Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Merger of two organizations: Coalition for Smarter Growth and Washington Regional Network for LIvable Communities

From a press release:

New organization expands operations, programs, and influence

Coalition for Smarter Growth and Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities (WRN) are proud to announce the completion of a merger. The merger of two of the region's most innovative and effective smart growth organizations creates a more powerful voice addressing the region's key issues of where and how to grow.

"This merger allows us to consolidate our long-time partnership with WRN and ensure that housing choices are fully addressed in local and regional decisions about how and where we grow," said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the
Coalition for Smarter Growth.

The merged organization, under the name
Coalition for Smarter Growth, will incorporate WRN's programs and its focus on equitable development into the Coalition's regional work to ensure that transportation and development decisions are made with genuine community participation and allow the region to accommodate growth while revitalizing communities, providing more housing and travel choices, and conserving our natural and historic areas.

"WRN's board of directors determined that our mission can best be achieved by combining efforts formally with our close partner, the
Coalition for Smarter Growth," said Cheryl Cort, Executive Director of WRN. "I am excited about this change and look forward to being even more effective as we are able to marshal the substantial resources of the Coalition for Smarter Growth to achieve our joint goals and vision."

Created in 1991 by leaders on environmental, bicycle, pedestrian, transit and urban planning issues, WRN shared a similar mission with the Coalition, but served as the regional leader on equitable development, including affordable housing, transportation equity and helping urban communities capture the benefits of smart growth.

WRN's Affordable Housing Progress Report in 2004 spurred Northern Virginia jurisdictions to greatly increase their funding commitment to affordable housing. WRN has also been a key leader in DC's Affordable Housing Alliance and helped lead the successful effort to secure an inclusionary zoning policy in Washington, DC. WRN's focus on safe pedestrian access to Metro stations on the region's east side has led to policy, planning and investment changes. WRN has also clarified the connection between affordable housing, access to jobs, and lower transportation costs.

The region's leading environmental and community organizations founded the
Coalition for Smarter Growth in 1997, to serve as a central coordinating agent, an advocate for community-oriented development, and voice of smart growth in Metropolitan Washington.

In ten years, the
Coalition for Smarter Growth has shifted the regional debate to a point where voters across the region are supporting better management of the location, pace and design of growth. This vision isc aptured in the Coalition's Blueprint for a Better Region, a visual depiction of how transit oriented development and corridor redevelopment can provide more housing andt ransportation choices while also protecting neighborhood parks and our surrounding agricultural and rural landscape.

"As part of the merger, we are launching an Equitable Development Campaign to raise the visibility of WRN's ongoing programs in affordable housing, transit-oriented development and transportation equity. We will also expand our leadership in the District of Columbia and on smart growth and regional housing policy efforts. And together, we will proudly continue the Livable Communities Leadership Award started by WRN," noted Schwartz.

WRN's Executive Director, Cheryl Cort, has been named Policy Director for the
Coalition for Smarter Growth.

As part of the merger, a new website will be launched this Spring incorporating the programs and issues of both organizations.

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The Real Congestion Coalition

Matthew Clark draws our attention to this article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Decongesting America." From the article:

Q: Who is the "Congestion Coalition," as you call them?

A: The Congestion Coalition is a group of special-interest groups that really are hostile to automobile travel and want to promote public transit even though that means it will take longer for people to get where they want to go and they are going to waste more time stuck in traffic. What we have seen empirically in the United States is that in order for people to use public transit, they need to live in very congested urban environments. That is the most effective way that public transit can compete with the automobile. The result is, transit agencies are in favor of congestion because as long as it takes longer for us to drive our car to work, that means people are more likely to get on a bus or train. There also are environmental groups that are just hostile to the automobile and professional planning groups that are hostile to the automobile because they think it's anti-social. They believe congestion is a good thing because it's more likely to force people off the road.
GE Streetcar ad, 1940
GE Streetcar ad, circa 1940.

The interview is with Ted Balaker and Sam Staley, the same authors of the piece that ran in Sunday's Post Outlook section, "5 Myths About Suburbia and Our Car-Happy Culture."

As I said before, pro-mobility, pro-mode shift, pro-transit think tanks need to be more focused on generating the same kind of op-ed campaign.

I wrote this to Matthew:

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is an interesting paper. As you probably know, it's owned by Richard Scaife, who through the Sarah Mellon Foundation, funds a lot of signficantly conservative organizations. These organizations include those that promote the sprawl agenda, although termed in favor of property rights (and usually supported by the Growth Machine).

The real congestion coalition are the organizations they support. However and ironically, Mr. Scaife is a strong supporter of historic preservation, and has been a strong supporter of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. So he isn't fully terrible.

Back to the other, remember those numbers?:

one lane of road can move in one hour about 2,000 cars, about 6,750 people on buses, 10,000 people on bus rapid transit, and 15,000-60,000 people on light rail to heavy rail.

I am taking a class on Transportation and Land Use taught by one of the co-authors of a book of the same title, and as an economist he makes the point that people individually make sound decisions to drive due to the relative time efficiency, but that in the aggregate, what works for individuals doesn't work collectively. The reality is that lane capacity is constrained, and automobiles don't measure up in terms of efficiency on the road, or in terms of the use of land when parked.

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Use value of place and closing schools

The January 15th issue of the New Yorker has an article by Katherine Boo (ex-Washington CIty Paper) called "Expectations" about school reform efforts in Denver, and the closure of Manual High School due to persistent failure, the impact on the children, and the reform agenda of the school superintendent, Michael Bennet.

I realized when reading this article that I have been too quick to support closing schools, without thinking of the negative impact on families and the children--even though I have considered and written about the impact on neighborhoods more broadly. Declining enrollments mean schools must be closed. However, I realize that the discussion of "use value of place" by Logan and Molotch in Urban Fortunes: Toward a Political Economy of Place, is completely relevant when thinking about and planning to ameliorate the negative effects.

While not citing this work, in Root Shock Fullilove makes the same kinds of arguments on the destruction of community and social networks as a result of urban renewal.

Types of Use Values*

Daily Round: The place of residence is a focal point for the wider routine in which one's concrete daily needs are satisfied.

Informal Support Networks: Place of residence is the potential support of an information network of people who provide life-sustaining products and services.

Security and Trust: A neighborhood also provides a sense of physical and psychic security that comes with a familiar and dependable environment.

Identity: A neighborhood provides its residents with an important source of identity, both for themselves and for others. Neighborhoods offer a resident not only spatial demarcations but social demarcations as well.

Agglomeration Benefits: A shared interest in overlapping use values (identity, security, and so on) in a single area is a useful way to define neighborhood.

Ethnicity: Not infrequently, these benefits are encapsulated in a shared enthnicity... When this occurs, ethnicity serves as a summary characterization of all the overlapping benefits of neighborhood life.

(* From chapter four of Urban Fortunes: Toward a Political Economy of Place.)


