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Friday Question of the Day – If you could change one thing about DC what would it be?

by Prince Of Petworth June 8, 2017 at 10:22 pm 213 Comments

We talk a lot about what we love for Friday questions of the day but for this week I thought it would be fun to explore what we could improve. So if you had to narrow it down to one thing – what’s the one thing that you wish DC would improve upon?

And because I’ve got a bit of comeyitus too – for the poll – I’m curious if you think Trump will remain POTUS for his full term. Not what you wish would happen but what you realistically think will happen.


  • anon

    The exorbitant local taxes.

    • anon

      What? You must have a high income and no property to be paying more than you would be in MD or VA. Or maybe you’re comparing our taxes to some nonsense midwestern town you’re from? Or maybe you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • Some Guy on the Internet

        Actually, for middle incomes, the DC income tax rate is 50% higher than VA. [8.5% vs 5.75%]

        • Dognonymous

          It isn’t really 8.5% flat, though. The tax rate ramps up in tiers, so you’re only taxed 8.5% on your income over 60k. Income tax is obviously still higher in DC, but it’s not that drastic. As an example: by my math, someone who makes 70k will pay roughly $3,767 to Virginia (5.4%), but $4,138 to DC (5.9%).

          • anon

            And the lower property tax makes up for it, even just assuming you’d own a car in VA (which incurs property tax there).

    • nathan

      Really? I think they’re pretty reasonable. Both sales, income, and especially property. My parents just moved out of Western NY and were paying nearly double my property taxes for a home assessed at like 30% of mine.

      • dcd

        Yeah, my college roommate lived in Buffalo in a 4 BR house assessed he purchased for 25% of what we paid for our condo in Columbia Heights, and he paid double the property taxes. I will say, though, DC does have some of the higher income tax rates. As was said above, if you rent and have a high income, you are paying more in taxes here than you would be in many places.

        • Nathan

          Yeah looking now at tax tables that’s a fair assessment if you don’t have the offsetting benefit of lower property.

        • logandude

          The “and high income” is important here. I am a retiree and a renter, and on $25K of taxable income I would pay about $1,000 more income tax in Virginia than here (both because DC’s tax rates are progressive over a larger range, and because of the renter’s credit) – plus I’d also have to pay sales tax on my food, unlike here.

          • samanda_bynes

            i would change how fuckin angry dc residents get about defending tax rates

          • anon

            Well we don’t like it when people lie or cluelessly mislead. And it’s a real problem these days.

          • Accountering

            I don’t think people are angry in the least, just calling out what is ultimately, false. Take note the passed budget just cut taxes, again.

        • JoDa

          This is pretty much so my experience with my Midwestern family, as well. Their homes are assessed at a fraction of mine, but their taxes are higher (not quite double, but 25-50% more). Plus, where they are, they pay a high high high sales tax (almost 8%) AND state, county, and local income taxes, the first of which is only lightly progressive, and the last two flat. Their tax burden (excluding federal), despite the fact that I also make considerably more than them, is probably the same or greater than mine. And, yes, they have a republican governor who touts tax reduction as increasing economic growth, while living in an MSA that has one of the worst job markets (by measures of household income, poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and growth) in the country.

    • Rich

      I pay less in taxes (sales, income, property) than I did is supposedly low tax Georgia.

    • MPLady

      Check out New Jersey sometime.

    • Hill Denizen

      They’re high compared to Florida where I’m from or if you come from another state that doesn’t have an income tax, but I definitely wouldn’t call it exorbitant. My parents also have relatively low property insurance rates (they’re actually paying less than they paid when they bought the house in 1988), but home owners and flood insurance is absolutely insane.

  • JohnH

    Uh, housing prices.
    .
    There’s no reason DC should be more expensive than much bigger cities like Chicago that actually have large bodies of water cutting off available land. There’s a lot of people doing great things in DC, but many of these people are paid like they live in Omaha and so there’s so much turnover. DC is great for the wealthy, but for everyone else it can be a struggle. And there’s not a lot of those well off people who care at the end of the day.

    • andy

      Same. A lot of people lived through a real struggle since white flight, honestly, and it’s sad if finally seeing D.C. Thrive means they can’t live here to be part of it.

      • dcd

        It’s interesting that although this is ostensibly the same grumble, JohnH and andy are actually complaining about different (though related) issues. Andy is concerned about effect of housing prices on long-time residents who may not be able to afford to live in the city anymore, or at least the neighborhoods in which they grew up. In contrast, JohnH apparently laments the plight of the underpaid residents “doing great things in DC” who “are paid like they live in Omaha” – a pretty clear reference to government staffers and non-profit workers who are forced to live in group houses to make ends meet, and can’t live in the hot areas of town, and it’s just.not.fair.
        .
        In case is wasn’t obvious, my sympathies are more aligned with andy’s position.
        .

        • Hill Denizen

          Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? You can sympathize both with people working for relatively low salaries considering their education and experience level who are trying to benefit the greater good as well as people who have lived in and sustained this city for generations.

          • dcd

            They’re not at all mutually exclusive, and perhaps “sympathies” was the wrong word, since I do sympathize with both groups. What I meant to convey is that when we’re discussing whether to fund government programs re affordable housing, my vote is to focus on the group any described.

          • JohnH

            Thanks…I was citing one example that people may overlook. Housing prices impact a large number of topics and could spend days and days talking about all of them.

    • CapitalDame

      +1 i was going to say the same thing. Costs here are outrageous, and most people don’t have the income to justify them.

      • helpmeimpoor

        I honestly have always figured everyone around me is much more well off and can more easily afford the luxury apartments and boutique gyms. I imagined the salaries of consultants, politicians, whoever, must be much higher than my income (lower level state govt). I’d love to hear more on this.

        • AMDCer

          There are definitely a lot of high-salaried people living in DC, but there are also most likely a lot of people living beyond their means/who are in debt who feel they have to (or deserve to) live in fancy apartments and drink $16 cocktails.

          • I’ve been surprised lately by how many of my peers (in our early 40s) are carrying around consumer debt on their credit cards, etc. (for no “good” reason aside from lack of budgeting). I sort of feel like if you haven’t got your financial sh$# together by age 40, there’s not a lot of hope for the future…

      • maxwell smart

        I would actually be curious to see what the income inequality numbers are for DC. When you have 20 something law grads making 6 figures right out of school (fact: knew someone who graduated from GW and within 2 years paid off her loans, bought a condo, a new car, and took at least 2 out of US vacations a year, which she could do because she went corporate for $$$) it drives up prices and pushes those of us not making money further and further out.

        • CapitalDame

          I’d be curious as well. I don’t feel like the majority of people that situation, its a smaller percentage but the housing costs don’t reflect that.

        • helpmeimpoor

          That’s true, the majority of people in the city are probably not in my social bubble so I developed a skewed sense of the average income.

        • dcgator

          Did she graduate at the top of her class? That sounds almost unfathomable, even if the legal job market is rebounding from about 7-8 years ago. Unless this person graduated law school in the 90s or early aughts.

          • maxwell smart

            I don’t think it’s unusual, from what I’ve gathered from various sources, for law firms (some, obviously, not all) to start lawyers in the mid six figures.

