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June 11, 2014

Move Out of DC

Dear Washingtonians:

As Clyde Howard and Jack McKay mention in their submission in this issue, DC has issued a twenty-five year “multi-modal long-range transportation plan” that it calls Move DC, The best response to this plan has been written by Randal O’Toole for the Cato Institute O’Toole says, “Washington DC has proposed an anti-auto transportation plan that is ironically called ‘MoveDC’ when its real goal is to reduce the mobility of DC residents. The plan calls for reducing auto commuting from 54 percent to no more than 25 percent of all workers in the district, while favoring transit, cycling, and walking.”

O’Toole puts his finger on the central weakness of the plan, which is its failure to demonstrate why it is even necessary: “The plan assumes that the district’s population will increase by 170,000 people over the next 25 years, which is supposed to have some kind of apocalyptic result if all of those people drive as much as people drive today. The district’s official population in 2010 was 602,000 people, a 155,000-person drop from 1970. While Census Bureau estimates say the district’s population is once again growing, it doesn’t seem all that apocalyptic if the population returns to 1970 levels.”

If road congestion really isn’t the terrible problem that transportation planners make it out to be, and it can be solved by routine road planning solutions, what is the panic? O’Toole says, “If reducing congestion isn’t the issue, then what is the goal of the anti-auto emphasis? MoveDC says it is ‘rapidly rising travel costs, and concerns about rising carbon emissions.’ People deal with rising travel costs by replacing their cars less frequently and buying more fuel-efficient cars when they do replace them. MoveDC’s solution is to substitute high-cost urban transit for low-cost driving, even though transit actually emits more greenhouse gases per passenger mile than driving. . . . Here’s the dirty little secret of sustainability plans like MoveDC: planners aren’t trying to save the planet by moving people to more sustainable forms of transportation, they are trying to save the planet by reducing people’s travel. Someone with a car may travel more than 10,000 miles a year, but take away their car and put them on the best transit system in the world and they’ll probably travel less than 5,000 miles a year. The result is a dramatic reduction in people’s mobility.”

O’Toole’s conclusion: “Less mobility, smaller homes, higher consumer prices: that’s the sustainable future we can look forward to thanks to plans like MoveDC. Americans probably won’t accept that, so it might be more appropriate to name it ‘Move Out of DC.’” MoveDC may ironically solve the “problem” of DC’s rising population by ensuring that fewer people want to live in DC.


The most interesting development in DC politics in the past week it Carol Schwartz’s entry into the mayoral race as an independent candidate. This event inspired the two most interesting quotes of the past week. David Catania’s campaign manager Ben Jones, called Carol “Suleiman Schwartz,” attempting to characterize her as a campaign spoiler who was running just to benefit Muriel Bowser, as Suleiman Brown’s campaign just benefited Mayor Gray. Carol’s response was to turn the quote against Catania, saying “It’s speaks about him, not me.” Second, Washington Times columnist Deborah Simmons ended her piece on Schwartz’s candidacy with this rather clever slam against Bowser: “Ms. Bowser is definitely holding the next generation, Democratic baton, as Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, and Harry Thomas, Jr., did.” (“Carol Is Running, Carol Is Running, Again,”

Gary Imhoff


DDOT’s Twenty-Five Year Traffic Plan
Clyde Howard,

DDOT’s planners must be smoking wacky cigarettes to believe that Virginia and Maryland will sit still while DC charges tolls on their citizens just to come to work or enjoy the ambiance of our bars and restaurants. These planners do not research nor to they acknowledge the history of what has gone on before they arrived in the city. These tolls that they want to put in place will be viewed as a commuter tax by the congressional representatives for Maryland and Virginia, and they will not allow it to happen. DDOT planners must realize the reason for the numbers of cars coming into the city is their own poor planning.