DC Neighborhood College Fellowship Program

Dream City
From a press release:

The D.C. Neighborhood College, in partnership with The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, is now accepting applications for its 2007 civic leadership development program. The free 12-month program seeks to develop effective grassroots leaders and is open to residents from the District's eight wards. Applications are due February 16, 2007, by 3:00 p.m.

"Participating in the D.C. Neighborhood College was a great experience for me," said graduate Karen W. Cooper. "The college gave me the skills I needed to be an effective leader in the community and in my professional life as a manager. I use the knowledge I've gained about economic development, project management, and leadership skills on a daily basis." Cooper is a 2003/2004 Neighborhood College graduate from Ward 4, and founder and chair of the Friends of Petworth Recreation Center.

Since 2002, D.C Neighborhood College has graduated 53 local leaders and was awarded $500,000 from the Office of the Mayor. The college provides local residents with the tools to make a difference in their neighborhoods. Tackling complex issues such as social justice, workforce development, affordable housing, and job creation, graduates are taking strides to build sustainable D.C. communities.

Participants range in age from the early 20s to late 60s. All D.C. residents with a commitment to personal development and positive change are encouraged to apply. Interested applicants should contact Karima Morris Woods at (202) 994-5384. The program takes place three times a month, beginning March 8, 2007, at the Thurgood Marshall Center. Applicants will be asked to complete a form listing their background information, interest in the D.C. Neighborhood College program, and community leadership involvement.

The District of Columbia Neighborhood College, a public-private partnership managed by the
Center for Excellence in Public Leadership at The George Washington University, provides civic development training for District neighborhood leaders to become more effective change agents and advocates. Established in 1997, the center's mission is to develop public leaders who make a positive difference in their organizations and in the lives of the people they serve.
The program doesn't train people along the lines that I would--way more detailed information about how the world really works in DC (and beyond) and how to address it would require exposure to:

-- the book Dream City, especially chapter 4 on development in the city (see this blog entry)
-- the journal article "City as a Growth Machine: Toward a Political Economy of Place" by Harvey Molotch, which explains the agenda of local elites in a meta fashion (reading the full book, Urban Fortunes: Toward a Political Economy of Place, wouldn't hurt either
-- Kathy Sinzinger's award-winning article about the Federal City Council, "THE DISTRICT'S POWER BEHIND THE SCENES,"
-- training in placemaking such as the "How to Turn A Place Around" workshop by the Project for Public Spaces (for three years or more I've argued that people working as Neighborhood Services Coordinators for the Mayor's Office should be trained with this program--I'd like to bring it to DC annually as a training-capacity building endeavor)
-- serious training in the development of truly neighborhood and citizen serving negotiating skills such as with this handbook, Community Benefits Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable
-- probably a read of the book Streets of Hope, about a truly ground up neighborhood revitalization effort in Boston, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.
This should be complemented by:

-- the development of an information resource center to support citizen involvement and deliberative engagement, such as the Urban Information Center at the Dallas Public Library
-- such an information center should include data and software tools such as the field based tools developed by Pittsburgh's Community Technical Assistance Center and the University of Memphis Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action
Problem Property Audit, page 1 - University of Memphis
Problem Property Audit, page 2 - University of Memphis
-- an ongoing training program beyond the year to build the capacity of members of civic organizations and ANCs (See for example State of Massachusetts Citizen Planner Training, Neighborhood Revitalization Planning/Minneapolis).

Further complemented by legal clinic assistance such as that performed by the city-developed Neighborhood Law Corps in Oakland, California.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Abe Pollin wants more

Verizon Center at night

(The title is inspired by the Sisters of Mercy song, "More.")

Saturday's Washington Post reports that Abe Pollin wants $50 million to upgrade the luxury boxes and do some other stuff at the Verizon Center. See "Pollin Asks D.C. to Pay for Verizon Center Renovations."

With the hugely expensive baseball stadium under construction, and with all this talk of public funding for a soccer stadium, along with the absolutely insane talk about trying to attract the Washington Redskins football team back to DC, I am sure Mr. Pollin, who spent $220 million of his own money to build his arena, is feeling unloved.

From the article:

Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who built the $220 million sports arena with his own money in Chinatown nearly a decade ago, wants the extra money to upgrade all or some of its 110 luxury suites and replace its outdated scoreboard, District officials said. Those and other improvements would be designed to attract special events, such as championship basketball and hockey games.

Pollin's company argues that the city should give the arena a financial boost as a reward for its role as a catalyst of the downtown renaissance, city officials said. The 20,674-seat Verizon Center has served as the anchor of the Chinatown area's revival, a transformation into a bustling hub for restaurants and night life.

As people know, I argue that while the Verizon Center truly contributes to the vibrance of the Gallery Place area, and it is an anchor, it is not the sole or only cause for the positive changes.

We need an independent authority, comparable to New York City's NY Independent Budget Office or the late lamented Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, that "pro-science" then Speaker Newt Gingrinch didn't see fit to fund, to provide a fair and transparent evaluation of the costs and benefits of such investments, the kind of evaluation that the city doesn't provide when considering such projects.

Peter Angelos has a clause in his contract with the Maryland Stadium Authority that anything that the football team gets in the way of stadium upgrades, that the Authority has to provide the same upgrade to the Camden Yards stadium.

This never ends. The city opened up the treasure chest of public financing of sports facilities with baseball stadium, and now perhaps, we are doomed to continue funding other similar projects forever.

Colbert King, the Saturday columnist who most often writes about DC issues, covers this broad issue, focusing on talk and plans for funding a soccer stadium, in the piece, "Another Bite Out of D.C.'s Hide?"

King writes:

Victor B. MacFarlane, the majority owner of D.C. United's operating rights, said at a news conference, "We would love to help make soccer the sport that African Americans and other children of color first look to for recreation and entertainment." Toward that end, MacFarlane, himself African American, pledged to build a youth soccer field in Ward 8, which is home to D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry. MacFarlane speaks from the heart, I am sure. But I wouldn't be surprised if development rights to that juicy piece of land surrounding the proposed stadium didn't also draw the team owners to the deal.

Here's how the project might develop: The city would prepare the tract's infrastructure (worth millions of dollars) and turn it over to the MacFarlane group. The developers, in turn, would build the stadium and an adjacent complex with a hotel, shops, offices and condos, recouping their investment with the profits that would flow from such a worthy civic endeavor. The District would tell taxpayers they have never had it so good, because tax dollars from the complex will flow into city coffers. That, city officials will say, represents a win-win outcome for the District and D.C. United's owners.

Oh, yes, the new soccer stadium and development rights could be awarded to MacFarlane without competitive bidding.

Green for the owners.

Flushing money down the toilet
Green for the citizens and city coffers.

... are more likely colored by the same sentiment that put Andrew Young and Robert Johnson in bed with Wal-Mart.


Ideology and reality in planning and living in real places

Well, I just wrote a great post about these three articles, but Blogger--the new Blogger, out of beta, "ate it." Oh well.

