A new law passed in the Washington State Legislature this year has made it easier to build affordable housing on publicly-owned surplus land, including on top of light rail stations, where it will do the most good for our housing, climate, and traffic crises.

Last week, King County announced it was donating the surplus land next to the future Northgate Light Rail Station to be used for affordable housing. The county is moving quickly to permit and allow construction to begin on the site by a nonprofit developer after rejecting the previous proposals to build on the site.

The idea of building dense, affordable housing directly on top of rapid transit stations, also known as transit-oriented development (TOD), is to both make the housing accessible while also making it possible for residents to move about the city aboard the greenest form of transportation. A TOD project like the one at Northgate solves many of the most pressing issues of our region, such as providing affordable housing, reducing traffic congestion, and slowing climate change through lower energy use in transit and housing.

By donating the land upon which the development will sit, King County has made use of a new law passed this spring in the Washington Legislature, which allows for donating land if it is used for non-for-profit affordable housing. Previously, cities and counties were forced to sell the land, even when simply transferring the land between two different local governments.

Want to help expand TOD in our region? Sound Transit is currently taking suggestions for their new light rail stations in Snohomish County. Using their interactive map, you can simply click on a station location and let them know you’d like to see more space for people to live and play near the expanded light rail network.

Map of Snohomish County stations is shown
Notes added by community members on the land use around stations in Snohomish County.

Want to read more about TOD projects happening near you? Here’s a list of recent articles we’re reading about the subject:

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Eric Bronson

Eric Bronson is the Digital Advocacy and Engagement Manager at YWCA. He manages the Firesteel blog in addition to its social media streams and action initiatives. A graduate of Oberlin College, Eric focuses on the intersection of race and gender within the American political economy.


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Thu, 07/19/2018 - 05:00
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