City Planner Survey Reveals the Most Common Tools for Promoting Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented development—higher density residential or mixed-use development centered around high-quality transit stations—can reduce the need for driving and cut vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. It can also play a role in revitalizing downtowns, improving accessibility for residents, and preserving open space. For these reasons, state and local governments in California have adopted goals and policies to support transit-oriented development.

Despite its benefits, transit-oriented development faces multiple barriers. Projects may face more complex planning, financing, and regulatory hurdles, and often entail higher land and development costs compared to greenfield development. Local governments are confronting these challenges through the adoption of innovative policy, planning, and finance tools. Researchers at the University of California, Davis surveyed almost 150 city planning directors in California’s four largest metropolitan areas to better understand cities’ motivations for supporting transit-oriented development, the challenges encountered, and techniques employed in achieving their transit-oriented development goals. The results presented in this policy brief are from the first part of a two-year study.