1. Sure there is the more hardcore advocacy from Transportation Alternatives and Streetsblog, but as I've written before, those of us not in New York City think it's the best place in the United States for people and transit vs. the car. The reality is that it's all relative; just because you're good doesn't mean that you can't be better; and you always have to be vigilant because the forces that favor anti-places are strong.

That puts this op-ed from the Sunday New York Times, "The City That Never Walks," by Robert Sullivan, into perspective. From the article:

FOR the past two decades, New York has been an inspiration to other American cities looking to revive themselves. Yes, New York had a lot of crime, but somehow it also still had neighborhoods, and a core that had never been completely abandoned to the car. Lately, though, as far as pedestrian issues go, New York is acting more like the rest of America, and the rest of America is acting more like the once-inspiring New York....

FOR the past two decades, New York has been an inspiration to other American cities looking to revive themselves. Yes, New York had a lot of crime, but somehow it also still had neighborhoods, and a core that had never been completely abandoned to the car. Lately, though, as far as pedestrian issues go, New York is acting more like the rest of America, and the rest of America is acting more like the once-inspiring New York. ...

One reason New York is losing its New York edge may be that the city’s revival is partly based on a strange reversal: the city is the new suburb. Families have returned to the New York that was abandoned years ago for lawns and better public schools. They’ve brought with them a love of cars. A new study by Bruce Schaller, a local transportation consultant, shows that half the drivers in Manhattan are from the city — and that more city residents than suburbanites drive to work every day.

This is the same problem we face in DC. New residents, frequently from the suburbs, unwilling to change or just unthinking when it comes to challenging the automobility paradigm. There are so many SUVs with DC license plates that it boggles the mind.
The Cross Bronx Expressway
Cross Bronx Expressway. Photo by Andrew Moore.

2. The Times had another troubling story, about the rehabilitation of Robert Moses, the urban renewal and "big project" planner who "inspired" Jane Jacobs and the publication of the urban planning classic Death and Life of Great American Cities. From "Rehabilitating Robert Moses":

FOR three decades his image has been frozen in time. The bulldozing bully who callously displaced thousands of New Yorkers in the name of urban renewal. The public-works kingpin who championed highways as he starved mass transit. And yes, the visionary idealist who gave New York Lincoln Center and Jones Beach, along with parks, roads, playgrounds and public pools.

This is the Robert Moses most of us know today, courtesy of Robert A. Caro’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography from 1974, “The Power Broker,” which charts Moses’ long reign as city parks commissioner (1934-60) and chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (1946-68)....

But according to the Columbia University architectural historian Hilary Ballon and assorted colleagues, Moses deserves better — or at least a fresh look. In three exhibitions opening in the next few days — at the Museum of the City of New York, the Queens Museum of Art and Columbia University — Ms. Ballon argues that too little attention has been focused on what Moses achieved, versus what he destroyed, and on the enormous bureaucratic hurdles he surmounted to get things done.

There is an interesting discussion of why the revisionism, and how Robert Caro, author of a magisterial biography of Moses, is barely included in the exhibitions.

I think it has to do with the continued degradation and diminishment of citizen involvement and civic engagement and the continued focus on big urban renewal-like projects as the dominant municipal economic development paradigm. New York City is particular enthralled with such planning and projects, from the proposed Jets Stadium to the Atlantic Yards-Brooklyn Nets Stadium redevelopment project.
Sprawl-type suburban subdivisions (large image)
Suburban Baltimore, Baltimore Sun photo by David Hobby.

3. There was a nasty op-ed in the Post Outlook Section by Ted Balaker and Sam Staley of the Reason Foundation. I was a bit disappointed because my previous dealings with Dr. Staley have always been fruitful. I've always appreciated his focus and analysis (this must have something to do with my strain of libertarianism?) . But this piece, "5 Myths About Suburbia and Our Car-Happy Culture," uses straw man type arguments and under-formed analysis to denigrate transit and to promote the car-centric deconcentrated land use and planning paradigm that has dominated the United States since after World War II.

According to Balaker and Staley the "myths" are:

1.Americans are addicted to driving.
2.Public transit can reduce traffic congestion.
3.We can cut air pollution only if we stop driving.
4.We're paving over America.
5.We can't deal with global warming unless we stop driving.
1. Maybe Americans aren't addicted to driving, but there is no question that the land use and resource planning paradigm that prevails in the U.S. promotes automobility and deconcentration in ways that are extremely costly to quality of life and local and state government budgets, as well as to national economic, military, and foreign policy.

Many of the pieces in the Richmond Times-Dispatch by Barton Hinkle about Virginia's transportation "crisis" focus on the fact that every new mile of road that is constructed must be maintained in perpetuity, and therefore even more money will be required for maintenance.

2. Public transit can reduce traffic congestion. It does already. Certainly in places that are relatively dense, with job and residential centers connected efficiently by public transit, traffic is reduced. Focusing on national averages is misleading. What matters is how transit and automobility works within specific regions. In the Washington region, the core of the center city, and Arlington County, Virginia have much less in the way of traffic compared to other jurisdictions in our region, because of how the subway system and the complementary bus system serve many people relatively efficiently.

In areas that are much more deconcentrated (a/k/a sprawl), transit is less efficient, taking a long time and many stops to get places.

3.We can cut air pollution only if we stop driving. Hmm, Air pollution is a problem in cities and it usually isn't a function of industry, but from cars. There is no question that urban areas suffer asthma and other respiratory diseases at higher rates. (However, this isn't an issue that I direct much attention to myself. But it matters.) But this isn't necessarily one of the top five arguments against sprawl and automobility anyway.
Opportunities abound in Reservoir Hill
Vacant houses in Reservoir Hill, Baltimore. Goetze argues in Understanding Neighborhood Change, that cities depopulated because overproduction of suburban housing made urban housing less desirable and valuable.

4.We're paving over America. We are. Even if the U.S. "has only developed 5.4% of its total land" there is no question that metropolitan regions are considerably more developed and deconcentrated with the sprawl pattern of land development. Detroit once had 2 million residents in approximately 160 square miles. Today, 1.2 million of those residents have dispersed over close to 3,000 square miles of an ever expanding region.

Similarly, at its peak, DC had 802,000 residents in about 60 square miles (less if you subtract federal land). Fairfax County takes about 400 square miles to house 1 million residents.

National averages are meaningless when looking at this question.

5.We can't deal with global warming unless we stop driving. Maybe. Transportation uses comprise 70% of the oil consumed in the United States. But it's true that industrial use contributes greatly to global warming. Again, this aspect of automobility and the land use paradigm isn't relevant to my day-to-day work on the broad issue. I focus on quality of life and placemaking. Places for people are much different than building places for cars.
14th Street NW in the evening
14th Street NW during the evening commute.

As the pro-car, suburban sage of how DC should be operated, Len Sullivan of NARPAC said once in a report about the K Street busway, "Pedestrians are a hindrance."

