San Diego Villa Encantada, Encanto Neighborhoods TOD

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Parking

Case Study – San Diego Villa Encantada, Encanto Neighborhoods TOD

Place-type: Urban Neighborhood, City Center

Overview

Located in the Encanto neighborhood, Villa Encantada is the redevelopment of an underutilized parking lot (163-space MTS surface parking lot) next to a trolley station in eastern San Diego. It is the first implementation of the Southeast San Diego Specific Plan, which calls for mixed-use villages next to transit stations in the Encanto neighborhood. It is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2018. The redevelopment site will include 67 family apartments, MTS replacement parking (100 spaces), and 1,000 sf of retail.

Villa Encantada includes 95 below-grade residential parking spaces and 14 at-grade podium parking spaces shared between the residential and commercial tenants. Parking was determined through an independent third-party traffic impact analysis and City of San Diego Municipal Code requirements.

The site is a priority site in the Housing Commission Three-Year Work Plan and a core “Village Area” and key corridor in the Encanto Neighborhoods Community Plan.

Place-Type

  • Predominantly low-income, Hispanic population in a low-density residential community
  • MTS trolley line bisects the neighborhood. It’s service frequency and cost is comparable to BART
  • Redevelopment of an underutilized parking lot next to the trolley station

Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Project Success

The City of San Diego developed and approved standards and incentives for TOD Village District to enhance the success of affordable housing projects. The City reduced parking requirements by 25% of spaces per dwelling unit for transit station areas or very low-income housing areas within multi-family residential land use, and by as much as 70% of spaces per 1000 square foot for commercial, offices, and mixed- use land uses.

Additionally, the City of San Diego’s Affordable Housing Parking Study (2011) helped determine the number of parking spaces for the Villa Encantada project.

Outcomes

The Encanto neighborhoods TOD projects are relatively new with construction work still ongoing. Therefore, information on the impact of the project is not yet available.

Indicators of Success

The economic impacts of TOD in a mixed land use context include effects on property tax revenues, local sales tax revenues, net job creation, and property values. Since the Encanto Neighborhood TOD project is still under development, there isn’t a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of success.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

The Encanto Community Plan includes rezoned land uses designated for affordable housing with reduced parking requirements for the new TOD projects. The City was not able to reduce the parking requirements to zero since many residents expressed the need to use automobiles for some trips, such as driving their kids to school.

Residents in the community expressed concern about the changes to the community character in their neighborhoods. Because of this, the City of San Diego did not adopt a mixed-use mandate for new projects in the Encanto Community Plan.

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City of San Mateo: Trip Reduction in Transit Neighborhoods

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Transportation Demand Management

Case Study – City of San Mateo: Trip Reduction in Transit Neighborhoods

Place-type: Transit Town Center, Mixed-Use Corridor

Overview

City of San Mateo Transit Map
General Plan Transit-Oriented Development Designations

Adopted in 2005, the City of San Mateo’s Rail Corridor Transit Oriented Development Plan guides the development of an array of land use and transportation projects around two Caltrain commuter rail stations – Hillsdale and Hayward Park. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures are integrated into the Rail Corridor Plan for residents and employers to support a 25% motor vehicle trip reduction, even as new development is occurring. To achieve this target, the City of San Mateo Rail Corridor includes TDM measures such as:

  • Parking cash-out programs that give employees a cash payment if they forgo a free parking space
  • Market-rate residential parking charges/prices
  • Transit pass subsidy for employees or residents
  • On-site car-share programs (e.g. Zipcar)
  • Residential permit parking (allows residents to park on the streets in their neighborhood)
  • Preferential high occupancy vehicle (HOV – e.g., vanpool vehicles) parking and carpool promotion and coordination
  • Bicycle parking and commuter facilities (including locker rooms and showers)

The above measures reduce the need for excess car parking, which reduce housing development costs and the impact of new development on traffic congestion.

Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Project Success

  • The TDM plan has a built-in accountability mechanism to monitor transportation outcomes in new developments. Trip reduction will be measured against available trip generation for traditional projects that do not benefit from the TOD
  • The City of San Mateo’s Below Market Rate (BMR) Inclusionary Program requires developers of new housing to provide a percentage of the affordable units to very low, low, or moderate-income residents for projects of 11 or more units.
  • The Connect San Mateo program, a partnership with Commute.org and SamTrans, offers residents and commuters an interactive and user-friendly website to explore the alternative transportation options available within the City of San Mateo.
  • The City’s zoning code allows for more intense development, with a maximum building height of 55′. That height can be 75′ in designated areas if a public benefit is involved, such as transit supportive policies, mixed land uses, and higher development densities.

