A federal push for transit-oriented development

Incredibly, it looks as though there are some folks in DC who want to incentivize development that encourages density (as well as energy efficiency) in the vicinity of transit stations. Here’s a clip from the DC Streets Blog:

New construction projects that are within a half-mile of transit stations and exceeding national energy-efficiency standards would be eligible for a tax credit under legislation introduced today by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the senior member of the Banking Committee’s transit panel.

Menendez’s “green buildings” tax credit is aimed at spurring denser development in both rural and urban areas, particularly mixed-use properties that allow residents to walk between home, work, and other daily errands.

Construction projects claiming the 30 percent credit would have to meet several criteria, including the half-mile proximity to transit, the energy-efficiency minimums, and a requirement that at least 5 percent of any apartment properties be more affordable housing…

While I can’t seem to find any other mention of this proposed legislation online, I’m hopeful that it’s real, and not some kind of Yes Men stunt. Assuming it is real, I hope people get behind the idea in a big way. This is exactly the kind of forward thinking legislation we need to see coming out of Washington.

[note: Thanks to Brandon Zwagerman for bringing this to my attention.]

update: My friend Murph just left the following comment and I thought that it belonged up here on the front page.

Tragically, smart growth is probably too far off the general public’s radar just yet to be worth the Yes Men’s time.

Sorry for getting all policy wonk, but one thing to watch for upcoming is the 6-year Federal transportation funding re-authorization, which sets not just overall Federal funding levels for transportation, but how that funding is used. Check out T4America as one of the pro-urban advocacy groups around this funding. (Federal funding means nothing to us, though, if we can’t produce enough local/State funding to use it – Michigan can’t even access all of the Federal money available to us now, unless we increase our funding levels.)

Also relevant is the Sustainable Communities initiative newly created as a partnership of EPA, DOT, and HUD – the three agencies, shockingly, deciding that transportation options, housing choice, and the environment are very related issues. This combination of issues is becoming much more important in Federal funding decisions, such as which communities get TIGER transportation grants, or high-speed rail funding, or New Starts transit funding – transportation projects that can show they increase low-income households’ choices, increase access to jobs, and otherwise have supportive land use policies in place around the proposed transportation projects are more likely to get funded.

It’s an impressive policy pile-on: (hopefully) increase funding to non-car transportation choices, then skew that funding towards places that have supportive land use policies, and now Sen. Menendez is proposing tax credits to the developments in these places? There are a lot of giddy planners in the country right now.

/wonk.

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3 Comments

  1. Alice
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    The Yes Men wouldn’t be so cruel. I think this is real.

  2. Posted April 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Tragically, smart growth is probably too far off the general public’s radar just yet to be worth the Yes Men’s time.

    Sorry for getting all policy wonk, but one thing to watch for upcoming is the 6-year Federal transportation funding re-authorization, which sets not just overall Federal funding levels for transportation, but how that funding is used. Check out T4America as one of the pro-urban advocacy groups around this funding. (Federal funding means nothing to us, though, if we can’t produce enough local/State funding to use it – Michigan can’t even access all of the Federal money available to us now, unless we increase our funding levels.)

    Also relevant is the Sustainable Communities initiative newly created as a partnership of EPA, DOT, and HUD – the three agencies, shockingly, deciding that transportation options, housing choice, and the environment are very related issues. This combination of issues is becoming much more important in Federal funding decisions, such as which communities get TIGER transportation grants, or high-speed rail funding, or New Starts transit funding – transportation projects that can show they increase low-income households’ choices, increase access to jobs, and otherwise have supportive land use policies in place around the proposed transportation projects are more likely to get funded.

    It’s an impressive policy pile-on: (hopefully) increase funding to non-car transportation choices, then skew that funding towards places that have supportive land use policies, and now Sen. Menendez is proposing tax credits to the developments in these places? There are a lot of giddy planners in the country right now.

    /wonk.

  3. Tim
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your comment, Murph.

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