          • dcgator

            I know that has usually been the case, but for someone graduating at not a top 20 law school, that doesn’t seem as likely. That’s why I asked what year she graduated. I think that may have a lot to do with it…

          • dcd

            No law firm starts associates in the mid six figures. About a year ago, Cravath Swaine & Moore raised its first-year starting salary to $180,000, and other top Am Law 100 firms followed suit. Some first-years with clerkships will get a bump from that, and I’m sure there’s a boutique firm of some private equity find that will pay a recent grad in the mid six figures (which to me means over $350,000) but I’d bet you can count those jobs on two hands. Now, in any given year one of those firms may pay a bonus that will kick a $180,000 salary for a first year up to $300,000 or more, but those are far from certain, and definitely not typical.

          • AdMoKalTri

            “Mid” six figures is unusual. Six figures is not. I’d peg starting salaries, for someone just out of law school, at about $125k-150k at a nationally-known firm. If the person had previously clerked, they can count on a signing bonus on top of that. Once you’re in, though, salary rises pretty quickly.

          • maxwell smart

            The general idea though is that there is a HUGE difference between people who start their careers in the $125-$250k range and people like myself who can expect to start their careers in the $30-$40k range and ultimately work 2 jobs for several years to make ends meet and will probably be paying the $90k I still owe on my grad school loans for the next 15-20 years.

          • textdoc

            I was reading “mid six figures” as meaning $150Kish… which I realize now may or may not have been how Maxwell Smart meant it (like, over the six-figure mark, and then in the middle of the next 100K).
            .
            I guess technically “mid six figures” would mean $500Kish.
            .
            But yeah, the point stands — even within the demographic of “well-educated professionals in D.C.,” there’s a huge range of incomes. What some people consider normal is stratospherically high for many of us.

          • dcd

            Yes, I realized that textdoc’s interpretation may be the right one after I typed out that long post.
            .
            A lot of it depends, as textdoc said, on your frame of reference – where you live, where you work, who your friends are. For example, I had dinner with five friends last night – I’ve known them all for over 20 years. There was a time that my income doubled each of theirs. Now, with the exception of the active duty officer, the opposite is true – each of them (or their spouses) makes an astronomical amount of money. It does tend to warp your perception.

        • Anon Spock

          So that sounds impressive, but how much were her loans? Did she put 20% down, go fha, or use a program? Did she buy the car outright or finance? You get the idea.

        • Leeran

          Quibble: not having enough housing supply pushes us making non-biglaw $ further and further out. A jobs engine like DC or any other large city is always going to be where high-paying jobs are concentrated, but restrictive zoning and height limits mean there’s not much housing to go around after people with high salaries bid for closer-in units.

          • textdoc

            There’s still housing to go around — it’s just not necessarily in neighborhoods that people consider to be as convenient/happening/whatever as other neighborhoods.

          • Leeran

            Of course not every unit of housing is occupied. No city in the world has that problem. (It’s worth pointing out that in recent weeks there was coverage of neighborhoods like Mount Pleasant having literally only one house on the market. There’s a supply problem here.)

          • textdoc

            Isn’t the paucity of SFHs on the market in Mount Pleasant more of an indication of an “inventory” problem than a hosuing-supply problem per se?
            .
            When the market is hot, won’t desirable neighborhoods always have an “inventory” problem as far as desirable units/rowhouses being purchased quickly?
            .
            And that’s not even addressing the issue of rental housing.

        • Accountering

          I would like more details on the above. A law school grad from GW will make $160K (195K with bonus) their first year, and then like 230K the second year. After tax this is like 100K and 130K. Average law loans would be like 125K, and then a down payment on a condo is going to be 35K at a minimum or so. Then you are saying bought a car, took two foreign locations, and lived in DC? I suspect there was a significant amount of parental assistance (either paying for school, paying for the downpayment etc) or otherwise, I am calling BS.

          • JoDa

            I think you’re overestimating the tax burden a bit. Including that bonus (I’m assuming you know more about legal salaries and bonuses than I do), I’m having trouble coming up with a tax burden of more than $60K including FICA (remember that SS is capped at $117K), federal, and DC. I also assume that they had some pre-tax deductions (insurance and retirement savings), leaving them with more like $120K first year, more second. If they lived frugally with the goals of getting out of student loan debt and buying a home and car, it could be done. We don’t know if said person lived in a group house/shared apartment knowing that 2 years of pain (with nice vacations to soothe the living situation) would mean more comfort quickly.
            .
            International trips don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Sure, going on an Antarctic cruise will set you back most people’s yearly rent, but, again, no indication she went that nuts. A week in many Central American destinations can be done for something in the neighborhood of a grand, I believe my friend who went to several Asian destinations earlier this year said she spent $2100, and it only cost so much because her flight over was ~$1000. If she spent $8K on international trips a year (that’ll buy you some really nice trips), and lived like a pauper otherwise, she could easily dedicate $70-100K/year to debt reduction and non-retirement savings ($120K take home – $8K travel – $70K debt/savings = $42K to live on ($3500/month TAKE HOME – spend $1200/month on rent, you still have PLENTY of money); bump up take-home and debt/savings for year 2 (assume all extra take-home goes to debt/savings, save a small increase in rent/utilities/general inflation)).

    • Lee Anderson

      DC has the beltway and traffic which acts the same as a body of water. Traffic limits the amount of available land within rationale commuting distance to the city. This, coupled with the protective economic bubble the Federal Government provides and the lack of housing density due to the height restriction in place, make DC ripe for spiraling housing prices.

      • anon

        The height restrictions are a bigger deal (though zoning is the bottleneck in most places), and the beltway issue could be mitigated (although not ideally) by building a metro line on the beltway similar to the Silver Line running on the DTR with skybridges to urban clusters on either side. But we haven’t started urbanizing that far yet anyway. At least not contiguous with our urban core. Other than maybe around Silver Spring.

        • logandude

          I don’t think supply (or its lack, especially the lack produced by the Height Act) is the real problem with housing prices here. Other cities that have no height restrictions (New York, San Francisco, London, Vancouver) also have astronomical housing prices. And 30 years ago, when supply was arguably a bit lower here, prices were much lower (and they are still quite low in neighborhoods EOTR). The problem is induced demand – because certain neighborhoods in these global cities have suddenly become very desirable, not just as places for young professionals but also as places for foreign capital to stash their money, demand has skyrocketed to the point that you simply cannot build your way out of the hole. Meanwhile some neighborhoods even within the District are still starved of investment (see EOTR food desert) and thus have stagnating housing markets. I don’t think you will see housing prices come down here until you once again turn the suburbs into hot places to live and thereby deflate the urban demand bubble.

          • textdoc

            Good points, logandude.

          • Leeran

            I actually don’t think these are good comparisons. SF is closest because it’s almost impossible to build there for various reasons including rampant NIMBY activistism, and you’ve seen a surge in housing prices worse than DC. London has effective height limits due to historical protections, view right and airport path regulations.

            NY is an interesting example… I’d think the fact that it’s more than 10x the size of DC but is only about 20% more expensive would speak for itself.

