Thursday, July 28, 2011

Balancing transit dreams with housing needs


Going from national news reports, you’d think all that’s happening in Washington is the sputtering and stalling of negotiations around the debt ceiling. However, those of us who call the D.C. region home can happily report that in the days ahead, we may see relief from gridlock of a more literal kind.

Momentum is building in the national capital region around several new public transit initiatives.  A scan of the local section of the Washington Post in recent weeks reveals a story about development plans coming together in anticipation of the proposed Purple Line, a rail line that would connect Metro stops in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and has yet to win any construction funds. Other articles address an ongoing debate over placement of a new Silver Line station at Dulles Airport. These are exciting times for transit-oriented development in the Washington area.

However, in all the excitement, it’s easy to forget that shiny new transit lines usually also mean shiny new price tags on real estate along transportation corridors. For example, the Post addressed concerns that redevelopment along Northern Virginia’s Columbia Pike, including the addition of a street car, could result in the loss of affordable rental homes. Last month, in the first issue of his new column, Moving Forward, our own Jeff Lubell discussed ways to build housing affordability into transit line plans before real estate prices skyrocket.

To get planners and advocates in the D.C. area thinking about this topic, the Center is hosting an ongoing series of webinars in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Our outstanding speakers are bringing these issues to the forefront and highlighting innovative projects underway in and around Washington, D.C. 

The Live at the Forum Summer Series: Sustainable Development in the National Capital Region, kicked off yesterday with a session on “budget-oriented development” that featured case studies of the Columbia Pike Initiative and the Transforming Tysons project.  Speakers at subsequent sessions will discuss regional coordination and tools for preserving affordability as demographics change in location-efficient areas.  Visit the HousingPolicy.org Forum to learn more.

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