CNU blogs

2014 Program Highlights Video

1,000 Friends of Wisconsin - 4 hours 38 min ago

Take a quick look at our video to see how we are helping communities around Wisconsin grow in smarter, healthier, and more environmentally friendly ways.

The post 2014 Program Highlights Video appeared first on 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Categories: CNU blogs

How to Decide if Planning is for You

Planetizen blogs - 5 hours 56 min ago
At this time of year, many prospective graduate students are asking themselves if they should apply to planning programs. This is a good question. Planning is a diverse field and it can be hard to figure out if it will be the right fit.
Categories: CNU blogs

Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 30

Greater Greater Washington - 6 hours 11 min ago
by Matt Johnson

On Monday, we posted our thirtieth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took five photos in the Metro system. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

This week we got 21 guesses. Only one got all five correct. Great work, Peter K!

Image 1: Rhode Island Avenue

The first image shows the view looking south from the platform at Rhode Island Avenue. The height and clear view of the Capitol dome is distinctive of this station. Another clue are the construction cranes in NoMa at far right. Eighteen of you knew this one.

Image 2: Foggy Bottom

The second image shows an escalator at Foggy Bottom. This particular viewpoint is unique because this is the only island platform underground station in the system that has a solitary escalator, instead of a pair of escalators or an escalator next to a staircase. Pentagon and Rosslyn both have single escalators, but theirs are against walls on one side since those stations have tracks on two levels. Eight got this one correct.

Update: To clarify, Foggy Bottom has the only solitary escalator that comes down through a hole in the mezzanine. Other stations have single escalators from the end of a mezzanine. I was trying to say that in as few words as possible, and I realize I left out and important detail.

Image 3

The third picture was taken at Minnesota Avenue. This picture should have been easy to narrow down to two stations, since the CSX Landover Subdivision is off to the left. These tracks used to be electrified since the Pennsylvania Railroad ran electric freight trains. But the catenary wires have been removed. And while Deanwood is in a similar setting, north of Deanwood, the tracks curve off to the right, unlike in the straightaway pictured here. Eight of you knew this one.

Image 4

The fourth image depicts the western entrance at Cleveland Park. The distinctive Metro canopy visible at top narrows this to a street escalator entrance. The two signs also helped to narrow it. The "Downtown" sign means that we're at a station north of the central business district, and the "Zoo" sign should help you narrow it down to one of the Connecticut Avenue stations north of the Zoo. Fifteen of you guessed correctly.

Image 5

The final image shows Van Dorn Street, from a train on the adjacent CSX/VRE tracks. The clues here were the Gull I canopy and the Convanta trash incinerator visible just to the left of the elevator. Additionally, if you look closely, you can make out three words on the platform pylon at the left edge of the frame. And as one commenter noted, one of the pylons has both BL and YL Rush icons. Only two of you got this one.

Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next Tuesday.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Categories: CNU blogs

What does home mean to children in South Boston’s Old Colony public housing?

HUD blog - 7 hours 13 min ago

How do you define home? Recently, we asked the children of South Boston’s Old Colony public housing community to share with us what home means to them.  These children have seen a dramatic transformation take place in their community with new homes replacing the original 73-year-old housing through two phases of redevelopment.

In 2011, HUD awarded a $22 million HOPE VI grant to help finance Phase II of the redevelopment. The transformation of Old Colony has been a collaborative effort with local, state and federal agencies working together to deliver better opportunities for families to succeed. Old Colony is now better connected to the surrounding neighborhood and has a brand new 10,000 square foot Learning Center. The learning center allows the Boston Housing Authority to provide robust community and support services programs that focus on education from early childhood through adulthood; and new homes that are among the “greenest” residential affordable housing in Massachusetts.

There’s reason for hope at Old Colony and it resonates in the children’s messages of what home means to them.  A special thanks to the children and staff at the Joseph M. Tierney Learning Center.

Elizabeth Montaquila is a Public Affairs Assistant in HUD’s Boston Regional Office.

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Just for a day, Silver Spring gets a Purple Line

Greater Greater Washington - 8 hours 12 min ago
by Ronit Dancis

Purple Line supporters know what this time of year means: it's parade season!

Photo by Kathy Jentz.

For the second year in a row, the Action Committee for Transit dressed up as a light-rail train and walked in Montgomery County's Thanksgiving Parade in Silver Spring.

