Saturday, October 29, 2011

TOD, TAD, TAJ: Transit Development Alphabet Soup

You may have heard of transit-oriented development (TOD) in conversations about Honolulu's 20-mile, 21-station rail transit project. But, you may not have heard of TADs and TAJs.

The Transit Cooperative Research Program's August 2011 Legal Research Digest defines these terms and more in its recent report entitled, Transit-Oriented and Joint Development: Case Studies and Legal Issues.
  • Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). TOD sets the framework for good transit-oriented planning and development. The Report identified a performance based definition of TOD: "A TOD typology should meet five main goals: location efficiency, rich mix of residential and commercial choices, value capture, place making, and the resolution of the tension between node and place." The demand for TOD is expected to increase based on three trends "a resurgence of downtowns, continued growth of the suburbs, and a renewed interest and investment in transit."
  • Transit-Adjacent Development (TAD). A TAD is not good. "A TAD is just that—development that is physically near transit; it fails to capitalize upon this proximity, however, to promote transit riding. A TAD lacks any functional connectivity to transit—whether in terms of land-use composition, means of station access, or site design. A number of U.S. TODs discussed in the literature more closely resemble TADs." The Report goes on to describe TAD's as "more suburban-like, with lower densities, a dominance of surface parking and auto-centric design, limited pedestrian and bicycle access, more single-family homes, and industrial and segregated land uses."
  • Transit-Joint Development (TJD). TJD is good in the context of transit. According to the Report, "joint development, in the context of TOD, is the process in which a public entity and a private developer work together under a common vision in order to create a successful development." Joint development projects can be classified into nine sub-categories based on two broad categories: revenue-sharing and cost-sharing arrangements. The nine sub-categories are "1) station leases and development, 2) nonstation leases and development, 3) station interface or station connections, 4) benefit assessment district, 5) incentive agreements, 6) cost-sharing agreements, 7) joint use of facilities, 8) capital or service provision, and 9) development-concession leases." The Report found that "four conditions are necessary for TJD: a healthy local real estate market, an entrepreneurial public agency, coordination across agencies, and the recognition that the benefits of TOD extend beyond generating revenues."
The Report surveys the statutory and regulatory frameworks for TOD. It found that "the programs fall into three basic types: those that either encourage or require planning or zoning for TOD and joint development, those that provide funding for TOD-related infrastructure or housing, and those that provide basic legal authority to transit agencies to engage in TOD/joint development activities." The Report also expores market demand, case law, and case studies.

The Report concludes that "TOD/TJD, successful projects do not happen on their own, or just because government has invested public money into transit and other infrastructure. TOD and joint development projects succeed, most fundamentally, because there is a market for those types of development." In addition to supportive market conditions, "structures of both public and private law" are crucial for success. Suggested laws and programs include:
  • Transit agency authority to engage in TOD and joint development.
  • Direction to local government to plan and regulate for TOD and joint development.
  • Federal involvement in TOD and joint development.
  • TOD and joint development as part of local and regional visioning processes.
  • TOD planning and incentive grant programs.
  • Infrastructure investment programs that support or prioritize TOD.
  • Infrastructure concurrency or adequate public facilities requirements.
  • Funding programs that cover construction costs or provide incentives for the location of housing and other development in TOD areas.

To read more about transportation issues, visit Transportation.

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