TRANSIT-ORIENTED COMMUNITIES WORKSHOPS
[ Transit-oriented communities workshop at GGLO Space at the Steps ]
In 2008 GGLO and the non-profit advocacy group Futurewise partnered to create an urban design and policy document called "Transit-Oriented Communities: A Blueprint for Washington State." The goal of the Blueprint is to provide guidance and inspiration for community at large, and also to serve as an advocacy manual for new legislation that will promote exemplary transit-oriented communities (TOC) in cities throughout the Puget Sound Region. The final report was released in October 2009, and more information is available here.
The first phase of the Blueprint project involved a series of monthly workshops organized by Futurewise and held at "GGLO Space at the Steps," GGLO's event venue at First and University in downtown Seattle. Each workshop addressed a specific TOC-related topic, with the discussion led by a panel of experts. The purpose of the workshops was twofold: (1) to engage the public and promote discussion, and (2) to inform the Blueprint document. The TOC workshop series will be continued on a quarterly basis in 2010.
GGLO: David Cutler and Don Vehige
Futurewise: Brock Howell
The Significance of Transit-Oriented Communities
Transit-oriented communities (TOC) have an unparalleled potential to address a host of major societal shifts currently reshaping the U.S. Changing demographics and consumer preference, increasing awareness of the negative impacts of sprawl, the rising cost of oil, and the need to combat climate change are all working in concert to drive demand for more compact housing in walkable mixed-use neighborhoods with access to high-quality transit.
In the Puget Sound Region, the need to promote high-quality TOC has never been more pressing. Light rail is up and running. Plans are afoot to expand light rail, bus rapid transit, the Seattle streetcar network, as well as additional regional commuter rail, and express bus service. With this new transit service comes an opportunity to rethink our built environment to create neighborhoods in which people may live, work, shop and play without relying on a car.
How can we plan for station areas to become vibrant and sustainable communities? Will plans ensure vitality for current residents, as well as for new ones? Will policy changes be bold, visionary, inclusive? And where will be the public and private investment to make these changes happen? These are some the key questions addressed in the Blueprint workshops and document.
[ Sound Transit Link light rail line ]
For more on information on the prospects for TOC in Seattle area, please see related articles authored by GGLO and by Futurewise in the Daily Journal of Commerce.
[ Rainier Vista Hope VI redevelopment, just south of the Columbia City light rail station in SE Seattle ]
The Transit-Oriented Communities Workshop Series
The following workshops were held from September 2008 through March 2009 at "GGLO Space at the Steps," GGLO's event venue located off Harbor Steps at First and University in downtown Seattle.
Transit-oriented Communities: Envisioning Seattle’s Potential
September 24, 2008
Bill Kraeger, Quality Growth Alliance; Ric Ilgenfritz, Sound Transit; Lyle Bicknell, Seattle Department of Planning and Development; Sara Nikolic, Futurewise
Transportation: Laying Infrastructure for all Modes
October 15, 2008
Speakers: Rob Johnson, Transportation Choices Coalition; David Hiller, Cascade Bicycle Club; Barbara Gray, Seattle Department of Transportation; Moderator: Jared Smith, Parsons-Brinckerhoff
Placemaking: Shaping a Meaningful Public Realm
November 19, 2008
Speakers: Stella Chao, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods; David Yeaworth, Allied Arts of Seattle; Alison Van Gorp, Cascade Land Conservancy; Moderator: Darby Watson, LMN
Community Benefits: Building a Neighborhood for All
December 17, 2008
Speakers: Paul Fischburg, Seattle Office of Policy and Management; Ed Rose, Seattle Housing Authority; Howard Greenwich, Puget Sound SAGE; Moderator: Dan Rosenfeld, Urban Partners
Environmental Performance: Maximizing Sustainable Development
January 21, 2009
Speakers: Stephen Antupit, Mithun, Nancy Hirsch, NW Energy Coalition; Sara Nikolic, Futurewise; Moderator: Peter Steinbrueck, Steinbrueck Urban Strategies
Implementation: Financing Station Area Investment
February 18, 2009
Speakers: Denny Onslow, Harbor Properties; Hugh Spitzer, Foster Pepper; Tom Gihring, TAG Plan Consulting
Where Do We Go From Here? Lessons Learned From Great Transit-Oriented Communities
March 18th, 2009
Speakers: GB Arrington, PB Placemaking; Dan Rosenfeld, Urban Partners; David Cutler, GGLO; Moderator: Branden Born, UW Urban Design & Planning
[ Southeast Seattle's Mount Baker light rail station nearing completion; image: Eagle Eye Aerial Photography ]
|Expert Testimony |
In the midst of the TOC workshop series, GGLO was twice invited to provide expert testimony to public officials on density in the context of transit-oriented communities. GGLO's Don Vehige testified in Olympia at a hearing on HB1490, the so-called "TOD Bill," and presented at a public workshop on TOD hosted by Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark. The density presentation is available for download here.
The TOC workshop series elucidated and reinforced that to be most successful, TOC must:
- Respond to neighborhood values. Each station area neighborhood has a distinct social and cultural character, as well as its own infrastructure and amenity needs. The public benefits provided by private and public investment should respond to these unique community values, not follow a one-size-fits-all model for all station areas.
- Create a meaningful place. TOC in station areas should create great places, defined by good design and a vibrant public realm. TOC should provide more than residential and commercial uses; it should help create social hubs and cultural landmarks for neighborhoods.
- Support the light rail investment. TOC should leverage the Sound Transit investment to create complete, vibrant station area neighborhoods where new and current residents can live, work, shop and play.
- Promote environmental sustainability. By definition, TOC are exemplary of sustainable growth management. In addition, TOC should incorporate high standards of green design that reduce energy and resource consumption, and promote healthy, active lifestyles.