          • kd21

            No, not good points, logandude. San Francisco, Vancouver, and yes, even New York have height limits – incredibly strict, in the case of San Francisco. The New York Times had a really interesting piece last year about how 40% of the buildings in Manhattan today could not be built because they are too tall, too dense, or have too much square footage dedicated to commercial usage. San Francisco’s housing crisis has been immeasurably exacerbated by onerous zoning regulations that state that buildings in the vast majority of the city cannot exceed 40 feet.
            .
            Just because a city has buildings taller than DC doesn’t mean there isn’t a height limit. And just because a city with highrises is expensive doesn’t mean that highrises don’t improve affordability. How much less affordable would New York or San Francisco be if they had DC-like height restrictions?
            .
            Sorry, don’t mean to single you out, but these arguments against raising/removing the height limit are a pet peeve of mine.

          • anon

            +1 to kd21. logandude, your arguments are ridiculous. Let’s trash our economy so housing prices go down? Let’s go back to the blight that existed when supply and demand were both lower?
            .
            If we want lower costs and a vibrant economy with less socioeconomic segregation and fewer carbon emissions, we want buildings as tall as we can physically build them. Full stop. It doesn’t mean we don’t plan at all, but we can’t let whatever weird nonsense nostalgia you’re promulgating be considered any kind of cogent argument.

          • JohnH

            Those aren’t good examples because of what I referenced in my post – the land (or water) around the city. All three of your examples are constrained large bodies of waters. SF and Manhattan are also on relatively small peninsulas. This limited space drives up cost outward.
            .
            DC has nothing but land in all directions with a relatively small river going through. Would the entire DC metro area have one residential building taller than The city of Chicagos top 50? Top 100? There are a number of cities bigger than DC that are significantly cheaper to live.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Logandude might have had some details (unnecessary details that could have remained unspecified) wrong, but still has an important point regarding qualitative changes in the nature of the demand. Real life is a lot more complicated than an econ 101 homework problem. Determining the effect on housing prices of changing or eliminating the height limit and making no other policy changes is a really interesting empirical question whose answer is at present unknown. We can all speculate – speculating is fun. While I’ll admit that I don’t know what impact relaxing or eliminating the height restriction would have on housing prices in DC, I’m having a fair amount of difficulty thinking of examples of places that have successfully managed to keep housing affordable simply by making buildings taller in the absence of other serious policy changes unrelated to things like height limits.

          • textdoc

            Agreed (as I so often do) with HaileUnlikely. It’s more complicated than just supply/demand — as logandude pointed out, certain neighborhoods have suddenly become desirable, whereas others (like most of EOTR, if not all of it) haven’t.
            .
            I also get cranky when people talk about the idea of being “priced out of the city” when what they actually mean is “priced out of desirable neighborhoods A, B, C, D, and E with amenities X, Y, and Z.” The neighborhoods that are desirable now haven’t always been desirable — people moved to them largely because the neighborhoods they might have _preferred_ to live in (e.g., Dupont Circle in the early 2000s) were too expensive. And gradually those less-desirable neighborhoods — Logan Circle/Shaw (yes, Logan Circle used to be much less desirable than Dupont Circle!), Columbia Heights, Petworth, Hill East — became more desirable.

          • kd21

            HaileUnlikely — the issue around restrictive zoning (of which height is a major component) causing housing price increases is considerably more settled than you think. I suggest reading work by Ed Glaeser or John Quigley in this field.

          • HaileUnlikely

            That the effect is non-zero is pretty much settled, however its magnitude isn’t.

          • kd21

            HaileUnlikely — that’s a very fair point! But ultimately, still an argument for easing zoning restrictions and against inaction.
            .
            Personally, I think the city should be doing as much as it can to attract and retain workers, both rich and poor. Your argument appears to be that since we don’t know how much affordability could increase if we ease zoning restrictions, we shouldn’t do it (or, perhaps, the potential effect is so small, it is not worth pursuing). This strikes me as a “nuts to you, I’ve got mine’ argument. Lots of nuance is lost while debating on the internet, so If I’ve misinterpreted, please let me know! I really do appreciate the engagement on this issue: most of my friends’ eyes glaze over when I start talking about the height limit, so it is good to hear some opposing viewpoints.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Not at all. I favor at least relaxing the height limit somewhat (I’m not sure about eliminating it altogether, but relaxing it somewhat). I just don’t buy the arguments that its effect on housing prices will be large enough to help most people.

      • JohnH

        No other cities have an interstate loop and traffic? That makes no difference.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      Yep, this, exactly.

    • huh

      Chicago may border a lake but it is surely not constrained by water – you can drive west for an hour and be surrounded by dense suburbs the whole way

      • JohnH

        You can drive an hour from DC in all directions, so why would that make DC more expensive? The city of Chicago is densely populated, DC and its immediate areas are not. (I’m referencing living in the DC area in general, not just the district.)

    • bruno

      Let me review your lifestyle and spending and I will show you where to save … lots of my pals spend too much on useless stuff.

    • Yes,but…

      Your frustration is understandable, but your facts needs some work. DC also has a body of water cutting off available land, for starters, and will forever be constrained by two states. Also, Chicago has 4 times the amount of land that DC does, but that doesn’t account land use. For example, Grant Park in Chicago is 319 acres….Rock Creek is 1,754 acres. Include Rock Creek in the 18 square miles the federal government owns in DC (29% of the total land area), and it paints a much clearer picture of exactly how land constrained DC is really. Throw in the always popular Height Act, the rapidly increasing population (trends matter) and there you go.

      • JohnH

        I’m talking about the entire DC area, not just the district. The whole DC area is surrounded by land. Chicago is cut in half by a body of water (you can’t live on the east side of Chicago unless you live on a boat…).
        .
        I understand how DCs prices are expensive, I’m just saying there’s ways to fix them but nobody in power actually cares about the issue.

  • textdoc

    I’m having a hard time choosing among:
    – The weather
    – The litter
    – The rats
    .
    And I just thought of another one (two?)… the fact that D.C.’s historic-preservation system basically requires neighborhoods to “opt in,” and the fact that there’s no “in-between” option short of a full-on historic district.

    • textdoc

      I see now that the more detailed question asks for “the one thing you wish D.C. would improve upon,” as distinguished from the headline’s question “If you could change one thing about D.C., what would it be?”
      .
      I suppose D.C. can’t really do all that much about its weather (other than try to maintain/add to the tree canopy), whereas D.C. really ought to be able to do something about the litter and the rats.

    • dcd

      Hey, one of those was close to one of mine, with one slight change – the fact that D.C.’s historic-preservation system basically ***permits*** neighborhoods to “opt in”.
      .
      : )

      • textdoc

        I thought I might see a reply from you here. 😉

    • Anon

      I thought DC was fairly clean in a lot of areas compared to Baltimore, Philly, NYC (that doesn’t mean it cannot be improved upon of course)

      • Kent

        Yeah, granted I’m not downtown very often, but DC has always felt much cleaner to me than a lot of other major cities I’ve visited.

      • textdoc

        D.C. definitely feels MUCH cleaner than NYC. But the amount of litter here still drives me up the wall.
        .
        Downtown D.C. is pretty clean, I guess because of all of the BIDs. But there was a lot of litter in Adams Morgan when I lived there, and in my current neighborhood (northern Park View), housing prices are skyrocketing but the litter seems to continue unabated.
        .
        Alas, Georgia Avenue is a pretty trashy street… literally.

        • +1. That’s one thing I don’t miss about living in Petworth–the weekly clean-up of styrofoam containers, chicken bones, candy wrappers and other crap which congregated in the tree boxes on my block.

