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.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oops, forgot the citizens: DC's new task force on streetcars

Hey, I was just discussing the growth machine with my mentor, and I commented that I am part of it too, just focused on ameliorating some of the worst aspects. But the Examiner article "Gray creates streetcar task force" is a perfect illustration of the reality that local political and economic elites are for the most part united and that average citizens are excluded from the process.

Real estate interests are represented, and for the most part, independent citizens are not, on the task force.

Private citizen members

Vice Chair: Jair Lynch, President and CEO of JAIR LYNCH Development Partners
Richard Bradley, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement District
Charles "Sandy" Wilkes, chairman of The Wilkes Company
Matthew Klein, president of Akridge
Robert Puentes, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program
Ginger Laytham, senior executive officer to the president, CEO and chairman of Clyde's Restaurant Group

Government agency representatives

Chair: Allen Lew, city administrator
Terry Bellamy, director of DDOT
Victor Hoskins, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Office of Planning
Natwar Gandhi, D.C. Chief Financial Officer
Eric Goulet, director of the Mayor's Office of Budget and Finance
Brian Hanlon, director of the Department of General Services
Nicholas Majett, director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Ultimately, the government agency representatives are beholden to their boss(es), the Mayor primarily, and ultimately the elected officials, including the Mayor, are simpatico with the Growth agenda.

I understand how it works, and it's not that it works badly, it's just that it could work a lot better, and more quickly, if the composition of the people involved in such task forces was broader.

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At 4:29 PM, Anonymous H Street LL said...

As evidenced by?

For one, people elect the politicians.

Second, we often see the process when "the people" are represented by a small group of NIMBYs who are not representative of the general population.

Not advocating for a dictatorship though.

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I understand how it works, and it's not that it works badly..."

If you understand how it works, and that it doesn't work badly for the few elites running the show, then you must realize that for the vast majority of folks, it doesn't work.

As Malcolm X liked to say, "The chickens are coming home to roost."

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that most of the money to pay for the system will come from the interests represented by the private side of the task force, I am not sure what the problem is.

This group isn't going to be deciding alignments or where car barns are to be placed.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

The Growth Machine reminds me of Calvin's magristrates in Geneva. Local worthies are usually not very worthy.

Is a reliance on rules and codes better?

The real problem with the growth machine is that it owns the local goverment. At the very least you want some balance.

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