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In this week’s print edition, I went long-ish on George Mason economist Stephen Fuller, who’s been the leading prognosticator on the Washington area for decades now. He’s a charming person with a really interesting job, and you should read the profile.
Meanwhile, an epilogue of sorts: When it launched a year ago, the 2030 Group—a collection of developers for whom Fuller’s Center for Regional Analysis has performed nearly $300,000 worth of research—somewhat passive aggressively charged that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Greater Washington Board of Trade weren’t doing enough to push regional cooperation.
“A true standalone regional authority has sustainable funding, and is empowered to implement long range as well as short range decisions. And we just don’t have that,” Gaithersburg developer Bob Buchanan told me. “COG is a form of regionalism, but it’s not the regionalism we need to make long term decisions.”
Several months and a few conversations later, COG sent the 2030 Group a letter encouraging them to get broader input, and suggesting they support the Region Forward 2050 initiative. More recently, they’ve agreed to do that, joining a group called the “Region Forward Coalition” that will do more research on existing conditions in the area, and perhaps pilot what COG Director Dave Robertson calls a “SWAT team approach” in pumping resources into a concentrated area (like Ward 8 around St. Elizabeth’s) to turn it around.
Despite the 2030 Group’s pushy presentation, Buchanan says he’s on board with the Region Forward goals, and wants to be a team player.
“The McMansion out in the suburbs, that world is over. We don’t have the land,” he said. “For those people who say we’re just real estate people who want to keep doing the same thing, we’re not. We know we can’t afford to have ever widening sprawl, because the cost of infrastructure is prohibitive.”
This story isn’t over. In fact, it never really ends.