Executive Director’s Note
[pretty][/pretty]With summer finally upon us, we wanted to take a moment to thank you again for your support and to offer a quick summary of what your donations have helped us to achieve so far in 2013. It’s been a great six months! We’ve been at the center of major issues:
- Making the case for an progressive update to the D.C. Zoning Code
- Leading the way for new transportation funding in Maryland
- Promoting the benefits of new rapid transit in Montgomery County
- Teaming with Prince George’s residents to support locating the new medical center next to a Metro station
- Hosting five great walking tours in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.
Keep reading below to learn more about these campaigns. Thank you again for your support – we couldn’t do any of our work without our many donors and volunteers who share a commitment to smart growth for our communities and our region!
D.C. Zoning Update
[pretty][/pretty]We continued our advocacy for the DC Zoning Update, with a focus on supporting provisions that will make our city more walkable, affordable, and sustainable, and our zoning code clearer and more understandable. We closely tracked each Office of Planning outreach meeting over the winter, provided frequent updates, and encouraged our supporters to attend and voice their support for OP’s plans.
The proposal to eliminate unneeded parking mandates in transit-rich areas has become the most debated item in the Zoning Update. So to illustrate how changing lifestyle and transportation choices are making mandated parking minimums a poor fit for our growing city, we collected stories from scores of D.C. residents who rely on transit, biking, or walking for most parts of everyday life.
We anticipate Zoning Commission hearings on the final draft of the zoning update to be held this fall and will keep all of our D.C. supporters regularly updated on the process.
Momentum in the Outer Beltway fight
[pretty][/pretty]Our campaign against the Outer Beltway in Virginia received a huge boost this spring when powerful Republican Congressman Frank Wolf publicly broke with the Governor’s office and came out in opposition to the fast tracking of this wasteful and sprawl-inducing new highway. That came on the heels of six conservative local legislators announcing their opposition to the project as well.
Along with our partners, we are utilizing the momentum these announcements generated to step up our community outreach in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties about the Outer Beltway and the real need for fixing east-west commuter corridors, more transit, safer local streets, and other smart growth transportation investments. Recent meetings have been packed with area residents asking for real solutions to Northern Virginia’s traffic problems, not a wasteful road that will only spur sprawl development that makes the current situation even worse.[clear][/box]
Maryland Transportation Funding
[pretty][/pretty]In April, Governor Martin O’Malley signed a transportation funding measure that should provide enough funding for important transit projects like the Purple Line and Baltimore’s Red Line to move forward. We played a lead role in bringing together environmental, business, and civic organizations in the Get Maryland Moving coalition to speak with a unified voice about the necessity for new transit funding in Maryland.
Coordinating more than 30 influential statewide, regional, and local organizations, we sent action alerts, produced and distributed sign-on letters, organized press events, and more. We’ve heard from a number of influential Maryland leaders that our efforts helped demonstrate public support and gave decision makers the confidence they needed to support new funding.[clear][/box]
Advancing Montgomery Rapid Transit
[pretty][/pretty]The newest member of the Coalition for Smarter Growth team, Kelly Blynn, has been hard at work in Montgomery County, talking to residents and local leaders about the benefits the county could see from robust investment in rapid transit. The county’s proposed rapid transit system, based on bus rapid transit concepts, is before the Planning Board, and we rallied many supporters to testify for stepped up transit investments at a May hearing.
The plan is expected to be before the County Council in the fall, setting up a busy couple of months for transit advocates.[clear][/box]
Prince George’s Regional Medical Center
[pretty][/pretty]We’ve led the movement to place the planned regional medical center at a Metro station in Prince George’s County and made significant progress since last summer. Back then, authorities were focused on a site that wasn’t within easy walking distance of any station. Prince George’s officials are now seriously considering a site at Largo Metro Center and our outreach (a 1000+ person petition, a report detailing the success other communities have had with mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented hospitals, and press outreach) has played a significant role. We’ve been so effective that even the normally anti-transit Examiner editorialized in favor of our chosen site in March.
We expect a final decision on the location at some point over the summer. In the meantime, recent testimony by Council Chair Andrea Harrison left no doubt that Prince George’s sees transit-oriented development as the top priority for economic growth.[clear][/box]
A Great Spring of Walking Tours
[/pretty]Our signature Walking Tours and Forums series was again a hit! Bringing local leaders, professional experts, and Coalition for Smarter Growth supporters together, we got the smart growth scoop on five different neighborhoods this spring. We took a closer look at the White Flint redevelopment, saw opportunities to link stream restoration with development along Route 1 in Fairfax, strolled a quickly changing 14th Street in NW D.C., discussed how a more walkable Wheaton can maintain its eclectic small businesses, and saw the future for a more vibrant and walkable Ft. Totten.
If you missed out on this spring’s program, never fear – we’ve got five more coming this fall! Keep an eye out for an August email announcing the lineup and schedule.[clear][/box]