Outcomes

The City of San Mateo TDM strategies are in the early stages of implementation. From 2016 to 2017 within the Rail Corridor Plan area, motor vehicle volumes fell by 2%, and pedestrian and bicycle trip volumes increased by 37% and 47%, respectively.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

  • Although the zoning code is flexible and includes development incentives, the small size of parcels and overall height limits may act as disincentives for parties interested in private redevelopment.
  • Employer TDM strategies tend to be the most effective means of reducing peak period automobile trips and promoting transit usage. Trip reduction is more difficult for residential projects because residents may want to own a car even if they do not drive to work every day.
  • The TDM plan identified early on that these requirements needed accountability to be truly successful, leading to the establishment of a process by which projects/developments are responsible for their trip reduction efficacy. The annual monitoring process requires developers or project owners to report annually on how/if the project is meeting the vehicle trips reduction targets.

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Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan

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Community Planning & Parking

Case Study – Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan

A Community Remaking Itself

Place-type: Urban Neighborhood, City Center

Overview

Downtown Redwood City Map
Redwood City Downtown: Existing Land Use Conditions

The Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan (DTPP) was created to revive the heart of Redwood City. It covers 183 acres within the city’s historic center including two historic residential neighborhoods. Most of the DTPP area lies within a quarter-mile radius of the Caltrain station—an ideal size for a walkable district, about a ten-minute walk end-to-end. The Plan acts as a detailed zoning and design code that regulates land use and development within the downtown area. It also guides private and public investment actions in support of downtown growth.

Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Project Success

  • The DTPP authorizes up to 2,500 additional market rate and 375 affordable housing units for households earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income. The City has adopted policies and programs such as impact fees and incentives to promote the development and preservation of affordable housing.
  • The DTPP adopts a “Complete Streets” approach to street design to meet the need of all users, including bicyclists, public transportation riders, and pedestrians. The plan sets new standards for sidewalk widths, street trees, wayfinding signage and lighting scaled for people rather than cars, to increase pedestrian comfort and safety.
  • The plan encourages the tallest buildings to be placed in the downtown core, and adjacent to the station area while limiting heights around key public open spaces and historic structures to maintain the character of these streets.
  • The city’s progressive parking policy adjusts downtown parking rates by monitoring supply and demand to provide “just enough” parking and creates a “park-once and walk” district to minimize cruising.
  • The Program Environmental Impact Report (Program EIR) assesses the project-level cumulative impacts of the proposed New General Plan. It is more exhaustive than an EIR for a single project and covers future developments.

Outcomes

Recent City-conducted residential housing surveys show an increase in walking, biking, and transit use and less driving alone for all trips. Higher densities, mixing land uses, and investments in multimodal facilities shorten trip length and encourage more non-auto travel options.

Redwood City now has four downtown parking garages with a total of over 2,500 spaces, plus the 160-space Caltrain lot and several smaller surface lots. City reports show that these facilities successfully accommodate current demand for parking. Most offer free parking on evenings and weekends. The City has also installed multi-space “smart meters” for on-street parking, with convenient payment methods, such as credit card or with a remote phone feature.

The DTPP has been supplemented with several new planning initiatives that will further enhance the downtown area and facilitate additional housing construction while managing traffic and parking impacts. RWCmoves, the city’s new transportation plan, provides a framework for a balanced multimodal transportation network addressing the City’s transportation challenges and needs. It offers transit and street corridor improvements, grade separation of the Caltrain tracks, a long-term vision for the downtown transit center and train station, new street connections, complete street corridors, and bike/pedestrian improvements.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

The DTPP took over 20 years to develop through a very thoughtful outreach effort. Despite these efforts, it faced a court battle that forced major revisions just before it was finally adopted in 2010. The Plan has since been amended twice. It has also been a challenge to create more open space for new residents in the fast-growing downtown area and encourage retail activity. Despite the addition of new businesses and residents in downtown, there has been a decrease in retail activity. The city hopes that the completion of all the developments will bring new retail and restaurants to the area.

