Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

Resource Center

10 Strategies For Attracting Investment Near Transit

While these recommendations were developed for specific communities in the Bay Area, there are many common lessons that can be applied in other U.S. regions aiming to implement transit-oriented development.

Background

Over the next 25 years, the San Francisco Bay Area is projected to grow by an estimated 22 percent—adding around 1.6 million new residents. Land use and development professionals are engaged in a dialogue around how the region can accommodate this growth in a way that maintains the extraordinary quality-of-life that attracts people to live and work in the region. With an eye toward demographic shifts like an aging population and an increasing number of smaller and non-family households, planners and developers recognize the growing demand for homes and jobs in walkable, urban environments.

High land and housing costs in the core areas of the region, however, create continued development pressure in the outskirts of the region, leading to commute-times and household transportation costs that are among the highest in the nation. The high cost of housing and transportation is particularly felt by the region’s moderate- and lower-income families, who in some cities spend as much as much as 70 percent of their income on housing and transportation expenses.

By creating neighborhoods where people don’t have to rely on a car for all their trips, transit-oriented development (TOD) can play an important role in accommodating the Bay Area’s projected growth. Despite its many benefits, TOD is difficult to implement due to factors like higher land costs near transit, the complexity and cost of building compact infill projects, and community resistance to change.

Because of these challenges, building successful TOD requires effective partnerships between public and private sector players. It is particularly important that land use and development practitioners work together to ensure that community plans for TOD are both aggressive and realistic - pushing the market to maximize the potential benefits that TOD can bring but also staying grounded in the realities of market demand and economic feasibility.

It is for this reason that ULI San Francisco launched the TOD MarketPlace program in 2005. Leveraging the success of ULI’s national advisory panel model, the TOD MarketPlace seeks to unite land use decision makers and private sector development professionals towards investing in transit-oriented development opportunities in the Bay Area. The TOD MarketPlace program brings together teams of for-profit and non-profit developers, economists and urban designers to form Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs), which work with city representatives to evaluate transit-oriented development plans in the Bay Area. The panels develop targeted recommendations for maximizing community benefits related to public investments, and present their findings at an annual TOD MarketPlace conference. This conference, attended by 350 people in 2009, has become a seminal gathering for TOD-practitioners in the Bay Area. Over the five years of the program, technical assistance panels have worked on TOD plans in 28 cities. In 2010, the program was expanded statewide in order to examine the land use and development implications of California’s future high-speed rail system. Due to its success, the Bay Area’s TOD MarketPlace model is now being replicated by ULI District Councils in Denver, Los Angeles, and Orange County.

This report elevates the ten most common or compelling recommendations made by the ULI TOD TAPs over the program’s five years. While these recommendations were developed for specific communities in the Bay Area, there are many common lessons that can be applied in other U.S. regions aiming to implement transit-oriented development.