Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Transit Oriented Communitites are desirable places to live

Last weekend over dinner, friends of mine bemoaned leaving their walkable Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle for the isolation of the suburb that we both live in. They traded the convenience and stimulation of the city in exchange for a lot more home square footage that they could afford.

What if this family didn’t have to leave Seattle to find more affordable space? Or, what if they could find the vibrant atmosphere of an urban area in the suburbs at a price they could handle?

A bill that is coasting through the legislature is offering a solution. House Bill 1490, the Transit Oriented Communities bill, aims to create more compact communities with affordable homes and convenient transportation across the state. From the Environmental Priorities Coalition:
Transit-Oriented Communities would revise the state’s transportation and land-use planning framework to assist local jurisdictions to plan for growth in a sustainable and climate-friendly way. The bill will provide incentives for cities and developers to create affordable, livable, transit-oriented development, increasing transportation choices.
Light rail naysayers in Charlotte, North Carolina, happily ate their words when the city's controversial light rail line, LYNX, was a smashing success. LYNX ridership is expected to reach forecasted 2025 levels after only two years of service and locals praise its convenience. Restaurants, shops and affordable housing units sprang up along the planned train route, generating a flood of tax revenue for the city and giving locals a reason to ride.

Charlotte’s sensible development wasn’t random, but the result of local planning policies that supported transit-oriented development. Environmentally and socially-conscious Washingtonians should be even more eager to embrace TOD as a solution to many of today’s problems.

Neighborhoods like Wallingford are expensive for a reason. Mixed-use development, with a blend of homes and businesses, offers convenience and character, thus demand for the urban environment is high. If we can increase its supply by building more compact neighborhoods around public transportation centers, in areas outside of Seattle, and include affordable housing in the mix, more people can afford the amenities they want.

To survive the economic readjustment that the country is going through, Washington must plan ahead and create desirable communities that will attract talented people. If we do, businesses will want to call us home and my super-talented friends (are you reading this?) will not consider leaving the region for a more affordable and attractive out-of-state location.


Blogger Brandon said...

Has the use of eminent domain been an issue in Washington with what TOD has been developmed?

May 26, 2009 11:12 AM  

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