In Washington State, two bills failed to make it out of committee, House Bill 1490 and Senate Bill 5687. Both bills were aimed “to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through land use and transportation requirements”. The gist of the bill was to encourage more transit oriented development (TOD).
The main bugaboo about this kind of development is that it brings density to cities and towns outside of Seattle. My own town of Kenmore is wrestling with this very issue. Density would be limited to the corridor along SR 522 and up 68th Avenue for about half a mile or so. (My apartment is within that area.)
Yet at meetings with my neighbors there is talk about keeping Kenmore from growing and to somehow stop growth. Which you can’t unless you turn your entire community into a closed, gated citadel, keeping the barbarians out. Hopefully not everyone wants to do that.
You can’t stop growth, the only thing you can control it and direct it to areas where you can stand to grow. If you don’t, growth will come and grow where it damn well pleases. And that’s the old model of development. We need a new model that makes it easier for residents to make use of different transit options and also turn your standard “bedroom community” into a real community.
For instance in King County is starting a pilot program of water taxis across Lake Washington, with stops in several cities, Kenmore included. The proposed dock for this water taxi would be near the densest portion of Kenmore, population wise. It would be a boon to each city, bringing more people to their waterfronts. The problem is that most of the waterfronts are… industrial in nature for Kenmore and Renton. Currently, as far as I know, Kenmore does not have a plan to build a waterfront, so I’m not very confident that the water taxi service will really benefit Kenmore as much as our city fathers (and mothers) think it will.
Still, it is a step in the right direction towards making Kenmore a greener and more livable city. However, just building next to the Park and Ride or bus stop does not a transit oriented development make. You need more than that; you need to turn your community into a place for families and other people to congregate at, not just visit. Most development puts expensive boutiques in the retail space on the ground floor, and then wonder why no one shops there.
One of the major roadblocks to the development of the Kenmore Village by the Lake project here in Kenmore is that the contractors cannot find an “anchor store” for the project. The problem with that is any “anchor store” that they bring in to the project will probably be a franchise store and kill off any local businesses that could compete with it.
You want to promote local businesses, who will put their profits into the local economy, not into the franchise’s Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters. That’s the real goal of transit oriented design: Making the local community more livable and inviting, and not turn it into a strip mall with apartments on top.