As long as we attempt to rebuild the cities over for the car, we will lose and destroy those competitive advantages that the center cities possess:

1. Walkable places;
2. Interesting, beautiful places;
3. and a city where people are not dependent on cars for mobility.

In any case, pro-transit, pro-placemaking people and think tanks need to be doing more in the way of writing op-eds!
Across the Street, other opportunities (Baltimore)
Across the Street in Reservoir Hill. This block is being "homesteaded" in a concerted way through the TechBaltimore program, see this article from the Baltimore City Paper.

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Can't see the forest for the trees

The Washington Post has a much easier time seeing "cozy ties" between developers and public officials in Loudoun County, for example as discussed in the editorial, "The Sleaze in Loudoun," subtitled "Insiders get rich, and the public stays in the dark," than it does in DC when discussing the Federal City Council, or various business and development issues in the City of Washington.

From the editorial:

In two revealing articles, The Post's Michael Laris and David S. Fallis detailed the cozy ties between Loudoun's real estate interests and public officeholders. Local prosecutors have launched a probe into some of the dealings to determine whether any laws were broken, and the FBI is investigating as well. Even if not illegal, some of these activities emit the distinct aroma of conflict of interest and ethical tone-deafness.

Sure would be nice to see such tough words about DC. Then again, there's that quote, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds."

See for example, "Williams Joins Investment Firm," subtitled "Former Mayor Becomes Chief of FBR's New Real Estate Unit." I'm not necessarily criticizing our former Mayor, I think this is a matter more of being like-minded about how to do economic development and financing rather than him doing dastardly things in order to get a good job once he was out of office...


Now I'm in for it

Painting on the 3500 block of 12th Street, west side
New painting on the 3500 block of 12th Street NE, west side, Brookland.

I am officially the interim program manager for the Brookland Main Street program in Washington, DC. If I want the job permanently, I will have to re-apply for the position, as it will be posted.

But, I'm in for it, not just locally, but nationally, because I opine plenty about how people should be doing commercial district revitalization.

Just recognize, urban revitalization takes a fair bit of time, as Neal Peirce points out in this column from 2004, "MAIN STREET NICHES IN A MASS SALES WORLD."

To get a sense for the foundation of my approach, see these posts:
-- The soft side of commercial district competition
-- Nurturing independent businesses through creatively reducing capital requirements
-- Commerz in the 'hood, part three
-- To get independent businesses you need to rebuild the supporting infrastructure

which are undergirded by my thinking about the Reilly Law of Retail Gravitation which focuses on measurable indicators--the number and mix of stores in particular shopping destinations. The Law is that with factors being roughly equal (travel, etc.) people will choose the shopping center/option that is better (more and more interesting stores, variety of product selection, etc.). Obvious huh? In the urban context especially, factors that people mull over when deciding between shopping destinations include comfort and perceptions of safety, physical condition of the commercial district, etc.

This is why I joke about Main Street principles #9 and #10 (there are officially only 8 principles)--knowing what you have (or not) and being honest about it; and making the hard choices you need to make in order to improve.

As long as a particular urban commercial district is deficient compared to nearby shopping alternatives, it won't be able to attract new customers, until it starts providing some decent options. That's why I always write about the importance of restaurants, places like Banana Cafe on 8th Street SE, which seeded revitalization by attracting patrons to the corridor despite its negatives, and the existence of few other retail options, because of relatively inexpensive but decent enough food in a comfortable enough atmosphere.

On that note, see Richard's Rules for Restaurant Driven Revitalization.

There's no question that this job is going to reduce my blogwriting...

I hope to organize a Baltimore field trip for Board Members and volunteers in March. In my not so humble opinion, for neighborhood commercial districts that aren't regional shopping or entertainment destinations, south of Philadelphia, Hampden Village and Federal Hill are probably the most successful Main Street commercial districts around (other than Carytown in Richmond, but that's just too long of a drive).

I want to take them to the Waverly Farmers Market, a short jaunt on Greenmount Ave. including a peek into Pete's Diner, maybe up to Belvedere Square, and then a serious walk and presentation in Hampden. (I don't think we can fit Federal Hill in on this tour, because that would be an 8 hour day...)
Vibrant Retail Streets: Great Stores
(From a now out-of-print publication by DC's Downtown BID.)

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Breaking the chains that bind us (transit)

Creeps & weirdos GM ad against transit
Jane Willkom writes from San Diego:

I can’t tell you how much that ad pisses me off! OK, yes, I used to ride the X2 everyday and that was quite a show, but I’ve since moved from 8th/H NE to San Diego and the buses here can only be described as delightful from my perspective. I’m astonished that virtually no “white collar” people are on the buses. When I tell people that I don’t have a car, they literally think that there’s something wrong with me. DUI? Seizure disorder? Car repo’d? Well duh, the bus stop is ½ block from my house and in 15 minutes, drops me off 1 block from my office, but this doesn’t at all register as an sensible choice for my inquisitors.

In the end, there just isn’t enough traffic around here to get people out of their cars and on public transportation.

P.S. Thx for the
Flexcar tip (free 1 yr membership). I signed up this week. However, it is more expensive out here because they don’t have Zipcar to compete!

Bob Bruninga's letter to the editor from last Saturday's Baltimore Sun pairs nicely with Jane's:

Don't overlook option to ride bus

I was explaining to my kids one day that we should be using public transportation, but that in America it is impractical because we all live in sprawling suburbs spread out over hundreds of miles. My family lives, works and goes to school along Route 2 between Glen Burnie and Annapolis. We have been happy driving back and forth, especially with the convenience of services along the route. But with two teenagers now driving, much of our lives revolves around scheduling the logistics of sharing the family's two cars among four drivers.

About two weeks ago, I was lamenting to my son about how he was going to have to get up an hour early and take me to work the next morning. Then it slowly dawned on me, as I sat behind the No. 14 bus, that when I leave in the morning, I am behind the bus, when I drop the kids off at school, I am behind the bus, and when I pull into work, I pass the bus in Annapolis.

I am now kicking myself around the block in my blindness to the No. 14 bus, which, over the last 16 years, could have saved me untold headaches. For $1.60 a ride, I now get a professional driver and a warm, comfortable ride that takes only 10 minutes longer than the 25-minute drive. However, that is not time lost but time gained, because I get to use that entire 35 minutes reading The Sun or grading papers instead of cowering in my coupe between monster SUVs.

I just wish I had thought of this 16 years ago.
I think it was in themail that someone was derisive about WMATA's plan to put strobe lights on buses to help reduce pedestrian-bus accidents--a number of pedestrians die each year from such accidents. (See this short, "METRO SAFETY: Strobe Lights To Be Installed On 100 Buses," from the Washington Post for more on this.)

I am a pedestrian, bus rider, bicycle rider, subway rider, and occasional driver, so I maintain multiple perspectives on this issue.

As a bus rider, I always marvel at how damn hard it is to drive a bus, given all the traffic and the frequent unwillingness of cars to "give way." My driving skills aren't the greatest, and I admire the concentration--not to mention the frequent friendliness and helpfulness--of WMATA bus drivers.
Many DC bus lines still follow 1950s streetcar routes
Washington Post photo by Gerald Martineau.


