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Great cities and great metro areas are far more than the sum of their neighborhoods.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2004 MONTHLY UPDATES BACK TO 1997

December, 2004

o December's update attempts to build a case for DC to develop a better quantitative analytical foundation for its planning efforts. It outlines the scope of effort needed in the context of the full span of DC's planning function; describes several key areas of analysis; suggests how such an independent analytical group might be formed, and offers several topics deserving early focus.

o The new chapter is short on words, and provides representative bullet charts to help flesh out the scope of the job. The charts are by no means exhaustive. It concludes with links to a sampling of NARPAC analyses on this web site. They demonstrate the type of inputs and outputs that can be achieved.

November, 2004

o NARPAC extends its vision of a robust expansion program for Metrorail by describing the emerging 'Downtown South' which combines several ongoing development plans (including the new baseball stadium), but includes no additions to DC's already stretched public transit system. NARPAC suggests that a major 'downtown south bypass' could be developed at little extra capital investment cost.

o NARPAC updates its October analysis of WMATA's budget with new information on relative personnel costs, and a 15-year trend in (thoroughly inadequate) capital investment spending;

October, 2004

o For the first time, NARPAC turned its attention to rummaging through an approved WMATA budget (FY2004), which pays the freight for Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metro Access. The analysis opens with the most recent 5-year trends in growth in operations, and then points out the primary divisions of the operating budget, indicating the similarities in personnel costs, but significant differences in functional costs.

o Neither bus nor rail operations pay for themselves, and the imbalance (greater for buses) is covered by regionally-levied subsidies wherein the jurisdictions that use the systems the most, pay the largest subsidies.

o Bus and rail operations are substantially different from each other, but both provide significantly lower commuter costs than driving. Moreover, substantially higher parking costs could be levied and still remain competitive with other metro areas.

o The greatest area for concern, however, deals with the fast-disappearing capital investment funds. NARPAC presents its own crude estimates of how much more is needed to keep Metro running and expanding.

September, 2004

o NARPAC devoted its September update to a long critique of the recently released "DC Vision" document which is intended to provide the goals for the next major update of DC's 25- year Comprehensive Plan. We find its overwhelming emphasis on perfecting DC's 144 separate neighborhoods, at the total neglect of its functions as the world's foremost national capital city, to be starkly inappropriate.

o This new chapter begins by providing a Background and Outline of the contents and goes on to provide a written and tabular Summary of the Vision Document, including NARPAC's comments.

o This is followed by a summary and commentary on each of four (of the eight) "background reports" intended to inform the Vision: Transportation Strategies; Social Equity Strategies; Housing Strategies ,;and Economic Development Policies.

o These are followed by a listing of the major Comments from the DC Council which passed a "Sense of the Council" Resolution supporting the Vision (with changes); and finally; a one-page tabular summary of NARPAC's Alternate Outline, directed more towards DC's role as the national capital city and hub of the national capital metro area.

August, 2004

o NARPAC's focus in August was solely on the need to 'get real' about the need to keep expanding DC's world-class metro system within the city and to start, belatedly, to find the major sources of capital required. The first section of this new chapter provides a summary of NARPAC's conclusions and our previous piecemeal efforts to point out places where expansion is needed. It also repeats our insistence that public transit must be planned within the bigger framework of DC'c total urban transportation system, to include trucking and parking, and DC's role as the region's 'hub-city';

o Our three major objectives and ten specific system design goals are detailed in the second section, with a number of charts and diagrams to help, however unsuccessfully, transfer our visualizations;

o A particular example is made of one, among several, downtown metro station that has been in operation for 27 years and generated no 'transit-oriented development' whatsoever. NARPAC proposes to develop the Potomac Avenue Station into a major "destination station" and to serve as the southeast corner of a new "Inner Circle Line" skirting the overcrowded (and vulnerable) multi-line downtown stations. Even with new rail car procurement, those stations are due to become saturated (clogged) within a decade;

o Finally, we divide the 38 miles of new track and 28 all-new stations into nine separate segments and generate a ballpark cost in investment capital for their development over 25 years. Including additional rail cars and large new peripheral parking garages, the total tab approaches $20 billion in today's dollars. This amounts to a 3% per year growth in Metro's current replacement cost. It is completely separate from another 2% required for maintenance and depreciation-offset. It can only, and surely should, come from the Federal Government.

o A rare addition is made to NARPAC's oft-forgotten "Art Gallery", showing a sampling of the street corner panda bears that have replaced the "party animals" that brightened up the city's streets two summers ago.

July, 2004

o NARPAC's critical analysis of the Urban Institute's latest "Equitable Housing Strategy for DC, begins by suggesting that the specific actions proposed could as well be used to conclude that such a strategy is simply impractical;

o the analysis then compares the regional distribution of housing and household income showing that DC has only two revenue-generating households for every household needing housing assistance, whereas the ratio is almost 10:1 among DC's five contiguous inner suburban jurisdictions;

o and suggests the framework for an alternate formulation of the problems which in turn leads to the outline of alternative strategies which would shift more towards regional solutions, and a better definition of DC's special role as our national capital; (see July's editorial)

o the analysis concludes with a poignant letter from a Howard University undergraduate to the Washington Post summarizing the inherent emotional problems of gentrification, deconcentration, and relocation without ever mentioning those red flag clinical terms.

