Want to make Transit-Oriented Development a reality in your community? Check out these TOD Do’s and Don’ts from the Regional Plan Association.
DO make a place
Transit-oriented development is more than just getting the right kind of development on one or two individual sites. It is about making a place – a place where people not only catch a train or bus, but a place where people shop, work, or just to meet for coffee and a bite to eat. Successful places need to be comfortable and attractive so get the public spaces right: well-designed streets, plazas and parks are essential, and any new buildings need to relate to those public spaces in a positive way.
DO make connections
Link the immediate station area to the surrounding neighborhoods: Transit will benefit from being connected to more people, and your neighborhoods, stores, and other destinations will benefit from increased access. Focus on accommodating walkers, bikers, and other transit modes, other than just the car. And be on the lookout for the little things that get in peoples’ way: the hard-to-cross street, the confusing signage, or the poorly lit parking lot.
DO make a Vision
It takes time to make a great place at a station. Your community needs to help create the vision so that they can be the stewards of that vision over the long term. The vision needs to be compelling, but flexible enough to accommodate the inevitable surprises – good and bad – that are likely to happen. Create the vision, not only with your community stakeholders, but with all of your partners, including the transit provider and other government agencies.
DON’T expect the developers to build the public spaces
Developers should help offset the additional burdens their projects create on infrastructure and services. And it’s fine to ask them to contribute to the costs of building some of the public spaces – that’s in their own self-interest. But if you rely solely on the developer to build your public spaces, you will probably be disappointed. If you are really committed to the vision, be prepared to find additional funding that you control to insure that the place you want is the place you get.
DON’T just re-zone
Of course the right zoning needs to be in place. You can accomplish a lot by making sure your zoning allows for compact mixed-use buildings with reduced parking requirements and setbacks that insure a strong relationship to streets and public spaces, but you will need a comprehensive set of strategies – economic development, parking study, branding, public events and programming – to make a great space.
DON’T sell yourself short
A clear vision will help attract developers, but not every developer will want to do what’s best for your community or region. You will have to learn to “just say no” to those projects that tempt you with new tax revenues, but which undermine the vision – like gas stations or self-storage facilities. You can make it easier for the right developments to happen by having an expedited process for the projects that meet your aspirations for a great place.
About the Regional Plan Association
Regional Plan Association is America’s most distinguished independent urban research and advocacy organization. RPA improves the New York metropolitan region’s economic health, environmental sustainability and quality of life through research, planning and advocacy. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced three landmark plans for the region and is working on a fourth plan that will tackle challenges related to sustained economic growth and opportunity, climate change, infrastructure and the fiscal health of our state and local governments. For more information, please visit www.rpa.org.