the Northgate Activist



Transit oriented development is a term that one will frequently hear at community planning meetings. It is often referred to as "TOD" (pronounced like the name "Todd" or with each letter said separately), which can intimidate the uninitiated. In general, transit oriented development seeks to cluster housing and businesses near transit hubs to combat sprawl and to foster ridership. Public/private partnerships are formed in order to help pay for the parking garages that TOD usually needs for commuters.

Action Alert: New House Bill Seeks to Promote TOD - Housing Activists Alarmed

Washington HB 1490, entitled "2009-10 - Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through land use and transportation requirements" has many noble goals, and includes a section on fostering more TOD to reduce greenhouse gases. However, the bill says that local zoning regulations must allow TOD with densities of 55 units per acre within a half mile radius of a major transit station. Go to the Washington State Legislature bill page and put #1490 into the bill finder to read the bill, bill analysis, and learn about hearing schedules. This website doesn't yet have a position on the bill - just many questions.

King County Metro's TOD Plans

Now that Metro (King County) owns the westernmost 3.9 acres of the South Lot, TOD is definitely on their drawing boards as part of an expanded bus transit center. And, Northgate had been slated to receive a light rail station for the second phase of Sound Transit's project, for which Sound Transit got funding in a November 2008 ballot issue. The TOD at Northgate may involve partnerships with both the Mall owner and Lorig, who both have active plans to build out their properties. The Mall's 800-stall garage near Penney's will prove attractive to both Metro and Lorig's theater project, for example.

The pioneering Overlake TOD project is a model scheme that includes 308 units of housing, a large daycare facility, and a Metro transit park-and-ride. Check out what might be in store for Northgate on Metro's TOD page.

The Puget Sound Regional Council also has a very informative website devoted to promoting TOD in the greater Puget Sound Region.

Many TOD overall goals seem to dovetail with the Northgate Comprehensive Plan, in terms of encouraging pedestrian-friendly development with housing located near transit. Local activists will have many opportunities to learn about TOD, as the Sound Transit builds its first segment and stations south of downtown. We will need to inform officials about how TOD will impact our neighborhood now that rail is definitely going to come to Northgate.

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Updated February 1, 2009
© Bunny Hirschmann