The Coalition for Smarter Growth issued the following statement in response to David Lublin’s Seventh State posts about Jane Lyons, CSG’s Maryland Advocacy Manager
September 4, 2020
Board of County Supervisors
Prince William County
1 County Complex Court
Prince William, VA 22192
We support your August 4, 2020 decision to adopt Alternative 4 on the Route 28 Corridor Study.
A Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) is now required to revise outdated language, such as that referenced in Table 2 – Thoroughfare Plan Summary in the Transportation Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan (PW-3 Tri-County Parkway/Route 28 Bypass).
The benefits of such a considerable investment in transportation infrastructure should not be limited to efforts moving drive-alone commuters faster to jobs outside the County. In the initiation of the CPA to advance Alternative 4, we encourage you to articulate your goals for concurrently planning for economic development, land use, affordable access to jobs and housing, and cleaner, multimodal transportation improvements.
The CPA should:
1) require assessing how investment in Route 28 mobility can be leveraged to spur economic revitalization; and
2) clarify that the “purpose and need” of Route 28 improvements is to increase local multimodal mobility, create a more walkable and transit-oriented corridor, reduce pollution, and facilitate the creation of local jobs and equitable access to them.
To more quickly access some funding previously allocated to the Route 28 corridor project by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) [ $89 million, total], we suggest the CPA divide Alternative 4 into two phases.
- Phase One – Focus on widening the Route 28 bridge across Bull Run, adding bike/pedestrian and future transit capacity as part of the widening, and smoothing traffic flow north to Compton Road. That capacity expansion should qualify for use of the NVTA funding allocation.
- Phase Two – Focus more broadly to include consideration of additional vehicle and bus/HOV lanes on existing Route 28 or the Well Street Extended corridor, to stimulate development of a walkable and transit-oriented corridor in the Yorkshire area, and to move more people within and through the corridor.
Phase Two would be the time frame in which to combine detailed, localized land use planning and placemaking for Yorkshire, together with changes in transportation infrastructure. These functions warrant further analysis.
The Route 28 Corridor Study prioritized the analysis of Alignment 2B only. Alternative 4 was not given sufficient focus and detail during the two years after completion of the prior Feasibility Study.
The CPA process should ensure consideration of an approach to “widening” the Route 28 corridor by building new lanes using the Well Street Extended corridor, approximately 400 feet west of existing Route 28, similar to the Mathis Ave alignment in the City of Manassas.
New capacity in the corridor, paired with the STARS Study recommended improvements on the existing four lanes of Route 28, may adequately reduce traffic congestion as well as enhance economic and community development and retention of existing businesses. There are more beneficial ways to upgrade mobility, besides the approach used to widen Route 1 which required extensive business displacements.
“Mobility” means more than “move cars.” The CPA should require evaluating opportunities for enhanced walkability and bus transit to maximize movement while sustainably reducing congestion and travel times.
Though Yorkshire today lacks even OmniRide service, transit on Route 28 is not a new idea. Since 2008, the Comprehensive Plan has proposed building light rail from Manassas to Dulles.
The NVTA TransAction plan approved in 2017 also includes a Route 28 High Capacity Transit project to “Construct High Capacity Transit along Route 28 corridor and implement service between Dulles Town Center and the City of Manassas. Alternative modes for further study include BRT and LRT.”
Prince William County must continue to plan smarter, to ensure that high-cost transportation upgrades concurrently spur local jobs and create more walkable places with reduced per capita driving.
We appreciate your thoughtfulness in evaluating the wide range of concerns before rejecting Alignment 2B. We look forward to the Flat Branch stream valley now becoming a linear park with trails connecting the adjacent neighborhoods, and for Yorkshire planning to demonstrate how transportation improvements can be coordinated with land use, economic development, placemaking, and the creation of affordable housing.
Revitalizing the Yorkshire area will promote social, cultural, and environmental sustainability and neighborhood economic resiliency, while providing new job opportunities, maintaining the sense of community, and offering affordable housing. This is the direction of smart growth planning needed.
Placemaking collectively reimagines and revitalizes public spaces in a community. Community participation in developing the Yorkshire revitalization plan is imperative in order to capitalize on the community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, thereby resulting in the creation of a quality public space that contributes to equity, health and well-being.
