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September 29, 2013

Sin City

Dear Washingtonians:

Jonetta Rose Barrasí article, "The Wrong Moment to Ease DCís Pot Laws,", examines Councilmember Tommy Wellsí and Councilmember David Grossoís efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana in DC. "Grosso has argued that decriminalization doesnít go far enough. But his proposal goes way too far, potentially turning marijuana into a DC industry right alongside tourism. It would allow for the production, transportation and sale of marijuana. It also would permit the transfer, without remuneration, of up to two ounces or less of dried marijuana or five grams of hashish and marijuana-infused products to anyone age 21 or older. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) would issue and renew licenses to sell the drug, and a 15 percent wholesale or retail sales tax would be set."

The councilís efforts fit well into a natiowide movement to turn downtown cities into public playgrounds for what previous generations ó and most of the current generation ó would consider misbehavior. The US used to have two cities in which public bad behavior was encouaged ó Las Vegas and New Orleans. Now many cities are competing with them to be sin cities. Henry Grabar, in the current issue of Salon, writes, "Downtown revitalization secret: let us drink in public!: Struggling downtowns reinvent themselves by encouraging drinking, as new open container laws bring out energy," That's a great idea. Encourage public drunkenness and a little drug use, too, in order to create vital neighborhoods. Meanwhile, as we encourage old sins, we create new ones, such as smoking tobacco, drinking sodas, and eating high-calorie foods, on which we vent our disapproval and about which we pass new laws. What kind of city do you want Washington to become?

Gary Imhoff


Planning to Be High
Clyde Howard,

For those who want high rise structures, please go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or New York City. The DC government is allowing the developers, and not the collective wisdom of the elected members of the DC council, to run this city. Structures more than 150 feet in the air would turn this city into a concrete monument to the greed of certain people who wish that this city was more like where they came from (if they did come from such a city). Canyons erected for the making of money can and will smother this city, void of trees and full of shadows. Massive energy usage by these structures will only raise the bills of those residents left in the dust by the massive buildings that will overshadow us all. DC has been a city of quaint structures, some built in the 1700ís, 1800ís, even into the 21st century, architecture that would cost a fortune to reproduce in todayís market. That. would give way to sterile buildings devoid of any redeeming value, filling the streets with more traffic, simply because transportation in this area is a joke only able to move cattle from one work site to another. Idiot planners building streetcars on lines that defy explanation not knowing that the purpose of the streetcar was to connect neighborhoods and shopping areas with work areas in between. And insult to injury by erecting overhead wires that are forbidden by federal law meant to maintain the beauty of this city.

Beware, greed will force most of the residents out of the city; then the city will become like the one in the movie "Things to Come." I am certain that the surrounding counties are watching the action that is taking place and are prepared to not allow any encroachment by the planners of this great plan to cause undo havoc on their jurisdictions.


DC? Manhattan? Geography
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com

Gary snarked [themail, September 26], "Of course, for those Smart Growth advocates who think the only good model for urban planning is Manhattan. . . ." Have you actually been to Manhattan? I just returned from three days there; itís a wonderful blend of many neighborhoods, each with distinct vibe, amenities, pluses/minuses. (Just like DC!) Itís not all evil towering skyscrapers, itís also plenty of leafy quiet streets and distinct mixed-use communities. With that blend itís a wonderful model. Have you ever seen a change you liked? (Maybe not: cars rule, bikes are bad, height-limits sacred) Have you seen Mosaic District in Fairfax? It turned a grungy industrial intersection into diverse/pleasant/ popular mixed-use resources. Maybe DC can do that.


Ward 1 Parking Plan
Clyde Howard,

Councilman Jim Graham proposed a parking plan for all of Ward 1 that the Department of Transportation (DDOT) placed in operation. However, as was stated when the plan was first proposed, the plan was only as good as enforcement by the Department of Public Works (DPW). Unfortunately, DPW has failed to perform its duties as enforcers of the parking plan. Accordingly, tickets are rarely issued for violations of the plan in the central part of Ward 1. Enforcement is only for those that live to the west of 16th Street, NW, and not in areas east of 16th Street, NW. Not once has a ticket been seen for RPP Violations. On occasion tickets are issued for violations of Ward 1 only parking violations. Violators attending the bars and restaurants get a free ride because there seems to be some sort of understanding with these same bars and restaurants to back off from issuing tickets. The same holds true of MPD, which doesn"t do DUI stops in close proximity to U Street, NW. What can the residents do except complain to DPW? Maybe an investigation of the situation by an independent source like the I-Team can prove that enforcement of parking regulations is biased and selective due to under-the-table agreements with certain businesses. May be the residents of the area will get a more concerned representative that will understand the plight of having to find a parking space at 1:00 a.m.


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