Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan
Action Committee for Transit offers the following comments regarding the draft Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, the site of a future Purple Line station. The Sector Plan Appendix provides helpful graphics that provide clear visuals of what more density would look like from various vantage points. The traffic charts were also helpful. Here are ACT’s comments.
- The Plan envisions a vibrant town center serving many people with community-oriented shopping and more housing. We agree that the town center should not be a “destination area,” hence it makes sense to focus on residential.
- Regarding the Purple Line station — living near transit is the dream of many young people and will be central to Baby Boomers who may no longer be able to (or want to) drive. By moving to Chevy Chase Lake, they’ll be able to walk to public transportation, grocery stores and parks, all while avoiding suburban gridlock.
- As Howard Jennings, Director of R&D for Arlington County Commuter Services says, Arlington’s mantra is — “Move More People Without More Traffic”. The fear with any new development is always Traffic. But the typical argument that density will bring more traffic doesn’t necessarily hold up — Arlington, Virginia has become much more dense, but because they offer good transit, their traffic has not increased.
- Today, according to research by Chris Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo of Brookings, real estate in walkable neighborhoods — where people can shop, go to work, or run errands without having to get into a car — have the highest values; the more walkable a neighborhood is, the higher the value of the real estate.
- Higher priced real estate would seem to fly in the face of affordable housing (something the County desperately needs) — except for two things: 1) as more housing is developed, the county requires more MPDUs to be built and 2) while housing near public transit IS more expensive, the access to transportation is cheaper — so it balances out (and Zip cars help).
Issues we have with the Sector Plan
- We would like to see more density of residences at the future Purple Line station. A root cause of our County’s congestion is that while most jobs are located close to public transit, most residences are not — the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan offers an opportunity to improve that.
- The plan references that the town center should be in keeping with “community character”. If this means architectural style, building materials, facades --- that is one thing. However, buildings of 6 or 8 stories adjacent a mass transit station is not bold. The Plan is concerned with “limiting the visual impact of tall buildings”, but it would seem more fitting that the visual impact of the street-level shops and restaurants should be well-designed — it is the “eye level” view that people perceive when walking down the street, not the area above them.
- We recommend putting comprehensive zoning in place now (as was done in White Flint and the Great Seneca Science Center) and have subsequent buildout stages triggered when Purple Line funding agreement is reached.
We appreciate the opportunity to submit comments.