o a separate analysis treats the recent decision for the Navy to turn over its 38-acre Security Station in Northwest DC to the GSA for greater use, at least temporarily, by the Department of Homeland Security. While city leadership seems delighted with this shift, NARPAC points out that it would be far more valuable to the city as an up-scale, high-density residential development.

o a comparison between DC and Long Beach, CA demographics showing that the West Coast superintendent might not have performed many miracles for DCPS;

o a summary of the planned 2-acre high-density Waterview development in Arlington County's "edge city" of Rosslyn, which will be more revenue-productive than the 38-acre Homeland security site in Northwest DC;

o formal written NARPAC testimony for the DC Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee re DC's 'structural imbalance' invites caution in accepting GAO's conclusions, but offers alternative solutions for making DC more financially independent;

June, 2004

o NARPAC's focus in June is entirely on the many military bases in and around DC that deprive the city of important economic development opportunities. The analysis first explains the multiple current uses of limited DC real estate and the little DC land that produces more revenues than it consumes to demonstrate the city's need for additional unencumbered acres to develop;

o Using DC's newly available on-line aerial photos, it goes on to describe in detail six bases occupying 1400 DC acres that do not gainfully use their scarce land, and points out two bases that clearly are contributing to DC's economic benefit, three others that could clearly generate more revenues for DC, and, finally, three big installations just outside DC that could take on any residual tasks from those closed;

o NARPAC concludes by providing the history and status of the federal base realignment and closing (BRAC) process, listing the criteria to be used by the newly appointed BRAC Commission, and another set that NARPAC believes should be invoked by the DC government in their recommendations. This opportunity only comes around every five or ten years.

May, 2004

o NARPAC focuses this month entirely on its analysis of the National Capital Planning Commission's new draft of the Federal Elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the Nation's Capital: first, we develop an extensive summary of the Plan itself, stressing the elements that are most germane (and often most limiting) to DC's future;

o then NARPAC presents specific detailed comments of missing and inappropriate elements;

o and follows that with NARPAC's broader concerns over the shortcomings of the Plan and its failure to recognize DC's quality of life as a major source of tarnish on the capital's image;

o finally, NARPAC explains the impact of DC's "Topographic Bowl" on its ability to raise the revenues it needs

April, 2004

o NARPAC analyzes the sensible MPD plan to redeploy its "field forces" in half the number of police service areas (PSAs) but, for the first time, in proportion to the demands on its officers in reacting to crime reports. It raises serious questions about previous estimates of allocations of police costs to servicing federal workers and commuters.

o NARPAC provides trend lines relating demographics and crime levels to parental education levels in each of the proposed new PSAs, based on planning-cluster level data provided by the (soon to be disbanded) DC Agenda Project.

March, 2004

o NARPAC analyzes the major elements in the controversy over DCPS kids' performance, including the positions of the major players, and the recommendations for academic improvements by the Council of the Great City Schools and a group of 17 DC civic leaders, dubbed the "Power Brokers". We take serious exception to both proposals, and offer extensive comments:

o NARPAC has looked in some detail at the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing scores to see where DC schools stand relative to other urban school districts. We conclude that the achievements of the 94% minorities in DCPS schools are only "abysmal" when compared to other school districts with considerably fewer minorities. The plight of DC's minorities are virtually identical to the plight of minorities across the US.

o a brief update on the new DCPS draft facilities plan, noting that it still exaggerates likely future school enrollment, in part by not recognizing the faster dropping birth rates of black moms.

o NARPAC (written) testimony to the DC Council re the performance of DDOT, with emphasis on the need to focus new policies and technologies on resolving traffic issues, and raising substantial revenues for the city at the same time.

o NARPAC (written) comments for the Office of Planning public hearing re their draft Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor Study, with emphasis on increased density development, and possibly relaxing DC's building height limits across from its "edge cities".

February, 2004

o NARPAC questions the wisdom of capping rising property tax revenues that are now resulting from the real estate boom that DC has worked so hard to encourage; and

o Neighborhood pressures are preventing the full development of the Upper Wisconsin Avenue Corridor which is probably the city's potentially most lucrative revenue source outside 'downtown', and which is falling way behind the "edge city" developments right across the boundary in Maryland. NARPAC even suggests removing DC building height limits this far from the historic federal city!

o NARPAC's comments on a recent draft truck traffic study performed for DC are outlined along with some suggestions to make a virtue out of necessity by using new technologies to raise revenues from, and thus discourage, such traffic

January, 2004

o An analysis of national and local trends in teenage birth rates which are continuing to decline, and which may be further reduced by new over- the-counter (or even from-the-school-nurse) pharmaceuticals.

o A typical NARPAC critique of DC's proposed new K Street Busway, including several hopefully constructive suggestions for making this a truly innovative and significant improvement to DC's public transit system in the downtown area.

o a postscript to last month's major analysis on national and local crime trends (below) adding data on crimes involving teenagers in and out of school

December, 2003

o a major NARPAC analysis of recent national, regional, and local crime (and other death) statistics, concluding that DC's embarrassing numbers are consistent with the relevant circumstances known to produce such results, i.e., failed families with failed kids.

o NARPAC describes the fully-automated 324-car parking garage in Hoboken,NJ, as further proof of the practicality of bringing high-density parking to DC to conserve valuable land and limited rights of way.