Density by Design (Presentation)

Thursday, February 1, 2007
DC Builds/National Building Museum
Density by Design
6:30–8:00 pm
$12 Museum members and students; $20 nonmembers.

Moderated by Ellen McCarthy, former director of the DC Office of Planning, David Dixon, FAIA, principal-in-charge of planning and urban design at Goody Clancy, Christopher B. Leinberger from the Brookings Institution, and Harriet Tregoning, director of the DC Office of Planning, will explore the heated topic of “density.”

The discussion will consider the economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits of higher-density development, as well as the feared neighborhood impacts of additional traffic, parking pressure, and soulless architecture. This lecture is presented in collaboration with the DC Office of Planning and held in conjunction with Washington: Symbol & City, which will be open for viewing.

I've never heard Harriet Tregoning speak. Now might be the time. David Dixon and Chris Leinberger are excellent presenters.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

A certified organic restaurant

Chef Michael Altenberg stands outside the site of his new organic restaurant "Crust" at 2056 W. Division in Chicago. (Jon Sall/Sun-Times)

According to "Wicker Park to get first organic pizzeria," in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago will be home to one of only four certified organic restaurants in the U.S. From the article:

At Crust, a restaurant slated to open next month in Wicker Park, the menu will read like this: Flatbread pizzas made with organic mozzarella, organic Italian sausage and organic wheat. Organic lettuce drizzled with organic Thousand Island dressing. Organic milkshakes and organic soft drinks. For martini drinkers -- organic vodka.

But to chef and owner Michael Altenberg, long a champion of sustainable agriculture, that's still not enough. So he's going further, pursuing organic certification for the entire restaurant. If successful, Crust will be the first eatery in the Midwest -- and only the fourth in the nation -- with that status.


Sunday, January 28, 2007


From the Free Online Encyclopedia:

co-opt (k-pt, kpt)
tr.v. co-opt·ed, co-opt·ing, co-opts
1. To elect as a fellow member of a group.
2. To appoint summarily.
3. To take or assume for one's own use; appropriate: co-opted the criticism by embracing it.
4. To neutralize or win over (an independent minority, for example) through assimilation into an established group or culture: co-opt rebels by giving them positions of authority.
[Latin cooptre : co-, co- + optre, to choose.]

From the Baltimore Sun, "Minority bank to lease at Wal-Mart":

Urban Trust Bank, the Bethesda financial firm formed by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, has struck a deal with Wal-Mart Stores to lease space for branches in the giant retailer's outlets in large cities. ...The deal marks a significant step forward for a bank that's less than a year old and has just two branches but with an ambition to forge a national franchise.

See these articles from the Black Commentator:
-- Wal-Mart and the Economic Destruction of Black Communities
-- A ‘Movement’ Against Wal-Mart?
-- Why Black Leaders Are Stone Silent on Wal-Mart Abuses.

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What is not tradition is plagiarizing (copying, repeating, imitating)

Madrid. Photo by Stefanos Polyzoides

You Gotta Have Community Building

Slide from Presentation by Peter Bruun
Slide from Presentation by Peter Bruun, Art on Purpose.

I have written before about a Detroit Institute of Arts promotion campaign that I still remember from my childhood, "You Gotta Have Art." It was pointed out to me that this campaign likely was a takeoff of the Richard Adler song "You Gotta Have Heart."

Anyway, appropo of the ongoing discussion about art, public art, professional artists, tourism, and community building, not to mention graffiti vs. murals, yesterday I attended with some other Washingtonians, the Baltimore "Art and Neighborhoods" symposium.

It was an excellent presentation, something they should do annually, and something we should do annually in DC. (I'll try to launch this idea in association with something else I am planning, but more on that, maybe, later.)

Presentations were made by Mindy Fullilove, author of Root Shock, Liz Lerman of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange!, Kumani Gantt of the Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia, Jay Cohen, an artist leading the Rebuilding through Art project in Baltimore's Midtown Edmonston neighborhood, and Peter Bruun of Art on Purpose.
Real City, Dream City is a multi-faceted project involving ten Baltimore City Neighborhoods. April to June 2006 photo workshops led to community exhibitions that had residents vote on images to become postcards. A Postcard Dialogue Project held in each neighborhood August through September 2006 led to specific ideas for change, action, or advocacy.

The presentations were excellent, some provocative. But in the context of the broader conversation within the blog and outside of it, in the various projects I am involved in, it makes me realize that we are talking about different things.

The projects covered in yesterday's session were really about community building through art, not really about arts-driven revitalization such as is occuring in Paducah, Kentucky, in Western Massachusetts, or in Pittsburgh with the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. Baltimore has two arts districts, Station North and Highlandtown. And just over the border in PG County, there is the Gateway Arts District.

Public art projects to promote art are different from public "art" projects to promote tourism, and mural projects pushing community building within neighborhoods are different from mural projects that are more about art.
Chicago Cow Parade, Irish Boxer Cow'
The Chicago "art" cows were one of the first examples in North America (the first place to do this was a town in Switzerland) of tourism campaigns utilizing artist decorated fiberglass constructions. Flickr photo by Travis Church.
The Sioux Falls SculptureWalk is much different from the fiberglass constructions, featuring sculptures produced by professional artists. "Pas de deux," by Shari Hamilton, Westhope, ND. Location - On east side of Phillips Ave. , middle of the block between 9th & 10th Streets. Photo by Paul Schiller.

Something relevant to this thread is the work that I do with history and historic preservation. The methods are the same even if it isn't about "art" per se. Anyway, at the Main Street conference last year in New Orleans, our colleagues from Shaw Main Streets made a presentation about the Shaw History Trail among other things.
From the African American History Trail marker outside the Thurgood Marshall Center in DC's Shaw neighborhood.

An inquiry from the audience was looking for proof about how that project is generating visits, and increasing economic returns from tourism. Listening to the question, I realized that the trail signs are more about community building vs. broader objectives, the same kinds of things discussed in this entry about "Civic Tourism."

Anyway, community building is different from arts-based revitalization, or cultural tourism, and we need to be clear about the distinctions.

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Alexandria Virginia also has a good transit-mobility website

The Alexandria Rideshare website is produced by the Office of Transit Services & Programs of the CIty of Alexandria Department of Transportation & Environmental Services.
Alexandria Dash About bus, painted to promote tourism
Alexandria Dash About bus, painted to promote tourism.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

DC Board of Education to Present Alternative School Governance Proposal

From Audrey Williams (202) 535-2647; (301) 351-6259 evenings/weekend, for the DC Board of Education:

WHO: Robert Bobb, President and members of the Board of Education
WHEN: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 10:00 am

WHAT: An emergency meeting will he held to consider and vote on the Board’s legislative proposal to improve student achievement in the District of Columbia and provide an alternative to Mayor Adrian Fenty’s plan to take control of D.C. Public Schools

WHERE: McKinley Technology High School, Room 150, 151 T Street, NE

BACKGROUND: The Board will hold its emergency meeting first and once the meeting is adjourned, will take questions from the press immediately following the meeting.

