Yesterday was the first day of the legislative session in Olympia. With the budget issues facing the Legislature, things look pretty bleak all around but there might be one bright spot policy-wise: 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.
More info below the fold.
I’ve been hearing good things, but the details are still a little vague, what I understand the legislation will do:
- 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.
Last year the voters of the Puget Sound region overwhelming said yes to a significant investment in light rail in our region, and we have to make sure that we get the most we can out of it. Transit infrastructure should be used as a smart development tool and help make our region a more sustainable and healthy place to live. The better you use transit as a means for development, the better the transit works and the more likely we are to get more transit. Nice re-enforcement cycle, that. We will be tracking this legislation and keep you posted the policy details and progress!
 Unless you love the SR99 tunnel.