Author Archives: Carol Tobin

About Carol Tobin

Carol has more than 25 years of experience as a planner and consultant to local governments in Washington State. Carol’s areas of expertise include neighborhood planning, historic preservation, tourism, urban design, and environmental planning. Carol also has a library background and started at MRSC as a librarian.

The Greening of Main Street

With the recent publication of Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring how the character of buildings and blocks influences urban vitality, there is increasing evidence that green development on main streets and in downtowns has a positive influence on urban vitality. This … Continue reading

Posted in Economic Development, Planning, Policy | Leave a comment

Sea Level Rise: A Challenge for Washington’s Coastal Communities

Coastal communities throughout the world face significant challenges with rising sea levels. Increases in atmospheric temperatures cause ocean water to expand and land ice to melt. Rising sea levels coupled with increased severity and intensity of storms lead to increases … Continue reading

Posted in Energy and Environment, Governance, Planning, Public Works | Leave a comment

Made in Washington: Encouraging Local Industries

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. is still the top manufacturing nation in the world. And there is renewed interest here in local industries, driven by the rising costs of doing business in China, global fuel costs, the appeal of … Continue reading

Posted in Economic Development, Planning, Policy

Affordable Housing: Where Do We Go From Here?

In December 2013, the National League of Cities issued a report identifying ten critical imperatives facing U.S. cities. One of these critical imperatives is the need for affordable housing and another is the related issue of the shrinking middle class. In a … Continue reading

Posted in Housing, Planning | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Bike Safety and Bike Sharing Are Keys to Higher Ridership

Cities are encouraging bicycling as a viable means of transportation through an emphasis on safe bicycle systems and bike sharing programs. An increase in cycling can provide environmental benefits, including reduced vehicle emissions and healthy communities. In recent years, the number of … Continue reading

Posted in Planning, Policy, Transportation and Infrastructure | 2 Comments

Societal Costs of Sprawl: A New Look

Sprawl is a pattern of urban or suburban growth that is spread out, generally in a disorderly or unplanned fashion. Sprawl is typified by automobile-dependent, low-density development. While some say “they know it when they see it,” sprawl has proven more … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use and Zoning, Planning | 2 Comments

Farmland Preservation: American Farmland Trust in Washington State

Agricultural lands preservation is an ongoing concern in Washington State and around the U.S. The Puget Sound region has lost 60% of its farmland acreage since 1950 (U.S. Department of Agriculture). This post examines the role of the American Farmland … Continue reading

Posted in General, Land Use and Zoning, Planning, Policy

What will MRSC be in the future? Update on MRSC’s Strategic Planning Process

Last fall, MRSC began work on the development of a three- to five-year strategic plan for our organization. It was an ideal time for a strategic planning process due to internal changes, including a new executive director and some staff transitions, … Continue reading

Posted in General, Governance, Planning | 1 Comment

Healthy Corner Stores—Past and Present

In the first half of the 20th century, the corner “Mom and Pop” grocery store and the neighborhood pharmacy were common fixtures in communities across the U.S. The neighborhood store was a gathering place for the community, and residents could … Continue reading

Posted in General, Land Use and Zoning, Planning | 3 Comments

Climate Change: Local Governments in the Lead

Several years ago, when I suggested a climate change page for our website, it was thought that climate change was not really a concern of local governments. Within a few months, it became clear that cities and counties would need … Continue reading

Posted in Energy and Environment, General, Planning