Monday, February 4, 2013

Transportation and Housing

This is my second in a series of blogs discussing Communities in Motion 2040 and the relationship between transportation and other issues discussed in the plan. I posted my first blog in this series (transportation and land use) on January 14, 2013, (see below). Today I am discussing transportation and housing.

Linking transportation and housing planning together is essential, since home is either the origin or destination for most personal trips. Also, transportation and housing are two of the largest household expenses. When the first national household expenditure surveys were conducted in 1901, transportation accounted for less than 2% of the family budget. Now it is 18% and rising.*  As families spend more on getting around, they have less money available to save for a down payment on a house and can also have more debt that will hurt their chances for mortgage approval.

The transportation system also affects where housing is built and where people are able to live. People need to locate where they can get from place to place and access jobs and services. Further, public investments in transportation guide developers in where they choose to build housing. An investment in a new road or rail line encourages housing developments along that route, particularly if surrounding land is inexpensive.

Similarly, development patterns can impact the need for, and viability of, transit services. Higher density housing, such as apartments, condos, or homes on small lots, lends itself to transit services, while dispersed housing does not. Additionally, lower income neighborhoods can have greater need for transit than higher income ones.

One of the biggest planning challenges local officials and the region face is how to make the best land use decisions with regard to transportation and housing. Being able to look at housing and transportation development together can help improve decisions that will create communities that meet current needs and are flexible enough to adapt for future growth.

When transportation and housing are coordinated, communities benefit from less traffic congestion and air pollution, lower costs for housing and transportation, lower labor costs, preservation of open space and community character, more efficient and environmentally-friendly land uses, and greater choices in development patterns, housing types, and transportation options. Through Communities in Motion 2040, COMPASS is striving to facilitate this coordination to achieve these benefits as the Treasure Valley prepares for the future.

*Better Coordination of Transportation and Housing Programs to Promote Affordable Housing Near Transit. US DOT-FTA and HUD, August 2008.

Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.