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It’s the end of the year: The time of year when I’m told that all journalistic outlets have some sort of year-in-review!
Problem is, I haven’t actually been here for a year, so any objective summation could fairly encompass only the last nine months. But I have learned a few things since I started this job back in April, when I knew nothing. Let’s do this, then, with a few of the most important takeaways.
- Just because you think it’s unfair doesn’t mean it’s illegal.
- If there’s an empty building, chances are good that Doug Jemal owns it.
- The Board of Zoning Adjustment is different from the Zoning Commission is different from the Zoning Administrator.
- Politicians occasionally act like children, and will take credit for anything.
- If I were a Georgetown student, I would be terrified of the neighbors.
- For some reason, lots of people don’t want more people living in their neighborhoods (especially if they’re poor).
- Grocery stores are a big deal. Furthermore, the hierarchy of grocery store desirability is as follows, in descending order: Wegmans, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Safeway, Giant.
- It sure is nice to have the federal government around, except when it’s not.
- Saying you’re a “native Washingtonian” is like a secret password.
- Protests are rarely effective, but important nonetheless.
- The most well-intentioned government programs can backfire (or just not work).
- Vacant buildings can hide multitudes.
- It’s really hard to get anything to locate east of the River.
- Parking, trash, and noise: The unholy trinity of neighborhood resistance to new things. Plus the Adams Morgan bogeyman.
- Rosslyn is like the District’s gangly teenage sibling: Tall, awkward, and unfriendly.
- Being a developer is really stressful.
- Not having a vote screws D.C. over more than most people realize.
- The “Washington area” means something completely different from D.C. proper.
- Gentrification, placemaking, livability, transit-oriented, walkable, urbanist, mixed-use, and “addressing the street” are all extremely useful and yet vomitously overused terms.
- “Smart growth” and “historic preservation” mean different things to different people.
- NIMBYs take many forms, but—like hipsters!—will always deny their NIMBYism.
- In development, nothing really happens until it happens (or doesn’t).
- Hyperlocal government can be both a blessing and a curse.
- All rankings are bogus.
- Washington is a fascinating, dynamic, rich place to live and work. So cheers to you, D.C. Happy 2011.