'Transit-Oriented Communities': A New Agenda For L.A. Metro

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is implementing a new vision for "transit-oriented communities."
December 29, 2015, 1pm PST | Elana Eden
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To help achieve its new goal of developing transit-oriented communities, Metro recently revised the process by which it develops Metro-owned land, increasing its commitment to affordable housing, collaboration with local jurisdictions, and community engagement.

"TOC is a comprehensive look at how a rail station or a joint-development site at a rail station impacts a broader community context," Jenna Hornstock, who oversees Metro's Joint Development Program, explains in The Planning Report. "Within Joint Development, we’re moving beyond the goal of 'getting a project done on Metro-owned land.'"

On the ground, the new set of goals guide the development process from the pre-planning stages:

"For our joint development sites, we ask: What are the community development goals of that area? What kinds of amenities are needed in that community? What are the opportunities for active transportation connections at our site? How can the perimeter of the site link into investments we know might be coming for active transportation? How do we use that site to instigate and support further investment in the infrastructure?"

Working toward an enriched agenda, with more considerations, ambitions, and impacts, has required Metro to collaborate with more stakeholders. The agency is now developing closer partnerships with local municipalities to share information, expertise, and resources.

"With no redevelopment tax-increment available, we’re all going to have to get creative and bring something to the table," Hornstock says.

What Metro brings to the table is primarily land—as well as long-term investment in infrastructure, planning grants, and a sizable staff. Cities and municipalities can leverage local and federal dollars, and exercise control and flexibility over land-use regulations. Metro is also looking to newly created tools, like AB 2's Community Revitalization Investment Areas and Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts.

Fortunately, the benefits of this comprehensive work can also be multifold; if transit works to provide community amenities, amenities can encourage communities to use transit:

It all links back to creating more mobility options for communities and supporting public transit. The more we can center communities around public transit, through our joint-development sites and other targeted investments, the more people will get out of their cars and find other modes of transportation.

Hornstock also oversees Metro's Union Station Master Plan, which, likewise, entails collaboration with other agencies—specifically SCRIP and High-Speed Rail—to achieve co-benefits—in this case for bikes, pedestrians, rail, buses, and HSR. Read more on the changes coming to L.A.'s Union Station in The Planning Report.

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Published on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 in The Planning Report
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