November, 2003

o presentation of data from DC's Traffic Administration showing vehicular traffic rates entering and leaving the city daily, demonstrating that commuters aren't the only ones causing wear and tear on DC roads and bridges;

o a rough analysis of the costs to DC's public school system by not reducing the number of active DC schools by 28 schools(!) to match the six-year drop in enrollment;

o NARPAC's negative views on adding surface light rail systems to under-served routes instead of Metrorail extensions to improve current system connectivity and redundancy. In particular, Anacostia's ultimate economic growth may be constrained by putting in a local rather than regional line;

o A comparison of urban statistics between DC, the two major cities that DC's new City Administrator has managed, and the two major cities that just passed the nation's capital city in total population. The fast-growing cities don't look much like DC!;

October, 2003

o an analysis of the financial costs and benefits of DC's many commuters and concludes that the costs to local government of road wear, police and emergency services are very much smaller than the revenues from local sales, parking fees, and the businesses they energize. In fact, if DC raised its daily parking fees to match those of other large cities, it could "net" in revenues (after commuter-induced expenses) more than $100M yearly from that source alone.

o John Cleave's section of NARPAC's "Art Gallery" is updated with a broad selection of the illustrations that will appear in his book Washington Scenes from a Capital City to be available in DC bookstores in November, 2003. The Washington Post's Benjamin Forgey provides cogent introductions to each section.

September, 2003

o NARPAC revisits its long-standing issue of whether the public school system is over-stating real DCPS future facilities modernization needs, using newer data, but confirming the prior conclusion that its projections for enrollment and facilities needs are substantially inflated;

o NARPAC takes its first serious look at DC's 6-yr capital improvement plan (CIP). We speculate that the large deficit in infrastructure improvement and acquisition funds pointed out by the recent GAO report will, if properly vetted, disappear. This is due in some part to varying and incomplete out-year projections, and in larger part to the dubious DCPS demands identified above.

August, 2003

o NARPAC's lengthy analysis of the recent GAO study purporting to illuminate DC's financial "structural imbalance" and other management issues begins with a two-page summary, followed by an historical perspective of the efforts that have preceded it, and a summary of, and commentary on, the little-noticed interim report which focused on the city's management problems of its own making which lead to financial waste.

o These are followed by a (lengthier) summary of, and commentary on, the final GAO report which takes a very different quantitative approach, and a background analysis of the "Rayfuse Report" which establishes, for good or bad, the analytical framework for the effort. This is followed by an explanation of how the GAO applied this work, with some serious concerns expressed for the reality of many of the statistical assumptions made.

o NARPAC then develops and displays its own analysis of reasonable input data, demonstrating a huge difference in outcomes concerning what DC "should pay" for a typical set of "average"services. Equal disparities are uncovered in the development of a supposedly "average" revenue-generating capacity, which may or may not be the appropriate yardstick for ringside seats at the center of the world. In conclusion, NARPAC points to several areas as yet inadequately treated, but which are fundamental to the basic question. So far, there is no evaluation of DC's capital investment backlog, and no quantitative assessment of the real, rather than imagined, costs and benefits to the national capital city of hosting the federal government and the half million people who come into DC daily to make it work.

July, 2003

o a brief summary of current trends in visitors and tourists noting that they bring almost as many outsider "person-days" to DC as the much maligned commuters;

o an equally brief summary of regional trends in condo sales compared to single-family houses: an area where DC is beginning to catch up with Alexandria and Arlington;

June, 2003

o an extensive analysis of the new Rivlin report entitled Revitalizing Washington's Neighborhoods which purports to solve DC's financial problems by adding middle-income families "especially with children". NARPAC seriously doubts that will assure a long-range solution to DC's 'structural imbalance';

o NARPAC questions the results of the FalseHOPE Report claiming that HUD's HOPE VI projects such as Wheeler Creek in Ward 8 have somehow failed to improve public housing or their residents;

o NARPAC takes a closer look at the conflict between DC's newly discovered "transit-oriented development" and the planned location for the non-profit St. Coletta School, and what might be done to salvage some revenues for the city from the site;

o a short summary of the recent Close Up Foundation project at DC high schools: take a look at what the students would do to fix their schools and immediate vicinities;

. May, 2003

o more extensive analysis is provided of the preemptive use of two of St. E's most valuable, unencumbered parcels for municipal purposes that will take them off the tax roles before they ever got on;

o an expanded set of suggestions and comments on ways to broaden the planning in the hopes of regaining more of the potential "net productivity" of the St. E's site; and

o revised and expanded illustrative quantitative estimates of improving the financial benefits to the city by thinking and planning "outside the box" to preserve the desired historic aspects but still gain the benefits of unencumbered development.

o NARPAC visits DC's first "robotic vault parking system" at McPherson Square, and compares it to NARPAC's own recent fantasy design for high-density auto storage.

o NARPAC takes a look at the new French Rapid Transit Bus that might have application to the proposed K Street BRT route from Georgetown to Union Station and RFK Stadium.

