A new report presented at today’s Council of Governments Board of Directors meeting highlights smart growth development, transportation infrastructure, healthy waterways and affordable housing as issues in need of major improvement in order for metropolitan Washington to meet the goals in its Region Forward vision plan.
The Region Forward Baseline Progress Report measured regional performance related to 28 targets found in Region Forward, a long-range vision plan adopted by COG and its member governments in 2010. COG will use the data from this first report as a baseline for future progress reports.
“In order for us to achieve our vision for a more accessible, sustainable, and prosperous region and ensure our competitiveness on the global stage, it is essential for us to regularly measure our performance and call attention to major challenges as well as areas that are heading in a good direction,” said Prince George’s County Council Vice Chair Eric Olson. He also serves as the Chair of the Region Forward Coalition, a public-private-nonprofit group tasked with overseeing the vision plan. “While we are pleased at trends on air quality, green building, and crime reduction, we see several major challenges that may require changes to existing policies and programs in order to achieve our targets.”
Of the 28 targets in Region forward, the report classifies seven as major challenges—smart growth development, transportation infrastructure, housing in the region’s activity centers, waterway health, greenhouse gas reductions, agricultural land preservation, and affordable housing. For example, the report notes that:
- in 2010, 46% of new commercial construction and 31% of new housing were built in the region’s activity centers. (the Region Forward targets are 75% and 50% respectively) Source: COG
- in 2010, 8% of freshwater streams in the region (51 out of 649) are in good or excellent condition (the Region Forward target is to be at 50% by 2050.) Source: U.S. Chesapeake Bay Program Office
- in 2010, 5% of the region’s housing stock was affordable and subsidized. The report notes more research is needed to estimate the region’s market-rate affordable housing. (One of Region Forward’s affordable housing targets is for a minimum of 10% of housing stock affordable to households earning less than 80% of the regional median income.) Source: COG
- funding will need to increase significantly to fully meet the expansion and operation needs of our region’s transportation infrastructure. Source: COG/Transportation Planning Board.
On behalf of the Region Forward Coalition, Olson recommended that area leaders on the COG Board to reexamine relevant policies, programs, and leadership structures and consider innovative solutions to the major challenges identified in the report.
“The communities we leave to our children and future residents will depend on our ability to seize the moment, make hard decisions, and see them through,” he said.
In addition to the progress report, the Region Forward Coalition will soon complete the first comprehensive update to COG’s regional activity centers map in a decade. The data from the progress report and new activity centers map will be used by local governments, COG, Transportation Planning Board, WMATA, the National Capital Planning Commission, and other groups to shape local and regional planning actions.
The Region Forward vision was developed by a group of public, private, and civic leaders brought together by COG to help metropolitan Washington accommodate two million more people by 2050, maintain aging infrastructure, grow more sustainability, and include all residents in future prosperity.