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May 21, 2014

For Tourists

Dear Locals:

Iíve been among the many critics of the plan for the DC streetcar line. Itís too expensive, Iíve written, and too badly planned. It will carry too few passengers at too high a price. It will duplicate routes that are already served by buses, and those lines could be better and more cheaply served by increasing bus frequency.

Obviously, I donít understand. Eric Jaffe writes in The Atlanticís Cityline column,, that there is really an alternate rationale for building a streetcar. Streetcars are mainly for tourists: ďAre Streetcars Mainly for Tourists?: Evidence that Streetcar Ridership Is Unrelated to Service Frequency, Bus Connections, and Job Proximity.Ē Streetcars arenít supposed to be part of the cityís practical transportation system, carrying the cityís residents to and from work and their daily errands. Like in New Orleans and San Francisco, they are supposed to be part of the cityís tourism infrastructure and a tourist attraction in themselves.

That might make sense for DC, where tourism is the second largest industry, after government. If we were building the streetcar just to be a tourist attraction, like the trains that go around Disneyland and Disneyworld or like the Capital Wheel (the ferris wheel at National Harbor, where itís not important for the wheel to go anywhere), then we could have a sensible debate about its economic costs and benefits. But our politicians and urban planners assure us that Jaffe is wrong, and that the streetcar line isnít meant for tourism at all, but is meant as a replacement for busses and cars. In fact, one of the side advantages for our urban planners of building a streetcar line is that the street gets torn up and the streetcar rails make driving more difficult for busses and cars, like permanent potholes.

Gary Imhoff


Cameras, Cameras, Cameras
Clyde E. Howard, Jr.,

Cameras everywhere. Where will they place a camera next? Now that we have a plethora of cameras, what is the Metropolitan Police Department doing? It seems that Police Chief Lanier is blowing smoke up peoplesí pants legs, in that cameras are being used in place of police presence. Is the MPD short of personnel? The crime stats in Thursdayís Washington Post indicate that MPD is unable stop the amount of crime that is being carried out.

With the number of cameras, I am not surprised that there are some speed traps like the one set up on 18th Street, NW, where a driver must accelerate to climb the grade where the camera is located. There are other speed traps in the city to catch unsuspecting drivers.

If anything, it seems that the powers-that-be are anti-car and pro-bicycle, or are they just greedy for the money? I have a friend who refuses to enter the city for any reason because of the cameras. He intends to stay in Maryland, shop in Maryland, worship in Maryland and continue to live in Maryland. He will not drive into the city even to go to a funeral. Yes, itís sad to say that there are many people just like him.


Patrimony at Risk
Kathy Henderson,

I am not interested in hearing from misguided Tregoningites regarding why we need to alter DC's historic and iconic skyline. Recently, concerned citizens packed DC council and National Capitol Planning Commission hearings to advocate vociferously for keeping the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 as it is. The Tregoningites do not appear to comprehend our message. They continue to believe we simply do not understand the breadth and genius of their vision to destroy our skyline. They persist in their anti-historic thinking and, coupled with the highly intrusive and overbearing Congressman Issa, give us livable penthouse space. This is not only ridiculous, it is disrespectful to DC residents.

I would urge the [Catholic University architectural] students [themail, May 14] to engage in fruitful activities that we actually care about. Creating makeshift skyscraper models that defile our historic and iconic skyline isn't something I care about. What about you?



Car for Student
Virginia Johnson,

This message is being posted on behalf of a student at the University of the District of Columbia. He wants to buy a used car in good condition, and would like to pay between two and three thousand dollars. If you have such a car for sale or know someone who does, please contact Gratinot Campy at


Housing Sought for Incoming UDC Law Students
Joe Libertelli,

The new University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law class will begin school in August. Some of them are already looking for places to live. Others will be coming in June, July, and August.

If you or someone you know has a room, apartment, or house to rent, please reply to this E-mail and I will post your listing in our student housing blog. Because there is a very substantial in-District tuition break that students can receive after living in DC for one year, DC spots are coveted ó and, of course, the closer to the Van Ness campus, the better. However, a substantial number of our students do live outside of DC, and I will post all listings received.

Please don't forget to include such basics as price; whether utilities are included; security deposit, if any; amenities (cable, wireless, dishwasher, laundry, washer/dryer, parking, etc.); date available; lease terms (month-to-month, one year, etc.); smoking rules; pet rules; gender preference, if any; location (need not be exact address ó but enough to give them an idea of where it is); public transportation nearby, if any; furnished or not; any work for rent option; information on housemates, if any (as in a group house situation); and how to contact you (E-mail, phone, best times to phone, etc.).


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