April, 2003

o analysis of detailed 2000 Census statistics on increasing ownership of automobiles throughout the region suggests that the only factor inhibiting even more purchases, particularly in the city itself, is poverty!

o additional 2000 Census data on regional commuting patterns by all means from single-occupant cars to bicycles, indicates nothing but increasing transportation demands ahead.

o NARPAC applies its census tract analysis to the five clusters of Ward 8 and concludes that redevelopment of St. Elizabeth's is sorely needed to improve Ward 8's nearly $500M annual negative revenue productivity; and

o uses those tract analyses to estimate the questionable advantages of adding 100,000 new residents (as proposed by the mayor) without carefully defining their desired demographic mix!

o a summary of the continuing housing sales boom throughout the region in 2001 and 2002, as well as DC's improving tax base in both residential and commercial properties.

March, 2003

o the ongoing plans to redevelopment eleven properties in the immediate vicinity of the Columbia Heights Metro station are described, and their impact on the "net productivity" of DC's Cluster 2 planning area is assessed. NARPAC concludes they will be a good drop in the right bucket, but way short of what's needed.

o NARPAC offers a notional preliminary design for high-density urban parking facilities with four major objectives: a) conserve scarce urban property; b) encourage and facilitate use of public transit; c) provide a substantial source of revenues for Metro; and d) develop incentives for owning fuel-efficient, compact vehicles.

February, 2003

o NARPAC analyses of DC's outdated Comprehensive Plan as well as its outdated Transportation Vision Plan lead to informal testimony before a DC Council Roundtable on improving the overall planning process.

o NARPAC analyses of major recent WMATA studies on Service Extension Planning, Metrorail Core Capacity, and Regional Metrobus Capacity lead NARPAC to conclude that the resulting WMATA 10-Yr Capital improvement Plan is marginal at best, and offers too little to keep downtown DC public transit from getting clogged:

January, 2003

o NARPAC provides the details of its fourth "Hats Off" award ceremony, this time held at the Wilson Building for Dr. Ivan Walks in recognition of his accomplishments over three years as DC's Department of Health Director, and Chief Medical Officer.

December, 2002

o A detailed and critical review of the latest Brookings report using DC's so-called financial "structural imbalance" to justify a large annual federal subsidy. NARPAC remains convinced that there are viable alternatives whereby DC can stand proudly on its own fiscal feet and avoid becoming a permanent Ward of the Feds.

November, 2002

o DC's 'Strategic Neighborhood Action Plans' for each of its 39 neighborhood "clusters" have now been published and can be compared to each other, and to the Citywide Strategic Pan.

o Initial studies have begun on a potentially important new project to redevelop a major new 'South Capitol Street Gateway' from Anacostia to the capitol. Are the planners are thinking big enough?

o NARPAC testified before the DC Council on the matter of disposing of some 25 vacant, often derelict school buildings that mar many of the city's neighborhoods, and reduce the funding available for basic educational shortfalls.

October, 2002

o NARPAC has taken a relatively in-depth look at the 300-acre St. Elizabeth's Hospital site East of the Anacostia that is becoming available for redevelopment. It could have a major impact on the future development of some of the city's most depressed areas.

o A summary of the evolving plan to redevelop the Southwest Waterfront, which also involves the Waterside Mall and the much broader Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. This appears to be a good example of gaining community support for a major upgrade in community 'net productivity'.

September, 2002

o Compilation and analysis of Census 2000 economic and demographic data by Census Tract to allow comparisons of the fiscal productivity of various different sections and neighborhoods within the city. It clearly points out the need to attract more tax-paying businesses, not just your average households!

o An update to NARPAC's previous jurisdictional comparisons within the metro area, this time showing just how disproportionate the staffing of DC's police force appears vis-a-vis all the others;

August, 2002

o a quantitative Comparison of Metro Area Kids, showing that DC has more than its share of difficulties and expenses;

o an-in depth look at 50-state national Census 2000 data on state and local spending and staffing levels, urban school district costs, large city police and welfare costs. Together they paint a grim picture of just how inefficient the DC government may be;

o a new section has been added to NARPAC's Art Gallery providing pictures of DC's summer whimsy over Party Animals;

July, 2002

o discouraging trends in the Regional Demography of Parents: the key subgroup that dictates the city's future;

o newly available Census 2000 comparisons between all the counties of this metro area, showing DC is still declining in relative wealth, but maintaining way more than its share of the regional poor.

June, 2002

o description of a developing plan to add an 'urban deck' and new highway intersections to improve access to the Kennedy Center, an interesting project supported with federal funding;

o announcing the winners in NARPAC's Design Competition to make better urban use of the barren stretch of Rte 395 just north of its intersection with the Southwest Freeway, where another 'urban deck' could help reconnect the city and provide needed city revenues;

o a progress report on the development of a draft master plan for redeveloping the old DC General Hospital site, which again is interesting because it involves the transfer of federal property to DC for its own uses;

May, 2002

o A short summary of DC's Proposed FY03 Budget, which appears barely balanced;

o An analysis of the large number of the federal city-related tax-exempt properties in the District that allegedly limit DC's revenue-generating potential;

o A critical NARPAC analysis of all the assertions concerning this "structural imbalance", and

o An equally critical analysis of a much-heralded McKinsey & Co. Asessment of DC's Financial Position;

o A synopsis of the Mayor's State of the District Address for 2002 dealing with DC's progress, and unfulfilled needs.

April, 2002

o a summary of the State of American Urban Transportation, including changing bus technologies;

o a summary of an ongoing DC Transit Development Study looking for light rail transit routes in DC;

o a short summary of a recent GAO study comparing Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit systems in the same cities;

o and an extensive NARPAC Commentary on: transportation priorities in DC; light rail relevance; the impact of 9/11; and separating various transportation modes.

