Sunday, October 7, 2012

Washington DC is Among the Top Ten “Best Cities”

Washington DC was named one of the top ten cities in Business Week’s ranking of 100 largest cities in America. The survey analyzed attributes such as leisure, educational facilities, economic factors, crime and air quality.

The District of Columbia’s been known for political dysfunction, but when it comes to leisure it has become the nation’s leader.”

Reference: Konrad, Alex, America's Best Cities, Business Week, October 2, 2012

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Promoting Public Safety through Design

The Metropolitan Police Department is embedding police commanders with developers to assure that future developments are designed with public safety, crowd control and traffic in mind. The massive development at Gallery Place has taught public safety officials that instead of reacting to safety issues after the projects have been built, they should influence the design process by having a seat at the table during the design process.

Police have long sought to promote public safety through design, encouraging such common-sense features as bright streetlights, discouraging secluded footpaths and laying out roads to make it difficult to circle a block.”

Reference: Hermann, Peter, District police embrace concept of preventing crime through design, The Washington Post, September 3, 2012

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

War on Cars

Cities and cars share a conflicted relationship these days. Environmental concerns, growing traffic congestion and an urban design philosophy that favors foot traffic are driving many cities to try to reduce the number of cars on the road.”

In Washington DC, several streets have traffic lanes for "buses" only, which is a source of tension for some drivers who may be stuck in traffic in adjacent lanes but are not allowed to use the BUS ONLY lanes. People are also not happy with an increasing use of automated enforcement, red light cameras and speed cameras to enforce the traffic laws. Finding a right balance between bikers, walkers, mass transit users, motorists and other modes of transportation is a difficult task.

Reference: Cater, Franklyn, Motorists To Urban Planners: Stay In Your Lane, NPR, July 18, 2012
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Federal Partnership for Renewable Energy Projects

The Defense and Interior Departments have formed a Renewable Energy Partnership to develop solar, wind biomass, geothermal and other energy projects on military installations in the Southwest. The US Army has already announced a procurement request worth $ 7 billion. The departments are trying to reduce their reliance on commercial power grid, lower utility costs and develop reliable local sources of power.

The departments will develop solar energy projects on federal land at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground and the adjacent Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, which together sprawl over 4,300 square miles of southwestern Arizona. Yuma is the sunniest city in the world and averages more than 4,000 hours of sunshine a year.”

Reference: Brewin, Bob, Army kicks off $7 billion renewable energy procurement,, August 7, 2012
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Amtrak’s Vision for the Historic Union Station

Amtrak announced a bold vision for transforming DC’s Union Station, to make it a key HUB for the Northeast Corridor High Speed Rail system. A $ 7 billion project would create multiple levels of tracks and triple the capacity without changing the historical architecture of the Union Station. The project’s developer is also pursuing a $1.3 billion development with 1.5 million SF of office space, 100,000 SF of retail, 1,300 residential units and 500 hotel rooms, which would be built adjacent to the station.

Amtrak plans to complete the $151 billion NE Corridor high speed rail project by 2040. It is not clear where the funding for $7 billion will come from. The amount represents 13 percent of Federal government’s entire surface transportation budget. “Congress has a renewed focus on spending cuts, and in January it is poised to allow $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending cuts over the next decade to start taking effect. It hasn't allocated any money to the project.”

Reference: Richman, Eli, $7 Billion Plan for D.C.'s Union Station Announced, Governing, July 26, 2012
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Embracing Immigrants for Economic Development of Cities

Baltimore is trying to reverse its population decline by embracing immigrants. These new Americans – mostly Hispanics and Asians, are responsible for job creation and economic vitality in many cities. While some critics argue that Baltimore’s policies are “aiding and abetting” illegal immigration, others see them as a way to integrate immigrants into the larger society.

And Baltimore is not alone. “The Global Detroit effort includes programs that help immigrants start small businesses, get driver’s licenses and learn English. As part of the Welcome Dayton Plan adopted last year, the Ohio city sponsors a soccer tournament for immigrant teams. Not to be outdone, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) says he wants his home town to be known as the most “immigrant-friendly city in the country.”

Reference: Morello, Carol and Luz Lazo, Baltimore puts out welcome mat for immigrants, hoping to stop population decline, The Washington Post, July 24, 2012

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DC is No Longer the Greenest Municipality

Washington DC has lost its bragging rights as the largest municipality to purchase power from green sources. With Philadelphia Phillies’ recent announcement to buy 100 percent of team’s power from green sources, Philadelphia has become the greenest city.

A municipality can join the program by meeting minimum purchase requirements for green power -- ranging from 3 percent to 20 percent depending on power usage. It then agrees to start a campaign to encourage businesses and residents to buy green power.”

Reference: Bauers, Sandy, Mayor Nutter Has No Doubt Philadelphia will Become Greenest City in America, The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 21, 2012
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