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Why I really hate graffiti

I'm starting a new job, and one of the things that I have to deal with is the Wednesday night tagging of 12 buildings on Brookland's 12th Street NE commercial corridor.

It's not art, merely vandalism. And I will end up spending most of today dealing with it, and not dealing with all the other things I was supposed to address.
Graffiti on Yes! Organic Market, front (west elevation)
Newly opened Yes! Market, 8,000 square feet.
Graffiti on Yes! Organic Market, front (north elevation)
Graffiti on CVS
CVS, formerly the Newton Theater, entered on to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in April, 2006. Great art deco detailing including the brick.

Graffiti on Newton Food Market
Newton Food Market

Graffiti on the Nail Salon
Across from Newton Food Market. Ironically, I've always thought this wall is a great opportunity for a mural.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The inalienable privilege to buy a 40...

"That is most illogical, Captain."

The City Paper has an excellent article, "Take It Inside: Authorities target outdoor drinking on a booming stretch of H Street," about a proposed moratorium on the sales of "singles" at neighborhood Class A and B licensed establishments.

But I have to say I love the delicious illogic of this quote:

At the Red & the Black, patron Simon van Steÿn said, “I don’t like to see the footprint of gentrification making a dent on how people have lived here for so long.” Van Steÿn, who was drinking a whiskey (“I bought it here. I didn’t bring it in.”) says he could envision himself being a victim of the proposed moratorium. “The worst thing is that it could affect me one night if the crowd at the Rock and Roll Hotel was too big and the price was too exorbitant and I wanted a drink. I’d be cursing the city.”

So he's gonna go buy something at a local convenience store and stand outside and drink it, tossing the empty on the street, and then pissing in a bus shelter or some other public place?

A couple previous entries on this topic:
-- Report on London's night time economy
-- Creating the "new new" thing: commercial district revitalization
-- Think police equines for nightlife crowd control
-- Does a restaurant selling alcohol create a pernicious environment ...

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John Catoe takes the wheel as Metro’s new general manager

Creeps & weirdos GM ad against transit
Controversial anti-transit ad by GM car dealers in British Columbia. The ad was pulled after public outcry

is the title today of Steve Eldridge's column in the Examiner. It's a good piece summing up the issues going forward with the WMATA system, ranging from funding to service.

Steve did write something that deserves amplification though:

Are there efficiencies that can be realized in the bus system? The new general manager has a history of working some magic with this form of transit, and that is one of the big reasons he was brought on board. Can he figure out a way to serve this region without eliminating routes because of their underperformance? Is this heavily subsidized form of transportation worth investing in further?

It's important to think of this issue jurisdiction by jurisdiction. I happen to be riding buses more lately, because I am going to areas without direct subway service.

DC-based bus routes tend to have high ridership. I can't speak to buses in MD and VA as much, other than the Rte. 1 corridor in Maryland.

Part of the issue is to build ridership in the other jurisdictions. It's harder though because the distance people travel is greater, and bus service, with somewhat meandering (but necessary to maximize utilization) routes, can be less time efficient. Of course, if you are transit-dependent, that doesn't matter, but it does matter to people with choices.

Bus ridership, October 2006, avg. weekday

X2 Benning road, 14,483
L1, L2, L4, Connecticut Ave., 4,104
H2, H3, H4, Crosstown, 7,247
52, 14th Str., 14,244
42, Mt. Pleasant, 8,017
70s, Georgia Ave., 17,216
30s, Pennsy. and Wisc. Aves., 20,000
S2, 16th St., 15,540
90s, U St., Florida Ave., 8th St. NE, SE, 22,600 (four lines)
B2, Bladensburg, 8,168
(there are additional high ridership routes, these are just the routes with which I am the most familiar )

MD -- there are only 4 Metrobus routes with ridership greater than 6,000 daily riders.

VA -- there are 5 Metrobus routes with ridership between 4,000 and 6,800 daily riders.

Note that VA and MD jurisdictions also have their own bus services. Unfortunately, ridership statistics for these systems weren't provided in the materials distributed at the WMATA 2006 Regional Bus Conference. (Something I rued at the time by the way.)
Bus signs
Photo from Beyond DC.

And, by way of comparison/1, Pittsburgh:
Pittsburgh Bus Routes

By way of comparison/2, almost as many people ride the 30s buses or the 90s bus routes, as ride the Baltimore Light Rail system.
Baltimore Light Rail ridership

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Request for Applications: Smart Growth Implementation Assistance

From Kevin M. Nelson, AICP, U.S. EPA: Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation:

Free technical assistance available!

Are you trying to encourage specific smart growth techniques like transit-oriented development? Or direct your state department of transportation investments to better support smart growth? Are you looking to use smart growth to reach economic development goals? Do you need help analyzing guidelines for school investments that best fit your state or community? Do you need to retrofit a commercial corridor? Or coordinate your community's smart growth design with an active aging program?

Development, Community, and Environment Division in U.S. EPA's Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation is responding to this need by issuing a request for applications for the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program. Through this program, a team of multidisciplinary experts will provide free technical assistance to communities, regions, or states that want to develop in ways that meet environmental and other local or regional goals.

Communities, regions, and states around the country are interested in building stronger neighborhoods, protecting their environmental resources, enhancing public health, and planning for development, but they may lack the tools, resources, or information to achieve these goals. EPA can help applicants overcome these roadblocks by providing evaluation tools and expert analysis.

EPA is soliciting applications from communities that want help with either policy analysis or public participatory processes. Selected communities will receive assistance in the form of a multi-day visit from a team of experts organized by EPA and other national partners to work with local leaders.

Applications will be accepted until March 8, 2007.
Click here for
more information and application materials.

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100 coffee shops

keep austin weird
Originally uploaded by yi.
(I don't like the "Keep Austin Weird" slogan as it relates to retail, because it implies that independent retail is strange. It isn't. But as a slogan it certainly encapsulates the importance of identity and authenticity.)

From "10,000 coffee shops* -- *Well, 50 this week, 50 next week. The caffeine makes it feel like more," in the Austin American-Statesman. From the article:

One hundred coffee shops.

Only six represent national chains. Four were selected from local conglomerates. The rest — true blue independents. Independent coffee shops are oases of personal expression in great deserts of chain-ification. They cluster in the city, but serve even more vital community and entertainment functions away from downtown.

During our 100-shop tour, we found that, in the urban core, baristas tend to be twentysomethings. In the suburbs, they are teens. In the exurbs, they are just as likely to be retired free spirits.

We can confirm that, despite the silence of the laptoppers, coffee shops are not libraries with espresso machines. It's safe to talk. (If you don't, nobody will, in some places.) And it's not a true coffee shop if anyone raises a penciled eyebrow of disdain because you've commandeered a table for three hours.

