Density, from flickr user C1ssou

Andrew Austin at the TCC blog has the update on the Transit Oriented Development Bill, mentioned here and here, that is working its way through the state legistlature. It’s currently set for a committee hearing next week. It’s House Bill 1490, and you can read the full text here.

26 Replies to “Transit Oriented Development Bill”

  1. Section 9: “The allowed net density for these transit oriented development areas must be fifty dwelling units per acre.”

    Is this a maximum or a minimum requirement (or both)? This appears to mean (when read through Sec 9.4) that the net density over the entire area must work out to 50 units/acre. Sounds like a diversity of densities will be supported by this bill as long as a prescribed density overall is met. I’d like that. But as both or either a minimum and maximum, is the average of fifty dwelling units per acre for the 1/2 mile area around a station right? Is there a model to compare that to?

    1. What about stations in industrial areas (BAR for instance). Does this require that level of density around all stations, or just in thoes with residential zoning?

    2. Remember that a road isn’t part of a transit oriented development area. Just the development is. :)

      That means that the ‘allowed net density’, the maximum, must be (at least) fifty dwelling units per acre.

      I think the at least is implied. If there’s actually ambiguity there, they’ll deal with it in committee, but I doubt there is.

      What do you mean by model?

  2. It’s easy for a legislator to stick a ‘D’ next to his/her name when running for office; it’s also east to call him/herself an environmentalist ‘concerned’ about global warming.

    How our legislators vote on this bill will tell us which ones are REAL Democrats, greens and progressives.

  3. Not sure if this is the same piece of legislation, but as reported by Rachel Maddow last night, transit and infrastructure is making up a paltry 18% of the EcoStim Bill, with the rest being made up of 33% going to taxcuts ans 49% going to health programs.

    While I can agree with the health programs, we do NOT need more tax cuts. Thank you Republican Party…

    1. I agree with that. The tax cuts are silly, I would even argue that it’s not a lot of highway dollars either. The debate gets lost in roads vs transit, but the frank fact of the matter is that there isn’t a lot of either.

  4. No, it’s not the same federal legislation being discussed by Maddow last night.

    This is a bill at the STATE level requiring cities to permit/allow a certain density around a transit station. It may or may not be a good bill (devil is in the details). But it meets my requirement that state legislation actually DO something, instead of just requiring people to talk about it or argue about it in front of the Growth Management Hearings Boards (which is what the original write-up of 6850 did, last year, and what I strongly objected to).

    Greg, before tossing around the “who’s-a-real-D” litmus test argument, please learn something about the Growth Management Act and how it works. It’s frustrating, wonky and you can argue about whether it’s been effective or not (as has been noted by Erica over at the Stranger). It will be MORE effective when the statute is clearer about what’s expected and in what time frame, and leaves less to the subjectivity inherent in long-range comprehensive “planning.”

  5. Hello Representative Eddy,

    Thank you for your efforts in this area; recently I read through your legislative record over the past two years, and it struck me again how these are obviously issues close to your heart (although we may disagree somewhat on this issue, or that).

    There was one bill that stood out to me-HB1752, if I recall-in which I am a bit confused as to where it is in the process. I called your office on Friday and left a message…I’m hoping that if I arrange some time to visit Olympia in the near future, you or Paula will be able to educate me on both the bill and the process.

    Best regards,


  6. Will do. Feel free to come in and chat. HB1752 passed, I think, in 2007. It was a technical fix to a poorly-written process concerning siting an industrial zone on the edge of a UGA in southwest Washington. Wonky in the extreme, very site-specific. Everyone, including Futurewise, agreed to the fix.

  7. Representative Eddy,

    > But it meets my requirement that state legislation actually DO something,

    Why? The State isn’t funding Sound Transit to any great extent. I think the municipalities in the 48th are far more capable of determining zoning issues than micro management at the State level. I agree the GMA is complex (it’s a complex issue) but passing legislation because you feel a need to do something doesn’t seem like good governance at all.

  8. Bernie: Small clarification. The GMA set broad goals and left it to local counties and cities to figure out HOW to meet those goals, largely thorugh comprehensive planning. Such planning is by its very nature aspirational, somewhat subjective, and results assessed after a decade or more of “action.”

    As stated earlier, editorialists such as Erica Barnett at the Stranger have questioned whether the GMA has delivered on its promise. It’s a mixed bag; we’ve done better in constraining sprawl than we would have done WITHOUT the GMA. But we could do much better. And to try to improve on the outcome is not “micromanagement”, IMHO. Rather, we should be trying to set a better, clearer and more results-driven state policy, thus improving on results and, hopefully, shortening the time to realization.

    Whether this bill is the right answer (or one of a set of answers) is another question. The devil IS in the details. I’m sure that will get worked out in committee, in discussion with the prime sponsor.

    Deb Eddy

  9. Deb: I hope you’ll keep us informed on the details but on the face of it I don’t believe the State has any business mandating zoning around transit stations. Planning a transit route has so many variables besides residential density (employment, land values, geography, geology, etc.) that any Bill that tries isolate one factor seems like a bad idea.

    I’m also deeply suspicious of this bill sponsored by legislators from outside the area it will effect. The “feel good” idea is that forcing high residential density is “green” because it means people can walk to transit. My fear is that it will be used to delay or torpedo projects which otherwise make sense. In short, unless this bill addresses a serious shortcoming in the GMA or some other aspect of the already contentious planning process then more red tape is not the answer.

    1. I think the state certainly has the power, but why not the business?

      The state is forced to pay for most of the effects of sprawl, and does chip in help if not a lot of money for many aspects of our transit infrastructure (sound transit was created by the state legistlature for example).

      So if it’s everyone’s financial business that we get the best value for our infrastructure, why is it not our legistlative business?

      1. ST is divided up into different taxing zones. I fail to see why it’s everyone’s business how taxes paid by folks on the eastside or Seattle are spent on projects in their own district. If it affects connectivity with the rest of the system yes; but Vashon Island and Spokane? Should Seattle get to decide Vashon has to rezone for high density around the ferry terminals? There’s a much stronger argument for that since Seattleites foot a large percentage of the bill for those ferries.

  10. “the state isn’t funding Sound Transit to any great extent.”

    Uh, you mean like ZERO?

    Eddy, Clibborn and their ilk don’t think about boosting regional transit with state funds. Quite the contrary: these pseudo-Dems are always looking for new ways to re-direct locally approved transit dollars into their floundering state roads accounts.

    1. The Seattle Streetcar was paid for by state funds. Even though sound transit hasn’t received state money in a (very) long time, the state still does put a little money into transit.

      Nothing like they put into roads, however.

      1. Check out source of state funds (largely gas tax) and 18th Amendment to the Constitution. /d

      2. “Such highway purposes shall be construed to include… The construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, county roads, bridges and city streets.”

        I think it’s clear streetcars, and arguably all public transit including Link, “better” streets. They get the ugly, polluting, dangerous cars off of them!

      3. The Feds spend 20% of their gas tax on transit and intercity rail. The state spends 100% on roads.

Comments are closed.