No. Absolutely no.
There's plenty of affordable housing in DC/MD/VA. It just means not living in a trendy hipster neighborhood.
Also, Republicans want this to slow down the Democratic growth in Virginia as the more of the DC metro area and DC commuters move into Virginia.
It's working great. Cities like New York and Seattle might seem expensive, but compared to European cities with height restrictions (cough, Paris, cough) they are extraordinarily cheap. Property values are a relatively smooth supply/demand market, and when you limit the supply vertically your city is either going to sprawl or get unreasonably expensive (or both, in the case of DC).
How does Charles Mudede feel about this? After all what's good for the goose is good for the gander, right? There's nothing inherently sacred about the monument vistas of D.C.; it's a city, big dense cities are good, right?

What's the fuss? Highest and best use wins and sentimental under-utilization loses in every court in the land. Get over yourselves!

Those renderings are shit. There's beautiful and historic residential housing directly east of the Capitol that would never be razed for commercial purposes. Union Station (another large historic archive) lies directly North and the location of the Capitol building, right at the crest of the "Hill" itself, would make construction in it's immediate westward vicinity untenable. Construction would be far more dispersed than in these depictions and could absolutely obstruct views of the monument and White House depending on your vantage point, though again these lazy renderings are useless for practical purposes.
I prefer to imagine the national mall encased in a protective force field that protects the rest of America from the rank fascist plutocracy emanating from there.
Density by itself is useless unless you also provide the supporting infrastructure - such as transportation (either parking and roads for cars, or excellent mass rapid transit) and the essentials of daily living (access to affordable grocery shopping, etc).

DC already has the transit, but there's nowhere near downtown or the Hill for working-class people to buy groceries. This wouldn't matter to the professional political class that would probably like to live closer to work in DC - they either expense everything (lobbyists) or have all their meals paid for by someone else (politicians).

For density in general, however, we need to look beyond what people are going to do when they aren't sleeping in tiny, stacked boxes. How will they shop, eat, and move around.
Time for statehood.

@8 There are very few grocery stores anywhere in this city. And the professional political class are the ones who live in the expensive suburbs. They don't live in the district.
fuck darrell issa.

if they need height to house the worker bees, do it in anacostia or alexandria.
DC could easily add height without screwing up the mall. Instead of adding tall buildings downtown (around the Mall) building restrictions could be eased around already dense metro stops, i.e. Tenleytown, Woodley Park, New York Avenue, etc. This would maintain the integrity of the Mall's "feel" while allowing smart growth density along transit lines. Plus, it's not like there aren't decently tall building right across the river in Roslyn, essentially adjacent to the Mall.
The devil is in the details, and the higher the density the more those details matter.

I'm old enough to remember when an earlier generation of density advocates wanted -- insisted -- on tearing out the Pike Place Market to replace it with a high-rise cluster of hotels and office buildings.

I was one of the NIMBYs who fought to save the market, and today everyone (well, almost everyone) celebrates that victory.

Remember Santayana.
"Hmm. How's that density working in keeping other American cities affordable these days?"

I just cannot understand this argument. Setting aside for a moment whether increased density in a given city is desireable or not, do people actually think that less density makes housing more affordable? How, pray tell, would replacing four-story buildings with six-story buildings make housing more expensive? And don't say "density doesn't make Manhattan/San Francisco more affordable," because that's not so much a contrary argument as it is a confusion of cause and effect.


You beat me to it. The Mall is basically a no man's land if you're not a tourist or a worker who's there from 9 to 5. Few restaurants, no grocery stores, no other stores. Increasing density isn't going to magically make these things appear. A number of second-tier cities have tried to invigorate their downtown cores with housing and non-office-building commercial development, and it's frequently an abysmal failure. No one wants to hang out in downtown Oakland or Bellevue after 6.
@14: When was the last time you were in downtown Bellevue after 6? I'm guessing it was a long time ago. It has changed a lot.

Maryland-Virginia area is a ridiculous place for the US capital...too coastal.

Should be in Omaha, nowhere near a coast, or water of any kind.

Then we can build outward in all directions like a 21st century city.

Most US cities are built in the wrong places, designed to service 18th century ship traffic, or 19th century railways.
@13, "How, pray tell, would replacing four-story buildings with six-story buildings make housing more expensive?"

When they tear down old four-story buildings with units renting for $750 and replace them with a six-story buildings with units renting for $1650. That's how.
As @4 wrote everything I came here to say, I'll just add that I wish some pro-density architects would create some renderings. They could avoid the mall, ramping up to density elsewhere, or make it like Rockefeller Center, which is universally considered beautiful yet surrounded by skyscrapers.
Less dense housing can never be more affordable (assuming constant/increasing demand). More of something makes it less expensive, this is a case where economics can be counted on to be incredibly objective.
@17…assuming increasing demand (and all else being equal), the rent would end up being higher in the four story building than the six story one.
The problem with this being endlessly debated on comment threads is that the actual economics of housing supply are too complicated for the ideologically-pure argumentation that tends to dominate comment threads.