      • AdMoKalTri

        Tourist-heavy areas can get fairly grubby. I used to live in Woodley Park and would go up and down Connecticut picking up all the litter tourists left behind. The trash cans in that area simply aren’t numerous enough to handle the number of people who go to the zoo.

  • anon

    I wish the buildings were taller. People thing the Height Act is the problem, and in some places it is. But all-around our zoning code is limiting housing supply by keeping buildings short and it’s inflating housing prices, which in turn hurts the city in any number of ways.
    .
    I also wish DC could grow its boundaries to consume nearby neighborhoods that are functionally part of the city but whose residents don’t contribute to it with their taxes. Annapolis and Richmond have too much power around here.

    • Tee

      + 1 on raising the building height, but not everywhere and with floor height setback caveats.

      But a reduction in crime/ increase in public safety is my #1. There are too many people who disregard the humanity of others as a disposable commodity.

      • anon

        I could accept some of those caveats for the sake of getting something done, but I wouldn’t love too many of them.
        .
        More eyes on the street and less pockets of poverty caused by integrated affordable housing (more units in tall buildings means more affordable units) would go a long way to making the city safer.

    • mtpresident

      Your second wish is a fascinating idea–and could gain traction nationally in the context of DC statehood since it would essentially trade DC reps with a more conservative VA (and possibly MD if you had that in mind–though I was thinking just Arlington/Alexandria since those were originally part of DC). However, I can’t imagine VA would be convinced to give up a large portion of its tax base–and I’m not sure the residents of those counties would buy into that idea. But–fascinating nonetheless.

      • anon

        DC is a unique case due to the state boundaries on all sides, but the issue of elasticity of a city (whether it grows to consume more land as it grows, versus stays static as jurisdictions outside it pick up residents) is a studied one. Most cities in the northeast are presently inelastic, but were elastic for a long time. The City of Washington, even, was once much smaller before growing to consume the whole District by 1871.

  • Aonoymoys

    I wish I could say Trump wouldn’t serve a full term, but at this time I don’t see a path forward for impeachment. Maybe if democrats win back a majority in one or both chambers in 2018.

    • topscallop

      Agreed. The GOP won’t impeach him, so the only way he’s out is if Dems win back congress.

      • textdoc

        I’m hoping that something will come out that’s so outrageous that his fellow Republicans will have no choice but to abandon him.
        .
        Of course, given that there were many Republican congressmen who seemed to find NO FAULT with Trump’s conduct as described yesterday by Comey, one wonders what would actually score high enough on the outrage-o-meter.

  • Drew Hairston

    The massive and rapid gentrification. I heard some Rare Essence in a bar and was caught off guard, it reminded me that the culture of DC’s native sons and daughters is all but lost, tucked into the city’s southeast end. Patiently waiting to be snuffed out by casinos, a budding waterfront, and the destructive whimsy of the nouveau riche. Goodbye Chocolate City.

    • dcgator

      +1

    • Blithe

      +1 And beautifully stated. – This feels like a double tragedy for me — both what is being lost, and and the banality that is overtaking what’s left.

      • Bobert

        “banality that is overtaking what’s left” – I agree with the general resentment of gentrification and the forced culture change that it brings, but just because you don’t personally identify with something, I’m not sure it’s fair to call it “banal”.

        • Blithe

          I agree. So maybe we disagree about what we each might subjectively view as being “banal”?

          • Bobert

            (I realize that we’re now discussing something outside the scope of the original question, but I’m genuinely curious because I don’t think we disagree much on what we view as banal.) What do you view as banal, in terms of what’s displacing the culture that used to exist in DC.

          • Blithe

            Bobert, I can come back to this later if you like, but for now, please see my comment at 10:57. I’m earnestly trying to distinguish between stuff I don’t personally like/ appreciate and things that I view as culturally similar to fast food. And I’m acknowledging that my opinions are quite — but not completely — subjective.

          • Bobert

            Blithe, thanks for your response. I just read your 10:57 comment, but I’m not sure that it really answers my question.
            .
            “I’m having more trouble with the reality that homegrown cultural elements that can contribute to a shared identity are being replaced with things that I view as the cultural equivalent of fast food — from architecture to restaurants to entertainment.”
            .
            I don’t see this as something that’s specific to DC – but more so to US culture in general. Yes, it’s certainly changing. Globalization, along with the internet, drastically changed how people socialize and relate to the world around them. Those in power actively try to isolate people, as they spend much more money that way (and are easier to influence politically). I these changes are propagating all across the country – this isn’t something that’s DC-specific.

          • Blithe

            Bobert, it may be that we’re more in agreement than I realized. I don’t see my concerns as being DC-specific, although I do think that DC is, perhaps, being transformed more quickly because of recent rapid population shifts.

    • anon

      We should stem displacement and create all-inclusive neighborhoods for sure, but let’s not glorify a snapshot in time. The city has a long history before it was majority-black and the circumstances under which it became majority-black were disgraceful (restrictive covenants, prejudicial mortgages, white flight to suburban areas, zoning laws to restrict affordable housing, etc.). What’s happening isn’t great and we should make it better by making sure there’s more affordable housing and more housing in general to slow the pace of renovation so there’s a mix of housing prices in the same neighborhood; this means moving forward faster, not trying to move backward somehow.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      Rare Essence is playing a Tiny Desk Unit concert at NPR right now!

  • Skeeter

    More eclectic and diverse music and art scene.

    • skaballet

      Really? I feel like the art scene here is really strong.

      • Sketter

        In my experience most of the art shows or events I go to or hear about is usually some business or corporation having some event. I wish there was more of a diy scene where you could go to people housees/backyards or even random spaces people would rent out that had a more casual feel and I didn’t feel like I had to dress up just to go. That goes for the music scene as well.

        • Bobert

          Sketter – there’s a very vibrant local music and art scene, it’s just not trivial to get into without knowing people who are already a part of it

      • skj84

        Agree. I hear this comment all the time and it baffles me. There is a vibrant arts and music scene in DC. And theatre. Maybe its a case of not knowing where to look?

        • Bobert

          “Maybe its a case of not knowing where to look?”
          .
          I think that’s definitely the case.

        • Anonabeer

          Shhh.. Be sure not to let the secret out. You would t want Sketter to ruin the party.

  • CapitalDame

    The weather. I spent hours on my deck last night wishing I could use it more but once it gets so humid and hot in the summer I just don’t want to.

    • ah

      I hate the weather as well, but it’s kind of not changeable (I don’t mean to get into a climate change debate, just that DC has always had unpleasantly warm/humid summer weather – I don’t think it was more pleasant in 1830).

      • LittleBluePenguin

        yeah, and at least we can wear a lot less clothing now when it’s hot, than have to suffer through summer in layers of wool and wigs and multiple petticoats!

        • navyard

          Oh my gosh, great point LittleBluePenguin! If I had to wear a wool dress and petticoat I would move to Alaska!

      • CapitalDame

        The question said IF hahaha a dame can dream!

        • textdoc

          Exactly!
          .
          (I too wish it weren’t so hot/humid in the summer, or so cold in the winter.)

    • maxwell smart

      As someone who lives in a basement with no outdoor space and limited daylight, I have no sympathy.

      • CapitalDame

        Yikes that is bad! You’re welcome to use my deck… you just have to come to SW haha

  • Metro. I really wish we had a world-class transportation system to rival other world-class cities. But, sadly, I think this improvement would require getting our hands on a time machine.