ACT members and supporters, including members of the Montgomery County Young Democrats and Transit Alternatives to Mid County Highway, marched in the 17th annual parade, blowing whistles and handing out stickers and purple Hershey's kisses.

Photo by the author.

This year, ACT members added to Barbara Ditzler's hand-made six-person train costume with a walking list of each of the Purple Line's 21 proposed stations. Miriam Schoenbaum, of Boyds, made the addition.

Photo by the author.

Young superheroes, clad in purple capes and with "P" emblazoned on their chests, carried the ACT banner and accompanied both Ditzier's train and Schoenbaum's line of stations.

For next year, Ditzler is considering retiring the current costume, which is made out of plastic, and replacing it with one constructed of fabric.

If you'd like to march with ACT, it's not too early to sign up for the 2015 parade and to start working on even more costumes!

Photo by Kathy Jentz.


Categories: CNU blogs

Breakfast links: A pleasant rebirth

Greater Greater Washington - 9 hours 48 min ago
by David Koch

Photo by Daquella manera on Flickr.Apartments rise from the ashes: The former Deauville Apartments in Mount Pleasant have reopened as the Monsenor Romero Apartments, six years after the building was destroyed by fire. Most of the residents will be former Deauville occupants. (City Paper)

Buses get priority: DDOT plans to install transit signal priority equipment around DC, including 16th Street. The technology will allow longer green lights or shorter red lights for Metrobuses when traffic conditions are right. (WBJ)

Reeves off the table: The Reeves Center is now no longer part of the DC United stadium deal. Some on the council felt they could get more on the open market, while Mayor Gray warned the move will delay the project and cost DC more. (WAMU)

Transportation bills stall: The DC Council decided to table both the contributory negligence bill and legislation that would increase the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis until next year. (WAMU)

Amtrak on the move: A new Amtrak tunnel in Baltimore could also bring improvements to the West Baltimore MARC station. Amtrak has continued to see ridership increases, leading to its smallest operating deficit in 40 years. (Baltimore Brew, WSJ)

Georgetown gondola closer to reality?: The Georgetown BID has nearly raised enough money for a feasibility study of a gondola line to Rosslyn. So far, the money has come from private sources. (UrbanTurf)

Pay more, get less: Virginia's gas tax will rise next year, but state transit funding will decrease. Virginia had planned on federal revenue that failed to pass Congress. Though Virginia's gas taxes will remain among the lowest in the nation. (WAMU)

Frack away?: Governor O'Malley plans to allow fracking in western Maryland under strict environmental regulations. Governor-elect Hogan favors fracking, but criticized O'Malley's closing actions as governor. (Post)

Marion Barry, city-builder: DC developers remember Marion Barry as a mayor who got projects built, including Gallery Place. They credit his skill at negotiating and making deals. (WBJ)

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7 tips to be more green this holiday season

Denver Real Estate - Tue, 2014-11-25 16:54
The holidays are a time of giving but unfortunately, also a time of excess waste. When you think about how your trash can might look after Christmas morning, and consider that all your neighbors looks the same, trying to be more green during the holidays sounds more and more appealing. Here are some quick and easy tips for being more green this holiday season. nbsp; 1. Shop Local. Less driving, more money back into your community and much less packaging from local stores than big box stores. nbsp; 2. LED Lights. LED Christmas lights are 90 more efficient than the traditional lights and last twice as long nbsp; 3. Real Christmas Tree. Studies have shown real trees are more environmentally friendly that fake ones. nbsp; 4. Recycled and recyclable wrapping paper. nbsp; 5. Send eCards or recycled paper cards. Each year, 300,000 trees will be cut down to make holiday cardsnbsp; nbsp; 6. Recycle your Christmas Tree at the end of the year. nbsp; 7. Use reusable bags for all shopping, not just for groceries.nbsp;
Categories: CNU blogs

How Commuter Benefits Can Shift the Bay Area to a More Sustainable Future

By Erin McAuliffNovember 25, 2014

Image courtesy of Sergio Ruiz.

More than half of commuters in the Bay Area drive alone to work every day, clogging the roads between major destinations like San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Similar to most regions, transportation in the Bay Area is the largest source of pollution and the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. But some real progress is being made, as local entities address this issue and the region shifts toward more sustainable commutes. The number of commuters driving to work alone in the Bay Area has decreased to 50 percent, from almost 70 percent a decade ago.

