Testimony before the Prince George’s County House Delegation in Support of PG 420-13: School Facilities Surcharge

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Our organization works to ensure that transportation and development decisions in the Washington, D.C. region, including the Maryland suburbs, accommodate growth while revitalizing communities, providing more housing and travel choices, and conserving our natural and historic areas.

We urge you to support Bill PG 420-13 – School Facilities Surcharge, in order to take reasonable measures to catalyze transit-oriented development by removing unnecessary barriers to investment near transit stations. The bill lessens the burdens on multifamily housing construction near major transit stations which is exactly what is needed for Prince George’s to compete for the workforce and employers of the future.

Multifamily units, especially studio units, produce a fraction of the school-aged children that single family housing generates, thus the reduction in the school facilities surcharge will not overburden the county. It will, however, strengthen the tax base by attracting more of the largest segments of our population — young professionals and retirees seeking to live in a more urban, transit-accessible environment.

The recent assessment by the Prince George’s Planning Department in “Where and How We Grow Policy Paper,” urges the county to depart from its historic pattern as a spread out bedroom community. Instead, it urges the county to encourage development in Centers and the Developed Tier by reducing fees. It cites regional growth forecasts showing that economic development and workforce housing preferences will demand a major increase in multifamily housing near transit:

“[M]ore than 79 percent of units in the [County’s] pipeline are single-family detached units intended for the Developing Tier; however, to meet future demand, more than 60 percent of new housing units to be built should be multifamily units located in walkable communities at transit-accessible locations.

“Furthermore…between 2000 and 2010 Prince George’s County acquired one of the lowest numbers of new residents in the region. Without a recalibration of county priorities and policies that promote TOD and high-quality, mixed-use development, it is likely that the county will be at a continued disadvantage relative to its neighbors when it comes to attracting residents and employers who value the connectivity and amenities that other such communities provide.”

Again, we ask that you support Bill PG 420-13 – School Facilities Surcharge. Thank you for your consideration.

Cheryl Cort
Policy Director