Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Silver Spring News 'N Notes (Featuring Long-Delayed Token Derecho Post)

I considered doing a derecho-focused post a couple weeks back, but what hadn't already been said about the storm by then? Everyone already knows that Pepco sucks. I will say that If we're going to expect multiple long-term power outages every season, perhaps it's time to seriously consider burying the power lines once and for all. I don't care if you put a surcharge on my bill - it probably won't be more than the total I've spent on hotel rooms, meals out, and spoiled food over the past few years, not to mention the non-monetary costs associated with the inconveniences resulting from the outages. (e.g. The shame of wearing wrinkled shirts to work.)

This doesn't even fall in the category of "first world problems" - regular blackouts are a common problem of the third world.

After strolling through down Ellsworth this past weekend, a full two weeks after the storm, I realized that I might have underestimated the full level of destruction in my neighborhood. After surveying the damage, my belief that the large trees surrounding my house were somehow "too big to fail" has been somewhat shaken.

I mean, look at this biggun that got taken down:


And this unfortunate house, now wearing a tarp, appears to have been split down the middle:


This is just a small sampling. There were few houses that appeared untouched. This storm toppled more neighborhood trees in five minutes than EYA's townhouse construction ever could. Maybe we need to print up a batch of anti-derecho lawn signs. ("Weaker breeze, more trees?")

Of the countless fallen trees littering the post-derecho landscape, this one was my personal fave. It managed to somehow perfectly split the uprights of a nearby tree.


This had the effect of making the base of the tree appear from certain angles to be levitating.


 And in non-derecho news:

- The Magruder's in Kemp Mill is closing.

- The Piratz Tavern episode of SpikeTV's Bar Rescue, originally scheduled to air this Sunday, has been moved to next Sunday at 9:00 PM.

- KBR, already in the process of erecting the Heritage at Georgia Avenue apartments, has been selected to construct The Premier, "a 14-story complex with 160 housing units with aspirations of LEED corroboration". Not 100% sure where this one is located, but I believe it is to be somewhere on or near Fenton Street. No doubt someone will tell me.

- EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson likes to go to the AFI with Cabinet members.

- When this news item popped up, I was disappointed to learn it was not from our Silver Spring...



48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perfect: "Maybe we need to print up a batch of anti-derecho lawn signs. ("Weaker breeze, more trees?")

TM said...

Loved the Gawker article.

I like the undergrounding idea. Wouldn't improved aesthetics increase home values, which we pocket when sold? And more tax dollars for the county to help maintain the underground cables which I understand do wear out.

Thanks for the heads up on the Bar Rescue episode. Setting up my DVR..

Anonymous said...

I need to know who they expect to move into all of these overpriced apartments. They're popping all over the place. Who has $2K to send a month on a 1 bedroom?

PS I love Weaker breeze, more trees!

Terry in Silver Spring said...

The Solaire apartments are almost twice as expensive as what I pay at Summit Hills...and you'll hear lots of trains.

Anonymous said...

Re: Pepco sucks. I heard that Takoma Park is thinking/talking about creating their own electric company. Does anyone know what that would entail and the pros and cons of being independent of Pepco?

Anonymous said...

people love to rail on pepco, and who wouldnt its an easy target.

But what half the numbskulls out there dont realize is they are a regulated company. which means they can't even buy pencils, let alone raise rates without the OK from the Maryland Public Service Commision. So if you have a problem with the outages, with the rates, with the lack of cutting trees, with them charging you for being out of pwer and the loss of revenue, heres a possible solution....

Go complain to your liberal tax and spend, waste someone else' hard earned money government in annapolis and get them to deregulate and stop nickle/diming us

btw, you know why Anna;polis signs off on this? because every time they raise rates, annapolis gets more revenue.

so lets put the blame where it belongs.

Also, Virginie has de-regulated utilities, did anyone notice there were SIGNIFICANTLY fewer outages in VA?

Anonymous said...

I'm almost positive "The Premier" would have to be 8711 Georgia Ave. (backs up to Fenton).

http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2012/02/georgia-avenue-groundbreaking-delayed.html

Anonymous said...

Wow it only took 6 posts for this to turn political, that might be a record!

Anonymous said...

I've so had it with Pepco that I've finally decided it's time to do something about it. I'm meeting next week with a company rep to switch our house over to solar power. Now a lot of companys will let you lease-to-own the solar panels. So, you don't need to put up all the upfront money. And my bills will still still less than getting electricity from Pepco.

Anonymous said...