The new Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program, which launched in September, is a significant step toward decreasing regional drive-alone trips. It requires all Bay Area employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide transportation benefits to their employees. The program is based on the premise that giving employees a financial incentive to commute via public transit, biking, walking or vanpooling will reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles on the road and improve regional air pollution and traffic congestion.

The nine-county program, the largest of its kind in the country, is based on successful ordinances in San Francisco, Richmond, Berkeley and at San Francisco International Airport. In San Francisco alone, the local commuter benefits ordinance has helped reduce carbon emissions by as much as 286,547 metric tons annually. The regional program will multiply this impact throughout nine counties, requiring all 9,600 Bay Area employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide one of four transportation benefit options:

We All Benefit From Commuter Benefits

It is not just commuters who benefit from the new program; transportation options result in widespread gains for:

Employers attracting talent. Employer-provided transportation services have become an attractive workplace incentive for many Bay Area residents working in the South Bay. Peninsula employers like Google and Genentech provide employee transportation services like private commuter shuttles not only to ease commutes but also to attract strong candidates.

Employers and working families looking for savings Through the pre-tax benefit option, employers experience payroll tax savings and employees receive savings and a perceived “salary increase” by using pre-tax income to pay for their commute.

Major cities dealing with the daily rush hour. The daily influx of regional commuters can be a financial boon to a major city, but accommodating the rush hour traffic generated by daytime employees can also be both a logistical and financial headache, especially when it comes to parking. The solution, many cities believe, is providing commuters with more and better travel choices. New York City and Washington, D.C. are joining the Bay Area in instituting commuter benefit legislation.

Transit agencies seeking revenue and ridership. Employees participating in transit benefits programs make up a substantial portion of total transit ridership for many transit agencies and, in some cases, commuter tax breaks have been associated with surges in transit pass sales. Initial analysis indicates that the Bay Area’s program will increase transit ridership by 7 percent among employees at worksites covered by the ordinance in 2015. Ridership may also increase at off-peak hours because riders with monthly passes have a cost-effective incentive to use public transit for activities like shopping, running errands and visiting friends and family.

Local and regional entities in need of strong legislation to address air pollution. The Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program was mandated by California Senate Bill 1339, signed into law by Governor Brown in September 2012, and unanimously approved by the Air Quality District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Making Sure the Program Suceeds

Years of experience across the U.S. have taught us what it will take for a program like this to work. Here’s what we need to do:

1. Pass the federal Commuter Parity Act. While the commuter benefit program offers exciting opportunities for everything from bike lockers to telecommute programs, most employers are expected to administer Option 1: the pre-tax benefit. The value of this benefit is dependent on Congress’ willingness to reauthorize the amount at its current rate, to not decrease it any further (on January 1, 2014, Congress reduced the commuter tax benefit rate to $130 per month from $245 per month while the parking tax break increased to $250), and to create parity between transportation modes. The Commuter Parity Act, currently pending in Congress, would create permanent parity between transit and parking, increase the commuter bicycle benefit to $35 per month, and permit the bicycle portion to be used for bike sharing. If we do not achieve commuter benefit parity in the near future, advocates may start encouraging the federal government to subsidize transit directly, without involving taxes.

2. Continue to help employers be a part of the solution. Research shows that employees are much more likely to consider their alternative options when encouraged by an employer. Transportation demand management (TDM) agencies, like San Mateo’s, help employers build employee commute programs, connect employees with existing resources and prove especially valuable in encouraging and providing first-mile and last-mile connections to jobs. For TDM strategies to work, interagency cooperation is required. Under the umbrella of SF TDM, a pilot partnership project, the San Francisco County Transit Authority, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, SF Environment and the San Francisco Planning Department have begun collaborating with each other, as well as private sector organizations, to shape and oversee projects and policies important to employers. Pilot initiatives include the private employer shuttle partnership program, employer parking management and the Commute by Bike pilot program.

3. Allow for innovation on the part of the private sector. Mandated commuter benefit programs open up space for private transportation providers and related businesses to flourish. This includes companies like TransitChek, which helps employers administer commuter benefit programs; Enterprise Rideshare, the rental car company’s foray into vanpooling; SliceRides, an app and social network that facilitates trusted peer-to-peer rides between professionals on their way to work; and TransitScreen or RideScout, providers of real-time transportation information useful to commuters. Enhanced commuter benefits programs are another opportunity for government entities to collaborate with the private sector by creating innovative tools like CarFreeAtoZ, a multi-modal trip planning and comparison tool in Arlington County, Virginia.

