Photo by colleenita on Flickr.

Greater Greater Washington started publishing three years ago yesterday.

What were we writing about then? Quite a few things that were still relevant today.

Parking policy: Tommy Wells spoke at a Coalition for Smarter Growth forum about parking and how he himself became a convert on performance parking because of all the cars the baseball stadium was going to bring to his neighborhood. He had devised the “livable, walkable” slogan for his campaign, then discovered a whole community of people who believed strongly in this philosophy.

Sidewalks at construction sites: DC instituted a policy requiring covered sidewalks or pedestrian walkways during construction, instead of the then-common practice of just forcing pedestrians to cross to the other side of the street.

Last week, TBD reported that the Convention Center hotel is apparently not following this practice at 9th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW.

Potomac Yard station: Alexandria officials were talking about getting developers around Potomac Yard to pay for a new station. That tax structure has become a reality and the environmental review begun; will the station get built on time?

Our first mission statement: My vision for this blog, three years ago:

Urban centers and walkable suburbs in America are experiencing a renaissance, including the Washington, DC region. Unfortunately, too many people are forced to leave great neighborhoods to find affordable housing or good schools. If people want to live in single-family homes, they certainly may. But everyone should have the choice to live in an apartment or townhouse in a walkable, safe, livable neighborhood.

People make a city great. Downtown job centers, historic neighborhoods, and new edge cities should all be full of people, walking to do errands, sitting outside at sidewalk cafes, enjoying parks, living life, and interacting with each other. Unfortunately, the streets of downtown DC are fairly empty during the day and even quieter on weekends, with little more than one inward-facing office building after another. We should encourage more mixed-use development downtown, with more residences and more retail shops, enabling restaurants to operate all week and more people to live near where they work.

We should continue the trend of building new, mixed-use neighborhoods in areas such as Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, College Park, Rockville, Silver Spring and Tysons Corner as well as the District of Columbia, where people can live, work, eat, shop and find entertainment in walking distance. We should construct buildings that engage a vibrant street life, with stores and restaurants and human-scale features, rather than cutting themselves off from the wider world.

We should expand Metro and build streetcars in DC to allow more people to get to work and other destinations without need of a car. We should put higher density development near transit stations, to enable more people to travel without cars, and so that the region can grow without adding traffic congestion. We should make it easier for people to get to work by walking or biking or rollerblading if they wish, with adequate and safe sidewalks, bike lanes and paths.

We should stop building new highways which only foster more driving and more traffic. And we should set appropriate prices for driving in and out of our city, or using parking spaces in our neighborhoods, so that people who choose to own cars, use the roads, and park pay the fair cost of the land they are using, without being unfairly burdened or subsidized.

The Washington, DC area is already great. DC itself has some of the most beautiful, mixed-use, and transit-accessible neighborhoods in any American city. Arlington and Bethesda contain Smart Growth areas that are models for cities everywhere. As the region grows, we must preserve what already works and expand what is possible, to ensure that there are enough great neighborhoods for everyone who wants to live, work, shop or play in one.


This still seems to apply just as strongly today.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Surface Transit. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions here are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.