Love the outraged Pepco customers but I'd rather bang my head against the wall than move to Virginia. The idea that Dominion or any other big utility treats it retail customers any different/better than Pepco is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Maryland's electric services were 'deregulated' in 1999 with the passage of the Electric Customer Choice and Competition Act. While services from Pepco and BGE weren't spectacular before this, they certainly haven't improved since. In fact, not long ago an extensive Washington Post investigation into MD's electrical outages indicated that the performance of both have declined significantly over the last 5-7 years.

Rebecca said...

The problem with service providers like Pepco (and WMATA too) is that there is no financial or business incentive for them to improve their service. They have no real competition, so it doesn't matter if it takes them a week to turn your power back on - you have no other option but to continue paying them. As far as undergrounding power lines, there is no incentive for Pepco to spend billions of dollars up front just to improve the quality of your power service. They'll get paid either way, so why take the financial risk?

Deregulating utility providers is not the solution, at least not in the short or medium term. There is a massive amount of infrastructure required to operate a major utility provider. There's no way another company would have the capital or means to compete with Pepco, at least not in the foreseeable future. Plus, do you really want to see two (or more) sets of power lines in front of your house? No.

If I owned a house, I would definitely be looking into installing solar panels. I don't see this Pepco mess getting resolved anytime soon.

Mike said...

There was lots of discussion on several SS listservs about solar panels and the storm. Bottom line, your panels are still tied to the grid and when Pepco went down, those folks who had them said they still lost power, too. They aren't feeding power into some kind of back up system.

Anonymous said...

Too funny -- this ebay listing was just shown in a story on the NBC nightly news:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dark-Knight-Rises-Midnight-Release-IMAX-ticket-Silver-Spring-MD-/190704093940?pt=US_Tickets_all_in_one&hash=item2c66d98af4

Anonymous said...

@ annoymous 7:13

Dude, im not sure where you got your "facts" from, but pepco, bge and all utilities aee regulated by the states...get your facts right before you make your self sound even dumber

http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/25ind/html/62pubsf.html


Btw, all those solar-powered hippies.....you too will be regulated by the state, so your not independant of anything. Btw, solar powered enegery is a. a waste of money, b. unreliebale and c. just stupid

takoma is a high tree density area, so sun rarely gets through. so if you want to spend $80000 to save 30 cents on electricty and have your power go dark 362 out of 365 days a year...go ahead.

plus solar energy is EXTREMLY unreliable for personal use

..idiots!

Anonymous said...

And the jackass commenter strikes again! Funny that he stopped signing his posts as "steve" these days. At least he's self-aware enough to realize he's embarrassing himself.

Anonymous said...

yes, because steve is the only person who sees ignorance in so many of the posts here. can't possibly be anyone else. maybe one of the other 3 people that ever reads this blog

Anonymous said...

It must be awful to be Steve or the random anonymous poster who spews his hate here. Are you really that miserable that you need to attack everyone? I used to get so annoyed by your posts, now I just feel sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Anon troll: So, I guess Virginia is a magical land without any government oversight or regulation of utilities at all?

http://www.scc.virginia.gov/pue/index.aspx

If so, it's strange that they have a "Division of Energy Regulation" that purports to regulate energy services in the Commonwealth.

Seriously, it's not even clear what point you are really attempting to make. Is it that, despite having very similar governing structures and regulating bodies, MD (and MoCo) is run by Democrats and VA is run by Republicans, thus making the former evil (just because, you know of the libruls) and the latter Teh Awesomest Evah?

If you're going to engage in ad hominem attacks where anyone posting anything resembling a disagreement with your enlightened world view is an idiot, perhaps have the temerity to at least define your terms. "Regulation" can mean almost anything. Conversely, so can "deregulation." Very clearly, like almost every state, "Virginie" regulates its public utilities marketplace, including rates. Just because some people want to pretend otherwise does not make the claim factual.

Gull said...

The Premier is 8711 Georgia. I walked past there today and they've spray painted the sidewalk up showing where the curb cuts will be to the new alley drive that will run along the building from Georgia ave back to the stub of Fenton St, as well as marked up all of the buried utilities near by.

ForestGlen said...

Someone who can't spell "energy" shouldn't be calling anyone stupid.

'

Anonymous said...

If you hippies can't see that liberals want the power companies regulated so your lights go out and Obama can come git your guns then you're blind!

Anonymous said...

^^

The above has to be a nice imitation troll post of Steve.

Whoever did it- funny stuff. Good job.

Anonymous said...

may be an immitation, but probabbly not too far from the truth. By the way, hows that whole hopey-changey working out for you?

Anonymous said...