4. Continue to make transit great. Sixteen percent of Bay Area commuters use public transit, 14 percent commute by carpool and 5 percent bike. These numbers would increase with appropriate investments that boost transit capacity where there is high demand, create local transit networks with feeder connections to regional rail and develop sustainable land use patterns that make it easier to walk and bike to work or to transit. These investments are especially critical in suburban areas where transit isn’t viable today When commuters perceive that it’s difficult or costly to ride transit, free parking at worksites may outweigh any transit benefit.

A Virtuous Cycle

By involving employers, the Bay Area’s commuter benefit ordinance thinks outside of the car to improve and provide more sustainable choices for hassle-free trips. It is not an overnight solution to regional traffic or commuter woes. But it builds upon other promising transportation demand management efforts and feeds a virtuous cycle: more demand for sustainable transportation will lead to us finding more ways to make those modes work. 


Categories: CNU blogs

Congress gives itself more free parking than its own rules allow

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-11-25 13:15
by Will Handsfield

As TransitCenter and the Frontier Group reported last week, the federal government pays a huge $7.3 billion subsidy to people who drive to work by making commuter parking expenses tax exempt. There are countless reasons for Congress to scrap this poorly-conceived, congestion-inducing subsidy. While policymakers consider the big picture, they also ought to examine how their own parking benefits are administered.

How much are these free parking spots worth? More than the $250 per month in tax-free parking benefits that Congress allows. Photo by JMT.

Here's the short version: Congress is breaking its own law, and it's shorting the Treasury hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, by providing free parking far in excess of the allowable limits.

USC 26 Section 132f of the tax code allows employers to provide each worker with up to $250 in free parking per month tax-free, which can add up to $3,000 in tax-free perks per employee each year. That's a pretty big amount to pay people for exacerbating congestion, but the parking at the U.S. Capitol is worth significantly more than that.

It's hard to know exactly how many free parking spaces we're talking about. The Architect of the Capitol and relevant committees don't like to talk about it, but Lydia DePillis reported in the Washington City Paper a few years ago that a plan for the southern part of the Capitol complex completed in 2005 shows that the House office buildings alone have 5,772 parking spaces assigned to them.

To figure out the market value of those spots, it would help to be able to check the rates at adjacent private lots. The problem is: There are no adjacent private lots.

According to SpotHero, there are no available monthly parking spots within a mile of the Capitol. The closest one—about a 20 minute walk to either the House side or the Senate side—costs $270.

SpotHero shows how far a Senate employee would have to walk—and how much she'd have to pay—for a monthly parking spot near the Capitol. Image by SpotHero.

There are some cheaper options a little farther away, but the cost of parking more than a mile from the destination is almost inconsequential. Given the extreme scarcity of parking near the Capitol, which employs and attracts tens of thousands of people daily, you can bet that on-site parking is worth significantly more than faraway options. Moreover, if so many employees didn't get free parking on the Capitol grounds, how would that affect demand, and therefore parking rates, at surrounding lots?

According to the law, if an employee is provided with free parking in excess of the allowable limit, the difference should be reported as taxable income, and the employer would have to pay all the normal employment taxes (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.) on that portion.

IRS staff affirm that the value of any fringe benefit is based on the market. Congress can't just say the parking is worth $250 and call it a day. They have to acknowledge that the benefit they are providing to staff and members is worth the market price. In the case of a reserved parking space directly on the Capitol grounds, it is likely worth much more than the $270 per month established by the adjacent market for parking.

Streets, lots, and garages reserved for US Capitol personnel parking. Image by Streetsblog.

With this understanding, every staffer and member of Congress receiving free parking is not paying tax on at least $240 in annual compensation—and that is a minimum estimate. Having seen staffers' pay stubs, I can verify that they are not paying the full value of the parking provided. The failure to report and tax this additional income easily costs the Treasury hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The scandalous part is that this is a rule that Congress directly controls. If lawmakers wanted to have an even higher limit for free parking, they could debate it and pass an increase. But rather than address the issue, members of Congress simply break their own law.

