If you care about transit oriented development, you may have resigned yourself to the idea that state policymakers in Olympia will never be a major player on the issue. The state doesn’t invest in light rail, and doesn’t do much to assist localities in providing transit service. Sometimes they can be downright hostile. Which makes this proposed legislation such a welcome change:
Transportation Choices and Futurewise are running a bill that seeks to capitalize on the ST2 investment. The bill which will be sponsored by Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-Vashon Island) and Senator Chris Marr (D-Spokane) will encourage transit oriented development around transit stations across the state. The bill is entitled “Creating Transit Communities” and will create land use guidelines and incentives to ensure that dense, walkable, and accessible development takes shape around light rail and BRT stations.
The state does some heavy lifting on land-use issues. Things like passing, then defending, growth management. Encouraging transit oriented development is something usually left to counties and municipalities. Some of the goals of this legislation:
Encourage walkable compact communities with an average density of 50 units per acre within a half mile radius around high capacity transit stations.
Provide local jurisdictions the resources and a framework to grow in a sustainable way.
Offer incentives for development in transit oriented communities.
Allow for transit oriented development in our urban centers that encourages a reduction in vehicle miles traveled and helps Washington achieve its emissions reductions goals.
Strengthen existing provisions to ensure that low-income housing is available within the transit accessible communities.
Things are getting interesting as once local housing activist (who also is a die-hard light rail opponent) is spreading disinformation about the bill.