From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
DCist reported Monday that Councilmember Marion Barry has withdrawn his opposition to finalizing the H Street NE streetcar project. The initiative, which will place trolley-like cars along the up-and-coming H Street commercial district, was put in limbo last week by Barry’s disapproval of the final $50 million contract needed to complete construction.
Those involved with the project feared Barry’s opposition would delay a planned July 2013 inauguration of the streetcar system, and are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief at this news.
The last DC streetcar line stopped running in 1962, and their return is perhaps one of the city’s most covered public works topics in recent years. In addition to the H Street line, The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has started construction of streetcar service in Anacostia, with service expected in fall 2012.
The original streetcar system plans called for lines on 14th and U S Streets NW, with plans showing a 14th Street line that would connect to lines on K Street NW and U Street NW. However, the U Street Streetscape work underway makes no provisions for streetcars, nor does the dormant 14th Street upgrading. In other words, don’t bet the house on streetcar tracks in Borderstan any time soon.
Not to say Barry is against progress, of course. In a statement released this week, Barry defended his now-ceded stance on streetcars, saying the projects puts undue emphasis on “newcomers” and take funds from the most neglected parts of the city (including his own Ward). “I am attempting to protect the tax-payer,” Barry insisted.
Greater Greater Washington has reviewed all the plans for the streetcar network and has a few suggestions for the transit agency, in addition to the tweaks already made by DC Department of Transportation.
Adams Morgan and U Street are part of the proposed lines in Corridor 6 — which would help the extortion fees for cabs out of Adams Morgan late at night, and the complaints from your friends that the Green Line/U Street is somehow inconvenient.
How the plans interact with the bike lanes will be something to watch in our area. Also, for those of you fighting for parking spaces for your cars, you should note the plans indicate the authorities are aware that ‘refinement’ of existing street parking is necessary, yet also a ‘challenge.’
DC Streetcar Plans Deliver Some Promise
The DC Office of Planning released their Streetcar Land Use Study, and TBD has issued some early approvals for the plan. Imagine a world where 50% of DC’s population lives near a streetcar stop! I am dreaming with wistful sighs, after enduring the commute from hell on the Red Line this morning.
The author considers this as well, but seems to envision a world in which all transit systems could come out as winners. I can see that, I guess. Streetcars may provide public transportation to areas previously served by spotty bus service and make new areas of town more desirable. If that translates into a more vibrant urban area with affordable housing (hello, tax base), then everybody wins. It has the potential to do so, but the devil’s in the details, and execution.
Washington’s Pot Culture
The usually somewhat staid Washingtonian has devoted the February issue to marijuana. Specifically, the city’s plans to legalize medical marijuana this year are up for discussion as writers “get blunt.” Ahem. Ward 2 (that’s us!) has the highest marijuana usage in the city, so congratulations are in order. But with the bust of Capitol Hemp still fresh in many people’s minds, it remains to be seen how police will handle the new law and if Congress plans on leaving us the hell alone.
The Rent is Too Damn High, MoCo Style
Greater Greater Washington features a dilemma most Washington area residents face at some point in their first three months here. Where the heck can you rent a place that allows you to be in a safe neighborhood with some urban amentities that allows you to get to work in a reasonable commute…that you can actually afford?
In Montgomery County, the problem is even worse. The build outs represent what young families want, namely detached housing, parks and some single-car garages. But the fastest growing population in MoCo are millenials, who are desperate for affordable units near Metro stops. The author has some ideas on how to address both challenges, and they aren’t half bad.
From Michelle Lancaster
Empty Buildings, Empty Promises
A number of buildings owned by Shiloh Baptist Church on 9th St. have been vacant for years. So Council Member Jack Evans’ proposal to give the buildings a tax exempt status if they are redeveloped by the Church is a popular idea, right? Wrong. He pulled the bill on Thursday after vehement neighborhood protest. The buildings have remained vacant, despite promises and plans and were incorrectly classified, costing the city a cool $100,000 in a tight budget cycle. DCist has the recap and prior coverage.
Speaking of Redevelopment
I try to refrain from editorializing (too much) in these recaps, but I can’t help but tell you that this piece on gentrification in Greater Greater Washington is simply great. It’s one thing to take on Megan McArdle at the Atlantic, it’s another to start to outline ideas and policies to handle a very real DC/Borderstan issue.
Streetcar Plans Move Forward
Washington Business Journal has the story and full PDFof the plans as the H St. NE and Anacostia trolley project moves forward. There are a number of questions about the project, notably the price tag and how to pay for it. The $194 million dollar project must be fully vetted before the FY 2011 DC budget will allocate funds for the H St. NE line.
Creepy Crawlies: The Guide
Yes it’s Halloween and Jersey Shore ended last night but we’re not talking about either of those things. No, it is a fate far worse than GTL for life: bedbugs. DC has found them in a number of very public places and private residences lately, but not to fear — TBD has compiled your guide to identifying, eliminating and preventing the scourge at your place.
Will we eventually get steetcars in Borderstan? At 9th and NW last week, the DC Department of Transportation (DDoT) exhibited one of the new street cars that are scheduled to hit DC tracks in 2012 (several of the Czech-built cars have been sitting in a warehouse in Maryland for some time). The return of the streetcar is probably one of the most covered and written about public works projects in recent years in DC. DDoT has started construction of a streetcar line in Anacostia, with service expected in fall 2012. Tracks are being laid on H Street and Benning Road NE for a second line and there are plans for more lines in the city. In Borderstan, we can hope that Phase 2 plans come to fruition–Phase 2 of streetcar plans show a 14th Street line that links to other lines on K Street NW and U Street NW. The last streetcar line stopped running in DC in 1962 and the city once had 200 miles of track.
Don’t mess with yoga. There was an uproar last week when locals realized that a DC Council propose to levy sales taxes on services, as well as goods, would apply to gyms and yoga centers. The Flow Yoga Center on P Street NW launched an email campaign, asking people to contact members of the DC Council to protest the idea. Loose Lips over at Washington City Paper reported that Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) each received more than 2,000 emails from DC residents against the “yoga tax.” Loose Lips also pondered, “LL Daily wonders where were these people when D.C. General was so overcrowded? Where where these people yesterday protesting the layoffs at CFSA? Is this what District residents really care about–yoga? Yes! Hundreds, thousands even spammed the D.C. Council to make sure they knew that they wanted their $18 hot yoga class to stay $18 and not $19.06 with a 6 percent DC sales tax of which $1.06 would go to pay for teachers and trash pickup and child care etc.”
Woman Sues MTV for Real World DC cameo. Read the details yourself at dcist.
Young whites prefer cities to suburbs. No kidding–it’s a trend we have been seeing in Dupont-Logan-U Street for a decade now as younger, white newcomers replace or join older African American residents. The Huffington Post reports on a study done by The Brookings Institution: “In a reversal, America’s suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.”
What’s up with senior apartments at 15th and U NW? City Paper has an interesting story on the Campbell Heights apartments at the northeast corner of 15th and U NW, “Is There Still Room For Seniors at the New 15th and U?” The short story: This is valuable real estate in a trendy neighborhood. The 10-story apartment building offers subsidized, independent living for senior citizens. The residents’ association voted to buy the building in conjunction with a local real estate developer–and the developer (Jair Lynch) will retain 99.5% of ownership.
Nora Amaya murder remains unsolved. The Washington Post reports that the October 31 murder of Nora Amaya remains unsolved. Along with her brother, Amaya owned Coppi’s Organic restaurant on U Street NW.