    • dcd

      I now there’s not a right or wrong answer to this question. But if there were a right answer, this would be it.

    • Dan

      Alas, unless there is dedicated funding AND a Metro board that has some elected accountability…then I doubt we’ll get that.

    • Ben

      +1 – more light rail commuter trains into the burbs, an actual useful tram network in the city, and a separated blue-line (with another tunnel) would make us awesome (and cost billions).

    • skaballet

      And one that isn’t so expensive

  • MarkQ

    Put housing around the mall. Such a grand isolated wasteland much of the mall is. It could have been a vibrant Central Park like setting for residents.

    • DF

      Huh? It’s filled with government buildings and museums. Not even sure where you’d put housing. There’s certainly some in L’Enfant and Penn Quarter, and more further down towards Watergate.

      • MarkQ

        I saw a rendering of this done on some urban planning site once that called for turning Madison and Jefferson into boulevards lined with housing and filling some of the infill spots between the museums. Also suggested tearing down the blockish buildings along Constitution (Dept. Energy et al).

        • ExWalbridgeGuy

          Good lord, that sounds awful. Take our fabulous museums and bustling mall and intersperse it with (what would inevitably be ultra-high end) condos. If there’s a wrong answer to this question, this is it.

          • anon

            The fact that you’d deride high-end housing as somehow useless just shows your priorities are wrong. A high-end housing unit is one less person displaced from the tier down, all down the line. Housing in a neighborhood that doesn’t currently have any makes for vibrancy and people around at all hours, not just business hours.

      • Jay

        All those museums are prime spots for pop-ups with condos, right?

    • Ben

      I would love a giant beer garden on the mall though (a-l-a hirschgarten in Munich). Would never fly though…. at least we got jazz-in-the-crowded-park….

      • Robert

        Never happen. You Americans treat beer as if it is some sort of hard drug.

      • Allison

        jazz-in-your-drunk-neighbor’s-armpit

  • Nancy

    That we can be made to answer to a congressman from some tiny district in Georgia or Utah, or you name it. Congress should not be in charge of us.

    • textdoc

      +1.

  • ah

    One party rule of District government.

    And this is not meant as a slam against the Democrats, just that the lack of meaningful electoral competition from anyone leads to a lot of shady governance practices.

  • skj84

    Representation!!! And housing prices.

  • topscallop

    Statehood. The fact that other congressmen and women get to meddle in/overturn decisions we’ve voted on, and mess around with our budget, infuriates me.
    Also, the roving bands of violent youth – I really wish someone would do something about that.

  • dcnative

    Honestly, the majority of people who live here now… or at least how long they stay. As a native, it’s hard to watch what feels like a constant cycle of people from every other corner of the country (and world) come here for their own benefit, generally a career, for a few years and move on. A lot of these people aren’t making any attempt at preserving DC cultural roots, let alone learning about them. I believe it is a big part of the reason a lot of the other things people are mentioning are issues (see: high rent prices, better music/art, which by the way existed 10 years ago before it became a city full of 9-5ers). No one is around long enough to care to fight to change these things, or to understand where DC started.

    • Shmoo

      Where did dc start? Just curious and in no way being combative. The district has ebbed and flowed over the last 100 years. The district you harken back to may not have been the start, but just a phase of a living city.

      • anon

        100? Try 217. Tack on another 150 if we’re talking about Georgetown and Alexandria. And another 60,000 if we want to talk about the indigenous tribes whose infrastructure was leveraged.

    • asdf

      I am not quite sure what you mean when you say that people come here only “for their own benefit” (do you stay here as some sort of charitable contribution?). As someone who always viewed DC as a temporary stop along my career path (I am now leaving DC after 4 years to move back to NYC), I never invested my whole self into DC knowing that I had one foot out the door the whole time. However, I was still a contributing member of the community while I was here, as I voted in all the DC elections I was present for, made friends here, spent A LOT (probably too much) money on local restaurants/bars/shops, and made countless memories (not to mention contributed to the DC tax base). What more should I have done?

      • Bobert

        You should’ve been born here, apparently.

    • Anon

      @dcnative
      I agree with a lot of what you said and def noticed moving here from New Orleans where transplants (me included) embrace the cultural/history, learn about it and contribute to it where as in DC it’s quite the opposite. Most of my friends don’t know what go-go is or even mumbo sauce and def have never heard of the black broadway. The difference in how people embrace the two cities though probably has something with New Orleans having a richer culture (no slight to DC) and more people move to that city for the culture and traditions of the city not just for a job or the job market as for DC.

  • Rich

    Outlaw whining. More seriously, take steps to make it difficult to flip houses–that would help bring down housing prices because sweat equity would replace easy profits.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    The height restriction. It artificially inflates housing prices by limiting density, and is just plain old stupid, in my mind. I’ve lived in several other major cities, and to me, there’s just no comparison to walking around in the shadow of skyscrapers.

    • textdoc

      I love not being shadowed by skyscrapers — that’s actually one of the things I really like about D.C.

      • AMDCer

        Ditto – DC’s building scale is one of the most attractive things about the city to me.

        • anon

          Sorry, but I strongly feel the city would be a better place without people with your preference here.

          • dcd

            What now? Surely you meant that the city would be a better place if the zoning policies espoused by textdoc, AMDCer, and others were not implemented, and not that the city would be better if those *people* didn’t live here?

            Not to be a pedant, but this is a fairly egregious overstatement (one would hope – if that’s actually what you *meant* to say, we can have an entirely different conversation).

      • ST21

        I am with you. That being said I think there could be a compromise. I’d raise the height limit to 16 stories downtown where the infrastructure could handle it. It would bring more businesses into the district and raise density levels which could open the door for more shops and restaurants thereby creating a more vibrant downtown. As of now, it can be bland and very “business like” for lack of a better term. Raising the height limit could allow developers to get more creative with their design and rents could be more affordable for some of the local restaurants seeking to capitalize in the area. Downtown is basically empty on the weekends but it doesn’t need to be that way. Being in commercial real estate, I really believe this change will happen in the next few years.

      • Me too! I hate the skyscrapers in NY and other cities. I like that we can see the sun and sky in DC.

      • Anonymous

        When I moved here from New York, I was struck by the fact that I could walk outside my office and see the sky. I hadn’t realized what I was missing, and now, I don’t want to lose it.

      • HillEast

        how about a compromise — changing the formula to allow an extra floor or two on all new construction. we’d still keep our bright boulevards and add some incremental density.

        win-win.

        • textdoc

          Only if the new construction were on main streets/arterial roads. Otherwise people would have an incentive to raze rowhouses in the middle of rows.

          • HillEast

            ah yes, i should have clarified, but that’s what i meant 🙂

  • melissa

    The unneighborly neighbors. There was a report a few years back that DC residents distrust their neighbors much more than other locales. Sure, you can say that you should TRY to change this on your own, but most of our neighbors walk as fast to their vehicles as possible and allow no chances for friendly exchanges. They don’t have exchanges beyond their immediate neighbors next door, and most definitely don’t help (OR THANK those of us who DO) when it’s time to sweep or shovel common sidewalks and bus stops.

