Back in March, President Biden announced that his administration will direct billions of dollars to support transit agencies. More than $1 billion in transit relief funds have already come to the Puget Sound region, and more is likely on the way as part of the American Jobs Plan and a potential federal infrastructure package.
Much of this funding will be managed by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), an organization comprised of more than 100 members, including King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap Counties; several dozen cities and towns; state and local transportation agencies and ports; and Tribal governments within the region.
These groups come together at PSRC to make decisions about how to use land, where to build transportation projects, and how to direct economic growth. These decisions have huge implications for all of us, now and for decades ahead. It’s complex, but ultimately a keystone to who and what this region will become. If you’d like more detail about what PSRC does, check out our primer below.
PSRC’s work shapes transportation networks and entire cities in Washington, and right now is YOUR chance to weigh in on these crucial decisions. One of PSRC’s ad hoc committees, the Project Selection Task Force, is currently considering a proposal to implement several significant equity changes. These changes would make PSRC’s work and distribution of funding more inclusive and equitable, and are a great move. Send a short note to PSRC telling them you support the new proposals. The deadline for taking action is next Wednesday, July 8th.
PSRC’s consideration of equity issues like this is incredibly important. Transportation funding as well as land use, development, and growth all have the power to either make Washington more equitable or to reinforce existing inequalities.
This is a simple and straightforward way more Washingtonians can be part of PSRC’s work. It’s an organization that belongs to us, the people of Washington, and we can all help make it better.
PSRC Primer: Top things you need to know about what PSRC does
- PSRC distributes millions of dollars in federal funds. The organization directs approximately $500 million in transportation funding every two years, and has already distributed an additional $1 billion in COVID relief for transit agencies.
- PSRC sets direction on housing, environment, transportation, health, and more. The organization’s working boards provide guidance on what types of projects and development should and should not move forward. They decide how much to prioritize affordable housing or transit-oriented development, for example.
- PSRC certifies local comprehensive plans. Before municipalities or cities can change the way they plan to use land, it has to go through PRSC. The organization has the option to reject the proposal or request revisions.
- PSRC sets growth strategy and targets. This ultimately influences local land use decisions. For example, as our population and jobs increase, should we allow sprawl, or focus on creating more housing near existing amenities?
- PSRC designates Centers eligibility and requirements. “Centers” are central places around the Sound that are dense, have a healthy mix of uses and activities, and are connected by great transportation. They are priority areas for PSRC funding – and PSRC can set standards for them to help achieve regional outcomes. This means through PSRC policy, we can influence our Centers to have things like walkable streets and frequent transit.
- PSRC collects and analyzes regional data and does regional projections and modeling as well as household surveys. Getting great data – especially on race, income, and issues around regional disparities can help us understand how best to intervene for an equitable region.
- PSRC develops technical guidance, data and mapping tools, and sample ordinances that municipalities across Washington use to understand current realities and count on to make important decisions about the future. PSRC recommendations inform and guide public policy at multiple levels of government.
- PSRC convenes regional policymakers to develop consensus and shape their perspectives on the type of growth and development that’s worth prioritizing. It’s an amazing place for advocates to have their ideas heard by a broad audience of elected and appointed officials
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