Washington, DC’s Zoning Regulations Target ‘Fast Casual’ Restaurants

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

It’d be hard to find any one news story that fully captures the ironies and biases driving America’s zoning regulations. These laws were justified a century ago by property owners who wanted to expel undesirable people and uses. They have since evolved into Kafkaesque legal webs that often keep out any use, including well-liked ones. But this evolution was captured pretty well in a recent story out of Washington, DC, where laws designed to prevent fast food chains are now blocking trendy ‘fast casual’ restaurants–and could be selectively changed to help the latter, but not the former…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Washington, DC Reformed Its Zoning Code; Now Time To Ditch The Height Limits

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

This January, after substantial review, Washington, DC overhauled its longtime zoning code. While much of the code’s old laws remain, the changes will minimize certain regulations that have long stifled genuine urbanism in the nation’s capital. But these changes pale in comparison to one remaining external regulation. It is the federal law that limits building heights to 110 feet…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Gross National Profit: Washington’s Wealth and Waste

[Originally published by the American Magazine]

 

After decades of decline, the nation’s capital today is wealthy and growing. Metro Washington now has six of the nation’s ten wealthiest counties. In 2012, Falls Church became the nation’s richest city, a far cry from when it was a 1970s refuge for Vietnamese immigrants fleeing Saigon. The region’s median household income is $88,233, second in the nation behind California’s San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara metro area, which is part of Silicon Valley and has a median household income of $90,737.

But while in other cities this might be a success story, in Washington it comes with a catch.… Read more

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Where Housing Policy Intersects with Homelessness in D.C.

[Originally published by Next City Magazine]

 

In a tale that mixes a city’s growing class divide and Dickensian conditions in a public facility, two Washington, D.C. news stories — the ongoing fiasco at General Hospital, where hundreds of homeless families are being warehoused, and the groundbreaking for The Wharf’s upscale housing and retail at the Southwest Waterfront — intersect to show how a city’s housing policy can exacerbate its homelessness problem by driving up building costs and limiting supply of new homes.

Since 2010, the same year that D.C.… Read more

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Stop Walmart First, Help the Poor Second

[Originally published by City Journal]

 

Washington, DC–The Washington, D.C. city council has just passed legislation making the nation’s capital officially hostile to Walmart. The Large Retailer Accountability Act was proposed by city council chairman Phil Mendelson, who was determined to let big-box retailers know that “you’ve got to pay a fair wage to your employees.” The law targets any city store with a net worth of over $1 billion, with a nonunionized workforce, and occupying a space of more than 75,000 square feet—but since no other big-box retailers operate in D.C.… Read more

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Will Building More Parking Finally Enhance the National Mall?

[Originally published by the Urban Times]

Washington, DC–The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, may have been delayed by a cold early spring, but after finally blooming, there wasn’t any dip in the number of people wishing to see them. Instead visitors were out in droves that first weekend in April, meandering around a Tidal Basin lined with greens and whites and pinks, against the backdrop of the nation’s finest monuments. But unfortunately for these visitors, the trip back wasn’t as scenic, since roads between the Basin and downtown were slammed with traffic cops, bumper-to-bumper cars, and bicyclists seemingly on a suicide mission.… Read more

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