The Ellipse, just south of the White House, is dedicated to free parking for federal employees. Image by SpotHero.

And it's not just Congress, of course. Most likely, many other federal, state, local, and private entities are guilty of non-compliance with the $250 limit on free, untaxed parking. In DC alone, there are huge swaths of land, like the Ellipse south of the White House, which serve only as free parking for federal employees. To my knowledge, no one is keeping track of the value of those spaces, or if employees with this benefit should be reporting additional income when it exceeds the limit.

If Congress would keep its own house in order in terms of reporting its taxable parking benefits, it could spark a larger conversation around whether this is a reasonable benefit to have in the first place. So long as the gravy train keeps rolling, and everyone both expects and receives free parking on Capitol Hill, we're missing an opportunity for meaningful reform of a tax subsidy that undermines the effectiveness of our national transportation policy.

This post originally appeared on Streetsblog


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Why Did Berkeley Pass a Soda Tax and Not San Francisco?

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program ManagerNovember 25, 2014

Photo by Eli Zigas

The Bay Area made history this November when — for the first time ever — the majority of voters in two American cities supported taxing sugar-sweetened beverages. In Berkeley, an overwhelming 76 percent of voters approved a penny-per-ounce sugary beverage tax, which will go into effect on January 1, 2015. In San Francisco, 56 percent of voters supported a two-cents-per-ounce tax. However, San Francisco’s proposal  required a two-thirds majority to become law, which means the measure lost.

The results raise the question: Why did Berkeley’s measure do so much better than San Francisco’s? It's difficult to gauge which ones were the most influential, but a number of factors were at play:

Dedicating the tax revenue to specific programs

One of the biggest differences between the two proposals was that San Francisco’s dedicated the tax revenue to specific uses included funding recreation programs, physical education in schools and improving food access. Though this provision put in place the 66 percent threshold required for the measure to pass, San Francisco’s advocates believed that it gave their proposal a higher chance of success. Coming off the 2012 rejection of soda taxes in Richmond and El Monte, California, advocates believed that part of voter opposition stemmed from a general distrust of taxes whose revenue would go straight into the municipal general fund. By designing the San Francisco measure to fund specific programs that promoted health — and directing spending to communities most affected by diet-related disease — the belief was that the measure would have more support. In Berkeley, how the revenue was dedicated doesn’t appear to have been an issue. But, in San Francisco, there’s no way to say whether the measure would have gotten more or less votes if the money was not earmarked for specific programs.

One cent or two cent tax

San Francisco’s measure would have increased the price of beverages twice as much as Berkeley’s by charging two cents per ounce, instead of one. Researchers estimate that by increasing the price more, consumption will decline more steeply — resulting in a greater public health benefit. The higher tax would also generate more revenue. Neither of the opposition campaigns in Berkeley or San Francisco focused much of their messaging on the amount of the tax. Instead, the opposition campaigns focused more on the idea of the tax generally, and it did not appear that the level of the tax played a large role in the debate around either measure.

Campaign funding

The American Beverage Association — funded mainly by the soda industry — outspent the proposals’ supporters by wide margins. In Berkeley, a city with 77,000 registered voters, the association spent $2.4 million, according to Berkeleyside. That works out to $31 per registered voter. In contrast, supporters of Berkeley’s tax, with major backing from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent nearly $900,000 on the campaign or $12 per registered voter.

The difference in San Francisco, with its 436,000 registered voters, was even starker. The American Beverage Association, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, poured $9.1 million into the “no” campaign (nearly $21 per registered voter) while supporters raised a total of just $255,000 ($1.70 for every registered voter). 

In other words, the Berkeley supporters were outspent by roughly 2 to 1, while San Francisco supporters faced a a 10-to-1 spending difference. The fact that soda tax advocates in Berkeley won, despite being significantly outspent, demonstrates that money was not the only factor in these races. But, the Berkeley advocates’ more substantial funding allowed them to run advertisements and a campaign that countered the opposition messages at a scale that San Francisco’s campaign could not.  Opposition money may not have been the sole reason San Francisco’s proposal failed, but if proponents had the same level of funding as their counterparts in Berkeley, it could have been a key factor in changing the outcome.


Others blame the execution of the “yes” campaign itself, or the lack of unified political support in San Francisco, as main factors for why the SF measure didn’t pass. As with the other variables listed above, it’s difficult to find data to tease out how important those factors were in deciding the race.

