I’m Thankful That Amazon Didn’t Come To D.C.

Last week, when Amazon decided to set up sorta-kinda-headquarters in Crystal City and in Long Island City, NY, I was glad D.C. wasn’t going to waste any money on enriching the wealthiest man in the world. Given how Crystal City, over the last few years, has lost a lot of jobs, and has vacant office space, it’s not a bad fit.

On the housing front, while Amazon probably won’t affect the market as a whole. That said, I could see how many of the neighborhoods on the Yellow and Blue lines, such as Shaw, Eastern Market, Mt. Vernon, and the Waterfront, could become even more pricey. That could very well have knock on effects throughout the city.

But what Amazon highlights is how the D.C. political leadership (and I mean the state government, not Wor-Shing-Tun) is stuck in a time warp. The city needs to be less concerned with revenue–D.C. is wealthy, though that wasn’t the case twenty years ago–and much more with inequality and making it possible for middle class (and even upper middle class) people to stay in the city. A huge part of that is housing: we need more of it. Some of that has to be publicly funded housing–and not just for the needy. There also has to be serious zoning reform: too many neighborhoods simply don’t have enough density. At the same time, the mass transit system needs to service more neighborhoods more effectively (especially the bus system).

But while the politics of helping the needy, essentially government charity, are quite the rage (which is good), when it comes to making serious structural changes, D.C. doesn’t seem to have the will to do what needs to be done. Homeowners are a powerful constituency, and I don’t see anyone willing to take them on.

But at least D.C. is still marginally affordable for now.

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