Development impact fees
One policy that DC and Seattle share is not charging development impact fees on new development projects. The general idea is that new development "uses" existing infrastructure--not just roads but transit, and if residential, various civic facilities including schools--and the increased "load" eventually exceeds the current "carrying capacity" of the civic and transportation infrastructure and it will have to be expanded, which costs money.
Seattle Times' Danny Westneat suggests in the column, "One Seattle tax solution: impact fees," that Seattle should consider adopting impact fees to reduce the various taxing initiatives that the city resorts to to support parks, libraries, road and transportation facilities, transit, etc. He contrasts Seattle to suburban Bellevue, which has impact fees and a program for facilities expansion funded mostly by the fee revenue stream.
Most of DC's suburbs, especially Montgomery County, charge impact fees. DC does not and most of the elected officials believe that this gives DC a competitive advantage. I wrote about this a few years ago here, "Times have changed with regard to funding infrastructure improvements that make land more valuable." This 2013 report, County Development Impact Fees and Building Excise Taxes in Maryland Amounts and Revenues from the Maryland State Assembly Department of Legislative Services lists the fees levied by each jurisdiction across the state and it's pretty eye opening.
In Maryland, the counties aren't systematic in the fees they charge. For example, many don't have a fee for parks and recreation expansion, but some do. Most charge fees for transportation infrastructure and schools. Others may charge for public safety (most don't) and more specific fees for certain areas.
On the other hand, in DC we are running up against debt ceiling limits and there are proposals to change the city's practices with regard to taking on debt to be able to issue more bonds and for all of the money that the city has--the annual budget is about $11 billion--the city scrapes hard to identity a million here and a million there to accomplish various tasks, such as buying new garbage cans.
Development impact fees could help support the provision of robust infrastructure.
For example, while I do believe that DC has an obligation to support the provision of public space and facilities in all of its districts, many residents believe that it is "unfair" that the NoMA district (north of Union Station) is "getting a lot of money from the city to build parks" ("With $50 Million in Hand, NoMa Looks to Close “Parks Deficit”," Washington City Paper) while other areas have the same needs but no programs for addressing those needs.
On the other hand, were there a set of development impact fees, a goodly portion of the money needed to provide such facilities in NoMA could have been "self-generated" from such fees, given that the NoMA district is adding millions of square feet of office and 6,000 or so residential units in multiunit buildings.
Note that a few years ago when DC's Zoning Commission eliminated certain recreation facilities provision requirements for downtown properties, I recommended instead that those properties should have to pay parks and recreation space impact fees, and that DC should develop a plan for enhancing such facilities in the downtown district, including the development of an "urban" recreation center.
Athough many of the apartment buildings do provide those kinds of facilities, although on a privatized limited or no public access basis.
Speaking of impact fees, in a separate editorial, "Gorge Amphitheatre should pick up medical tabs from events like Sasquatch!," the Seattle Times suggests that the operator of the Gorge Amphitheatre, should charge a fee to concert goers to help subsidize the costs imposed on a local medical center for providing services for events. Also see the ST article "Proposed $1 fee on Gorge tickets would pay for emergency services."