March, 2002

o NARPAC's new contest to develop a "capitol esplanade" to mask the concrete wasteland of Rte 395 just south of the capitol is summarized;

o A NARPAC analysis of the causes of poor student performance finds impressive statistical correlation between test scores and total household parental educational achievement;

o An update on Census 2000 national poverty statistics shows the 20-year trends in those below the poverty line;

February, 2002

o DC's new Housing Bill, and another one to follow, are summarized;

o The most recent update to the national low income housing profile shows where unexpected shortages are in rental properties;

o The Census Bureau's American Housing Survey allows NARPAC to compare: DC and Fairfax County housing; renter and owner housing in DC; and black housing in DC and Pr. George's County;

o and a fresh look is taken at what kind of houses produce most of DC's resident tax revenues.

o A Brookings Institution poll on where the federal government should put its emphasis over the next fifty years leaves urban development (and affordable housing) out in the cold;

o President Bush fails to add to what prior presidents have included about DC in State of the Union addresses, according to Mark Richards;

January, 2002

o year-end updates to its seven long-range solutions tables dealing with each major city function; its tables on qualitative indicators and target values for quantitative indicators of progress;

o a NARPAC assessment of DC's progress in 2001 in its nine domestic urban wars; and

o a summary of recently available (and very depressing) data on community health indicators across the metro area;trends in families in poverty, showing the plight of single moms; still-rising births to unwed mothers; and comparative estimates of, and impact of, illiteracy in DC and elsewhere in the US. o a NARPAC summary of Marc Fisher's recent searing article on DC's special ed problems;

o a NARPAC summary of recent data on violent crimes and their victims, which seems like a "war between the drop-outs";

o and the growing numbers of Americans in jail or prison, and on probation or parole, both in DC, Mary/and, and nationwide.

December, 2001

o An analysis of the need for long-range transportation planning associated with the new Anacostia Waterfront Initiative;

o A commentary on the emerging Metro plans for a New Blue Line, and the competing options for a new Purple Subway or Trolley Line;

o a summary of three recent articles which cast light on the persistent education gap between various public school kids, suggesting that the absent of parent(s) may play a key role;

o NARPAC testimony before the DC Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment endorses a separate DC Department of Transportation and urges development of a long-range transportation plan;

November, 2001

o a thumbnail sketch of the new Citywide Strategic Plan pointing out typical strengths and weaknesses and hopes for future improvements;

o a summary of the new billion-dollar Long- range DC Sewer Upgrade Plan which hopes to substantially improve the cleanliness of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers;

o a superficial analysis of what DC is doing to cope with vacant and abandoned buildings which detract so much from DC's urban quality of life;

o A collection of pictures of various derelict DC houses currently in the process of being "abated";

October, 2001

o An analysis of recently exposed spending control difficulties which led to a large unexpected overrun in the FY01 budget;

o A short tutorial of DC's FY02 public education budget, points up the high dependence on uncertain federal Medicaid paybacks;

o A rudimentary regional comparison of key parameters influencing public school system performance in the "inner metro area";

o An analysis of recent data on DC's work force and "gross domestic product" compared to that of the metro area and the US;

September, 2001

o Information on NARPAC's Fall Essay Contest for area college students is provided;

o Results of NARPAC's third HATS OFF Award ceremony are documented;

o the very promising new DCPS Business Plan for Strategic Reform is summarized, and

o the strong need to consider past DCPS drop-outs as a key element in any new systemic approach is pointed out;

o An update on DC crime statistics suggests that past declines may now have leveled off;

August, 2001

o the new Rivlin report, "envisioning a Future Washington", is summarized with an extensive NARPAC critique of its pluses and minuses;

o in response, NARPAC's 10-Year Vision for DC is also spelled out, with a very different growth emphasis (business vs residential), based on types of data presented below:

o an analysis of Residential Household Productivity is presented based on FY02 DC budget data, showing how differing income levels impact on city revenues and expenditures;

o an equivalent analysis of the Relative Productivity of DC's Residential and Commercial Sectors demonstrates that expanding the business sector will produce far higher net revenues;

o a summary of Census Bureau data on Relative Black and White Earning Power demonstrates the high degree of uncertainly in projecting residential productivity;

o an Update of IRS Statistics of Income compares the mix of 1999 DC taxpayers to those of Maryland, Virginia, and the US as a whole, provides extensive historical data on DC tax returns, and shows how differing income levels impact on DC revenues per household;

o information is provided on The Mixed Bag of DC Housing Stock (by Ward) which is sure to impact on near-term residential growth in DC;

o a short analysis of DC demographics by age group across the eight Wards, illustrating an inverse correlation with median household income that adds to the uncertainty of residential productivity; and

o a short tutorial on the difference between mean and median income, and the risks associated with using either as a good basis for financial estimates;

July, 2001

o The FY02 DC Budget proposal is placed in the context of 15 years of history and five years of projections;

o FY02 budget comparisons are made in the aggregate between DC and its five immediate neighbors;

o Last year's booming real estate market is compared among the six jurisdictions of the 'inner metro area';

o A NARPAC photo essay looks at a nearly deserted railroad spur East of the Anacostia that could provide the right of way for an elevated metro line paralleling the city's western river bank;

