- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2001

Faced with the second-worst traffic congestion in the nation and housing costs climbing 12 to 15 percent a year, metropolitan Washington-area officials have agreed to work more closely in solving those problems.
"People have to live so far from work," said Katherine K. Hanley, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and a member of the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority Board.
"Were trying to encourage development around Metro stations," Miss Hanley said. "If more of the regions new jobs are accessible to subways and buses, traffic congestion and pollution problems will decline."
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is backing redevelopment of older suburbs including Bethesda, Friendship Heights and Rockville, where new single-family homes start at $500,000.
While Mr. Duncan has spearheaded efforts permanently designating 90,000 acres — one third of the countys land — as open space, he has drawn stiff criticism as tall buildings replace street-level shops.
"Youre accused of paving over the whole county," Mr. Duncan said.
Both officials said service workers — including teachers, janitors, public safety personnel and other government employees — no longer can afford to live in the communities where they work.
They are hoping a revitalized District will help solve their problems while increasing its current population by 15 percent to 672,000 by 2010.
Medium- to high-density housing — primarily town houses, rehabilitated row houses and bungalows — could be an alternative for those willing to trade the suburban lifestyle for the cultural amenities of the nations capital.
"We are not the suburbs," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who sees residential growth as the citys best chance of increasing its tax base. Fifty-six percent of the 61-square-mile city is government-owned or otherwise tax-exempt.
Whites currently make up 32 percent of the citys population. While 61 percent of all residents are blacks, Hispanics and Asians, whites are moving to the city in increasing numbers.
According to the Brookings Institution, a D.C. think tank, the threat of gentrification raises the possibility of class conflict and misunderstandings based on race.
"Development may further polarize the city," said Alice M. Rivlin, co-author of the Brookings study "Envisioning a Future Washington." Mrs. Rivlin also serves as chairman of the presidentially appointed financial control board.
The study encourages pursuit of policies attracting a mix of middle-income singles, "empty nesters" and families with children.
Brookings is recommending construction of 55,000 new housing units along the Anacostia River waterfront, the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus and on abandoned or surplus parcels. The study recommends subsidies for 25 percent of total housing stock to maintain affordability.

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