This week, we describe the first 50 shops, Austin Java through Jollyville Java, alphabetically speaking. Next week, Jo's Hot Coffee through Zoombaz.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Celebrating civil rights and transit

Aboard an Annapolis Transit bus, Chanica Massey (right) talks to Shawana Williams after handing her a brochure
Aboard an Annapolis Transit bus, Chanica Massey (right) talks to Shawana Williams after handing her a brochure containing tips on resolving conflicts peacefully. (Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam)

From "Message of nonviolence is spread to honor King," subtitled "Volunteer bus riders stress peaceful conflict resolution," in the Baltimore Sun:

Maroulla Plangetis marked the Rev. Martin Luther King's birthday on an Annapolis Transit bus. Over a four-hour period Monday, the Annapolis High School senior and more than a dozen other volunteers rode in circles around the city, handing other passengers brochures with tips on how to solve problems peacefully. ...

In honor of the King holiday, the city did not charge bus fares Monday. Each bus had a sticker on a window near the front honoring Rosa Parks, the woman who sparked the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger.

Both are good ideas.

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More transit advocacy opportunities in Maryland

Chris Carney, in the Sierra Club Metro DC Action Update newsletter, writes:

Speak up for more public transit - the ICC is a bad deal, not a done deal!

Montgomery County Council Town Hall
Meeting on Transportation Priorities
7:30 pm, Thursday, January 25
Rockville, MD
Location: Montgomery County Council Office Building,
100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville (10 min. walk from the Rockville Metro Station)

Come out to show support for real solutions---like fixing Metro and building the Purple Line---instead of wasting billions of tax dollars to build the ICC. Sign up to testify by calling Delphine Harriston at (240) 777-7931. Leave a message if needed.More information – call Chris Carney at 202-237-0754 or Mike Harold at Audubon Naturalist Society at (301) 652-9188 ext. 22. Spread the word!

Prince George's County - Town Hall Meetings on Transportation Priorities

Come out to show support for real solutions---like fixing Metro, and building Rail on the Wilson Bridge and the Purple Line---instead of wasting billions of tax dollars to build the Intercounty Connector.

7 PM, January 31, 2007
City of College ParkCity Hall – Council Chamber
4500 Knox Road, College Park, Maryland

7 PM, February 1, 2007
Town of Morningside Municipal Building
6901 Ames Street
Suitland , Maryland

And stay tuned for details on a public forum about putting Rail on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge
February 22 – Prince George’s ACT
Rendering, pedestrian walkway and WMATA subway line on Wilson Bridge
Groovy Wilson Bridge rendering from the Sierra Club.

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Building the capacity of civic involvement and good government

We've got to start pushing the envelope more in DC, building a base for quality and constituencies to support "beauty" and quality public spaces and policies (the reference to beauty is a nod to the book by Howard Gillette, ).

1. I planned to go to the Maryland Historic Preservation Legislative Breakfast today, organized by Preservation Maryland, just to see how they do it, but at the last minute I couldn't go.

2. Tomorrow night is the business meeting for the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, and I do plan to attend that. (I am a member.) Being in Riverdale, it's a lot easier to get there.

3. On January 30th, the Purple Line Now advocates are holding a rally and reception in Annapolis.
United for the Purple Line
4. Washcycle, the area's preeminent blog about bicycling, reports about the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Symposium, on February 9th, in Annapolis. Click here for the schedule.

Here's what they say about the importance of the program:

Come and learn about bicycling and walking in Maryland. Learn about Bicycle Friendly Communities, Complete Streets, Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Enhancement Funding, trails being built and planned, and legislation that will affect you as a bicyclist and pedestrian.

Network with others who are working to make Maryland a better place for bicycling and walking.

Discuss bicycle and pedestrian issues with planners, other advocates, legislators, their staff, and visitors. Increase the General Assembly's awareness of walking and bicycling in Maryland.

Meet your legislators. Let them know that bicycling and walking are important in their districts.

We've got to do events like this in DC:

-- to increase our own knowledge and capacity,
-- to build our constituencies
-- to lobby and advocate

The developers and other forces are doing this.

Until we* begin to do so ourselves, policy and decision-making will continue to be dominated by back room dealing that most citizens never have access to.

For something I wrote about the necessity of constituency building, see "Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space: Main Street and getting schooled in politics, constituency building, and building support for your program."

* "We" is defined as those advocates concerned about place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy, plus deliberative civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

(The DC Preservation League 35 year anniversary gala is tomorrow night, but at $200/ticket, it's more a fundraiser.)

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How many drug stores does a community "need"?

Roy Rogers, CVS, La Plata, Maryland
After the Roy Rogers restaurant in La Plata is torn down, a Walgreens will operate across the street from a CVS. National chains have been drawn by the town's growing population and above-average percentage of older residents. "A town of that size doesn't need eight drugstores," a retail analyst said. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)

Remember my complaint last year about the DC Economic Partnership's glee in attracting Walgreens, the chain pharmacy company, to DC? I mean, DC already has about 50 CVS stores, and about 8 Rite Aids, and a handful of independents. See the blog entry, "Something is terribly wrong with DC's retail business development priorities."

While it's true that for all intents and purposes, such "pharmacies" function more like a convenience store--except for the fact that they don't sell coffee--there is a limit.

According to the Southern Maryland Extra edition of the Post, La Plata, which has 5 pharmacies now, is slated to get 3 more. See "In Little La Plata, Pharmacies at Every Turn." From the article:

La Plata, population 8,500, has five pharmacies within about two miles and is poised to add three more. At that count, the Charles County seat would boast more pharmacies than drive-through fast-food restaurants and grocery stores -- combined.

There are so many pharmacies in La Plata that the town's planning director, Catherine Flerlage, had trouble listing them all. "There's one in the Wal-Mart, there's one in the Safeway. There's CVS, there's good old County Drug. Of course, Target will have one within their confines. Oh yeah, Rite Aid. And then perhaps the new Walgreens." And she left out the Giant.

All the more reason that every community should have zoning regulations that include provisions with regard to "formula businesses."

To get a better understanding than that possessed by the people quoted in the Post article about why this happens, check out the blog entry from 2005, "Why the future of urban retail isn't chains."

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Substantive ways to address the high cost of housing for workers

1. "UW hopes to build hundreds of condos for faculty," according to the Seattle Times.
University of Washington to construct faculty housing
2. In the UK, a few years ago, the supermarket chain Tesco realized that they had land resources in their supermarket sites, worth a good deal of money in redevelopment opportunity for the creation of mixed-use development, including building housing above stores. See "Tesco seeks cheap staff homes," a 2003 report from the BBC. From the article:

A recent report, sponsored by Tesco and the Housing Corporation, said more than 10,000 homes could be built on supermarket sites in London. Tesco has already built more than 200 homes above its supermarkets in London.

