Transit Enhanced Development

Keeping Up with Community Trends

Photo credit: USC Alumni Real Estate Network

Photo credit: USC Alumni Real Estate Network

One community trend is the transit renaissance in Los Angeles. Dima and I attended an event at which Philip Washington, the new CEO of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, spoke about five mega-trends affecting the future of transportation in Los Angeles:

1.     Funding is crucial, but sustainable funding is a struggle. Funding comes from federal, local, and private institutions.

2.     Safety and security are priorities. Our infrastructure needs to be reliable for the next 100 years.

3.     Workforce and lifestyle changes affect travel behavior.

4.     Demographic shifts, such as gentrification, should be addressed as transit-oriented development breaks ground.

5.     By accelerating technological advances, we can better serve the public. Uber and Metro are partnering to provide access to the new Expo line.

Photo credit: USC Alumni Real Estate Network

Photo credit: USC Alumni Real Estate Network

Washington’s points set the stage for a potential ballot measure, expected to go to LA County voters in the November ballot. It would raise $120 billion over a 40-year period to fund transportation infrastructure maintenance and construction. The measure would augment Measure R—the current half-cent sales tax—by an additional half-cent. It would also extend the sales tax by another 18 years. More details regarding the plan can be found here.

RSG keeps up with trends affecting communities. To learn more about how RSG’s knowledge can benefit your project, call us today.

Written by Jeff Khau, a Senior Analyst at RSG

Photo credit: USC Alumni Real Estate Network

Photo credit: USC Alumni Real Estate Network

Consensus Building

Public involvement is more than just a process. It often determines the outcome.
 
Because a new development in a city can have a big impact on local residents and business owners, cities should understand the gravity of why public participation is important and also the risks involved with conducting second-rate outreach.

For example, Eric Jaffe of CityLab writes about a bridge project in Philadelphia that almost fell through because city planners were not aware of changing preferences and, more importantly, the social shift happening on the neighborhood level:

When talk of a new bridge had first surfaced, it was common for urban bridges to look and function just like highway bridges. Bike lanes, pedestrian access, and the concept of limiting travel lanes to slow down traffic hadn’t been part of the original design discussion; the goal was moving cars.
The people had also changed. Neighborhoods at both ends of the bridge had gentrified over that time period, and the stale highway design that former residents had approved — or, perhaps, felt resigned to accept — now received a chilly reception.

It’s important to engage in the public for several reasons: The public is a rich source of ideas. Community members understand their region's transportation issues and challenges. Outreach leads to representation from broad and varied segments of the communities. And federal law often requires projects to include public participation. 

Lack of funding is the top reason behind most lackluster attempts at public participation. Cities can solve this by budgeting more money upfront for community meetings. This can save money in the future in:

•    Legal fees spent in litigation
•    Staff time spent educating the public
•    Delays in development and construction

Communication is the key to success, and RSG can help with that communication.

Written by Jeff Khau, a Research Analyst at RSG.

A Streetcar Named Inspired

 

By the end of 2019, people may be able to ride the streetcar from the train station to Garden Grove – through downtown and many Santa Ana attractions – as part of the Santa Ana-Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Project.  It appears to be a well thought out way to facilitate public transportation, improve traffic flow and demonstrate concern for the environment at a reasonable cost. 

The TSM Alternative, a bus service improvement project, would increase the frequency of OCTA bus service along designated routes within the study area, fund intersection/traffic signal improvements and upgrade bus stop amenities.  Streetcars share their rights-of-way with automobiles and travel with the flow of traffic.  The lightweight vehicles are designed for short trips that make frequent stops. 

Stations would be located every half-mile.  The stations in the Downtown/Civic Center area would be closer together with stops every 2 to 3 blocks.  Shelters will be narrow enough to integrate into existing sidewalk areas and will be transparent enough to maintain visibility to storefronts.  The natural beauty of the neighborhood will be preserved, because trees not be removed for the stations.

Funding would come from a variety of sources.  They include Renewed Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent tax for transportation, as well available state and federal transportation funding sources.

Modern streetcar systems, such as those in Tampa, Charlotte, Seattle and Portland are slower, cleaner and quieter than light rail systems.  All of the streetcar systems that have been built in the US within the past 10 years have been successful at improving transportation and boosting the local economy.  Modern streetcars operate similar to buses in city streets, moving with the flow of traffic and allowing passenger pick-up and drop off. 

The TSM Alternative sounds like a win-win.

Oceanside - An Amazing Example of Transit Enhanced Development

Welcome to Oceanside!

Welcome to Oceanside!

I used Metrolink, the Southern California commuter rail system, to take a day trip to Oceanside recently. I visited the California Surf Museum and the Oceanside Museum of Art, and I watched the sun set from the end of the pier. It was such a pleasant trip that I wanted to share some pictures (above and below).

That day trip got me thinking about the use of “transit oriented development” as a marketing strategy. Let’s face it. Sometimes that’s all it is. In certain cases, what’s billed as “transit oriented development” (TOD) is really transit adjacent development (TAD). It’s a fairly common complaint. The inclusion of a light rail station and a bus stop does not mean that residents and visitors of the site will use transit. Other factors—including design, location, and the amount of parking—can change a project from TOD to TAD. Similarly, an intermodal center placed in an inconvenient location relatively far from people’s homes, shopping destinations, and work centers—while providing useful transit connections—does not make a transit oriented development.

Nevertheless, I think there is value in projects that make at least some effort to be transit oriented or that increase local transportation options. I propose that TOD conversations need to include recognition of the complexity of transit service levels. For starters, there should be a term used to admit a project is not transit oriented, yet is more than just transit adjacent. Such developments are transit enhanced. Using a multi-layered system to classify the level at which developments are oriented around transit will help to better prioritize projects and reward those that will truly make a positive difference in our transportation system. “Transit enhanced development” is just the start.


Written by Dima Galkin who is an Analyst at RSG. The rest of Dima's Oceanside Tour in Pictures below:

 

The California Surf Museum celebrates Oceanside’s role in the history of surfing.

The California Surf Museum celebrates Oceanside’s role in the history of surfing.

The Oceanside Museum of Art partly inhabits the former City Hall.

The Oceanside Museum of Art partly inhabits the former City Hall.

This surfing sculpture is located near the pier.

This surfing sculpture is located near the pier.

The pier is a popular destination, and not only for humans.

The pier is a popular destination, and not only for humans.

The sun sets on my day trip.

The sun sets on my day trip.