Parking review part 3: Forces against fixing parking

    Previously in parking-land, I summarized last week’s parking zoning review meeting wherein the group reached a surprising (to me) level of consensus on when to remove minimums and institute maximums in the parking zoning code. Other than residents who don’t believe we can effectively manage spillover parking, what obstacles remain to a better approach to parking?  Keep reading…

  • Ed Glaeser: level the playing field

    In a Boston Globe op-ed, Harvard economist Ed Glaeser is the latest to make the argument that our economic policies let suburbs pay less than their fair share while cities pay more. Via Ryan Avent.  Keep reading…

  • “There is not going to be a Quaker Oats Metro station”

    Councilmember Jim Graham (rightly) put to rest speculation that DC may rename the Navy Yard Metro station after the corporate sponsor who buys naming rights to the new ballpark. Meanwhile, New York announced plans to rename every station on the 4 and D trains after corporations with all the money going to the Yankees. OK, they didn’t, but if Hank Steinbrenner were to hang out…  Keep reading…

  • Metro adopts “common sense writ large”

    WMATA will now encourage transit-oriented development on its land around Metro stations, instead of just selling it for the money and ignoring land use. By encouraging mixed-use development, it will create more future riders, which is better for Metro and the region. Via Matthew Yglesias (and welcome, Yglesias readers!)…  Keep reading…

  • 14th and U project moving forward

    Yesterday, the HPRB approved the general form of the proposed project on the southwest corner of 14th and U. Almost everyone who testified, as well as the HPRB staff and board members, were pleased with the improvements that architect Eric Colbert made to the project since the initial sketches. The rear of the building, away from 14th Street, is 7 stories on the southern end and…  Keep reading…

  • Parking review part 2: But for spillover, we all agree

    In my earlier parking post, I concluded with this key slide from the Nelson\\Nygaard presentation that kicked off the zoning review process (at right). The minimums in the zoning code operate on the premise that since some people will drive and park, we need to provide parking. If we don’t, they’ll park on the street, interfering with residents. Therefore, we must require…  Keep reading…

  • Bryant Park’s restoration

    In the 1970s, New York’s Bryant Park in Midtown was called “needle park” for the enormous drug trade in the park. Residents and tourists steered clear. Today, it is a jewel of an urban park, packed with people eating lunch on every nice weekday, jammed for Monday night summer movies, and a pleasant and safe place year round. What changed? Architecture and private…  Keep reading…

  • Parking review part 1: Parking choices matter

    Which kind of city do we want DC to be in the future? Left: 27th and O in Georgetown. Right: 7th and O in Shaw. Driving-oriented versus pedestrian-oriented streets. Source: Nelson\\Nygaard presentation Our parking policy decisions decide which city we will be.  Keep reading…

  • Consensus and controversy in Rockville’s Pike

    Last night I attended a community meeting in Rockville about “envisioning a great place” for Rockville Pike, specifically the segment from Twinbrook Parkway to Richard Montgomery Drive (just north of Wootton Parkway). This section is almost entirely filled with strip malls behind large parking lots—the cookie-cutter suburban retail that makes Rockville’s…  Keep reading…

  • Tysons stepping away from the edge

    Tysons Corner is the classic Edge City, and perhaps the original inspiration for the term. They’re the cities created entirely around the automobile, the mall, and the suburban office park style of architecture—what Christopher Leinberger calls the “Futurama vision” of the shiny new America that looked so exciting in the 1950s. Now that we’ve…  Keep reading…

  • Parking reformers have some educatin’ to do

    Image by emily geoff on FlickrWhen Jane Jacobs wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities in 1961, almost everyone from planners to the public believed in freeway construction, single-use zoning, and urban renewal projects. Today, you’re not going to see a lot of people commenting on a blog like DCist arguing that we should run a freeway between Dupont Circle and Adams…  Keep reading…

  • Density police not required

    Urban, walkable, mixed-use areas are the future of America. They’re more environmentally friendly, better for healthy people and strong communities, shorter commutes make people happier, and the market wants more of it.  Keep reading…

  • A better 14th Street coming soon

    Last week was the latest public meeting to review the proposed streetscape improvements to 14th Street, from Florida Avenue to Thomas Circle. I wasn’t able to make the meeting, which conflicted with the Columbia Heights parking meeting, but I was able to get copies of the presentation. This street is becoming a major restaurant and bar corridor, and improvements that make…  Keep reading…

  • Juno’s neighborhood is the better one

    In the (excellent) film Juno, the title character’s lower middle class family lives in an old neighborhood with small houses, while the rich potential adoptive parents (the Lorings) live in a shiny new suburb with huge houses on big lots. But as it turns out, Juno’s neighborhood is more expensive than the Lorings’! Yup, the areas of Vancouver where Juno’s…  Keep reading…

  • NIMBYism strong on Upper Wisconsin

    Calling it “giving up on Smart Growth,” Marc Fisher laments the death of a development proposal at the Tenleytown Metro, which would have replaced a small neighborhood library with higher density mixed-use and moved the library a few blocks away. The first time I went to Tenleytown, visiting friends who live there, we had to walk about 15 minutes to Connecticut Avenue…  Keep reading…

  • Is the 1,000 space garage in Columbia Heights a good investment?

    The DC USA project in Columbia Heights will open this spring, bringing a Target and many other national chains to DC (many for their first store in DC) in 600,000 square feet of retail along with 1,300 new apartments. It will also bring traffic. There are two main ways to deal with this: provide more parking spaces, and/or use parking management techniques to encourage as many people…  Keep reading…

  • Grocery stores disappearing in NYC

    One of the great things about living in NYC the ease of buying groceries. What is widely considered NYC’s best grocery store was about five blocks from me, and yet I didn’t usually go there because it was crowded and there was another supermarket only three blocks from me, not to mention a little grocery one avenue over. Or at least, this a great thing about living on the Upper…  Keep reading…

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