RELEASE: COG’s Initiative for Equity, Smart Growth, Climate

RELEASE: COG’s Initiative for Equity, Smart Growth, Climate


For Immediate Release: 
September 23, 2021 

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, 703-599-6437 
Cheryl Cort, Policy Director, 202-251-7516 

CSG Applauds COG’s Initiative for Equity, Smart Growth, Climate 

COG Proposal to Focus Development around DC Region’s High-Capacity Transit Stations Vote Scheduled for October 13 

Today, the Washington Post reported that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, composed of the region’s local elected officials, some state legislators, and state and federal representatives, are on the verge of agreeing to focus development around the DC region’s high-capacity transit stations. These include Metrorail, Purple Line, VRE and MARC commuter rail, and bus rapid transit stations. At the same time, COG intends to prioritize transportation, housing, trails, and other investments around stations within equity emphasis areas, which have high concentrations of lower income residents and high numbers of Black, Latino, or Asian residents. 

COG also announced preliminary findings that show a combination of smart growth, electric vehicles, and pricing tools will be necessary for the region to slash its greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Focused growth in transit communities is an essential part of this strategy. 

“We applaud COG’s proposal which is to be voted on at their October 13 meeting,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “COG’s action is the natural outgrowth of the work and long-time advocacy by our organization and COG’s own studies and vision statements over the past two decades. But now this agreement must be followed by action.” 

Founders of the Coalition for Smarter Growth first proposed a “network of livable communities” centered on the region’s transit hubs in reports released in 1992 and 1996, and in CSG’s 2002 Blueprint for a Better Region. It was a vision largely endorsed by the Urban Land Institute’s “Reality Check” conference in 2005, COG’s Region Forward vision of 2010, COG’s follow-on studies and plans, and by many local elected officials who have been approving transit-oriented developments.

“Anyone frustrated by sitting in traffic, or concerned about the growing evidence of climate change including frequent floods in the DC region, should support this COG initiative. Mixed use, mixed-income, walkable, transit-centered communities mean many more people will be able to drive less and reduce the air and climate pollution they generate,” said Schwartz. 

“The region’s east-west economic and racial divide, first highlighted in the 1999 Brookings report ‘A Region Divided,” has persisted for too long. Accelerating investment in transit communities in Prince George’s, eastern Montgomery, and eastern Fairfax and Prince William would shorten commutes, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and improve access to jobs and opportunity,” said Cheryl Cort, Policy Director for CSG. “In fact, building out transit-oriented communities on the east side of our region and investing in affordable housing near transit throughout our region are key transportation and climate solutions.” 

“But there was also sobering news from the meeting of COG’s Transportation Planning Board (TPB) yesterday,” said Schwartz. “Early findings from their climate scenario study confirm that neither the rate of adoption of electric vehicles, nor land use changes, will be enough to slash our greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently by 2030. We’ll need to move on a number of fronts – much faster adoption of electric vehicles, much stronger action to focus growth and reduce sprawl in order to reduce vehicle trips and vehicle miles traveled, increase telecommuting, and use pricing (congestion pricing or vehicle miles traveled fees, and parking pricing), if our region is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to do our part to address the climate emergency.” 

“Electric vehicles alone can’t save us. We must stop sprawling outward where people have no option but driving, and create inclusive, walkable, transit-centered communities, in order to slash our greenhouse gas emissions. In the process, we will increase access to opportunity and address regional inequity, while improving quality of life for everyone,” concluded Cort. 


RELEASE: Regional groups respond to MWCOG report and call for dedicated funding for Metro



April 26, 2017

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
703-599-6437 (c)

Regional groups respond to MWCOG report and call for dedicated funding for Metro

Washington, DC — Today the regional Council of Governments (COG) accepted a report documenting Metro’s operating, maintenance, and capital needs and funding gap over the next decade, the economic value of Metro, suggested metrics and benchmarks, and an assessment of options for a dedicated source of revenues to fill the funding gaps.

“We commend the Council of Governments and their staffs for this important report, and we urge our region’s elected officials to act expeditiously to put in place fixes and dedicated funding for Metro,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “This year is ‘make or break’ for Metro — a funding solution must be in place by the end of the 2018 General Assembly sessions in Virginia and Maryland.”

“The COG report and General Manager Wiedefeld’s plan are the best starting points for getting Metro back on track, said Schwartz. “Major fixes for Metro’s challenges can and should be done without opening the Metro compact or creating a control board.”

“Our groups are concerned that opening the Metro compact risks political gridlock and distracts from reaching a funding agreement within the next year. Similarly, the benefit of a control board isn’t clear, and it’s risky at a time when federal commitment to transit is in doubt,” said Schwartz

“We also feel that the union employees of Metro, many working overnight hours, driving traffic-congested bus routes, and repairing an aging system, need to be partners in arriving at solutions for safety, operations, and costs,” said Schwartz. “It must be all hands on-deck with all sectors contributing.”

“Today, COG made clear that the Metrorail system is our most important regional transportation system,” said Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of the Friends of White Flint. “Therefore, COG must ensure that their Transportation Planning Board makes full funding of Metro’s ‘state of good repair’ the top priority and baseline for their 2018 update of the region’s Constrained Long Range (Transportation) Plan.”

“Failure is not an option for our Metro, and our groups pledge to campaign for the funding Metro needs,” concluded Schwartz.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. smartergrowth.net

Friends of White Flint is a nonprofit organization made up of residents, businesses, and property owners who want to create a walkable, vibrant Pike District/White Flint community. whiteflint.org

Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling

The Maryland Center on Economic Policy advances innovative policy ideas to foster broad prosperity and help our state be the standard-bearer for responsible public policy. We engage in research, analysis, strategic communications, public education, and grassroots alliances promoting robust debate and greater public awareness of the policy choices Maryland residents face together. mdeconomy.org

The Montgomery Countryside Alliance promotes sound economic, land-use and transportation policies and programs that preserve the natural environment, open spaces, and rural lands in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve for the benefit of all Washington Metropolitan area residents. mocoalliance.org

Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA) is a broad-based, regional nonprofit organization working to create successful communities through affordable housing education and advocacy. nvaha.org


COMMENTS to MWCOG on Regional Transportation Priorities Plan (RTPP)

We appreciate the work that has gone into the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan (RTPP) and your public outreach efforts. We commend the focus on Near Term and On-Going Strategies, which include a number of important priorities including first and foremost the maintenance of the existing system. We also strongly support and urge the TPB to adopt Scenario B, transit and TOD, as the long-term strategy for the region.

STATEMENT: Coalition for Smarter Growth Statement on COG Population Projections for Metro Region

In response to the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG) release today of population projections for the region through 2040, Coalition for Smarter Growth Executive Director Stewart Schwartz issued the following statement: “The best and perhaps only way we can manage this growth and traffic is through compact walkable development linked to transit. People are already seeking out these neighborhoods and demand is rising.”