Speed Cameras Don’t Save Lives — Not in DC (Continued)
Jack McKay,

I’m no hard-core opponent of speed cameras, and I’ve long sought one for my own neighborhood, but I do object to the repeated claims by the Metropolitan Police Department that DC’s speed cameras “save lives” (e.g., in themail, September 16, October 17, and December 30, 2012). The original MPD claim was that speed cameras and other photo enforcement machines accounted for just part of the decline in traffic deaths: “DC’s fatalities declined 69 percent in 10 years, compared to only 28 percent nationwide, and [the MPD] believes its speed and red light cameras are the reason.” Now the DC government goes even further: “Since 2001, Washington, DC, has deployed a successful traffic safety camera program aimed at reducing red-light running, slowing speeders and improving driver behavior, which has reduced traffic fatalities in the District by 76 percent” (MoveDC Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan, Vehicle Element, p. v-12). That is, now DDOT claims that the entire decline in traffic fatalities in DC since 2001 is due to the MPD’s speed cameras. Never mind those air bags and other safety features mandated for cars and SUVs by the Federal Government since about 1997, those can’t possibly play any role. And never mind that cities such as New York and Philadelphia, which have no speed cameras, have seen traffic fatality declines similar to that in DC.

Yes, I want a speed camera in my neighborhood, not because I expect it to “save lives,” but because residents dislike the speed of cars passing through our neighborhood. That’s really what this speed camera business is about: pedestrians don’t like fast-moving traffic. That ought to be sufficient justification for a speed camera.


Unruly Pre-Teens at Noyes Park and the Corporate Giveaway of McMillan Park
Daniel Goldon Wolkoff,

Brookland residents are concerned about unruly young people in a new neighborhood park while McMillan Park is “surplussed” to developers? Where and how does the youth problem of vandalism, crime, and loitering in our parks and streets start to improve? The police? Or the community taking responsibility? The problem of young people hanging around, vandalizing or acting criminally in our neighborhoods has a simple solution. Healthy, educational art, music, and vocational programs are not being offered enough, engaging the young population in community building. This is an issue of how the young of DC are raised, and how the community is not taking responsibility. Engaging young people in programs where integrity is learned and community responsibility integrated will make the difference.

The city government refuses to offer them the resources because it is busy making deals with developers, “giving” private corporations the land we need for these services, and divesting our parks for corporate profit. Kim Williams from our own Office of Historic Preservation wrote this nomination of McMillan Park to the National Register of Historic Places, You will quickly understand that McMillan is a resource of national significance, and its preservation is not a Ward 5 issue, but a national issue. Who will benefit is from McMillan Park is being decided by a handful of DC officials in an anti-democrat, institutionally corrupt process. Mega-urbanization of our last large open green space is a cynical anti-environmental boondoggle, another poorly planned, huge real estate investment speculation. Will all of the city, our young people and families, and the nation benefit, or will our park become a hideous, private, ultra-brutalist “mixed-use” office park and condo mall?

The city government is pushing to put $700 million in development at McMillan Park at N. Capitol and Michigan Park, that this government has kept fenced off since 1986. They plan to demolish the “protected historic” site for years of construction, on our last 25 acres of open space, and turn it into mass density, traffic and carbon emissions from construction, paving, and urbanization. Good urban planning, social and environmental justice would preserve McMillan Park, as the community is demanding in great numbers. Over four hundred letters of opposition, 6800 petition signatures, and four days of zoning testimony demonstrated massive community opposition. DC wants our park, which provides breezy outdoor space and carbon sink. McMillan was famous, providing outdoor recreation, the central cities only integrated park with sunset vistas of the DC skyline, one of our “great places” envisioned over one hundred years ago, but is has been wasted by the corrupt DC government since 1986.

If you ever want the youth problem to improve, demand our public land be used for our environment, our recreation, and to offer our young people healthy services like the young have in Montgomery County at Glen Echo. Ward 5 Councilmember McDuffie supports the demolition of the Registered Historic Site, many years of construction, an instant pre-fab neighborhood, a humongous fifty-building, National-Harbor-like construction in the historic Bloomingdale neighborhood, the traffic, congestion, pollution that super-urbanization will condemn us all. The discredited DC Council will defer to McDuffie, putting the destruction of our central park in very few hands. Instead, Glen Echo, the local example of historic restoration and community-building public campus, should be guiding a responsible government to serve the people.


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