No, the real estate market is not genuinely elastic. No, housing stock is not fungible (location and form matter). Yes, the present-day financing process of construction projects will dictate prices just as much as the magical market (see @17's example), as will regulatory frameworks that tend to yield lesser buildings at greater cost than "what they used to make".

Is that a reason to freeze all cities in amber? Of course not. But it is a reason to be more cautious about mass-replacement proposals, especially where they may destroy irreplaceable and well-functioning density that already exists.

And for the record, @4, Paris is actually cheaper than New York, though that probably has more to do with national immigration policy than with any restrictions on height or in-city growth. Both cities need to take a hard look at their affordability problems, though Paris is at least finally working to stitch city and depressed-inner-suburb together with improved infrastructure.
@20, you'd be better off adding two new, architecturally complementary stories to the existing 4-story structure, which is how expanding demand used to be accommodated (see: literally every building in Pioneer Square).

The tear-down-the-whole-block, replace-at-great-expense process is a proven failure, for both urban walkability and for the average residential and commercial price of the space contained therein.
Build Additional Monuments.

@17, I think @20 may be making the same point, but why would adding two floors allow the landlord to more than double the rent-per-unit? Will the new 5th floor be nothing but a giant sundae bar free for all building residents?
Not allow, @24, but force. Because they sunk 10 times as much into property acquisition, planning, financing, and construction than the cumulative value of whatever paid-off structures they replaced.

For an example right our own backyard, please see the totally fucking empty "AVA Ballard", whose asking prices have failed to drop despite being sandwiched between two grocery-store parking lots and a Burger King, while advertising rents $500 higher than the rent in my (very nice) older building in the center of Actual Ballard. I'm sure the building managers would love to bow to the free market, lower their rents a bit, and find some living, breathing tenants. But likely thanks to the terms of their financing, their hands are tied.
@20, @17: because new construction rents for twice as much as old buildings. Look at the new construction going in all over Seattle -- Belltown, Cap Hill, Ballard, et al. -- and tell me what the rents are like in those buildings. The way to keep rents low is to keep old crappy buildings around as long as possible while restricting new construction to (more or less) empty sites.

Though even there, areas that are extremely attractive for people to go to are also attractive for (a) new construction and (b) rising rents. That's what attractive MEANS. So, again, for moderate rents look for unattractive areas. But, by looking, you will make them attractive and cause their rents to go up -- and also cause people to start building expensive new buildings there.
@21, I agree that the economics aren't simple, and I don't think that creating affordable housing is as simple as allowing the unlimited building of giant high-rises. However, so much of the regulation around this issue tends to be much more about protecting incumbents who want to maintain their precious views or feel entitled to keep paying the same rent they paid in 1976. I think that many with "anti-density" viewpoints fail to see that these sorts of protections are ultimately paid for by the young and the working class who find themselves competing with each other for a dwindling housing stock.

Again, that's not to say that we should turn the Lincoln Memorial into the lobby of a luxury high-rise, but the balance can be better struck than maintaining an antiquated, blanket-rule that nothing can be taller than the Capital Dome.
@2 is exactly right. "Density" and "walkability" are not identical things, and neither are "density" and "affordability". Seattle's approach to adding density, as with most other cities these days, is monolithic: giant megaprojects with tons of units but none of the other things that make walkability or affordability possible. There's no retail, because the few retail spaces required are impossible -- too large, too wide, too far apart -- and because street-level retail is a dead concept in a city (and country) utterly devoted to big box stores (look at how the giant remodeled Fred Meyer in Greenwood is finally killing off the corner of 85th). There's no transit -- Metro's much ballyhooed RapidRide is (in some areas, like Ballard) REDUCING access to transit. But there's no parking because transit advocates have negotiated away all the spaces without replacing them with anything. Everything is still miles away because the streets are so frigging wide. Some of the older neighborhood strips are still alive, but NONE of the newly-constructed ones are or ever will be.

Instead, you've got developments like AVA, like Stoneway Village, like all of South Lake Union: lots of units, but still no city.
I don't disagree with you, Marooner.

Fairly recently. It's still dead compared to a real city, but, to be fair, so is downtown Seattle.
@30 - downtown Bellevue is a lot of things, but lumping it in with cities that have no restaurants or grocery stores simply isn't accurate. There's tons of restaurants and at least two large grocery stores in the downtown area. They've actually done a pretty good job in the last 15 years bringing lots and lots of residential units to an area that had basically none, and the other amenities to support those new people were already there.

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