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Station Area Planning Manual

Companion to MTC’s TOD Policy and for Priority Development Areas under the FOCUS program

This manual is intended to serve as a companion to MTC’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy and for Priority Development Areas under the Focusing Our Vision (FOCUS) program to assist jurisdictions with decisionmaking as they complete planning efforts around Bay Area transit hubs and corridors. 

MTC’s TOD Policy, adopted in 2005, requires new regional transit expansion projects to meet corridor housing thresholds that require local governments and transit providers to work together to show how they will provide for a minimum amount of housing within walking distance of transit stations. The goal is to make regional transit investments as efficient as possible and encourage local jurisdictions to focus growth around transit nodes. In order to reinforce the requirements of the TOD Policy, MTC has made funding available for Station Area Plans that address future land use changes, station access needs, circulation improvements, pedestrian-friendly design, TOD-supportive parking policies and other key features in a transit-oriented development. 

Focusing Our Vision (FOCUS) is a multi-agency effort spearheaded by ABAG and MTC in coordination with the Bay Area Quality Management District (BAAQMD). FOCUS builds upon the Smart Growth Strategy/Regional Livability Footprint Project. This pioneering effort has allowed local governments to nominate “Priority Development Areas” where future growth will be focused in region.

This manual is divided into three sections. The first section defines seven Bay Area Place Types and is intended to help cities self-identify their vision for the future of station areas based on characteristics such as land use mix and transit mode. This self-identification serves to establish a common language for a regional policy framework. This section also presents simple guidelines for new development within a given station area according to Place Type. Development guidelines include such elements as typical housing types, total units per station area, and total jobs per station area. The first section should be used to understand the potential outcomes at the start of a planning process. 

The second section presents a number of station area planning principles. These principles are meant to inform the development of Station Area Plans, regardless of place type, and represent an understanding gained from previous MTC-sponsored Station Area Plan efforts. The second section should be used throughout the planning process to help make decisions that will support TOD. 

The third and final section provides illustrative examples of building and open space types as companions to the Station Area Plan guidelines and principles. The building types are meant to help visualize the possibilities and are not intended as an exhaustive list of the options. The third section should be used to help visualize potential development outcomes and implement Station Area Plans.