A central feature of Region Forward is the commitment by MWCOG and its partners to regularly measure Metro Washington’s progress toward achieving its goals. Measurement matters. It’s why we call our blog, The Yardstick.
Yesterday marked an important Region Forward milestone. The Baseline Progress Report was presented to the MWCOG Board of Directors by Eric Olson, the Chair of the Region Forward Coalition. It’s envisioned as the first in a series of progress reports, and its data will be used as the baseline for measuring future performance.
The report classifies Region Forward’s 28 targets in three main categories—major, moderate, and minor challenges. Olson said that on several targets—including walk, bike & transit trips, air quality, and crime—the region appears to heading in a good direction. He also noted the following seven targets as major regional challenges that will require the most attention by area leaders.
Smart growth. In 2010, 46% of new commercial construction and 31% of new housing were built in the region’s activity centers. (The Region Forward target is 75% and 50% respectively.)
Waterway health. In 2010, 8% of freshwater streams in the region (51 out of 649) were in good or excellent condition. (the Region Forward target is to be at 50% by 2050.)
Affordable housing base. In 2010, 5% of the region’s housing stock was affordable and subsidized. The report notes more research is needed to estimate the region’s market-rate affordable housing. (One of Region Forward’s affordable housing targets is for a minimum of 10% of the region’s housing stock to be affordable to households earning less than 80% of the regional median income.)
Housing in activity centers. In 2010, 18 percent of the region’s subsidized housing units were located in activity centers. (The Region Forward target is for 80% of new or preserved affordable housing units to be located in activity centers.)
Agricultural land. In 2009, the region had about 489,000 acres of agricultural land but thousands of acres are being lost each year. (The Region Forward target is to maintain more than 450,000 acres.)
Transportation system management & performance. The report noted that funding will need to increase significantly to fully meet the expansion and operation needs of our region’s transportation infrastructure and meet the Region Forward target for the transportation system to give priority to management, performance, maintenance, and safety of all transportation modes and facilities.
Greenhouse gas. The report noted that the region is not on track to meet its Region Forward target to reduce emissions by 20% below 2005 levels in 2020 or 80% below 2005 levels in 2050.
Olson recommended area leaders reexamine relevant policies, programs, and leadership structures and consider innovative solutions to the major challenges identified in the report.
In addition to the progress report, MWCOG Planning Director Paul DesJardin said the Region Forward Coalition will soon complete the first comprehensive update to COG’s regional activity centers map in a decade.
Elected officials on the MWCOG Board thanked Olson and the Coalition for their work and stressed the need for local governments to use the information from this report and the activity centers to shape future local planning actions.
Please check out the report and see where we stand on our Region Forward targets.