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Gray and Fenty on Smart Growth

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Gray and Fenty on Smart Growth"

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Dave Alpert tries to reassure me that there’s no need for smart growth advocates to be “nervous” about Vince Gray’s possibly-impending victory in the mayor’s race since “On Smart Growth, Gray is on the right side.”

I have to say, though, that I didn’t find anything in the post all that reassuring. There are no specific policy commitments here, and it’s easy enough for a reasonably skilled politician—especially someone like Gray who’s smart and detail-oriented and everyone agrees understands what the issues are—to offer generically reassuring rhetoric to a specifically targeted audience. Given Gray’s tendency to emphasis consensus and process issues, what I’d be more interested in is hearing what he says to people who are on the wrong side of these topics. If people tell him they think Gabe Klein at DDOT has built too many bike lanes or Harriet Tregoning at the Office of Planning doesn’t understand the need for all new buildings to come with lots of mandated parking, does he say reassuring things to them? Or does he explain why they’re wrong, and why adopting those viewpoints would undermine his goals of job-creation, affordable housing, and sustainable development?

Ultimately, I don’t want to be a Gray hater but I mostly wish he wasn’t running in this election. If you asked me to assess the overall state of DC governance over the past four years I’d say that Fenty and his team—especially the aforementioned Tregoning & Klein, plus Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Chancellor Michelle Rhee—are doing a good job and so is City Council Chairman Vince Gray. The main upshot of the election is that no matter who wins we’ll almost certainly get a downgrade in Council Chair quality for the sake of possibly displacing a mayor under whose watch crime has fallen, test scores have risen, and the population has grown.

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