Without getting into the merits of the plan, I do want to commend the Post for writing an almost entirely pro-urbanist article about the White Flint plan. Greater Greater Washington wrote about how when two other Post writers wrote about how Fairfax County was considering incorporating as a city earlier this month, they wrote (and their editors let them write) an article just riddled with fifty year old anti-urban stereotypes. Sample quote: urbanism is something “many have tried to avoid: high-rise offices, blight, crime and housing that’s more likely to have a balcony than a back yard.”
So it’s quite refreshing to see Miranda Spivack taking quite the opposite tack. She writes that the medical center would be “meshing research centers with urban lifestyles; allow developers to transform the aging and car-centric White Flint area into a high-rise mini-city that could be larger than Tysons Corner with street life to rival the District and Bethesda.” That’s a really positive framing with an upbeat tone. Similarly, Spivack paraphrases Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson, “The plans approved today, he said, are a major step toward creating a new type of suburb where it is easy for residents and workers to walk, bike or rely on public transportation. His hope, he said, is to produce ‘great urban centers.’” In the Fairfax article, they quoted suburban mothers by the pool. That’s quite different. Hanson’s quote has words like “new,” “easy,” and “great” connected to urban. It’s subtly very good PR for cities.
It’s not a perfect article. The last paragraph, which quotes “Pam Lindstrom, a Gaithersburg resident who tracks land-use issues for the Sierra Club,” seems to attribute her opposition to the respected environmental organization, which simply isn’t accurate. Moreover, after reading it a few times over, I’m still not always clear about what in the article is talking about White Flint and what is about Gaithersburg West. That’s a real problem, as those are separate plans and one is much, much better than the other.
Even with these concerns, though, it’s always good to reward good behavior. Thanks Miranda Spivack, for making your colleagues at the local desk of the Post look really bad in comparison.