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February 13, 2013

Roses and Candy

Dear Valentines:

Happy Valentineís Day.

I write this often, but it seems that I canít repeat it enough. I get three hundred or more E-mails a day, and thatís after a larger number of E-mails are automatically deleted as spam. Even if E-mail delivery were perfect, Iíd stand a good chance of missing something. If you donít see your message printed in themail, donít assume that Iím deliberately ignoring it. Donít get offended. Just send your E-mail again and call my attention to it.

This E-mail exchange is for any topic pertinent to living in the District of Columbia. Itís not for national or international issues, except as they relate to life here in DC, and itís also not just for politics or political issues, either. Whatever affects you, your block, your neighborhood, or your life in DC is grounds for discussion. Thanks for keeping in touch.

Gary Imhoff


Residential Street Sweeping to Begin March 1
Kevin Twine,

The 2013 residential street sweeping season begins Friday, March 1. Signs are posted that identify the days of the week and hours of the day when parking restrictions will be enforced so the sweepers can clean the streets effectively. Parking enforcement of residential sweeping violations will begin Monday, March 11, to give motorists a few days to get used to the parking restrictions.

DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr., noted that, beginning in 2012, DPW established March 1 through October 31 as residential street sweeping season and this information appears on the signs posted where the program is in effect. He cautioned motorists to avoid parking along sweeping routes before that dayís restriction ends. "A supervisor follows behind the sweeper and may require the block to be swept again, so no one should park until the end of the posted sweeping period," he said. Beginning March 11, parked cars also may be towed to allow the sweepers access to the curbside. Generally, parking is prohibited for two hours while sweeping is underway.

DPW street sweepers cover about four thousand lane miles monthly, removing litter and pollutants by brushing them onto a conveyor system, which transports the material into a debris hopper. The sweeper also emits a fine spray of water to help control dust. In addition to sweeping residential streets during spring, summer and fall, DPW also sweeps commercial streets overnight year-round, and parking restrictions also apply. For more information about street sweeping, go to


Confirmation Bias
Donald Lief,

The Redskins moved to DC seventy-six years ago from Boston, where they already had that name. By chance, their training "camp" the first two years in DC was in Anacostia. Yes, an anglicized Indian tribal name. The field was only a few hundred yards from Anacostia Jr.-Sr. high school. The schoolís paper was (is?) the Pow-wow. Its yearbook was The Tomahawk.

Iím unaware of any controversy about any of that, which suggests that the Redskins issue is more about visibility than significance.


Safety, Service, Convenience
Tom Grahame,

I enjoy because I learn stuff I wouldnít otherwise know about, and I like your spirited discussions. That said, I think Garyís viewpoint about how best to provide transportation services [themail, January 30], whether by auto, Metro, bikes, or walking, is a bit one sided. I agree with you that DC is trying to make it harder and more expensive to use autos, the only major exception being the new 11th Street bridges, which will reduce commute times from eastern Maryland suburbs. Among the several important ways that DC is doing this is photo enforcement of speed limits, with fines in your mailbox. Didnít DC bring in about $250 million in 2012 in this wonderful new revenue generator? Good luck getting the city to give up on this source of money. Yet speeding and going through red lights actually are dangerous. Perhaps for many of us, myself included, we resent the fact that we can no longer act like we used to, drive a little faster if weíre late. A slight loss of freedom with a small "f." I donít like the new system, but if I learn to obey the laws ó especially where the cameras are ó maybe the good news is that with the new money, they wonít raise my taxes. Keep our taxes low by fining that other driver!

Raising parking fees is a deterrent to commuting by car; it was seen as a tool to reduce traffic jams and lack of parking spaces when I was in planning school several decades ago. Of course nobody likes to pay higher fees for parking, but if the upside is that your commute is a tad quicker, it might actually have some benefit for you, even if you donít recognize it. Another deterrent to drivers is a very new "emergency" regulation, which prohibits doing a U turn across a bicycle lane. That is actually pretty inconveniencing, when you consider how many bike lanes there are in the city, and how many extra blocks people have to drive just to get to a space on the other side of a street with a bike lane. So I agree that DC is trying to make things harder for auto users, whether suburban or urban. The question is, though, what are the benefits of such proposals, and are the benefits greater than the costs, or not? [Finished online at]

But in your latest ó can I call it a tirade ó against Metro ("Safety, Service, Convenience"), you seem to suggest that Metro planners arenít trying to make Metro service safer or convenient or attractive. Isnít a lack of managerial competence a much better explanation than lack of caring about these issues? And if you want Metro to correct the many things they need to correct (some of which have caused fatalities), it takes money. And I would think that you would be in the camp that users of a system should pay most of the costs. So, yes, fares have been going up, they have to. What you are missing, it seems to me, when you talk about convenience, is how inconvenient commuting by car has become, with all the traffic jams that are pretty much insoluble, since we arenít going to be tearing down huge swaths of houses anymore to build new roads (nor should we). Shouldnít a metro region, and a city, try to provide reasonable additional options, Metro being a major one when it started in the 1970ís?

Which gets us to Circulators and biking. Many younger people in this city want to bike around, and it isnít wrong for a city to cater to what citizens want. What may be difficult is making the proper balance. You feel, and I agree, that there are some in the DC government, and some in the activism biking community, that donít seem to understand that for people who donít wish to use bikes (for safety reasons, perhaps) or who physically canít, their car is crucial. Iíd like to see a bit more understanding of that in making decisions going forward, and I really donít like or deserve being demonized because I use a car that I drive five thousand miles a year, but I donít begrudge the cityís efforts to expand transportation options. Think of it this way: if the many thousands of DC residents who donít own a car because they either bike or use Zipcar, instead did own cars, how much harder would it be to get parking spaces? Circulators seem to be a really good expansion of transportation options. I have used them very little, but when I have, they got me to and from places where Metro wouldnít have been as easy or convenient. Good for DC.

My boss at work bikes in from the burbs, only about twelve miles, as does a coworker of mine. Good exercise, and you see some nature (especially if you bike in along the Potomac, from the Bethesda area). That, too, takes cars off the road, helping car commuters have a marginally less jammed commute. It seems to me that we should have more transportation options, that can only be a good thing. Shouldnít we hold our complaints for cases where the government fails to get the balance right?


InTowner February Issue Content Uploaded
P.L. Wolff,

The February issue content is now posted at, including the issue PDF in which will be found the primary news stories, community news, letters to the editor, and museum exhibition reviews ó plus all photos and other images. Not included in the PDF but linked directly from the home page is the new What Once Was feature (this month titled "The ĎObstinateí Mr. Burnesí Cottage"), which has succeeded the long-running Scenes from the Past, as well as Recent Real Estate Sales, Reservations Recommended, and Food in the ĎHood.

This monthís lead stories include the following: 1) "Chinese Embassy Complex Razed to Prepare for New Building to Come"; 2) "DC Zoning Regs Overhaul Nearing End; Overlay Districts Unaffected"; 3) "Kalorama Road Condo Project Objections Heard and Considered by Preservation Board." Our editorial this month asks the question, "Does the DC Jail Deserve the High Praise Bestowed on its Operation?" (From the Publisherís Desk). Your thoughts are welcome and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web page or by E-mail to

The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of March 8 (the second Friday of the month as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call 234-1717.


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