Jul 15, 2014
All the buzz is about Arlington, Virginia, these days -- the Washington, DC suburb has seen its population rise and its car traffic drop at the same time. How did they do it? It could be a lesson for Palo Alto, California, which is considering various growth proposals, including one that would invite greater density as long as it comes with no additional driving, carbon emissions, or water use.
Denser, more transit-oriented development would be a big win for Palo Alto, but ironically, California's environmental law has long penalized projects like that for diminishing "level of service" for vehicle traffic. A new basketball stadium came to the rescue, however, and the state has dumped level of service as a metric for judging development projects. That change could potentially slow down highways like "level of service" used to slow down smart growth and transit projects. It's a whole new world.