    • anonymous

      I think a chunk of that has to do with transience. Another chunk may have to do with the nature of urban living and, increasingly, how millennials interact (or choose not to interact) with their neighbors. I hold get-togethers in my apartment building, and many of the younger folks do not participate. These are low-pressure, casual affairs, but some people just don’t want to interact with their neighbors- which is a personal choice and fine, but also kinda sad.

      • anonymous

        Also, sad to say, but studies have shown that more diverse communities suffer from low levels of trust. The more homogenous you are, the higher the trust. The more diverse you are, the lower the trust. This may also factor into the disconnect with our neighbors and fellow city residents. Human nature.

        • DCReggae

          +1 interesting!

        • Blithe

          Do you have more information about what “diverse” means? Racially? Economically? Social class? Something else? And do you have any idea how “diverse” and “transient” might play out as variables? I agree that the more the members of a community define themselves as a community — “us” — the more trust there is likely to be, but I think that there are multiple ways to create this. I’d love more information about the studies you’re referring to.

          • Blithe

            Thank you textdoc!!!!!! I am, once again, in awe of your awesomeness! 🙂

          • anonymous

            Hi Blithe, I was specifically mentioning Robert Putnam’s study from 2007. This is Putnam of “Bowling Alone” fame, a progressive, whose Harvard study concluded blacks, whites, and Latinos had lower levels of trust in racially diverse communities. Another study came out later to dispute this, but their findings were not that encouraging. They said minorities (blacks and Latinos) already had lower levels of community trust regardless of diversity, and it was whites who were responsible for higher levels of distrust when they had to live in close proximity to minorities. That study concluded white bias was more responsible for distrust than diversity itself, but there’s a lot to think about there. You can google “diverse low trust” for more details.

          • Blithe

            Thanks anonymous! You’ve given me a lot to think about — and some weekend reading goals! I’m definitely interested in these issues and curious about the impact of economic/ social class in all of this.

        • textdoc

          On diverse communities and trust… is this the report you or Melissa were thinking of?
          http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/americans-divided-on-how-much-they-trust-their-neighbors/
          .
          Or maybe this one, cited therein? (It doesn’t seem to have a handy summary, unfortunately.)
          http://sociology.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/faculty/Smith/RACE%20AND%20TRUST.pdf

          • Blithe

            textdoc, please see above for my sincere appreciation of your kindness and your research skills!

      • Bobert

        “These are low-pressure, casual affairs, but some people just don’t want to interact with their neighbors- which is a personal choice and fine, but also kinda sad.”
        .
        It may be sad for you personally, but I wouldn’t project too much on their rejection of your get-togethers.

    • DF

      We experienced this in Columbia Heights where there were far more renters. But, since moving to Petworth, it’s a whole new world of SFHs with lots of families. Most everyone is really friendly and looking to strike up a conversation or at least a nice hello. Too bad about your neighborhood!

      • eva

        It’s funny, I find that the families (especially the new ones) in Petworth are the least friendly people. As a childless married person who has lived in the neighborhood for 10+ years, and is otherwise demographically similar to these people, they basically ignore me. I have found it very hard to make friends with these new families that move in. Once they find out you don’t have kids and aren’t having any the conversation basically trails off.

        My other neighbors are very friendly, and I’m very happy with the community in my neighborhood. But I find that this “friendly family atmosphere” really only extends to people who are in that (mostly) white, thirty something professional with 2 kids under 5 demographic.

        • jecca

          As a fellow DINK, I think this is true in any neighborhood across the entire country.

        • This was my experience as well living in Petworth. Without a baby, dog, or partner, every neighborhood “social” I attended consisted of 10-second introductions followed by the cold shoulder.

        • Different Strokes

          Interesting, perhaps both sides are ignoring each other on this front. I find younger people with no kids are the ones to put their earbuds in before leaving the house and employ the cold shoulder to me and my family. Before I had kids, I recall the parents maybe looking down their noses at me and my wild freedom, but now, with my wisdom and stroller, I’m less of a threat? Maybe this is all similar to the ‘diversity breeds distrust’ narrative, in this case along age and lifestyle lines. Anyway, I think Columbia Heights and DC in general is pretty good about interaction between strangers, for a large city. I say hi with eye contact to almost everyone I pass here, and get a high percentage of friendly responses, even from kids and teens.

    • Blithe

      This happened pretty quickly. There are still pockets of DC’s porch culture to be found. I agree with anonymous. I think this has a lot to do with a combination of having a more transient population, and having large numbers of newer residents who may have grown up more suburban lifestyles rather than neighborhood and neighborhood-centric experiences and values.
      – Someone yesterday made a comment about “liquor stores and bodegas” not being “culture” — an idea that I think is absolutely wrong. The comment reminded me of the importance of “corner stores” in the Petworth, when I was growing up. The heady responsibility of being able to run to the store with a note and a few folded bills to help a neighbor or to meet a family need, to have Ben know that Mrs. N. “buys this brand of butter”, nurtured both an independence and a connectedness that I’m very grateful that my 4 year old self was able to experience.

      • textdoc

        Do you think bodegas are still fulfilling that role, though — of supplying ordinary household groceries?
        .
        The ones near me seem almost exploitative — specializing in junk food, beer/wine, and lottery tickets. Now that there’s a CVS in the area, I’m puzzled as to how they even stay in business — I guess because they sell cigarettes and CVS no longer does? (Does CVS sell lottery tickets? I hadn’t paid attention one way or the other.)
        .
        The cynic in me also thinks that some of them are staying in business because they’re trafficking in synthetic marijuana. Two of the bodegas near me were in fact busted for doing so, and one of them is no longer in business. I was all hopeful when I saw some construction going on in there recently… but then when I looked at the permits, it looks like it’s going to be getting replaced by another bodega.

        • Blithe

          textdoc, I don’t know if corner stores are still fulfilling that role or not — I suspect it depends upon the neighborhood and the alternatives. In more car-centric neighborhoods and neighborhoods with more shopping options, I suspect that as people became less inclined, for a variety of reasons, to run to the corner store, I think that the stores changed as their customer base changed. I.e.: Once the Walmarts opened, I’m guessing that at least some corner stores changed their focus. I also think that childhood and the culture of childhood has changed as our sense of “safety” has changed. I think it’s less common to send young children on errands — which I think is a huge loss, but an understandable one. I’d guess that in neighborhoods with fewer food options, corner stores are still used to supply groceries. Not so much for weekly or monthly shopping, but when you run out of paper towels, or need an egg, or whatever, and rely on neighborhood markets to meet those needs — which still might not provide enough profit to sustain a traditional, grocery-focused corner store.

      • dcd

        “– Someone yesterday made a comment about “liquor stores and bodegas” not being “culture” — an idea that I think is absolutely wrong.”
        .
        Blithe, there’s an interesting juxtaposition between this comment and your comment above. I understand being frustrated about someone denigrating the culture of the neighborhood in which you grew up. But isn’t exactly what you did 20 minutes earlier, when you said, in response to another comment about gentrification, “This feels like a double tragedy for me — both what is being lost, and the banality that is overtaking what’s left.”?
        .
        It seems like it reduced legitimate issues regarding gentrification to a pure subjective analysis – I liked what used to be here, and I don’t like what it’s turning into. But plenty of people feel the opposite, and if there’s ever going to be a progress made re gentrification, this can’t be the basis of the discussion.

