Saturday, March 12, 2016

Now We're Cooking with Gas

Man, the Adventist Health Care Corporation doesn't mess around when it comes to construction - they already had the groundbreaking for the new Washington Adventist Hospital site at White Oak on Monday.  It's a shame that they aren't building the Purple Line!  Then again, they had plenty of time to prepare, given that their first proposal was rejected by the state.

Regardless, it was a triumphant day for East County development and health care services as hundreds of residents as well as health care corporation leaders and elected officials celebrated the occasion.  As County Executive Ike Leggett stated, “The groundbreaking for the hospital is another great milestone in the rejuvenation of the eastern part of our county. It will create thousands of jobs while the hospital is being built and after it begins operations.  It will also inject more than $800 million into the state’s economy in construction alone, with most of that going to our local jurisdictions.”

Friday, March 11, 2016

If the Community Center Was Kathy Porter's Folly, Then This Is Kate Stewart's Revenge

Call me the Cassandra of New Hampshire Gardens, but projected costs to renovate and expand the municipal library in the Takoma Park Community Center are already spiraling out of control, as reported by Granola Park.  The preferred plan at this point (#7 below) is slated to cost $3.75 million, although that's only an "order of magnitude" estimate so expect the eventual cost to be higher.  There are also other add-ins that the city council could decide to include that would add another million dollars or so.  Each.  Of course, the whole thing is a boondoggle, as I explained previously
I guess that city council assumes that most people have forgotten the cost overruns and lack of transparency that plagued the construction of the community center itself or are just too apathetic to care.

We haven't and we aren't.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pretty Vacant

Granola Park has a rundown on the discussion of the proposed abandoned and vacant property registry.  As has previously suggested, at least one city council member believes that city property owners should be required to notify the city if their property has or will be unoccupied for an extended period of time and also "they have to state what they are going to do about fixing it up and maintaining it while it is vacant.  Otherwise they face fines."  (I can't imagine anyone truly abandoning a property and then bothering to inform the powers-that-be so perhaps the city will add those properties.)  (And my explanation if required would be "Keeping my property in minimal compliance with applicable code to keep the city off my back, jack."  Sometimes, you just have to stand up to The Man.)

Anyway, at first it wasn't clear to me why this potentially bothersome if not invasive requirement would be necessary or useful.  If a property is actually maintained and in compliance with city housing code, then why should the owners have to register?  And if the property is not maintained and compliant, then some neighborhood busybody (I mean, vigilant citizen and neighbor) can report the code violation.  Fortunately, Ward 3 city council member Rizzy Qureshi, and apparent illegal drone enthusiast, inadvertently provided a possible benefit by worrying that a publicly available registry would be “a resource for developers to come in and flip them.”

That's a great idea!  Sure, industrious types can drive around or use online resources to identify underused housing resources, but this proposal would centralize the information in a convenient registry, thus facilitating housing improvements!

It would appear that the Schultz-Stewart cabal is behind this initiative, so if implemented it will probably involve the city in some way paying to fix up people's properties (Then again, the city is subsidizing the first new application of insulation in my home since probably 1947.  Let's be honest, if Takoma Park intends to keep spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, then we might as well get in line to claim our fair share.)

Also, the city, unlike the county, appears to allow heavy commercial vehicles to park on residential streets.  Wait, does that make any sense?  Anyway, council member Schultz noted that he has a vehicle that qualifies as a heavy commercial vehicle that he parks on idyllic Wildwood Drive.  Well, that's a darn shame!  Fred should drive that gas-guzzling RV down the street and park it in my unused driveway (I even have a garage, which apparently the previous owners specifically requested, mobility being a higher priority than energy efficiency in 1947.  Then again, that generation defeated imperialistic fascism so I'm inclined to cut them some slack.).  Fred can return the favor by not tipping the city off about the cracked and leaning brick retaining wall adjacent to said driveway (The shady realtor cousin of the estate of the original owner swore that it had been that way for decades with no problems, so that's our story and we're sticking with it.)

Oh, and by the way, my house sat vacant for a year and a half after the death of its original owner, while the heirs tried to figure out what to do, and waited for housing prices to recover after the bubble's collapse, and kind of screwed around for a while before fixing it up just enough to sell.  Perhaps death is the only sure way to escape the pesky demands of a bureaucratic state.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

K9

Somewhat overshadowed by the news that Governor Hogan's administration had finally awarded the Purple Line contract was Montgomery County's announcement of plans to provide $11.5 million in funding for bus service improvements.  Although advertised as initial efforts to implement a Bus Rapid Transit system, the immediate effects - additional limited-stop, rush hour service on Rockville Pike, express rush-hour service between Clarksburg and Shady Grove, and similar rush-hour service on Veirs Mill Road - would be the equivalent of additional limited-stop MetroExtra bus service, which I enthusiastically support.  The Veirs Mill Road service, in particular, appears to be equivalent to the Q9 MetroExtra route that WMATA proposed and then had to scrap last year due to lack of funding.  The more ambitious plans that more closely resemble true BRT service on Columbia Pike and Veirs Mill Road require a lot more money and will take several years to implement.  Hopefully, people will come to their senses and fund higher benefit, lower cost improvements in the interim.

To wit, the proposal contains no mention of extending the highly successful K9 MetroExtra service to the White Oak Transit Center, let alone implementing the long overdue C9 MetroExtra route on WMATA's most heavily trafficked Metrobus corridor in Maryland.  I guess that working class residents of color are expected to keep standing on packed C4 buses up and down University Boulevard.  The K9 situation is in some respects even more inexplicable.  WMATA has celebrated high ridership on the K9 as a transit success story (although GSA deserves most of the credit or blame for relocating thousands of federal government employees to a facility so far removed from Metro service), and continuation of the line to White Oak was actually part of the original plan.  And yet this obvious and modest extension has yet to be implemented, even though it would only cost $150,000 annually and would actually improve transit options for those who would otherwise use Columbia Pike, which is the ostensible goal of the more ambitious BRT plans.

Oh well, I guess that Ike Leggett and Marc Elrich reasonably believe that East County residents, particularly those who rely on public transit, won't stick up for themselves and their interests.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dan Reed!

Dan Reed! and his sonorous voice were interviewed by Silver Spring Inc. about issues in East County development including Long Branch redevelopment, the superabundance of discount clothing stores at the former City Place Mall, and the unfortunate demise of the Gazette.  Dan's! media empire is continually expanding what with what appears to be a regular gig in the Washingtonian and his inevitable destiny as an NPR public affairs show host.