June, 2001

o The impact of Census 2000 on the population and demographics of DC and its metro area are outlined in graphs for easy reading;

o The latest downward trends in DC's large TANF caseload are applauded, and their impact is noted on:

o The first published version of the long-awaited DC Facilities Modernization Plan is analyzed in detail. NARPAC concludes it is projecting a school enrollment almost twice as large as the demographic and TANF trend lines above would support;

o The proposed DC redistricting plan for DC's eight wards in shown and commented upon;

o A poll on causes of and solutions to poverty indicates where the poor and non-poor, the major parties, and the races agree and disagree;

May, 2001

o Constraints on Metro's continued growth point yet again to the need for a major long-range transportation development plan;

o A NARPAC visit to a DC trash transfer station suggests the need to embrace the movement of garbage as an essential urban problem susceptible to neighborhood-friendly resolution.

o Data on major employment categories and minority business growth for both DC and its suburbs;

o The latest numbers on DC's disproportionate share of the regions homeless again suggest the need for regional poverty-sharing;

April, 2001

o Substantial excerpts from Kenneth Bowling's 1991 book on the The Creation of Washington, DC highlighting problems of picking a location, deciding on "exclusive jurisdiction" by the Congress, and protecting financial interests;

o A lengthy NARPAC discussion and analysis of the Pitched Battle over the future of DC General Hospital, which is largely camouflaging the real issues of developing a systematic solution to caring for the city's poor;

o A copy of President Clinton's last minute (!) Executive Order codifying the continuation of the Federal Interagency DC Task Force

March, 2001

o updates on some of DC's most intractable problems including DC's welcome reductions in crime rates, but associated reductions in homicide cases solved; the slow rate of reduction in DC's TANF welfare caseload compared to US norms; and the characteristics of DC's costly special education caseload;

o listings of the DC Council's accomplishments for their 1999-2000 session, and of their goals for the 2001-2002 session.

o a summary of the recent poll of DC business executives indicating their strong views on DC's improved business climate;

o A summary of two new developments underway in the metro area: the Maritime Plaza on 11 acres east of DC's Navy Yard; and Metro's big 32-acre development at the White Flint metro station;

February, 2001

o A NARPAC analysis of the achievements of the mayor's "scorecard" grades for his top managers--urging him to continue and improve them, and to act on the results measured;

o A major uplift of NARPAC's coverage of DC's expanding Metrorail system, including some surprising numbers on trends in its usage, by station, the lack of a robust long-range plan for its continued expansion, and including a short photo tour of the newly opened "Green Line South";

o A new "Photo Album" feature providing snapshots of various topical points around DC;

o A summary of Neal Peirce's book review of Comeback Cities, describing the Feds' role in spoiling them, and now in helping them recover;

January, 2001

o NARPAC summary of the Greater Washington Board of Trade's new Potomac Index which purports to establish a set of baselines for measuring the metro area's progress toward becoming "a world-class connected community"

o NARPAC summary of the Draft Plan of the National Capital Revitalization Corporation--that appears to have its sights set too low;

o A litany of 52 New Year Headlines- -strictly from Dreamland--that would make major improvements in DC's prospects for long- range recovery;

December, 2000

o A major DC commitment to redevelopment east of the Anacostia; new plans for attracting $4.5B in private development downtown; DC's $111M commitment to the Georgia Avenue Gateway to the city; and encouraging news about awakening economic developments in the Annapolis area;

o A disturbingly naive interview by DC's Director of Planning with the Washington Post which moved NARPAC to pretend that it was also interviewed at the same time;

o A brief summary of the DC Council's just-enacted New Economy Transformation Act which bribes people and businesses to relocate to DC;

o NARPAC's summary of the 7th Annual DC Kids Count Report;

o A short analysis of the DC voter turnout for Election 2000,;

November, 2000

o a headline chronology of Congressional meddling in DC's FY01 budget;

o a summary of the background and turndown by the Supreme Court of petitions seeking DC voting rights in Congress;

o a summary of quantitative indicators of increased risks for poor kids (in and out of school) based on 'sociodemographics', family stresses and family turbulence.

o a detailed summary of the final report of the 1970-1972 Commission on the Organization of DC which might have been written yesterday (and by NARPAC!).

o Correspondence with the Control Board Chair suggests the need for a 'Scenario 4' (regional poverty sharing) as one of DC's future demographics options; and again with revamping Congressional relations with DC;

October, 2000

o a set of annotated briefing charts both for the convenience of the reader, and as possible briefing materials. They are divided into six packages:

September, 2000

o Data on the growing socio-economic gaps among America's Kids, are presented and analysed;

o welfare caseload reduction is lagging in many cities, and DC is among the worst, according to the latest comparative statistics;

o The DC Council's extension of rent controls for another five years is questioned as an economically counterproductive practice;

o Starkly differing racial political views are documented in a new book;

o An analysis of DC's voter turn-out for the School Board referendum belies the city's vociferous cravings for democracy!