It's working out great, Steve. We avoided a depression, and the economy is improving after the disaster it was in around late 2008. The American auto industry, which was on the brink of collapse, is now thriving. Osama bin laden was caught, after the prior president failed to make it a priority to do so. Troops are no longer in Iraq. Pre-existing conditions are no longer a ground for denial of health insurance. Payroll taxes have been cut.

So, the hopey/changey thing actually worked out great.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with Obama. stop being an idiot steve.

A lot of people are with you that silver spring has MAJOR issues. but stop making everything political.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 8:37

dont you mean, more than 30 million people unemployed, cost of living increased on averege $2000 a year for the average family, gas prices increase by 120%, wages down to there lowest levels in 30 years healthcare costs skyrocketing, more people applying for disability insuarnce than being hired, more debt acrued in the past 3 years than in the past 43 presidents combined. home prices at there lowest levels ever.

yea...working out great.

if this is success...id hate to see failure

Sligo said...

Yes, we know, Obama is responsible for every bad thing that exists in this world, but let's not have that discussion here, please.

Anonymous said...

Well the point of the argument was that liberals tend to control peoples lives...example in this case by regulating utilities in MD.

Suggesting that Pepco (and other utilities) if they were not hamstrung by regulators in Annapolise and in MoCO, there would be fewer problems Not problem free...just fewer problems.

any time you place a middle man between the producer and consumer....everyone suffers, but Annapolis and MoCo have failed to realize that

Anonymous said...

Boy i spelled that wrong...Annapolis

Anonymous said...

can we instead talk about why Piratz tavern is the worst place on earth?

Anonymous said...

It's simple. its a bizarre theme that only 20 people in the entire DC area appreciate. there 50 year old men and women dressing like children because they couldnt find a real job. Btw, this doesnt mean anyone who works at a reteraunt is a failure....but the people who work at piratz....clearly are failures in life.

Anonymous said...

The scariest thing about that episode (besides that guy's eye) was the income disparity between day and night in Silver Spring. It was $90K-something by day and $32K at night. Maybe that's why they're building all of the over-priced apartments.

Anonymous said...

I didn't catch it, but what did they say about the income disparity?

Anonymous said...

They said that the people who work in Silver Spring make an average of $90K and the people who live in Silver Spring make an average of $32K. They wanted to focus on all of the business people for lunches and happy hours, which made sense. I really liked what they did with the remodel too. But, as we know, they scrapped the whole thing and went back to their pirate ways. Did anyone else notice that the husband was way too hot for the wife?

Anonymous said...

I need to watch this show.

Honestly that probably makes sense because on the few days I've worked from home and gotten lunch or walked around during a day the population of downtown silver spring seems much more affluent. Of course you can never be sure and this is just based on the clothes people are wearing which may not mean anything.

I will say there are certainly less punk loud teenagers and homeless people during the day so that might skew the numbers too.

And how the hell can anyone afford to live in the downtown area at 32k? Its ridiculously overpriced.

Craig said...

Going back to the income and cost of living issue.

I think Silver Spring is setting itself up for trouble. Specifically, the real estate developers and the MontCo planning people.

Silver Spring has this problem: the location is NOT desirable enough for high-income professionals AND the rents are too expensive for middle-income people. Thus, you have higher than usual vacancies in the new condo and apartment developments.

People who make serious income are going to live in trendy, gentrified neighborhoods. Silver Spring prices are getting close to levels seen in Bethesda and in some neighborhoods in upper NW DC. If you are a six-figure income earner, it's worth a paying just a smidgen more to live in a more safe and happening location that has a DC or Arlington, VA zip code.

When the Discovery Corporation HQ was completed in the early 2000s, rents exploded all over downtown Silver Spring. The assumption was that more media corporations and other businesses would RELOCATE to Silver Spring because of the Discovery location. This did not happen. When National Public Radio decided to stay in DC, the writing was on the wall for Montgomery County. businesses are finding better real estate deals, better incentives and frankly, more appealing locations for workers elsewhere.

Those Discovery Corporation employees drive their BMWs, RangeRovers, Audis and Acuras to Virginia, Bethesda, Potomac or upper NW DC after work each day. I don't know too many Discovery workers who are leasing or purchasing property in downtown Silver Spring. Do you?

The OLD Silver Spring is still here...like a festering sore on the skin if you are a developer or MontCo politician.

