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 to get any decent food. As one commenter on Fisher’s article put it, “The side streets are very residential and nice, and the great benefit is that you are walking distance to city amenities. These people need to wake up and realize that they live off one of the main streets in a major city. Imagine what would happen to your property values if you lived near retail areas that people actually wanted to go to!”
The activists opposed to Smart Growth-type development in Tenleytown cite their desire to “preserve the existing zoning.” Unfortunately, much of the zoning code was written in the auto era and reflects opinions of the time, like those which led to the North End of Boston being considered a “slum” and the nearby West End being torn down to build the horrendous Government Center.
For example, DC’s zoning code, like that of many other cities, requires too much parking. Yet at a recent Zoning Review meeting for parking, whose purpose is to evaluate when and how much to reduce the minimum parking requirements or institute maximums, a community leader from Friendship Heights, Marilyn Simon, attended with the specific purpose of trying to require even more parking for any development.
Whether large or small, her group of NIMBY-oriented residents have power that shapes development in Upper Wisconsin. I wish the best of luck to Ward 3 Vision in their efforts to organize the many community residents who want to see this area around a Metro stop turn into a walkable community with more great restaurants and stores.
Update: Just saw Ryan Avent’s take on this (he agrees with Fisher and me).