The success of the Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan shows that urban areas can accommodate additional residential and retail spaces, while careful planning can minimize traffic and parking impact. The Plan’s design guidelines facilitate adequate parking without detracting from the pedestrian character of the street. Since some drivers may be tempted to avoid slower arterial traffic by detouring through adjacent neighborhoods, the City is working to discourage cut-through with traffic calming strategies. Additional parking can be provided as needed and parking demand can be regulated through pricing and new technology.

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Transform’s GreenTRIP Certification

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Transportation Demand Management

Case Study – Transform’s GreenTRIP Certification

A Guide to Lower Impact, More Affordable Housing

Place-type: Applicable to all place-types

Overview

The GreenTRIP Program was launched in 2008 by TransForm, a Bay Area non-profit organization that promotes walkable communities with excellent transportation choices. GreenTRIP includes several innovative strategies for the evaluation and certification of housing development projects. It also quantifies the projected impact on the transportation infrastructure and environment. The GreenTRIP includes three main tools: GreenTRIP Connect, GreenTRIP Parking Database, and GreenTRIP Certification.

  • GreenTRIP Connect is a calculator with the capability to assess the mobility impacts of development projects. The model compares development parameter inputs, such as the number of housing units and parking spaces, to the underlying parcel-level demographic, employment, and transit data.
  • GreenTRIP Parking Database enables developers to examine whether they can reduce the cost of housing development through innovative parking strategies. The parking database is built to showcase underutilized parking and guide decisions regarding parking supply and management.
  • GreenTRIP Certification, which has been used for more than 25 housing projects in the Bay Area, recognizes developments that meet specific requirements, such as right-sized parking.

    GreenTRIP Connect Dashboard
    GreenTRIP Connect Dashboard

Outcomes

GreenTRIP prioritizes various strategies that reduce automobile dependency. Strategies include site placement that is walkable with shops, stores, schools, and other desirable destinations nearby; availability of safe and convenient transit, bike, and car share services; and transit subsidies provided by developers. The following two projects highlight the challenges and outcomes in applying the GreenTRIP model and GreenTRIP certification process:

    1. Eagle Park Apartments, 1701 West El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA has 67 affordable housing units for veterans and contains 31 parking spaces for residents. Travel demand mitigation measures of the GreenTRIP model applied for this project include:
  • A reduced parking requirement to 0.46 parking spaces per housing unit
  • Free Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) transit passes for all residents
  • At least one bicycle parking space per unit
  • A developer commitment to an annual transportation and parking monitoring survey of project residents

According to GreenTRIP, the approved project is projected to reduce the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per resident by 26 miles per day compared to the base case without travel demand mitigation measures. The base case, or “business as usual”, did not assume any reduction in zoning code parking requirements, lacked a free car share program, a shared bicycle fleet, on-site bicycle repair, and free transit passes, and did not “unbundle”, or separate, the cost of the housing unit from the cost of the parking required for the unit.

    2. 1450 Sherwin Street, Emeryville, CA is on 8.6 acres of land and includes 500 residential units. Travel demand mitigation measures of the GreenTRIP model applied to this project include:
  • One parking space per unit
  • A free car share program for all residents for 40 years
  • 100% unbundled parking that separates residents’ parking costs from their rental costs
  • A shared bicycle fleet
  • On-site bicycle repair facilities
  • Free AC Transit Easy Passes (AC Transit bus passes) for residents for five years

GreenTRIP analysis estimates that each household will drive 59% less and produce 51% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the transportation demand management measures listed above in place, compared to the “business as usual” base case.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

The challenge for TransForm is to maintain an updated database for travel and demographic data while potentially extending the model to include other states so that GreenTRIP remains useful and can be applied to a wider geographic area over time.

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South San Francisco Station Area Specific Plan

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Transit Oriented Development

Case Study – South San Francisco Station Area Specific Plan

Revitalizing Aging Downtowns, Protecting Neighborhoods, and Connecting Communities

Place-type: Transit Town Center, Mixed-Use Corridor

Overview

South San Francisco Station Map
Station Area Land Use Plan

South San Francisco’s award-winning Station Area Specific Plan was adopted in February 2015. Its purpose is to expand the City’s currently obscured and relatively inaccessible Caltrain station and better connect the adjoining downtown area and the emerging biotech areas east of Highway 101. The Plan doubles the number of homes in the downtown, adding about 1,400 units and increases commercial square footage for new office and research and development uses by about 1.2 million square feet.

Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Project Success

The Plan recommends and encourages several parking practices:

  • Shared parking;
  • Implementation of “in-lieu” parking fees as an incentive to developers;
  • Parking maximums for projects to prevent over building on-site parking where there is an adequate supply of off-site parking;
  • Parking minimums that allow for flexibility for developers who wish to focus on urban, transit-oriented development and support off-site parking;
  • Parking policies allowing residential and some commercial developers to “unbundle” the cost of parking from unit or tenant costs; and
  • Car sharing and ride sharing programs.

Improvements to the downtown area will result in a walkable, bike friendly neighborhood with a variety of housing options. These improvements include conversion of existing angled parking to parallel parking to allow widening of sidewalks and bike lanes. Under the Plan, allowable building heights in both the downtown and eastern neighborhood are greatest near the Caltrain station while heights are reduced in the historic downtown and near existing single family and multi-family neighborhoods.

Outcomes

To date, about 800-900 housing units in the downtown area have been approved, mostly on vacant land, including 200 market rate units, 80 for very low-income seniors (built with reduced parking), plus two projects for 206 affordable units. Another 97-unit for sale project was approved with a 20% inclusionary housing requirement.

The plan will add an estimated 1,240 new transit trips daily and increase pedestrian and bicycle activity, but additional traffic congestion at certain intersections may require mitigation. The plan’s traffic impact analysis was conducted using the LOS (level of service) methodology focusing on automobile traffic and vehicle delay while considering the effect of the transit investments and bike/pedestrian features in the plan on reducing automobile trips.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

In developing the Downtown Station Area Plan, City officials found the key to winning public support was the extensive community outreach they conducted to educate the public about the need for additional housing for the growing number of workers and millennials who prefer urban residences, particularly along transit corridors. It was important to get the public’s input by asking questions such as: “What is important to you?” and “What element do you want to see in the plan?”
The public expressed concerns over three main topics: historic preservation, displacement, and traffic. The Plan emphasizes preserving the unique historic character of Grand Avenue by limiting building heights along the street front for new developments. The Plan also includes programs to mitigate the risk of displacement and preserve existing affordable units.

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East Palo Alto: Ravenswood / 4 Corners TOD Specific Plan

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Transit Oriented Development

Case Study – East Palo Alto: Ravenswood / 4 Corners TOD Specific Plan

Revitalizing Established Neighborhoods

Place-type: Local Neighborhood, Economically Disadvantaged

Overview

East Palo Alto Revenswood
East Palo Alto Ravenswood/4 Corners Land Use Map

To address housing and job concerns of residents, the City of East Palo Alto prepared a Ravenswood / 4 Corners Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Specific Plan in 2013 and recently completed its Vista 2035 General Plan Update.

The Ravenswood / 4 Corners TOD Specific Plan promotes compact, mixed-use development with housing concentrated around job centers and along two major transportation corridors: Bay Road and University Avenue. Mixed-use and high-density residential development is encouraged in the Ravenswood and University Corner/Bay Road areas to have a minimum of 25% of land use devoted to housing to create a new downtown. The Plan area is served by two SamTrans bus routes and the Dumbarton Express Shuttle that provides service between Palo Alto and the Union City BART Station.

Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Project Success

  • The Plan incorporated feedback from existing community organizations and reached out to a wide range of people through 15 public meetings and three interactive public workshops. The City also assembled a Community Advisory Committee that met over a year long period to review the draft Plan and make recommendations to the City.
  • A mix of new employment will be located primarily in the central and southern portions of Ravenswood to help reduce East Palo Alto’s high unemployment rate, which was 19.2% at the time the Plan was being developed.
  • The Plan provides for up to 825 residential units consisting of multifamily development including townhouses, duplexes, four-plexes, and a wide range of multi-family apartments along with some single-family residential development on small lots.
  • A commuter rail transit station is envisioned along a potential future Dumbarton Rail passenger line just north of the Plan Area, which could make office uses more viable and provide better access for current and future East Palo Alto residents. As an alternative, a bus rapid transit (BRT) stop connecting to the East Bay across the Dumbarton Bridge could be developed

Outcomes

The Ravenswood / 4 Corners Plan is a key component of the City’s awarding winning 2016 General Plan Update. It is forecasted to account for about one-third of citywide projected new housing units and retail space, all the proposed new industrial space, and about 60% of proposed new office space. Key transportation policies in the new General Plan include:

    1. (i) a Vision Zero policy, which places safety first and foremost;
    1. (ii) supportive policies and plans for traffic calming, bicycle and pedestrian networks;
    1. (iii) transit-priority streets; new bicycle and pedestrian-friendly street types; and
    1. (iv) reformed performance measures that prioritize safety over roadway widening.

