DC Grows, You Lose

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“2 million people expected to move to the Washington area by 2050,” calmly reports the Washington Business Journal. Naturally, the “Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments” is glowing because Big Government is growing.

Americans in the rest of the country will pay for these two million more tax-eaters, of course, as the trough just gets bigger and bigger. Do we get to vote on this? No, not at all.Will anyone ask us our opinion? Our permission (to take more of our money to sustain the Imperial Capital)? Of course not.

Medieval serfs had more rights than today’s taxpayers. But that was then, and this is — the future! After all, since we’re all Darwinians now, we have to accept government’s leading role in evolution.

Frankly, it might be time for some revolution.

Regional leaders set vision for 2050

Washington Business Journal – by Sarah Krouse Staff Reporter

A group of some 30 regional leaders and planners is setting ambitious smart growth goals to accommodate the 2 million people expected to move to the Washington area by 2050.

In its long-term plan, The Greater Washington 2050 Coalition, a group formed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, sets a growth vision that addresses land use, transportation, environmental practices, climate and energy, housing, health, education, economics and public safety.

The plan, a year and a half in the making, calls for a web of growth in the area with dense, mixed-use projects located near transit in what it calls “regional activity centers.”

Downtown Washington, Arlington, Alexandria, Bowie, College Park, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Falls Church, Fairfax and Tysons Corner are among the activity centers identified thus far.

Starting in 2012, these areas will capture 75 percent of new commercial construction and 50 percent of new residential projects to limit the number of trips residents take basic amenities.

A major component of the plan — and one directly tied to the region’s longstanding transportation woes — is its call to reduce daily vehicle miles traveled per capita.

The average area resident travels about 23 vehicle miles a day, a number that suggests that jobs and services are too far away from where people live, the study says.

Leaders and planners, including Harriet Tregoning, director of the D.C. Office of Planning, Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Marcel Acosta, executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission, presented the plan at a public information meeting Thursday night.

“We know that the next 40 years will, in many ways be the most challenging ever and perhaps the most unpredictable,” said Tregoning.

“The strategies in the plan are robust across all scenarios. Whatever the future holds we want this area to be a place of thoughtful planning,” she said.

The planners called for area businesses, governments and nonprofits to pledge to be more thoughtful about how they build and grow. MWCOG will measure jurisdictions’ progress every two to four years.

Though there is no formal penalty for breaking the regional compact to implement the plan, Tregoning said the Transportation Planning Board, which approves area transit projects, will likely look more favorably on projects consistent with the 2050 plan.

“What’s different about this plan is that it’s not just setting lofty goals, it’s being more quantitative and measuring progress,” she said.

The plan calls for all new residential and commercial buildings to reach at least a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating by 2020, though Tregoning said green building should also be about proximity to transit.

Residents spend about 47 percent of the median household income on housing and transportation, according to the Urban Land Institute. Under the growth plan, by 2020, the housing and transportation costs in regional activity centers will not exceed 45 percent of the area median income.

Part of reducing that number is the plan’s goal of increasing the rate and construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the region. Such improvements were a major component of the region’s application for transportation stimulus funds for a regional rapid transit and bike network.

“It’s relatively easy to plan for what you have to do; it’s not always easy to plan for things you aspire to do,” said Schwartz of the plan.

2050 goals

Land use:
• Capture 75 percent of the square footage of new commercial construction in regional activity centers starting in 2012.
• Capture 50 percent of the square footage of new residential construction in regional activity centers starting in 2012.
• Ensure that housing and transportation costs in regional activity centers does not exceed 45 percent of the area median income by 2020.

• Maintain more than 450,000 acres of agricultural land in farms starting in 2012.

• Increase the rate of construction of bike and pedestrian facilities.
• Increase the number of walk, bike and transit trips.
• Ensure that all regional activity centers have access to bus or rail service.
• Reduce vehicle miles traveled per capita.

• Achieve 100 percent of Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Goal by 2025.
• Have 50 percent of all watersheds in good or excellent condition by 2050.
• Reduce the number of days that the area exceeds air quality standards to below 2008 levels.

Climate and energy:
• Reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
• Reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent blow 2005 levels by 2050.
• Build and design all new residential and commercial buildings to LEED Silver standards by 2020.

• Increase the number of new jobs by 3 to 4 percent annually.
• Grow the regional gross domestic product for the national capital region by 5 to 7 percent each year.
• The annual rate of growth in median wages should not exceed the rate of inflation.

• Fifteen percent of all new housing units, or a minimum of 10 percent of all units, should be affordable to low or moderate income households starting in 2012.

• Eight percent of new affordable units should be located in regional activity centers starting in 2012.

• More than half of the region’s population should meet the Healthy People Goals.

• Ninety percent of students should graduate high school.
• Improve access to vocational training and educational opportunities region-wide.
• The percent of the population ages 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree should be 45 percent higher by 2020.
• The percent of the population ages 25 or older with a professional or advanced degree should be 20 percent higher by 2020.

Public safety:
• Reduce the number of violent and property crimes in the area.
• Give residents real time access to crime data.
• Give residents timely emergency alerts through the Internet or mobile devices.
• Reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities across the region.

12:11 pm on November 13, 2009