Density, People and Cars

There is no question that the population of DC is growing. The DC Office of Planning says DC added 100,000 new residents from 2010 to 2015, and that population will exceed 800,000 in the next 15 years.

DC is already facing a housing shortage, especially in Ward 3, where home prices and rent continue to skyrocket and very little new housing inventory is being built.  The problem is only going get worse unless we build more housing. Yes, more affordable housing, but housing of all types.  As the Obama White House points out, a constriction of supply in the face of increasing demand will have increasingly negative repercussions on the economy.

One of the biggest push backs to greater density, even around transit corridors, is that more people will bring more cars, more traffic and more challenging parking.  Seems logical if we assume that car ownership and car use trend remain the same.

But data indicate that people in DC are actually driving less, and that car ownership is not matching population growth.  The Census Bureau estimates that DC added a net 10,296 residents from 2013 to 2014.  Meanwhile the Federal Highway Administration reports that private automobile registrations in DC dropped by 1,016 from 2013 to 2014.  And from the Metropolitan Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board:

One of the most interesting findings from a recent TPB analysis of regional travel trends is that while the area’s population has grown in recent years, travel by car and transit has stayed more or less steady. According to the researchers behind the analysis, the main reasons lie in shifting demographics and how we use technology.

DC’s population is growing, the number of cars are shrinking and people are driving less.  These are key findings to keep forefront as we discuss how the Comprehensive Plan should be altered to accommodate future growth in the Rock Creek West Area Element.

Come out to Wilson High School on October 25 to hear about the process to amend the Comprehensive Plan – the legislative policy document that underpins our planning and zoning.


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