On Tuesday, Vincent Gray soundly beat Adrian Fenty for the Democratic nomination for mayor. Given the one-party state that we live in, Gray can for all intents and purposes be considered the mayor-elect. So what will his mayoralty mean for Georgetown? It’s not clear, since he has not said too much specifically about Georgetown, but that doesn’t mean GM can’t do a little speculation on a few issues!
GM has kicked around the idea of writing an article about Michelle Rhee’s disastrous meeting with the Hardy PTA last December and call it “The Night Adrian Fenty Lost the Election.” Yes there were other single events that seemed to encapsulate everything that Fenty was doing wrong to get reelected, but the Hardy incident stands out as a particularly bad one. Not for nothing, but the meeting ended with Ward 7 councilmember Yvette Alexander delivering a rousing speech to the angry crowd that to get rid of Rhee they’d have to get rid of Fenty first. Step one can be checked off.
While the post-Pope transition appears to be going along with relatively minimal problems, it seems likely that an appetite remains within the Hardy PTA to roll back the changes and reinstall Patrick Pope as principal. Moreover, there may be an effort to finally convert Hardy entirely into a magnet arts school. Given that the Hardy situation became a bit of a rallying cry for pro-Gray voters, it seems likely that at least some change of course is taken.
Of course much of that depends on whether Michelle Rhee sticks around and how much latitude Gray gives her. The jury is still out on that.
The primary complaint of residents and visitors of Georgetown is parking. Rather than face the reality that it’s a scarce resource and to treat it as such, many people take the contradictory position that parking can somehow be easy and cheap if only the government would do X or Y.
So with that in mind, during the last mayoral debate Carol Joynt lobbed a parking question at the candidates:
(If the embed isn’t working, watch it here: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=7130)
Fringe candidate Leo Alexander gave the populist and dead-end answer that parking needs to be cheaper and enforcement lighter. Fenty gave the performance parking answer (kind of), which GM loved. And Vince Gray didn’t really address parking head-on, but gave a strong endorsement to mass transit.
What does this mean? Well, as hashed out over at GGW, Gray has given some mixed messages on performance parking. He seems to intellectually “get it” but he nonetheless made some comments about the cost of parking being too high.
And while Gray didn’t get as wonky about parking theories as Fenty, his emphasis on mass transit is nonetheless apt. And it gets at the problem in Carol’s question: Georgetown doesn’t have a parking problem, it has a driving problem. We can’t make more parking spots, but we can reduce the number of cars and the number of car trips.
Furthermore, some leaders in Georgetown have been quietly planning a radical overhaul of parking for Georgetown. Built on the principal that parking on the street should be expensive enough that some spots are always free, these changes could improve the parking experience in Georgetown significantly.
It’s still a long-shot, and organizing Georgetown behind the idea is probably more of a challenge than getting DDOT on board, so Gray’s views may not be that relevant. But that said, we do need to be on the lookout for Gray’s populist streak and make sure he doesn’t thwart reform in Georgetown to appease a misguided belief that parking can be easy and cheap at the same time.
Frankly it’s not like Fenty did much for Georgetown businesses and all signs point to that city-neglect continuing. The Georgetown commercial district will continue to trudge along without clear leadership or vision. The BID and GBA will do what they can, but there’s only so much. And the ANC will look out for the interests that the ANC looks out for. But a deafening silence from the Wilson Building on what to do about the Georgetown commercial district will keep rolling on.