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“Paradise Lost,” by Felix Gillette (1/25), is probably one of the most self-centered, delusional pieces of trash I’ve ever read. The population surge occurring in the District should be viewed as a blessing, not a curse. It is revitalizing neighborhoods, creating public works, beautifying areas of the city besides Upper Northwest and immediately adjacent to the Mall, and creating a positive national view of a city that has been plagued by a terrible reputation for decades. Along with these advantages for the city itself, the District population surge may also help to curtail the infectious American disease called urban sprawl that is devouring the entire region.
A population increase within the District line is smart growth. What is actually occurring now in the region is sprawl on an unprecedented level. According to recent statistics, the greater Washington, D.C., region is expected to lose more than 300,000 acres of open land between 1990 and 2020, which translates to 28 acres a day! Anyone who lives or has traveled outside the District line in the past few years knows these numbers are all too true. Do we want our city to look like Atlanta or Los Angeles, cities that have no clear definition, just sprawling on indefinitely? Do we really want to merge with Baltimore or even Richmond? I think not.
More people in D.C. means more money, something the District desperately needs. It means higher property values. It means an increase in businesses relocating here, which will also bring money to the city. It means more jobs within city limits rather than in the suburbs. It means a higher standard of living for more neighborhoods throughout D.C. This is helpful to most of those who live here.
So let the suburbanites come! Let federal workers rediscover the city they work in. Bring your families. Buy housing. Rebuild buildings abandoned for decades. Enroll your children in District schools. Commute to work using the Metro instead of clogging the streets with cars. Make Alice Rivlin’s view “of a coming District to be distinguished by vibrant neighborhoods, good schools, a fiscally solvent government, and less poverty” a reality. Please!