Local Commentary

Editorial: The Wisdom of Cooperation

Comes the news that the chief honchos of all three “DMV” (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia) jurisdictions constituting the five or six million living in what is also known as the Greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, have gotten their heads together to forge a united front in the effort to woo Amazon to locate a gargantuan second national headquarters, known as HQ2, in these parts.

In an editorial in The Washington Post this week, the Amazon “sweepstakes” has helped to produce “a long-discussed but widely unexpected agreement among the two states and the city (of Washington D.C.) to juice their collective subsidy” to Metro and extending that “spirit of cooperation among the region’s three top elected officials…even further.” The three, the editorial reports, “presented a united front” to Amazon. “If one of our jurisdictions earns the honor of being selected for HQ2, we all win,” wrote the three in a letter to Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO. “We are partners, dedicated to shaping a better future for our Greater Washington region.”

We’d like to know more about who was the driving force behind this, as it marks a radical change of approach to just about everything, as much as it makes obviously good sense.

One can only imagine what it would be like if this same cooperative and collaborative approach was applied to other things in the region, such as, oh say, the development of the properties around the West Falls Church Metro station!

How differently would the parties involved — the City of Falls Church, Fairfax County, WMATA and some key private sector players — if someone had the big idea of applying the same approach to that area, instead of having everyone move ahead with a paranoid secrecy and a bullying, ganging-up approach.

The City of Falls Church has by far, to its credit, been the most open and transparent in its development intentions for what it controls in that area. Fairfax County and WMATA, whether in collusion or separately, have been far less so. Then there are the entities such as the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech graduate center, Federal Realty that owns the Giant shopping center, and Beyer Automotive, which has assembled 20 acres of properties there, too.

If the effort had been put into bringing all these together, then there could be plans for some 80 acres of development. That would be enough to bid on the HQ2 project, for heaven’s sake! It could realistically be one of the biggest developments in this booming region. But alas, that’s apparently never going to happen for less than exemplary reasons, the same, in reverse, as has led to the new spirit of DMV cooperation.

Most of the individual properties are seen by their owners as the “One Ring” so fiercely coveted and fought over in the “Lord of the Rings,” each claiming their plots as their “Precious”….to the detriment of us all.