The City is relying on the pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities and services outlined in the Ravenswood / 4 Corners Specific Plan to reduce the vehicle trips generated by buildout under the new General Plan. These include closing gaps in the sidewalk network, upgrading pedestrian crossings, new multi-purpose trails, and new traffic signals. The General Plan also includes parking management policies, such as shared parking and residential parking permits designed to alleviate curb parking shortages without relying on excessive minimum parking requirements.
In 2017, the City reached an agreement with the City of Menlo Park to work together to prepare reciprocal traffic studies for projects that may have significant impacts on both cities. The agreement also requires developers to conduct separate housing-needs assessments to address potential residential displacement. This approach is one strategy to jointly address shared issues stemming from regional growth and development.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Unlike other nearby cities, East Palo Alto’s major concern is generating new employment to address its jobs-housing imbalance. Thus, the City’s planning is focused on attracting new business, while providing new housing choices—both ownership and rental units—for lower-income families experiencing overcrowding.

Another challenge is that although the Specific Plan and the new General Plan support reducing the need for parking, the current lack of direct rail connections within the City makes it harder to justify reducing the city’s already low parking requirements for new developments.

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City of Oakland: Transitioning to Vehicle Miles Traveled

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Transportation Impact Analysis

Case Study – City of Oakland: Transitioning to Vehicle Miles Traveled

Modernizing the Transportation Impact Review Process

Place-type: Urban Neighborhood

Overview

The City of Oakland has adopted a new methodology for traffic management with the goal of minimizing the need for new road and parking capacity and associated impacts on community livability. This methodology will address transportation impacts measured in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead of the more conventional model focusing on motor vehicle delay measured in Level of Service (LOS). VMT-focused policy has several benefits. Firstly, it prioritizes mobility (getting people where they need to go) while reducing the number of vehicles miles needed to do so. Compared with LOS’ optimization of speed of travel, VMT works towards reduced emissions from transportation. Secondly, VMT provides a more accurate understanding of land development impacts on highways, public transit systems, and bicycle and pedestrian conditions. Lastly, VMT makes it simpler to calculate and measure regional impacts instead of just local impacts. This methodology will reduce requirements for unnecessarily wide traffic lanes and support more vibrant walkable communities. The VMT approach was created when it became apparent that LOS used in the CEQA guidelines detracted from efforts to create higher quality walkable development.

Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Success

This policy change is part of a broader array of strategies outlined in The City of Oakland’s newly developed Transportation Strategic Plan. The plan is based on a vision for the city and how the Oakland Department of Transportation serves it in four key areas: equity, safety, sound infrastructure, and responsible governance. The City of Oakland Modernizing Transportation Impact Review Project  and the shift to VMT-oriented policy were enacted in response to the requirements of SB 743.

On April 14, 2017, The City of Oakland issued Transportation Impact Review Guidelines that incorporated guidance on using VMT as a key metric in transportation impact analysis of new land development.  This guidance conforms with the CEQA Update and Technical Advisory issued by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The City of Oakland considered a variety of metrics in revising its transportation impact review process. VMT was chosen to align with state policy in conjunction with SB 743 and as a robust indicator of the transportation impact of new development.

Outcomes

Cities in California will have until January 2020 to comply with SB 743. Use of VMT as a transportation impact analysis metric will promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the development of multimodal transportation networks, and a diversity of land uses. The Office of Planning and Research has selected VMT as a replacement measure for LOS not only because it satisfies the explicit goals of SB 743, but also because agencies should already be familiar with this metric. Several cities, including Pasadena and San Francisco, have already implemented the changes.

It is anticipated that this approach will achieve the GHG emission reduction goals; align transportation analysis under CEQA; simplify the land entitlement review process; allow local agencies discretion in implementing circulation systems; and encourage policy trade-offs in dealing with traffic congestion.

Summary of Best Practices, Transportation Impact Review Streamlining

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