Identifying Solutions for Overcoming Barriers to Transit-Oriented Development

Research Team: Elisa Barbour (lead) and Susan Handy

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: The California Air Resources Board recently concluded in a report to the state legislature on progress in achieving SB 375 goals that development patterns in the state since adoption of the law run counter to achieving its objectives. In this context, and given severe housing affordability problems, policymakers need to understand how and whether localities are developing effective strategies to support affordable TOD. Localities face persistent barriers in doing so including obtaining and balancing funding for transit, active transportation, and affordable housing; designing effective programs to gain public benefits from private development; assembling land parcels; attracting market interest in certain areas; and addressing public concerns about new development.

Project Description: This research project will build upon a recently completed two-year research project that investigated motivations, perceived obstacles, and policy-making patterns of California cities for promoting TOD as well as public transit and active transportation. Specifically, this project will examine more deeply the barriers to TOD that California cities experience, how they overcome them, and what support they need from state and regional agencies to do so. The research team will review public policy documents and conduct interviews with city planners and other stakeholders. In addition, the research team will investigate policy tools shown to be promising based on findings from previous research, including development of Specific Plans, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining through “tiering” from Specific Plans, density bonus programs that provide for “ministerial” project approvals, and transport-related land use strategies including reducing parking requirements and linking SB 743-required environmental review at the project level with impact fees and transportation demand management ordinances.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $50,000

Project Partner(s): San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency