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TOD: From Barriers To Solutions

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"From Barriers to Solutions and Best Practices: Urban Centers and TOD in Washington," a new report by the University of Washington's College of Built Environments, details the benefits and challenges creating compact, urban, transit-connected developments. Focused on the central Puget Sound region, the report draws from successful efforts in the United States and Canada.

Charles R. Wolfe, a Seattle attorney and senior research fellow, offers a list of the top 10 barriers to TOD and the solutions.

These challenges, their solutions and best practices included in this report are addressed across four categories:

  • Design, Land Use and Regulatory – Challenges and Solutions;
  • Continue Diligent Attention to Resolution of Fiscal Barriers and Challenges;
  • Resolving Political Challenges; and
  • Recognize Organizational Barriers.

"Focused regional growth in urban centers and TOD requires a proactive and holistic approach," the author explains.

The report holds up three regions as exemplars in the effort to implement  well-planned integration of urban development around multi-modal transportation networks: Arlington County, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; Toronto, Ontario

The report is the second study commissioned by the Quality Growth Alliance from the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the University of Washington's College of Built Environments. The Quality Growth Aliance see this body of work as representing a significant resource for public and private stakeholders who are tackling the challenges of creating high-quality urban development.

The guiding principles outlined in the Top Ten Barriers, Challenges, Solutions, and Best Practices are crucial to implementation of urban centers and TODs, Wolfe writes.

Here's his list:

  1. Accommodate Pedestrians. Reflect a pedestrian-orientation in built environments. Every transit trip begins and ends on foot, dictating a pedestrian emphasis.
  2. Improve Access from Transit to Jobs and Residences. Locate new development in proximity to transit opportunities to leverage the public’ investment in transit capital and operating budgets.
  3. Move from Node to Place. Create places for people, not cars. A place-making orientation should take precedence over creating a node for commuters and drivers.
  4. Resolve Fiscal Challenges and Barriers. Continue diligent attention to resolution of public and private fiscal barriers. The public sector is handicapped by limited financing mechanisms for needed infrastructure.
  5. Depoliticize Transit Service. More fully fund transit operations and focus new service in areas with the greatest demand for transit service.
  6. Integrate Views Among Actors. Approach urban centers and TODs in an interdisciplinary fashion. To reach its potential, TOD should benefit from integrated goals, resources and policies.
  7. Enhance Leadership and Vision. Continue leadership and articulation of a regional vision, consistent with GMA goals and objectives for development of urban centers and TODs.
  8. Enhance Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and Related Tools. Governments should continue to moderate auto use through TDM, balanced parking requirements, emphasis on traffic calming approaches and expanded social-cost pricing mechanisms.
  9. Implement Proactive Zoning and Land Use Regulations. Seek graceful growth and quality living environments through proactive planning. Zoning and development regulations should reflect comprehensive planning objectives and integrate with transit agency planning and implementation.
  10. Acknowledge Political Opposition to Growth and Density Imposition. Offset resistance to density by corresponding investments in services and amenities. Public outreach should better anticipate “NIMBY” backlash and instill a sense of ownership in projects and plans.

This report is available in the Best Practices.

From Barriers to Solutions and Best Practices: Urban Centers and TOD in Washington