Region Forward Blog

Funneling housing growth to areas served by transit

Nov 4, 2011


John Mataya is a Regional Planner at COG and serves as Coordinator for the Region Forward Coalition

This is part two of a series on the future of the region’s housing. Part one features Lisa Sturtevant & Stephen Fuller from GMU’s Center for Regional Analysis.

Recently the Center for Regional Analysis (CRA) at George Mason University published research quantifying the demand for housing in metropolitan Washington. The results suggest the region will need to create 640299 new housing units to accommodate about one million net new jobs forecasted between 2010 and 2030. (CRA analyzed the entire DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Area; however this jobs estimate is for the smaller geography of the COG region.) These numbers represent a call to action. The locations where new housing is developed could either support regional sustainability and prosperity goals outlined in Region Forward or contribute to stagnant job growth and require costly road investments to import labor from beyond the regional footprint.

Fortunately Region Forward gives us guidance on how to begin thinking about managing this growth. The targets state that the region should accommodate 50% of new households in Regional Activity Centers and that in the future all Activity Centers should have transit. COG is still working with the Region Forward Coalition to redefine the Regional Activity Centers to better align them with existing and new transit investments. This redefinition will help the region invest strategically in these places and identify future multi-modal transportation investments that connect Centers. In the meantime it’s helpful to take a look at the difference between the amount of the region’s planned housing growth around transit and the 640299 new units CRA states will be needed.

COG staff analyzed the regional Round 8.0 forecasts within a half-mile of Metrorail stations including two new transit investments that are regionally significant and are funded the Silver Line and the Purple Line. In a future post we will take a closer look at housing planned around new transit investments but is important to note forecasts and conditions on the ground are changing as jurisdictions adopt plans that create livable communities around these transit investments. The most notable example is the Tyson’s Corner Comprehensive Plan which will add a large amount of new housing around the Silver Line.

The regional Round 8.0 forecasts reflect underlying zoning capacity for housing and master plans approved by local jurisdictions throughout the region as of 2009. By 2030 there are only 147732 new households or housing units forecasted within a half mile of transit investments. This is a big gap and suggests some significant changes are needed if we expect to accommodate most of the region’s housing around transit investments. If the region is to accommodate 50% of CRA’s 640299 units (including single family and multifamily units) around transit we should be planning for around 320150 units around the region’s existing and planned transit investments.

Revising our plans to accommodate at least 50% of this growth around transit would be consistent with the region’s vision while also serving to keep households and their spending within our regional footprint. Focusing this growth around the transit stations would also support the region’s existing investments in transit and reduce housing and transportation costs for households.

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