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Fodder for discussion about TOD and its relative value

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Portland claims to be a success story and Oakland has tried innovative ways to promote transit-oriented development. But what constitutes a successful project? That's a discussion that could follow the addition of three more papers to the Best Practices section.

TriMet's  "Community Building Sourcebook:  Land use and transportation initiatives in Portland, Oregon" highlights land use and transportation accomplishments of the region and provides snapshots of the innovative projects, plans and programs that shape the region’s growth.

Portland’s successes, the document explains, have depended upon partnerships among neighborhoods, local municipalities, regional interests, state agencies, environmental groups, developers and private fi nancial institutions. These partnerships are key to our successes.

This document was a collaborative effort among TriMet, Metro and 1000 Friends of Oregon, originally published in 1999. Now in 2007 we are proud to present a revised edition of the Community Building Sourcebook to include new projects, programs and up-todate information. A new chapter includes two transit-oriented development tours.

On March 28, 2003, the City of Oakland's Community and Economic Development Agency brought together more than 100 developers and owners of underutilized Oakland properties to explore opportunities for transit-oriented development. This innovative approach to facilitating transit-oriented development is thought to be the first such effort in the nation. For the occasion, Oakland Now produced a special transit-oriented development summit issue.

The city of Oakland's reports much progress in its plans and activities for developing its eight BART heavy rail stations into transit-oriented villages such as Fruitvale, a $100 million mixed use project that was once a dingy and dangerous neighborhood short of jobs and housing.

Transit-oriented development (TOD) has become the dominant urban growth planning paradigm in the United States, explains the report "Measuring the Success of Transit-Oriented Development."  Yet scant evidence has been proffered to indicate that it will produce significant environmental and social benefits commensurate with the costs of the major transportation system improvements that it requires.

The report by John Niles of Global Telematics and Dick Nelson Integrated Transport Research says sixteen distinct planning issues determine whether TOD significantly changes travel behavior in a metropolitan region. While some analysis exists, the authors note, understanding of these issues needs improvement.

"Local government policy makers will continue to feel public and federal government pressure for answers to the congestion and air quality problems," the authors conclude. "They will probably continue to
embrace TOD and its concomitant requirements for major transit investments. But these polices will be
established without clear proof that the investments will produce commensurate public benefits."