Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Notes on the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, June 7, 2011


Notes from the RTF Steering Committee Meeting, June 7, 2011

STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING: June 7, 2011


Summary:  Lengthy discussion of new data prepared by DPZ staff.  No decisions on larger issues, but agreement to submit one development scenario to county staff for transportation analysis.

Attendance:  Eight of 12 committee members. 
Observers included task force members/alternates Kennedy, Pew and Bowman.

Public Comment
No public comments.

Announcements/Administrative Items
            Chair Patty Nicoson provided updates on the status of Metrorail to Dulles, and two meetings chaired by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood regarding Phase II.  Next LaHood meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14.  

Also an update on the Dulles Corridor Rail Association spring meeting and reception held on June 6th. 

The Herndon Planning Commission will discuss the economic/fiscal impact of Metrorail on June 13th (additional Herndon rail meetings are scheduled for July and August).

Discussion of Adjusted Sub-committee Recommendations to 2030 Horizon

            At the last steering committee meeting, members discussed four possible development level scenarios for the transit corridor.  Data was available for Scenarios A and B (current plan and GMU High +20%).  DPZ staff was asked to provide data for the remaining two scenarios.

            Tonight, Heidi Merkel presented a revised map and tables prepared by DPZ staff.  (See here: 
 Thanks to county staff for quickly posting these documents.)

There was extended, ninety minute discussion of the new map (“Scenario C”), which attempts to reconcile the disparate recommendations from the three TOD station area subcommittee reports (they utilized different development time horizons) and to arrive at comparable figures for a 20‑year (2030) timeframe for future analysis.  Staff assumed that certain “dark blue” areas on the new map would be the ones to develop by 2030, and applied minimum-maximum FAR ranges to these areas (most are near station platforms, but one is in North Town Center), but they are not saying that these are the only parcels that might develop by 2030.  Staff generally followed the subcommittee reports, but assumed new (not incremental) development on clean sites, and scaled back the FARs at Town Center.  To build the minimum FARs, developers would have to meet certain unspecified criteria, and “consolidation” or at least cooperation likely would be required to reach the high end of the FAR ranges.

Since staff recognizes that not all parcels would development to their maximum potential and some might not develop at all by 2030, the midpoints of these ranges were used, together with the mix recommendations from the station area subcommittee reports, to project new development potential and the jobs/households totals for each station area and for the entire Reston-Herndon suburban center (pink columns on DPZ tables).  These figures are roughly in line with the GMU 2030 High +20% totals.

The adjusted totals for residential, non-residential units and jobs for the subcommittee report scenario were all lower than those provided at the last steering committee meeting.  Since the projected number of households decreased more than the number of jobs, the projected jobs-to-households ratio increased from 4.5 to 6.7 (compare pink columns on DPZ tables from the two meetings).

Some committee members questioned the staff’s identification of certain land units as likely to develop by 2030, particularly county-owned properties at Herndon-Monroe and in North Town Center, and the omission of other parcels including one near the RTC station platform.  Staff emphasized that these were their current projections for development through 2030 (described as “Phase I”).  There was a discussion of possible modifications to the staff analysis, which staff acknowledged had some validity.  Also discussion of phasing and the “implementation problem,” and whether those issues could be resolved in the next few weeks.  There was a suggestion that the county’s plan should describe the long-term vision for jobs and housing before setting forth plans for Phase I development.  This apparently would be similar to Tysons plan.

Relatively brief discussion of the fourth scenario requested by John Carter, which would “balance” jobs and households by 2030, and strive for a 2.0 ratio by 2050.  Carter cautioned regarding the need to reduce the job numbers, otherwise residential necessary to balance the development will exceed demand, but not everyone shared this concern.  Carter also again cautioned regarding projecting jobs beyond the half-mile. 

Heidi Merkel noted that existing development plus current zoning approvals already would result in more than 109,000 jobs.  DPZ projects 121,880 jobs by 2050 (see revised “Review of Development Levels” table).  To reach a 2.0 jobs-to-housing ratio would require 61,045 households, more than double the 25,000 households in Reston today.  While development would be out-of-balance in Phase I, office development hopefully would flatten out and residential development would increase in Phase II (post‑2030) to bring things back into balance.  Robert Goudie suggested the need to set expectations regarding the amount of office space in Phase I, and create a “glide path” to reach long-term goals.

Totals and jobs-household ratios for the four scenarios are summarized in the slides (see revised “Review of Development Levels” table).  Note: the “current plan” numbers have changed slightly from the last meeting.

Discussion of Allocation of GMU 2030 High Forecast to Station Areas.
           
At the last meeting, there was discussion of having a transportation analysis performed on the GMU 2030 High figures, but certain items need to be further allocated before the transportation analysis could be performed. 

There was a nearly hour long discussion, which started with the premise that GMU understates residential (although not everyone agreed this was a problem), then turned to possible adjustments to GMU figures.  Committee members suggested giving transportation staff multiple scenarios to test, but ultimately agreed upon a single scenario – the GMU 2030 High (fifth column on the revised “Reston-Herndon Suburban Center” table) but adjusted by substituting the higher residential numbers from GMU 2030 High +20% (same table, far right column, rows 1 and 2) which were described as a better estimate of residential demand.  With these adjustments, office space would increase, but residential would triple; total development potential would be approximately 62-63 million square feet.  This analysis should provide some idea of the impact of growing residential development to help future discussions.

For purposes of the transportation test, DPZ staff will shift the development they had initially placed at Herndon-Monroe (see Scenario C map) to other station areas and allocate it among traffic analysis zones, fifty percent on each side of the corridor.  John Carter recommended that transportation staff adjust test inputs, such as increasing road-splits, assuming traffic management districts and reducing parking, but even with these adjustments Carter and others thought that the scenario would “fail” the transportation analysis.

Carter and other members suggested additional modifications, such as reducing the number of jobs across the board and looking more closely at which parcels are not likely to develop by 2030, but the meeting already had extended thirty minutes past the planned adjournment time, and those suggestions were deferred to a future meeting (and future transportation analysis).

There was no discussion of the full task force meeting scheduled for June 14th, other than a statement that the steering committee will update the task force on its recent efforts.

Next Meetings:
Full task force meeting on June 14, 2011.
Date of next steering committee to be determined, but Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23 were proposed.  Absent committee members will be consulted.

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