What is clear, however, is that the idea of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages has achieved majority status, despite well-funded opposition. Berkeley and San Francisco voters are not representative of all American voters, but numerous policy ideas that are first tried in the Bay Area — from mandatory paid sick days, plastic-bag bans and requiring restaurants to have a non-smoking section — eventually gain wider adoption. The wall of opposition to taxing sugar-sweetened beverages has been breached, and the election results have only increased the energy of advocates who support of the idea.

Directing that energy in the most strategic way will require dissecting the results of Berkeley and San Francisco’s votes, as well earlier votes in Richmond, Telluride and many state legislatures. For instance, the map below shows the percent of yes votes by precinct in San Francisco and raises numerous questions about the reasons behind that pattern. SPUR will be hosting a public forum in 2015 to discuss what the next steps are for sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. Check our events calendar in mid-December for details on that event.


Support for the Proposition E soda tax was largely concentrated in certain geographic areas of San Francisco. This voter data was obtained from the San Francisco Elections Office on November 11, very near the final count of votes. For a set of similar maps for all the propositions, see an article in The Usual Suspects by David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics. Map by SPUR intern Nikki Diaz.

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ART keeps graduating to bigger and bigger buses

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-11-25 11:36
by Dan Malouff

After years of using exclusively smaller buses, Arlington Transit is now operating its first full-length 40-foot vehicles.

40-foot ART bus. Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.

When Arlington launched its first ART bus routes in 1999, it used tiny jitneys that looked more like vans than real buses. Since then, as ART has gotten more and more popular, the agency has graduated to larger and larger vehicles.

In 2007, ART added its first "heavy duty" vehicles - buses that look like buses, not vans. Those were rare at first, but are now a common sight throughout Arlington.

These new 40-footers are the next natural step up. Three of these big new buses now ply Route 41, and you may see them on other routes too.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.


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Montgomery throws more money at unneeded parking

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-11-25 09:15
by Ben Ross

Montgomery County is about to spend tens of millions of dollars on a 395-space parking garage in Wheaton, even though more than 500 parking spaces sit empty in a Metro garage a block away.
Bethesda's $80,000-per-space garage under construction. Photo by author.

The new garage would sit northwest of the Metro station, beneath a mixed-use development that will house several county agencies along with retail stores and 200 apartments. The county will own the garage and office building, while the apartments will belong to the developers, StonebridgeCarras and Bozzuto.

County Executive Ike Leggett announced the complex financing arrangement for this multi-phase project last month. The developers will build a 12-story office building, the garage, and a public plaza for the county.

In exchange, they'll get $102 million in cash as well the land in Silver Spring where the Planning Board currently sits and the rights to use county property in Wheaton for the 200 apartments. They'll build 360 apartments on the Silver Spring parcel, and in both locations, they must include more affordable dwellings than ordinarily required.

When I asked, a spokesperson for the county transportation department did not provide a dollar value for the Silver Spring land or Wheaton building rights. The county spokesperson also would not break out the cost of the garage, but at a typical underground parking cost of $50,000 or more per space, it's likely that Montgomery County is spending at least $20 million on the garage.

The garage will have 383 public parking spaces plus 12 reserved spaces for Planning Board higher-ups. The county has not estimated revenue from the garage, as decisions about hourly rates and the number of long- and short-term parking spaces have yet to be made.

Unused parking spaces are nearby

Meanwhile, a Metro parking garage with more than 500 empty spaces sits close by. In fact, the 977-car Wheaton garage is actually closer to the development site than it is to the Metro station. Under a court order issued when the transit agency condemned land for the garage, it is open to non-Metro riders as well as riders.

This is hardly the first time the Montgomery County Department of Transportation has shown a ravenous appetite for expensive parking garages. Two years ago, in Silver Spring, the county opened a 152-space underground garage around the corner from a public garage that's mostly empty. In downtown Bethesda, where the existing parking is only 72% occupied, the county paid more than $80,000 per parking space for a soon-to-open 900-space garage. And at the White Flint conference center, the county plans to spend $21 million for a garage it will hand over to a private operator who charges $15 a day.

Opaque finances and money wasted on unneeded parking are a blot on projects that do a lot of good for Montgomery County's urbanizing downtowns. With the county suddenly short of money, now is not the time to repeat in Wheaton the expensive mistakes made in Bethesda and Silver Spring.


