Implementing Reality Check Washington
On February 5, 2005, ULI Washington and the Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance co-sponsored a visioning exercise called Reality Check to focus the region's attention on the need to plan for the expected growth of the region by 2030.
The morning session brought together more than 300 participants from throughout the region, including elected officials, civic and nonprofit leaders, and business executives. Participants were assigned to 30 tables, ten participants to a table, and asked to think about how and where the region should grow. Each team was provided with a large map of the region, with colors representing the existing population and employment density, and a set of markers and a box of LEGO blocks to represent the new jobs (1.6 million) and population (2 million) forecast for the region by the year 2030. Their assignment: to locate 280 yellow blocks (each representing 3,000 new households) and 270 blue blocks (each representing 6,000 new jobs) somewhere on the map, taking into account areas that should be preserved (delineated using the markers). White blocks were used to place new jobs or households on already developed areas.
That afternoon, Gerritt Knaap of the University of Maryland's National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education presented the results of the exercise to an audience of 800. Three key principles emerging from the exercise, cited at a majority of tables, were:
- Preserve and protect natural areas, green spaces and waterways (cited at all 30 tables),
- Create a better balance of jobs and housing throughout the region (cited at 22 tables), and
- Focus development near transit stations (21 tables).
Through its programs, the Alliance seeks to implement these and other consensus principles that will, over time, improve the quality of life in the region.
Click here to download the report.