August, 2000

o NARPAC's detailed analysis of DC's FY2001 Budget and its implications for progress in revitalizing the nation's capital city next year. Topics include: gross budget changes; increases in government personnel by office and agency; near-meaningless five-year budget trends; growing welfare costs (DC's 300-lb gorilla); a respectable long-term capital budget; dubious agency performance measures; and the city's retreat from 'benchmarking' to improve government efficiency.

o A summary of the slow-to-unfold debacle at the DC General Hospital and its corrupt managers, the Public Benefits Corporation: a major example of the DC government at its worst;

July, 2000

o A NARPAC summary and analysis of a recent Urban Institute Study dealing with Section 8-induced mobility and its impact on "deconcentrating" the poor from blighted areas;

o A related NARPAC summary and more detailed analysis of another Urban Institute study of Section-8 activity in the DC area, including COG's increasing interest in it;

o A summary and analysis of recent DC Council "oversight" of the DCPS which often oversteps the bounds of accepted oversight procedures, as well as a headline summary of Congressional meddling in DC's 2000 budget;

o A brief summary of a short-lived DC Council resolution endorsing reparations for descendants of African American slaves;

June, 2000

o An analysis of the Mayor's new "Scorecard System" which NARPAC finds very disappointing--and lead to June's editorial (below);

o Descriptions of the new National Capital Revitalization Corporation, and the enterprising new Anacostia Waterfront Initiative;

o Abstracts from Superintendent Ackerman's letter of resignation and NARPAC's encouraging analysis of the DCPS 2000 Stanford-9 test scores;

o An abridged summary of the Mayor's testimony before a Senate subcommittee explaining his overall management objectives,;

o A generally favorable review of Brookings new book Reflections on Regionalism;

May, 2000

o The winners of NARPAC's high school essay contest on essay contest are posted with their essays;

o A new section in Public Works Issues concerning DC's slum landlords;

o A major article from November, 1999 in DC's CITY PAPER concerning "gentrification East of the Anacostia";

o A summary of the Committee of 100's paper on 10 Good Ideas for Transportation in the Federal City;

o A summary of the newer statistics in the 1997-98 update of DC's Statistical Handbook, INDICES;

April, 2000

o Mayor Williams' FY2001 budget summary document entitled "Making the Vision a Reality" is summarized and commented upon. The complete document can be found at the DC Watch web site;

o An important resolution passed at the 1999 annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors is reproduced verbatim re "Linking Cities and Their Suburbs";

o The seriously inaccurate NBC Nightly News segment on "The Fleecing of America" (by DC's taxpayers!) is rebutted. NBC has not responded;

o Pictures taken at NARPAC's very successful HATS OFF Award Ceremony for the past executive director of the Control Board, John Hill, are included.!

March, 2000

o NARPAC's detailed analysis of the recent Washington Post poll concerning the terrific ratings given to Mayor Williams after his first year in office;

o A summary of NASBE data on US school systems, indicating the average size of US school districts, and how very outsized the single DC school district is by comparison;

o A short summary of DC's homicide statistics over the past decade, indicating roughly half remain unsolved, though most were committed by young DC;

February, 2000

o NARPAC's look at Development Planning East of the Anacostia, concludes that not enough is being done;

o Growing Disparities between Rich and Poor indicates the extent to which a small share of DC's residents and land areas provide the high income, high property values, and high employment opportunities on which the city's welfare depends;

January, 2000

o A new section on the The Stark Face of Contemporary Poverty, which draws data and lessons from David Risk's analysis in his new book "Inside Game, Outside Game";

o A new section on A New Federal Role for Regionalism drawn from a recent APSA roundtable;

o Information on NARPAC's new HATS OFF Award to be presented to John W. Hill, former Director of the Control Board on March 7th, 2000 (delayed by DC blizzard);

December, 1999

o The 1999 Annual Report of the Control Board to the Congress is summarized;

o The Mayor's draft City-wide Strategic Plan is summarized, and assessed as being "necessary but not sufficient";

o A 1997 GAO report concerning inner city auto insurance rates is summarized as one of a series of "poverty traps" facing the poor;

November, 1999

o A new NRC report entitled Governance and Opportunity in Metropolitan America confirms many of NARPAC's previous concerns about the growing disparities between central cities and their suburbs;

o An analysis comparing DCPS to local parochial schools, suggesting that DC should avail itself of some of their professional capabilities.

o a photo essay of the stations of the newly completed Green Line North, which offer a major opportunity for development over the next decade.

o "Faces of Washington" -- photographic portraits by Tom Nyergis--have been added to our art gallery;

October, 1999

o NARPAC offers to provide local groups with a guest speaker on various topics from this web site;

o Suburban development plans for Alexandria's Potomac Yard and Dulles Town Center, seem far more ambitious than those for stations on the newly opened section of Metro's Green Line inside DC;

o The DC's most recent Transportation Vision and Strategy (vintage 1997) seems to fall short of the mark;

o DC's newly accepted "Scorecard" for measuring progress in providing city services, leaves out any mention of capital improvements, or the need for regionally competitive government efficiency.

September, 1999

o The kick off of NARPAC's fall semester Essay Contest for high school kids in the region;

o A summary of the school system's continuing problems and what might be done about them, entitled Reinventing the DC Public School System;

o A NARPAC review of the new Brookings study report A Region Divided;

August, 1999

o Details of NARPAC's first HATS OFF Award to recognize persons making the biggest tangible difference to date in restoring pride in America's capital city, and the first recipient, David Gilmore of DCHA;

o A major update to the Publics Works section to indicate Progress in Public Housing and the turnaround in public works;

o The first update to all of NARPAC's Long Range Solutions Tables;

o The new membership of the 106th Congress's DC oversight committees;

July, 1999

o NARPAC's first detailed budget analysis of DC's Human Support Services programs, which collectively now consume a full 40% of DC's gross operating funds, with health costs exceeding welfare costs by 3:1.

o A detailed discussion of the FY2000 DC Budget, noting the major changes from the Mayor's March 15th proposal.