      • Blithe

        dcd — my honest answer to you is that I’m not sure, but you’re making excellent points in response to my comments. I think that I’m guilty of viewing what I’m denigrating as suburban culture as not constituting a “real” culture in the same way that many people don’t recognize elements that I think of as being important as being “culture”. I’m also trying to talk about something that I feel is a symptom of gentrification — but not entirely synonymous with it.
        — Maybe what I need for this conversation is a good working definition of “culture”. I also think that what I’m reacting to is not just the changes, but what I see as the transience. As in, I get that “Go-Go” can get replaced by, say, Opera. That would be something that I’d acknowledge as a cultural shift, albeit one that I personally would dislike. I’m having more trouble with the reality that homegrown cultural elements that can contribute to a shared identity are being replaced with things that I view as the cultural equivalent of fast food — from architecture to restaurants to entertainment. So I get that DC — or any city — is going to change. I think my confusion and frustration is that I don’t see the changes as being a part of a unique, recognizable identity, let along one that fosters a sense of community cohesion — which, in my view, is one of the functions of culture.

        • This is a thoughtful response, Blithe. And I think your latter point is a difficult one to answer as it’s hard to know what pieces of the current “culture” will have longevity…what’s a fad a la cupcake shops versus what’s here to stay and influence the landscape of our city and its residents for the long term. I don’t know that any of us really know.

        • dcd

          This is a very difficult issue, and I didn’t mean to imply that you were wrong to feel either way. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to preserve what was, and not like what it is becoming. My only point is more of a messaging one, I guess – if that distaste for what is new becomes the focal point of the anti-gentrification discussion, it becomes easy to dismiss as just a matter of taste, with the danger that the real issues posed by gentrification will be ignored along with them.

    • stacksp

      I always find the “half” smirk to be quite humorous when passing on the street. Its like people know or assume that they should speak on account of being neighborly but cant bring themselves to it so they do the half smirk thing.

      I think to myself, you dont have to do that. Fake neighborly is probably worst than genuinely not wanting to be neighborly..

      • navyard

        Oh gosh, I think the “half” smirk is more like the elevator-eyebrows type of acknowledgement. “I know I recognize you, but I either don’t remember your name, or I have absolutely nothing witty to say, so I’ll just smile and raise my eyebrows at the same time to acknowledge you and look friendly”.

        I just think most people aren’t as witty or charming as they think they should be and they don’t know what to say. And “Fake Neighborly” may just be “friendly without having to be friends”, right?

    • textdoc

      On the “neighborliness” issue — I guess I’m thinking of the very basic “exchanging greetings on sidewalk” interaction, but I wonder how much of this is a white culture/black culture thing.
      .
      I get the impression that African-Americans are more likely to greet people they don’t know personally, and white people aren’t.

      • Blithe

        textdoc, I think it’s more complicated than that. I’ve wondered if it’s a generational thing, a regional thing, a class thing, a white culture/black culture thing, a raised in a dense urban environment vs being raised in environments with fewer shared resources thing…. and although it’s easiest for me to see it as cultural, I think that the racial differences with “speaking to people” vs Not in DC are likely reflecting some other variables in addition to or at least confounded with race.

        • textdoc

          Yep, that sounds fair.

        • dcd

          This is one data point, but my parents, who lived their entire lived in NJ before retiring to Maine, were each raised in the dense urbanized suburb of NJ but lived for most of their married lived in rural NJ, and are the most stereotypically “white” people on the planet, are also the friendliest. They not only acknowledge everyone, they talk to people EVERYWHERE. My mother, just last weekend, gave me the card of a woman she met on a walk in my neighborhood and just randomly started talking to. My wife and daughter were in the car, buckled up and ready to go, and I had to get out and go back into Ivy City Tavern to pull them out because they’d stopped to chat with the hostess for 10 minutes on our way home after dinner. It’s truly amazing. A lot of it is just personality.

      • navyard

        I would have come to the opposite conclusion. Maybe it’s just what you’re used to. I’m a white woman and I almost always say hello to random strangers on the street – unless they look like they’re busy or otherwise occupied with something in their own mind. And many of my AA neighbors look at me like “who’s goofy?” because I’m friendly. Oh well.
        On another note, I work in an engineering field where most of my co-workers are SO introverted that if I say hello to them in the hallway, they will practically hug the wall because – oh no, a human! I’ve been working there long enough now that the awkward acknowledgement when someone is approaching has rubbed off on me. I can no longer judge the appropriate timing for when to look up and say hello. So timing-wise, I either stare too long to get someone’s attention or I look up too late only to see them thinking “how rude to ignore me” (while wearing their half-smirk). Haha. I don’t know what to do about it except practice more. But I never had a problem with this until a few years into this job, so now I’m an awkward freak.

  • jim_ed

    Seems like everyone has covered the big ones like housing costs, metro, the opacity of our local government’s contract awards, nimbyism etc so I’ll hit our secretly most pressing issue: NO GOOD TEX-MEX IN THE DISTRICT. I have to go out into the suburbs – the far suburbs at that! – to get a decent chori pollo or chimichangas. We’re a world class city but the queso gap between us and nearly every podunk burg in America is stark and depressing.

    • textdoc

      LOL on the term “queso gap”! Well coined.

    • Newtonian

      Yes. Many “Mexican” restaurants in the District are actually Salvadorean. Not the same.

      • Ben

        Except for taqueria habanero. Oh is that place good.

    • Leeran

      Love this… getting to the important stuff.

    • ExWalbridgeGuy

      My wife and I have 7 cousins that live in Texas and so we visit regularly. Between weddings and such it’s been almost annually for most of my adult life. Over the years I’ve sought out various people’s recommendations for “the best” Tex-mex in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus, McAllen, Harlingen, Odessa, etc. The difference between the places I’ve been and what you can get in DC is very small. I honestly don’t at all understand the weird snobbery that people have about DC’s totally acceptable Mexican food. The weirdest thing of all is that DC actually does seem to be missing a Mexicali scene, and yet this draws almost no mention.

  • ST21

    Third generation “Washingtonian” and I absolutely love the city. I know the gentrification topic is a little touchy and being from the city originally I have mixed feelings on it myself. That being said, if you have been here longer than 10 years then you would know just how badly some of these areas needed redevelopment. I was actually watching a video the other day where the interviewee was talking about how he hardly recognized his neighborhood anymore and that it’s a shame… but literally right before he said that he talked about how his street was the center of the drug trade for his neighborhood back in the day… I know what he was trying to get at but THAT is exactly the reason why a lot of this city needed redevelopment and (gasp) gentrification. It’s not just here either, it’s happening to cities all around the country as the milenniall generation seeks urban dwelling. This city has evolved and its blossoming right before our own eyes- I had a Saturday recently where I really stopped and thought to myself WOW DC is awesome. Got brunch in Shaw, went down to Navy Yard and hit Whaleys outdoor bar for a couple hours, went to the Nats game, ended up at The Brigg in Capitol Hill after, and ended the night stuffing my face at YUMs on 14th (most underrated cheesesteak in town). Every single one of those places were complete afterthoughts just 10 years ago. If I could change one thing, it would be the height restriction downtown- I’d raise the limit to 16 stories as opposed to 12 which would bring more businesses into the city and create a more vibrant and diverse downtown. Restaurants and shops could finally start thriving in the area due to higher density. It would be really beneficial for the Golden Triangle, BID, etc.

