Wilshire/Vermont station, my local TOD.
Recent conversations on Streetsblog LA about what really counts as Transit Oriented Development (TOD) have gotten me to think hard about what my ideal is, and how I could compare different projects to suggest improvements to developers and the cities that give them permission to build.
I'm going to put a system out there as a kind of preliminary draft. I'm not married to it, but I do want to get feedback on it and explain the kind of things I'm looking for in a good TOD.
My scale, in which higher scores are better, is out of 100 points based on ten categories: transit proximity, density, mixed land uses, walkability (proximity), walkability (sidewalk upgrades and traffic calming), limited car parking, pay to park (if car parking is included), bike parking, affordability, and integrated open space.
Transit Proximity (10 points) - We can't forget the basics. If it isn't close to some form of frequent-service transit, it isn't a quality TOD.
Metric - the project is within a quarter mile of a rail or bus line with service at least every 20 minutes during the day (5 pts.). The project is within a quarter mile of a rail line with service at least every 10 minutes during the day (10 pts.).
Density (10 points) - The more people there are near transit, other things equal, the more potential riders there are. This also helps to support integrated mixed land uses, like stores. The number of stories is a rough approximation for density.
Metric - # of stories: <3 (0 pts.), 3-5 (5 pts.), 6+ (10 pts.).
Mixed Land Uses (10 points) - This makes the TOD more of a destination worth traveling to and helps with walkability.
Metric - 1 land use on site (0 points), 2 land uses on site (5 points), 3+ land uses on site, (10 points).
Proximity for Walkability (10 points) - The TOD should help people who live in it to walk to things and should also be a source of new destinations for the people who already live in its neighborhood.
Metric - the area's Walk Score is improved by: 0 or less (0 pts.), 1-10 (5 pts.), 11+ (10 pts.). If the walk score is already above 90 and doesn't fall give 10 pts.
Sidewalk Upgrades and Traffic Calming for Walkability (10 points) - Physical improvements to the walking environment are important too.
Metric - The project pays for one of the following: street trees, sidewalk repair, sidewalk widening or something similar near the site (5 pts.). The project pays for some traffic calming measure such as a speed bump or road narrowing (5 pts.).
Limited Car Parking (10 points) - TODs should discourage automobile use at the same time that they encourage transit use, walking and cycling.
Metric - No off-street parking (10 pts.). Off-street parking exists but in quantities lower than typically required (5 pts.). Off-street parking exists at or in excess of the typical minimum parking requirement (if such a requirement exists) (0 points).
Drivers Pay Directly to Park (10 points) - if car parking exists at a TOD, drivers should pay for it directly. It should not be included in the price of anything else, especially housing.
Metric - No off-street parking (10 pts.). Drivers pay for their own parking (10 pts.). Parking is partially subsidized through validation (5 pts.). Parking is included in the price of other things (0 pts.).
Bike Parking (10 points) - Since TODs discourage car use, they should encourage the use of alternatives of all kinds, including bicycles.
Metric - each apartment has at least one off-street secure bike parking space and each store has at least three bike parking spaces (10 pts.). Any amount of bike parking exists on site which can accommodate at least 25 bicycles (5 pts.). Fewer than 25 bicycles can be locked on site (0 pts.).
Affordability (10 points) - This will be highly location specific. Los Angeles has a huge affordable housing problem.
Metric - At least 25% of units are made available to people making at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI) on an affordable basis (30% of income) (10 pts.). 10-24% of units are made available to people making at or below 80% of AMI (5 pts.). Fewer than 10% are (0 pts.).
Open Space (10 points) - Density can and should be open, for both the sake of human happiness and potential watershed benefits.
Metric - the site includes a public or semi-public courtyard or large (at least 3 meters) setback (10 pts.).
Enjoy, and please, let me know what you think.
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