June, 1999

o New "galleries" have been added containing samples of art about Washington, D.C. by local artists with very different styles.

May, 1999

o A preliminary analysis demonstrating the relative "productivity" of various land uses within DC, and of the various categories of people who live and visit DC. Suggestions emerge concerning clustering of neighborhood planning, and developing revenues from federal and non-profit acreage.

o High-productivity development at the Columbia Heights metro station;

April, 1999

o A major analysis comparing the depressed conditions "East of the Anacostia River", with the economic miracles that have occurred the very similar geographic area of Arlington County, Va., hypothesizing several major, creative, long-range plans that could bring tens of thousands of upscale homes, and well over 100,000 upscale jobs to the area.

o Analysis of the mayor's first budget proposal to the City Council

o Summaries of recent studies of the DC City Council, indicating that it suffers from the same disfunctionality that afflicted the executive branch.

March, 1999

o A preliminary listing of 75 quantitative indicators of overall government quality;

o A summary and analysis of the latest "official" interpretation of the population migration in and out of DC;

o A summary and analysis of Superintendent Ackerman's plans to adopt a Weighted Student Formula;

o A review of a serious emerging threat to the American (and DC) justice system through "jury nullification" DC;

February, 1999

o Summaries of Mayor Williams' inaugural address; and of residents' requests of the new Mayor;

o A NARPAC, Inc. analysis of the high costs of poverty in DC, leaving DC with only 2.6 taxpayers paying for each welfare recipient; and proposing state payments in lieu of (commuter) taxes;

o A summary of the encouraging Williams transition report on a regionalization;

January, 1999

o A preliminary tabulation by NARPAC of the major long term changes required to make DC a truly exceptional American city in each of eight functional areas--such as education and economic development--and estimates of the progress (if any) so far.

o A summary of the Washington Post editorial recommending abolition of the four DC subcommittees of the Congress;

December, 1998

o A summary and analysis of the CMO's 1998 Annual Report to the Congress;

o A summary and analysis of the Control Board Chair's encouraging 1998 Annual Report to the Congress;

o A summary and analysis of the new "Citizens Plan" for DC's near-term Economic Resurgence;

November, 1998

o A summary and analysis of the policy brief by Brookings' Carol O'Cleireacain warning of continued "structural imbalance" in DC's projected revenues and expenditures over the next four years;

October, 1998

o A summary and analysis of Chief Ramsey's reorganization plan for the Metropolitan Police Department;

o Reports of a basic turnaround in DC's welfare, medicaid, and food stamp programs; and

o A table of recently published SAT scores for the region;

September, 1998

o The results and recommendations of NARPAC's survey and analysis of the COG;

o A summary of the new bill before the Congress for a Metropolitan Washington Regional Transportation Act;

o A tabular comparison of the crime standings for the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan areas, relative to 205 other American metro areas;

August, 1998

o A summary of the May, 1998 report on federal assistance to DC through the Federal DC Task Force;

o A summary and analysis of a little-publicized 1997 Survey of DC Residents concerning the present quality and desired priority of DC services, apparently used by CMO Barnett as a "baseline";

o A summary and analysis of the findings of the DC Inspector General on the unsatisfactory Metro Police Department Responses to 911 calls;

July, 1998

o A summary of DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's Memo to the President concerning her views of what still needs to be done to rejuvenate DC;

o A summary of a recent series of in-depth articles by the Washington Post articles on the PG County Public Schools, relevant to the future of the Washington metro area;

June, 1998

o A description of the successes and failures of the potentially central Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments;

o A summary of the just-released final report of the DC Tax Revision Commission;

o A summary of the encouraging changes being made in the office of the DC Inspector General, updated in July;

May, 1998

o Analysis of the 1997 DC Budget,

o New 1997 data on DC government personnel;

o A new section on regionalism, with new materials added in June;

April, 1998

Noticeable Signs of Progress in:

o city budget deficits;
o DC city management;
o business regulatory reform;
o DC's Public Works Dept;
o redevelopment of DC's historic Navy Yard;
o the National Capital Revitalization Corporation for economic development and "blight removal" and
o progress in public housing, updated again in June

March, 1998

o Correlation between poverty and low school grades is shown under public school scores;

o President Clinton's Response to NARPAC's January editorial;

February, 1998

o A comprehensive analysis of DC's Economic Landscape;

o A Mark Richards poll indicating most Americans think DC should enjoy Congressional representation and home rule. Look under Suggested Reading:

January, 1998

o NARPAC, Inc.'s definition of what is meant by "Regionalization"

o 1995 IRS data on Regional Income Taxes indicating how the District is falling behind the revenue growth in Maryland and Virginia;

December, 1997

For the consultants' recent analyses of the pathetic condition of the DC government, Click here

November, 1997

DC's Metro Rail System: Engine for Growth, or Just Another Bus Route

October, 1997

The DC "Rescue Plan": Good News and Bad


This page was updated on Feb 5, 2006


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