The Piratz Tavern is a perfect representation of the OLD Silver Spring: Quirky, not pretentious, not over-priced, not image conscience. The makeover version (The Corporate Bar) catered to the $90,000+ income crowd; the group of people that real estate developers and Montgomery County wants to buy and lease in downtown Silver Spring. The only problem: they (the 90,000+ crowd) don't live in Silver Spring and the owners of Piratz Tavern would be finished had they kept the "Corporate Bar" theme.

In the end, Piratz Tavern lives because Silver Spring is not a "yuppie" fantasyland. The owners of Piratz Tavern have a better grasp of the current demographic and socio-economic reality of Silver Spring than the developers, Montgomery County or producers at Spike TV for that matter.

Long live Piratz Tavern.

Sligo said...

Re: "I don't know too many Discovery workers who are leasing or purchasing property in downtown Silver Spring. Do you?"

Absolutely. I know quite a number of Discovery employees who have relocated to Silver Spring within a mile or two of their HQ. Why wouldn't they?

Anonymous said...

Not everyone who works at Discovery is wealthy, believe me. I know a lot of their workers who have moved to Silver Spring, but that doesn't make things less sketchy on the weekends.

Anonymous said...

I know of at least three Discovery employees that live in the same condos (mine) here in SS. I know a few more that live at the Blairs. Also, the notion that the typical worker at Discovery is driving a luxury vehicle and living in Potomac is laughable. Most seem to walk in or ride the Metro to work. While the average income of someone working in that particular building may be higher than most of "Silver Spring," for most, employment at Discovery is hardly an avenue to great wealth.

That said, I agree that the "Corporate" theme was clumsy and seemingly inappropriate (perhaps not for SS, but perhaps for that location).

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the one guy who gets freaked out any time someone makes a negative remark and shouts NOVA/DC troll over and over. Where is he?

I do agree with the idea that this place is too expensives for middle class and too undesirable for the super wealthy which leaves a very odd planning gap and might contribute to the wierdness on the weekends but...the idea that Piratz Tavern "gets it" (or gets anything for that matter) is laughable.

Craig said...

"I know quite a number of Discovery employees who have relocated to Silver Spring within a mile or two of their HQ. Why wouldn't they?"

For starters, the typical Discovery HQ employee is paid pretty well compared to other professionals who work in Silver Spring. I have conversed with fresh-out-of-college Discovery employees in local establishments and I was shocked at their salary levels. I mean--good for them--but damn, I must be in the wrong business. Corporate media is the shizzle. I would have had my student loans paid off in 2-3 years if I worked for Discovery.

Second, I stand by my point. Discovery Corporation employees travel TO and FROM the HQ by longer distance.

If you got the super income, why would you live in Silver Spring? If you can afford property in Potomac then you will buy property in Potomac.

If you are 23 years old, why would you live in a community where the nightlife is So-So and the place just is not "cool"? Travel around enough DC and Arlington neighborhoods and it's painfully obvious why Silver Spring is not a popular destination of choice for the 20-something crowd.

Needless to say, the real estate developers were hoping for a big bonanza of Discovery workers buying up condos and leasing swanky new apartments. This didn't materialize.

Silver Spring is in serious trouble because of the disconnect between EXPECTATIONS and REALITY. Silver Spring cannot compete with many DC neighborhoods, Arlington, or Bethesda when it comes to attracting young professionals with money. The expectations show up in $2100/month one-bedroom rentals in downtown locations. The reality appears when many apartment and condo units sit empty or when middle-class people leave with the moving truck because they cannot afford Silver Spring anymore.

Something has to give here.

Sligo said...

If there was no market for apartments, why are there multiple new buildings under construction. I'm sure those bankrolling them did their due diligence and didn't just base their multimillion dollar investment on a subjective view of the quality of nightlife in Silver Spring. When I lived in Bethesda (held up by some as a shining example of suburban nightlife), I still took the metro into DC every weekend to go out. That's just how it is.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that these "Discovery elite" would tell a complete stranger their salaries. Why don't you ask the hundreds of employees who have been laid off from the corporate media mecca how great it is? It happened to me and I make much more money than I ever did there, but I'm still not going to drop $2K on rent.

Anonymous said...

So so nightlife? What nightlife?

Anonymous said...

I want to meet the person that thinks they can buy a typical house in Potomac on a $90,000 salary.

Seriously, it's a healthy amount to get paid, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking that's the kind of money it takes to buy a million (or multi-million) dollar home.

Anonymous said...

I want to meet the person that thinks there is nightlife here.

Anonymous said...

To clarify the earlier Pepco conversation, utilities in Maryland are "deregulated," or restructured, at the generation and transmission levels. The distribution system (everything between the substation and your meter) is regulated by the MD Public Service Commission.