FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2015
WASHINGTON DC — Coalition for Smarter Growth Executive Director Stewart Schwartz today issued the following statement in response to the release of a new report on the DC region’s economy, “Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Future Economy.”
“The report has many good ideas including the need for more housing and especially more affordable housing, but it fails to bring all of sectors to the table. In particular, the non-profit community, which is particularly strong in the Washington DC region and includes many working on the housing issue, wasn’t a part of the process.
“Groups like the Coalition for Smarter Growth, affordable housing providers, Casa de Maryland, the Urban Institute, and others, who have much to offer, were not a part of the conversation in contrast to their inclusion in the Council of Government’s Region Forward vision planning. As a result, the report didn’t address issues that might be identified by non-profit organizations working in the community. For example, the significant challenges presented by the east-west economic divide in the region, and the significant number of jobs not accessible by transit, are not addressed.
“The report makes some mention of the benefits of urban development but doesn’t adequately emphasize the importance of creating walkable, transit-accessible urban centers for attracting next generation workers and companies. At a time when knowledge workers can move anywhere and are increasingly attracted to regions with easy access to nature and outdoor recreation, the report doesn’t address the economic benefits of protection of parks, open space, and recreational areas. The combination of vibrant walkable urban centers and nearby open space and recreation has become critical for attracting the next generation workforce.
“The Coalition for Smarter Growth has longstanding concerns about the intentions of the 2030 Group which pressed for this ‘Roadmap‘ effort. The 2030 Group was formed in the wake of and to a significant extent in opposition to Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments‘ Region Forward compact among all 21 COG jurisdictions. Region Forward established a framework for regional growth, sustainability and equity, with a particular emphasis on transit and transit-oriented development.
“Bob Buchanan, leader of the 2030 Group, has failed to give credit to Region Forward and other significant areas of regional cooperation. In forum after forum in the suburbs, Buchanan and the 2030 Group have focused on advocating for the Outer Beltway with new upriver Potomac bridges, and pressing for an appointed regional transportation authority to select projects like an Outer Beltway.
“The Coalition for Smarter Growth strongly opposes a regional authority of appointed officials who would be unaccountable to the voters and more focused on picking mega-projects than on the comprehensive approach to land use and transportation adopted by Region Forward. We oppose the Outer Beltway, because it would worsen the east-west economic divide, undermine sustainable transit-oriented development, and increase sprawling development.
“Where the 2030 Group is focused on an Outer Beltway, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and most elected officials are focused on investing in transit and the vibrant, urban transit-oriented centers that are so much in demand by the new generation workforce and companies.
“We’d like to see the non-profit community at the table and the discussion brought back under the umbrella of the Council of Governments. There are some big regional growth, housing, equity and transportation issues to discuss – as the report makes clear, but we need everyone at the table.”
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
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. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.