Categories: CNU blogs

Our 8th Annual Coat Drive - Help Us Keep Denver Warm

Denver Real Estate - Tue, 2014-11-25 08:47
Were collecting gently used winter wear, including coats, gloves, hats and scarves. Please drop off your unwanted garments at our office, located in northwest Denvers Highland neighborhood, at 3627 West 32nd Avenue. Were open Monday through Sunday from 9am to 6pm. All of the collected clothes will be donated to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; nbsp;
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Breakfast links: Ward 8 changes

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-11-25 07:59
by Kelli Raboy

Photo by Alyson Hurt on Flickr.Too affordable?: Many newly renovated Ward 8 condos are seeing plummeting prices on the market while home values continue to rise across the river. Is it a lack of quality neighborhood stores, or is it something else? (CHOTR)

Changing of the guard: With the loss of Marion Barry, five of the DC Council's 13 seats will change hands this year. People are already positioning themselves for the Ward 8 seat. A special election will take place early next year. (Post)

Stadium stutter: The DC Council will move forward with soccer stadium legislation today without the Reeves Center swap. Negotiations will now likely require the use of eminent domain for the parcel owned by Akridge. (Post)

With friends like these: Who were the real opponents of the Columbia Pike streetcar project? It was not just fiscally conservative Republicans. Salon explores the anti-streetcar arguments from Arlington transit advocates. (Salon, Ashley R)

Teaching with technology: Some DC schools have seen success with blended learning, which combines part-time online learning with teacher instruction. But the approach is not proven and one school has had high teacher turnover. (Post)

Too Much Parking: If a parking lot isn't full on Black Friday, it never will be. If you see an empty parking space on Black Friday, take a photo and post it to twitter with hashtag #blackfridayparking. (Strong Towns)

Better bikeshare: Bikeshare has better ridership in high density networks with good connections to on-street bicycle infrastructure, rather than to big attractions. Capital Bikeshare lags behind other cities in density. (Streetsblog)

And...: These are all the planned sites for the 2024 Olympic bid. (Post) ... A personal-car rental startup is coming to DC. (WBJ) ... Dulles is one of the most frustrating airports according to one measure. (WBJ)

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60 Minutes takes on failing infrastructure

Empire State Future - Mon, 2014-11-24 17:23
The issue of failing infrastructure–and how to fund the fixes so badly needed–was the lead story on the Sunday, November 23 edition of 60 Minutes on CBS.  If those watching football prior to the show stayed in front of their TVs for just another 15 minutes, they would have received a needed wake up call […]
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Color of the Year for 2015…Coral Reef What do you think?

Denver Real Estate - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:36
Its that time of year again, and nohellip;were not talking about the holidays. nbsp;Its time for all of the major players in the world of decor, fashion and design to tell us what colors are expected to trend as the hottest in 2015. So far, they are sort of all over the boardhellip;.but we are loving Sherwin Williams pick: Coral Reef. Even though this might not be the most obvious of choices, were spotting it from the red carpet to the runwayshellip;and now its popping up in fun, playful, and tasteful ways in home decorhellip;.check out some of these examples from our Pinterest board: nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; Check out the rest of our Pinterest board here and let us know if you love or hate the idea of using Coral Reef in your homenbsp; Follow Live Urban Real Estates board 2015 Color of the Year - Sherwin Williams on Pinterest. **All photos curated from Pinterest, please click through on our Pinterest board for original sources.
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2014 Silver SPUR Awards: How Leslie Tang Schilling Champions Small Business

November 24, 2014

The 2014 Silver SPUR Awards, held on November 18, recognized five individuals whose achievements have made San Francisco and the Bay Area a better place to live and work. 

Leslie Tang Schilling spent her first 20 years in Hong Kong, where her family saw its fortune torn down and rebuilt three times over before immigrating to the United States. A graduate of UC Berkeley and the Thunderbird School of Global Management, she is living testament to the strength and talent of California’s immigrant community.  Leslie is a co-founder of the successful Union Square Investment Company with her husband, Alexander H. Schilling. She has been active in many civic and advisory groups that aid small business owners and woman- and Asian-owned businesses, most notably the Asian Business League of San Francisco, the San Francisco Economic Development Corp. and the State of California Small Business Advisory Board. She also served eight years on the Board of Regents of the University of California.