    • textdoc

      “and ended the night stuffing my face at YUMs on 14th (most underrated cheesesteak in town)” — Is this Yum’s the carryout place? If so, that place has been on 14th Street ever since I can remember. (I moved to the metro area in 1998 and to the District in 2002.)

    • Leeran

      +1000 to all of that. Love what’s happened to a lot of previously quiet areas of the city, wish more people could afford to take advantage of it.

  • Ben

    The resistance to public transportation (and the unreliability of what we do have). I look at envy at the transportation offered in other world class cities and just wish DC had a reliable and thorough rail network (e.g., metro, tram, and light rail commuter).

    • LittleBluePenguin

      a-freaking-men!

  • bruno

    Easy: Stop asking citizens to come for jury duty sooooo often. Constantly disrupts plans, such as plans for vacation, or taking classes, or changing jobs. Much more of a pain than perhaps authorities see, especially as the summons comes a month before you are supposed to show up and you are left, once every two years, having to accommodate it, and not knowing if you will be in a long trial or what. (ALso, some people I know never get called….. can we make it more equitable, since equality is the meme of the time? Thanks).

    • AdMoKalTri

      The reason you get called so often is because there is a huge need for jurors and a small pool to pull from. When you factor in that felons can’t serve, it makes the pool even smaller.

      • bruno

        AdMoKalTri, dear, I know “why.” Dan’s request was, What stinks about DC? Being hauled to the courthouse regularly gets my vote. (In what other place does this happen with such regularity?) That being said, I do know DC denizens who are never called.

    • AdMoKalTri

      Also – I’m pretty sure you can defer jury duty if you have unchangeable plans. And when you’re being considered for a jury, they will tell you how long they expect the trial to go and will ask if there is anything in your life that would make you unable to serve for that amount of time…

      • bruno

        I know — I have been there fifteen times….. but I just don’t like it……..

    • dcd

      I don’t know that you can characterize every 2 years as “sooo often.”

      • bruno

        Combine it with the federal court summonses, and sometimes it’s once a year…. always in a heat wave, in my case. Look, if you don’t like my gripe, focus on your own :^) I hate copious jury duty. Phooey.

  • Robert

    Racial tension. Violence.

  • anon

    Traffic, and the huge number of terrible drivers who make the traffic even worse. Put your fucking phone down and drive the car. And learn the rules of the road and actually understand rights of way. The shit I see here just amazes me. And because DC has no dedicated traffic police division, people just don’t give a shit about speed limits, turn only lanes, no left turn intersections, or anything else. It’s all about them and how they can get around the traffic, regardless of how it affects everyone else.

  • Blithe

    Re: Trump — My thought — and my hope — is that Trump will not serve out his full term, but at some point, possibly under threat of impeachment, will resign for health reasons.

    • navyard

      I was hoping he would just get bored of it and decide to go back to his old life that “wasn’t this hard”.

      • textdoc

        I’m still hoping he’ll get bored of it. Or resign under pressure but claim boredom. Or claim that he “wants to spend more time with his family.” I don’t really care how he tries to save face; I just want him out before he can (for example) provoke a North Korean missile attack.

  • navyard

    1. Find a way to charge VA and MD commuters for the use of DC infrastructure that is proportioned according to their use. (possibly bridge tolls or city income tax)
    2. Replace the director of DCRA and fix that entire department. Jim Comey is available.
    3. Coordinate road rules and driver’s licenses across the metro area. VA laws allow left on red on one-way streets, where DC does not (for good reason with all the pedestrians). MD drivers are just…enough said. All drivers should have to re-take written tests every 4-5 years. I still don’t know how to drive through a HAWK crossing. And no one seems to know not to stop or park in a bike lane.
    4. Require Uber and Lyft drivers to be licensed in DC. They do not know the road rules here, much less the roads themselves!

    • Blithe

      I admit that I haven’t thought this through, but part of my distaste for your first point grows out of my sense of how the city has developed and changed. Some of us spent decades contributing tax dollars and in other ways to build the infrastructure. So now that we can no longer afford to live in the city that we helped to build, we get charged for working and shopping where we can no longer live?
      — I really appreciate your other points, particularly #3 — it would make life a whole lot safer and a whole lot easier for all of us.

      • navyard

        Well, don’t worry because it (#1) will never happen with congressional oversight and no DC representation. I admit that my attitude on this changed only after I moved into the district myself. Would not have appreciated it when I lived in VA.

        Funny that of everything I could have hoped to change about DC, most of mine centers around road rules and driving. My commute is about 5 miles and very low-stress, but you wouldn’t know it from my attitude!

        Have a great weekend everybody!

  • Anon

    People are not friendly in DC, and they dont have any time outside of work. Im sorry but whats the point if you cant even enjoy life… which is why overall I feel people dont stay in DC, and move to way better cities like Austin, various cities in California…
    People are more laid back, friendlier, relaxed in other cities.
    This city is all about politics- cant even go to a party to relax, people think they shine when speaking about politics 24/7… no you dont.

    • Bobert

      I hear this quite a bit, but I don’t personally experience this myself. I’m friends with quite a few people with high-profile political jobs (fancy, huh). Politics rarely rear their head at parties – said friends want to get away from their jobs/obligations precisely so that they can relax themselves.

      • skaballet

        Agreed. I’ve had the exact same experience.

      • anon

        Yep. I work on the Hill and often tell people I don’t want to talk about work when I’m away from work. Nothing like some guy who wants to start debating politics on the first hole of a round of golf.

    • Rachael

      This is an extreme generalization. I was born, raised and still live in DC and I am a friendly person who has time outside of work and I like to enjoy life. Maybe all the transplants that are coming from Austin and various cities in California are the ones that are not laid back, friendly, or relaxed…..

      • navyard

        +1
        When I worked in NY and lived in NJ I realized that the stereotype of “rude New Yorkers” was completely untrue. It was the NJ commuters!

    • Blithe

      I definitely disagree with this generalization. Maybe you should look at the subset of people in DC that you’re trying to engage with. Tip: If you’re only encountering people who moved here from other places for work reasons, who regard their stays here as being temporary, you might want to widen your array of social connections. (Note: Fourth generation to live here, with very laid back, relaxed, friendly plans for the weekend — including some with a family that I’ve known my whole life. We’ll probably be talking about HS reunion plans…..) I don’t mean to rip into you, but if your opening conversational gambits are about other “way better cities” that’s possibly not going to be a lead into friendly, laid back, relaxed, enjoyable conversations or/and relationships.

  • eb

    First I dont believe Donald will resign no matter what. Even if the rest of the GOP is going down in flames, hes never been a “good for the party” type of person. His rump supporters will support him and that will be enough. Second, lets assume for a minute the Dems win control in 2018 and proceed with impeachment, I dont see 18-19 GOP votes in the senate to get to 67 votes to remove him from office so he will remain.

  • I Dont Get It

    It would be nice if I could find someone to date. Not sure that that is DC’s fault though.

  • bruno

    Also, Washington could stand with being a little less serious — a little more humorous . So hard to crack jokes in DC and strike up conversations with people. Visitors often tell me it’s the first thing they notice about DC — how serious everyone is. But, I do love it :^)

  • Vicki A Lancaster

    TRUMP – get the hell out

  • U st resident

    Crime, please do something about crime. I removed myself from the MPD crime alerts at this point

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