Active Prince William
Coalition for Smarter Growth
Piedmont Environmental Council
Prince William Conservation Alliance
Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter
Southern Environmental Law Center
D.C. Council restores money to the Affordable Housing Preservation Fund!
On May 28, 2019, the D.C. Council voted to allocate $11.5 million for the Affordable Housing Preservation Fund – one of D.C.’s critical tools to preserve affordable housing and prevent displacement. When we contacted you on Friday asking you to take action, it was because the D.C. Council had amended the Mayor’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget and reduced the funding for the Preservation Fund from $15 million to zero.
Nearly 100 of CSG activists rose to the challenge, and thanks to your letters and comments, by the time the Council reconvened on Tuesday, they had restored $7.5 million to the Preservation Fund! In a final switch, the D.C. Council voted to take $4 million out of the Housing Production Trust Fund and put it into the Preservation Fund, resulting in a final allocation of $11.5 million. Restoring funding was a huge lift and we could not have done it without you!
While CSG is disappointed that this additional funding came from the Housing Production Trust Fund, which helps to fund the production and rehabilitation of affordable units, the Preservation Fund provides the money for the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and District Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA). Giving tenants an opportunity to purchase their homes is a critical tool to prevent displacement, and we are confident this money will be put to good use. Last year, the Preservation Fund saved nearly 900 affordable homes across the entire city.
We are so grateful to everyone for taking action in the run up to a long weekend to ensure that this critical fund continues to support tenants and the District as they seek to buy buildings and preserve them as affordable housing.
Study: It’s past time the D.C. region transform its bus network
By Luz Lazo, May 6, 2019 at 6:11 PM, The Washington Post
….A $2.2 million study released Monday lays out more than two dozen recommendations for transforming the Washington region’s bus network into one that is centered around customers’ needs, is financially sustainable and embraces innovation and technology.
The draft recommendations would help reverse ridership declines driven by service that is too slow, complex and unreliable. The study was compiled by the Bus Transformation Project, a group of D.C.-area transit officials, experts and advocates.
“We have no choice,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
“We do need to move forward and I think there is a shared commitment” in the region,” Schwartz said. “A route redesign and dedicated lanes and improved customer information can make all the difference in the world.”
View full Washington Post story here.
By John Domen, May 4, 2019 8:22 am, WTOP
It’s not cheap to live in D.C. Whether you rent or hope to own, finding a place to live has become more expensive over the years because the population growth seen in the city this century has far outpaced the housing that’s available….
One of the approaches the city seems ready to focus on are “accessory dwelling units.”
…“There are large areas of the district that are part of the … zone, so they’re able to add accessory dwelling units to their property,” said Bush. “They both present the opportunity to increase the number of units of housing, and therefore decrease the cost of housing. But they also provide an opportunity to give another source of income to a homeowner that might be feeling the pinches as the cost of living in D.C. rises.”
…“There’s groups like the Coalition for Smarter Growth and others that have started to create some really interesting programs with homeowners and architects etc. to promote this, but I think there’s more we can do to make sure homeowners are taking advantage of this program,” Bush said.
View full story here.
We had a fabulous turnout of over 100 people at our D.C. ADU Homeowner Workshop on Jan. 31, 2019, at District Architecture Center!
If you are able, please fill out this survey about the workshop so that we can make sure our future events meet your needs; we want to make sure we’re helping you access the correct and necessary resources to build an ADU.
And, if you haven’t already, join the D.C. ADU online forum.
- ADU workshop program with contact information for all experts
- Introduction to ADUs in D.C.
- Design & building codes presentation, by architect Ileana Schinder
- Common questions about the construction process, by Wall to Wall Construction
- Zoning requirements for accessory apartments, by Tarek Bolden
Stories about ADUs in D.C. have recently on UrbanTurf (“Adaptive reuse to granny pod: A look at two ADUs in D.C.”) and Greater Greater Washington (“Accessory apartments make money and increase the housing supply. Here’s how to build one” and “10 things to look for if you’re considering creating an accessory apartment,” both by Ileana Schinder).
Many thanks to our partners United Planning Organization and in the D.C. ADU workgroup, and our generous sponsors—Wall to Wall Construction, BB&T Home Mortgage, and AIA|DC—for their support of our workshop. CSG is a donor-supported organization; if you like our work, please consider making a contribution to us today.
And, once again: Please, take our survey!
Image via buildinganadu.com