VISION 2050 recommended for adoption

General Assembly meets October 29

PSRC's Executive Board has recommended adoption of VISION 2050.

The board completed its final review of board amendments and recommended staff edits to the plan. Amendments under consideration were related to rural areas in Snohomish County and to housing regionwide. The housing related actions were approved by the board. The board elected to retain growth allocations in Snohomish County as had been recommended by the Growth Management Policy Board last December. The board also approved minor changes and language to acknowledge the impact of COVID-19 and the historic wave of recent protests for racial justice.
 
Additionally, the board acknowledged a change in modeling assumptions. To assess and document these changes, PSRC has issued an addendum to the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for VISION 2050 in accordance with the State Environmental Policy Act.

The addendum can be viewed online at https://www.psrc.org/our-work/regional-planning/vision-2050/environmental-review.  

VISION 2050 will chart the course for the region’s growth over the next 30 years. It is home to the region’s multicounty planning policies and a regional strategy for accommodating growth through 2050. The plan seeks to enhance communities and equity for the region’s residents, support a strong economy, expand housing choices, clean up Puget Sound, and provide a comprehensive regional transportation system. VISION 2050 supports continued growth in urban areas and preservation of rural areas and open space.  The plan focuses a significant share of job and population growth near transit.  

PSRC’s General Assembly is expected to take final action on VISION 2050 on October 29, 2020.

Comments

I think it is absurd the PSRC is planning on recommending adoption of the 2050 Vision Statement based entirely on pre-Covid assumptions and data, for a growth planning model through 2050 -- that doesn't even mention driverless car and shuttle technology, let alone changes to working from home that will reallocate revenue, employee expenditures, and transit. What we will see is closer to the Reset Urban Growth Alternative in which the smaller cities around Seattle, and to some degree Bellevue, become satellite work cities, with the employees working from their home, not taking transit, and dining and recreating in their suburban city which will realize the tax revenue. This will lessen traffic congestion from cars (especially after it is safe to take transit) which will make commuting to work by car much more convenient, and devastate ST's construction and operation models that all assume huge increases in ridership (50,000 riders per day on East Link by 2030, at least if you eliminate all buses across the bridge span and count there).

Even before Covid-19 many felt the population and transit growth assumptions in the 2050 Vision Statement were exaggerated and ideological, certainly when it came to population growth in King Co. Ever since ST began to drive the PSRC's assumptions and recommendations it has gone from recommending transit and transportation policy to serve housing choices to limiting housing choices to serve transit.

I applaud the PSRC for being honest in its summary for the Reset Urban Growth Alternative that housing choices from 2000 to 2016 have revolved around affording the single family home, with a yard, dog, kids and a garage, because that is still the American Dream, which is why the tax code and mortgage allowances so heavily subsidize it. For those who work with tools and drive a pickup truck it is a reality. No doubt this has led to "sprawl", and the 2050 Vision Statement wisely allocates greater population growth to counties other than King, although King Co. alone is nearly the size of Rhode Island. (And as predicted the adoption of HB 1923 when made voluntary resulted in every suburban city balking at the voluntary density targets and upzoning, and handed every rural county from Kittitas to Snohomish County the Christmas present they had been dreaming of since the GMA was adopted: rezoning every rural residential lot to three separate legal dwellings, when these counties have huge gross floor area to lot area ratios. Great way to encourage sprawl and destruction of rural areas). No surprisingly Snohomish Co. is now seeking to amend the GMA to allow greater density in rural areas.

I am also puzzled why the 2050 Vision Statement does not discuss Sound Transit subarea equity, the elephant in the room. Right now Pierce and Snohomish Counties want out of ST, South King Co. has little revenue, the eastside is flush just from ST 2 even after East Link and funding all east-west express buses, let alone ST 3, but Seattle is a mess, and cannot afford its half of the second $2.2 billion transit tunnel necessary to meet capacity from East Link, a line to Snohomish Co., and has ignored its infrastructure and bridges for decades. How can we build a transit and regional planning policy around such a dysfunctional city like Seattle, when the economic activity is moving east, and employment will stay in the suburbs with working from home?

It is always risky to build growth and planning models on global warming, because the savings in carbon emissions from transit are miniscule, and citizens don't make housing choices -- at least unpleasant ones -- based on global warming. Working from home will have a much bigger impact to carbon emissions (and to transit), but so will electric cars, another issue never discussed by the PSRC even though carbon emissions and global warming are a primary goal.

Finally comes "equity", which of course is new. Equity for builders and developers is to upzone expensive residential neighborhoods, without an understanding that upzoning requires new construction which is the least affordable of all, and why upzoning eliminated the historic Black neighborhood of Capitol Hill, and forced those citizens to marginal "suburbs" on the outskirts of the city. Despite years of the PSRC housing has become less and less equitable.

The 2050 Vision Statement, like the 2040 Statement, is an ideological document that is heavily Seattle centric when Seattle is dying financially. The assumptions is the 2050 Statement were inapplicable by March 2020. None of these assumptions are valid, unless you are the Master Builder's Assoc. or ST, or truly believe ST and transit will have any meaningful impact on global warming.