Learn about our other 2014 Silver SPUR honorees:

2014 Silver SPUR: How Clothilde Hewlett Inspires Civic Leadership >>

2014 Silver SPUR: How Ron and Barbara Kaufman Advocate for San Francisco >>

2014 Silver SPUR: How Michael Painter Re-Envisions Urban Design >>

Categories: CNU blogs

2014 Silver SPUR: How Clothilde Hewlett Inspires Civic Leadership

November 24, 2014

The 2014 Silver SPUR Awards, held on November 18, recognized five individuals whose achievements have made San Francisco and the Bay Area a better place to live and work. 

Clothilde Hewlett is an attorney who has achieved an incredible breadth of accomplishments during a career that has spanned statewide policy roles in government, law enforcement and criminal justice. Now, as a public policy attorney with Nossaman LLP, she facilitates public-private partnerships in transportation, infrastructure, clean technology and real estate. Her lifetime of experience with local and statewide policy issues, as both a civil servant and deeply engaged citizen, makes this work possible. Humble beginnings have inspired Cloey to give back as an advocate for philanthropic commitment to women and children in poverty. She currently serves on the board of the San Francisco 49ers Foundation.



Learn about our other 2014 Silver SPUR honorees:

2014 Silver SPUR: How Ron and Barbara Kaufman Advocate for San Francisco >>

2014 Silver SPUR: How Michael Painter Re-Envisions Urban Design >>

2014 Silver SPUR Awards: How Leslie Tang Schilling Champions Small Business >>

Categories: CNU blogs

2014 Silver SPUR: How Michael Painter Re-Envisions Urban Design

November 24, 2014

The 2014 Silver SPUR Awards, held on November 18, recognized five individuals whose achievements have made San Francisco and the Bay Area a better place to live and work. 

Michael Painter is owner/president of MPA Design and has offered design development strategies and solutions for award-winning projects since 1969. As Doyle Drive becomes the Presidio Parkway, we are witnessing Michael’s compelling vision to replace the U.S. Army’s utilitarian drive with a road worthy and respectful of a national park. Over MPA Design’s 45-year history, his urban designs have won accolades from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Institute of Architects, UC Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture and the Lambda Alpha Honorary Land Economics Society. Michael earned his Bachelor of Arts in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley and his master’s in urban design from Harvard University. He serves on the SF Architectural Heritage Board and SPUR’s Advisory Council.​



Learn about our other 2014 Silver SPUR honorees:

2014 Silver SPUR: How Clothilde Hewlett Inspires Civic Leadership >>

2014 Silver SPUR: How Ron and Barbara Kaufman Advocate for San Francisco >>

2014 Silver SPUR Awards: How Leslie Tang Schilling Champions Small Business >>

Categories: CNU blogs

2014 Silver SPUR: How Ron and Barbara Kaufman Advocate for San Francisco

November 24, 2014

The 2014 Silver SPUR Awards, held on November 18, recognized five individuals whose achievements have made San Francisco and the Bay Area a better place to live and work. 

Ron Kaufman has been working for half a century to preserve the historic character of one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Through The Ron Kaufman Companies, he has helped create historic reuses for a majority of the Old North Waterfront area of San Francisco. He has been a vital force in the business and philanthropic community, serving on and often chairing numerous boards, including those of the California Pacific Medical Center, the Jewish Community Federation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, United Way and the UCSF/Mt. Zion Board. He has played a critical convenor role, wading through tricky political waters for many of the city’s biggest projects.

Barbara Kaufman hosted Call for Action, a top-rated consumer advocacy radio show on KCBS-AM. This high-profile role led her to win a citywide seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. During her tenure she served as a good government steward, culminating in the 1996 reform of San Francisco’s city charter. Barbara served on the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council, as chairwoman of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. In 2004, she was appointed director of the San Francisco Regional Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Barbara has also served as a leader in the Jewish community in San Francisco.



Learn about our other 2014 Silver SPUR honorees:

2014 Silver SPUR: How Clothilde Hewlett Inspires Civic Leadership >>

2014 Silver SPUR: How Michael Painter Re-Envisions Urban Design >>

2014 Silver SPUR Awards: How Leslie Tang Schilling Champions Small Business >>


Categories: CNU blogs
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