By Mayor Carlo DeMaria
Several times in this space, I have outlined my vision for transportation in the City. One where we reduce our dependency on personal vehicles, build a reliable transit system, and create affordable and attractive options to work live and play in our great City. We’ve been working consistently towards this goal, building the region’s first bus lanes, safe, protected bike bike lanes on Broadway and Revere Beach Parkway, and improving the walking environments on our streets with new sidewalks, raised intersections and flashing beacons at crosswalks. Collectively, those efforts have succeeded in creating 800 new bus boardings per day and 250 new bicycle trips per day. Those 1,000-plus trips, which would have likely otherwise been taken in a car, further congesting our streets, are the equivalent number of trips produced by over 200 units of new housing. This comparison to housing is important, because in order to solve our other pressing crisis, housing affordability, we need to build more housing units, but we need to do so without adding more vehicles to our streets.
In the coming season, I will be taking the next step by introducing a new zoning ordinance to our Planning Board and to the City Council called a “Transportation Demand Management Ordinance or “TDM” for short. The goal of this ordinance is to require developers of new housing, to reduce the number of new vehicle trips created by their projects. The City has been piloting TDM measures on several new development projects recently approved by our Planning Board including two projects on Broadway as well as two in the Commercial Triangle district. On these projects, the City imposed conditions that restricted access of new residents to parking both on City streets and within the development, required contributions to area shuttle bus services and the bicycle sharing system, and required transit information and passes to be provided to residents on site.
The benefits of implementing TDM are felt by everyone. Fewer cars brought into the City by residents means less added congestion. The improved transit that comes from developer contributions attracts riders from all over the City (for example, the Encore shuttle that will take any Everett resident to the Chelsea Silver Line and Market Basket). Where a good TDM ordinance exists, most developers are eager to take part for two simple reasons; better certainty during their permitting process, and the fact that the construction of parking is prohibitively expensive. A single garaged parking space can cost upwards of $50,000. Meeting the current zoning regulations of 2 spaces per unit adds a $100,000 cost premium to every unit of housing, making a unit that may have otherwise been “affordable,” suddenly out of reach to many. The TDM ordinance provides a structure in which the City can reduce the transportation impact of a development while guiding the developer towards effective and reliable means of providing mobility to their residents.
TDM is not new or novel. Some of our neighboring communities, who we look to as examples, have effectively used TDM to hold flat, or even reduce total vehicle trips in a neighborhood even as millions, yes millions, of square feet of new development took place. As we look to solve our housing affordability crisis, our environmental crisis and our transportation crisis, passing a Transportation Demand Management ordinance is must. I look forward to working with our boards and council to that end this spring.
Carlo DeMaria is the Mayor of Everett.