Last week, Tesco announced specific plans, according to the BBC, in "Tesco to build homes for workers." From the article:

The UK's largest supermarket has allocated 13 of the 250 flats it is building alongside the Streatham store in south London to staff... If the trial is successful, the chain intends to incorporate staff housing into further developments.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said they hoped the scheme would be "beneficial for staff retention" in London, where they suffer from a high turnover of workers. She added: "It is being led in London because there is more need for affordable housing... the sites in London are more constrained so you need to be a lot more imaginative." ...

The flats will be sold to a housing association and staff will not be treated any differently to other tenants, retaining the right to stay in the property even if they stop working for the supermarket giant. However, if flats become vacant, staff will be offered them first. Key workers, who are often priced out of the London housing market, are intended to benefit from the pioneering project, in addition to Tesco employees.

This certainly puts my complaint about the missed opportunities in the development of the Brentwood Shopping Center in perspective. (Check out this City of London report, "Making Better Use of Supermarkets.")
Brentwood Shopping Center, DC
Brentwood Shopping Center, DC.

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Instead of moving farther out, just split off into a new municipality

Remember during the tail end of the Barry years, when there was talk of Ward 3 splitting off and being reabsorbed by Maryland? Idle talk, not worth the effort. In Greater Atlanta though, it could be a different story.

According to the AP story, "Suburban Atlanta breakaway may put 'blood on the walls'," predominately white areas of Fulton County would like to split off and form their own county, Milton County. (Hmm, the discussion of the creation of municipalities--areal expressions--to promote Growth Machine objectives is extensively discussed in Urban Fortunes.

From the article:

Legislation that would allow the suburbs to split away and form their own county was introduced by members of the Georgia Legislature's Republican majority this month on the first day of their annual session. 'The only way to fix Fulton County is to dismantle Fulton County,' said state Rep. Jan Jones, the Milton plan's chief sponsor. 'It's too large, and certainly too dysfunctional, to truly be considered local government.'

This is an illustration of the point I make that people move further and further away, rather than stay and work to stabilize and improve communities.

Although I do understand the sentiment of being fed up with the status quo and difficulties of making positive change occur. It's very very hard.

Also see "More changes on horizon for shape of Fulton," from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which discusses how many areas of Fulton County have incorporated into recognized cities over the past couple years, severing certain funding streams that had previously been managed and spent by the County Government.

Apparently Milton Couny was merged into Fulton County in 1932, because of financial problems arising from the Great Depression. This effort aims to revert this change.

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Transit first Olympics planning in Chicago

From "With or without the games," subtitled "Daley plans new land, housing even if we don't get Olympics," in the Chicago Sun-Times:

With 15,000 fewer seats than originally planned, the stadium-in-a-park includes a partial roof, 117 luxury suites, and club seats to generate even more revenue. Two-thirds of the seats would be located in a temporary grandstand. The stadium would be wrapped in photographs of Olympic heroes to cover an otherwise mundane temporary skin. There would be no parking, putting a premium on an Olympic transportation system to be developed in conjunction with CTA.

The article has a slide show with various renderings of the waterfront, Olympic Village, and the temporary stadium.

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San Francisco railway boots up redesigned Web site

From Progressive Railroading:

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency recently launched a redesigned Web site. The site integrates all services offered by the agency and Department of Parking and Traffic, and features meeting and service updates on the home page, and links to the city’s online payment services. In addition, the new site includes a more prominent “new rider” section, readable text for visually impaired site visitors and links to, which provides information on all transportation services in the bay area.
I don't absolutely love it, but I do like the clickable tabs at the top of the page. They're a useful way for organizing and tapping into people's predominate interests. Although listing parking as park is unnecessarily confusing. Below are the major organizational categories for the site:

- Transit
- Walk
- Bike
- Park(ing)
- Traffic
- Livable Streets
- About Us

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Acting before the fact

While I make clear my sentiments about speed bumps vs. re-engineering of streets, I still like the point of this comic. Don't forget to involve yourself in the DC Pedestrian Master Plan process.

Of course, also check out the Arlington County Master Transportation Plan, and note its completeness, with these elements...

Master Transportation Plan Overview 2nd Draft
MTP Glossary 2nd Draft (203 Kb )
Complete Findings of On line survey (55 Kb )

Parking and Curbspace Management 2nd draft (651 Kb ) On-street parking and curbspace are two of Arlington County’s most valuable resources. The supply of curbspace is essentially fixed – at the same time that growth and urbanization are placing new demands on the limited supply. This document provides a master plan for proactively managing the County’s parking resources. It also recommends actions which follow-up on the County’s 2003 Parking Symposium.

Bicycle Element 2nd Draft This is the central planning and policy document that guides development of bikeways and bicycle transportation programs throughout the County.
Bicycle Appendices 2nd Draft (904 Kb )Appendices to the Bicycle Element above.
Bikeway Network Map (2.4 Mb )Existing and recommended routes.(Colors match current bike map).

Transit Element 2nd Draft (2.23 Mb )This document includes recommendations to maximize the potential of the existing transit system− including the development of incremental improvements to enhance local transit service, and to address needed improvements in regional service.
Transit Modal Plan Appendix A (19 Kb )This document details Metro funding
Transit Appendix B-Specialized Services 2nd Draft (321 Kb )This document includes paratransit and senior transit services.

Transportation Demand Element (TDM) 2nd Draft (1 Mb ) Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Element provides a master plan for proactively managing the travel demand generated by residents, employees, and visitors to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of all elements of Arlington’s transportation network.TDM strategies typically include: managing parking and pricing; marketing transit and providing commuter subsidies; promoting walking, bicycling and ridesharing; and encouraging telework and flexible work strategies.

Streets Element 2nd Draft (3.2 Mb ) Arlington has an extensive network of streets and highways that includes federal interstates and parkways, state primary and secondary highways, arterials, and local residential streets. These facilities serve and connect the neighborhoods and urban village centers within Arlington and provide connections to the surrounding cities andcounties. Since Arlington is at the core of the metropolitan region, these streets also provide passage to and through Arlington for the many people that live and work all around it.Managing streets using this holistic point of view is a complex and often highly charged task. The purpose of the Streets Element of the Master Transportation Plan is to provide a framework for addressing and managing these often conflicting street uses.
Streets Appendix A 2nd Draft (677 Kb ) Street funding.
Streets Appendix B 2nd Draft (128 Kb ) New Streets as Adopted by MTP Amendments.

Pedestrian Element 2nd Draft (1.4 Mb ) This document provides a master plan for accommodating pedestrian travel throughout the County and updates the Arlington County Pedestrian Transportation Plan adopted in 1997.
Pedestrian Appendix A (188Kb ) This document both consolidates existing County policy and establishes new policy for pedestrian accommodation in the transportation network and pedestrian facility design.

Arlingtonians can comment on the Second Draft Revisions by February 9, 2007 to: Ritch Viola (Click Here)

DC Needs a complete and comprehensive, Master Transportation Plan as well!

Curtis by Ray Billingsley, 1/20/2007, frames 1 and 2
Curtis by Ray Billingsley, 1/20/2007, frames 3 and 4
Curtis by Ray Billingsley, 1/20/2007. © King Features Syndicate.

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