Report: Transit Oriented Development that's Healthy, Green & Just
May 14th, 2012
Seattle’s diversity at risk from gentrification; new light rail could leave community behind
Contact Rebecca Saldaña, Puget Sound Sage Cell: (206) 380-4684
SEATTLE – A new study from Puget Sound Sage provides evidence that gentrification underway in southeast Seattle is likely to cause displacement of renters and low-income residents from Rainier Valley, one of the most racially diverse communities in the nation, and calls on policy makers to enact jobs and housing policies that are essential to preserving communities of color along southeast Seattle’s light rail corridor. A copy of the report can be found at www.pugetsoundsage.org/tod
The Puget Sound’s billion-dollar investment in light rail, combined with transit oriented development (TOD), the building of compact, livable and walkable communities near public transit, has promised to reduce auto use and create healthy communities. But the researchers of the study: Transit Oriented Development that’s Healthy, Green and Just, after looking at population growth, housing, race and ethnicity, income, housing costs, migration, public transit use and car ownership, now call for aggressive measures to incorporate racial justice into TOD planning to curb disenfranchisement and barriers to prosperity for its low-income residents and families of color, while still achieving environmental goals.
In the study’s foreword, Ron Sims, former deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and former King County executive, wrote, “This report advocates for stability in communities of color, not for displacement. It calls for a commitment to moving racial justice to the center of TOD planning. Let us heed its call.”
“We cannot wait until after displacement has taken place,” said Sims. “Through racial equity outcomes, people of all incomes and races are able to choose to live in central, dense neighborhoods and can avoid perpetuating suburban sprawl and auto-centric living,” Sims added.
“Our communities of color are sending us a message,” said Rebecca Saldaña of Puget Sound Sage “Transit-oriented development must go beyond just making great places for people to live—it must connect people to jobs that allow them to live and stay in those great places. People of color in Rainier Valley need access to family-supporting jobs that pay living wages, provide benefits and create long-term economic security with good jobs that are accessible on the light rail line.”
The report’s recommendations include ensuring affordable childcare and more family sized units in housing developments near transit stations to increase job security for working parents. It also recommends creating local, high-quality jobs at TOD projects in Rainier Valley; encouraging higher wages for service-sector jobs at regional job centers along the light rail corridor; and better transit connections to allow low-income workers in Rainier Valley to reach jobs throughout the rail corridor.
The report also challenges the City to lift up locally-controlled development through agencies like El Centro, Urban Impact and Mt Baker Housing, to do more to ensure relevant cultural institutions and businesses aren’t priced out of new development, and include communities of color in decision-making, not just ‘stakeholder meetings’ to achieve racial equity outcomes. Local governments should also support community-led agreements with developers, such as Community Benefits Agreements and Community Workforce Agreements.