Local Resistance Hinders Transit-Oriented Development

As states move to boost housing production near transit, opposition from neighborhood groups frustrates efforts to build new developments.

1 minute read

January 24, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Denver Union STation TOD

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Despite state-level efforts to encourage transit-oriented development, reports Jared Brey, TOD projects often meet with resistance at the local level, often from single-family neighborhoods that fear the purported negative impacts of increased density. Brey describes some successful and failed initiatives from around the country.

Despite California's extreme housing shortage, state efforts to mandate transit-oriented density have failed to produce significant results. However, a Los Angeles program that incentivizes transit-oriented affordable housing has become popular with developers seeking new construction permits. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, one recent proposal to eliminate parking requirements and allow denser housing development and multifamily housing near transit was rejected by a city council committee due to resident concerns. 

Because transit-oriented development can result in higher housing costs and displacement, as evidenced in a report from the city of Chicago that evaluated the results of the city's 2013 TOD ordinance, that city has published an "equitable transit-oriented policy plan" meant to address this issue and ensure equitable access to the benefits of transit-oriented development.

While there is no empirical evidence showing negative economic impacts on communities or home values surrounding TOD, hostility remains strong. Housing advocates say that dispelling myths about multifamily housing and density can help reduce local opposition and help communities imagine a more affordable, more walkable future.

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