If We Create Jobs In DC, Where Will They Go?

Dave Alpert criticizes the Gray transition team for having an economic development strategy oriented around making it easier for car commuters to get in and out of the city and into Washington, DC. I agree with everything Alpert says, but I have a more fundamental issue with this analysis—there’s noplace left in DC to build offices so what’s the point?

Downtown DC is full. There’s basically no land left to build on, and you’re not allowed to build higher. If you make it a more attractive place to locate jobs, no additional jobs will be created because there’s noplace to put the jobs. The improved quality will show up as higher rent for landlords, and our rents are already the highest in the nation. If you relaxed the height limit, the high rents would spur new construction (=jobs) which would lead to lower rent per square foot which would make downtown, DC a more attractive employment destination. Then it would be a good time to talk about how to handle the commuters. But right now the city’s like a restaurant that nobody can ever get a table at wondering if cutting prices will gin up more business.