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Making TOD More Attractive In The Bay Area

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The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has completed a year-long study that examined what attracts home-seekers to transit-oriented development (TOD) in the San Francisco Bay Area. That information has been utilized to develop ideas on what can be done to improve TODs to better attract residents.

"Choosing Where We Live: Attracting Residents to Transit-Oriented Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area" is designed to provide information and perspective to local jurisdictions, developers and others interested in community development in order to support the development of sustainable  communities and to attract more residents to them.

The study underlines how important the walkability of a neighborhood is to people moving into the Bay Area. The top five concerns identified were:

  1. Living in a neighborhood where I feel safe enough walking at night.
  2. A neighborhood where it is safe and convenient to walk or bike to do my errands.
  3. Living in a clean neighborhood.
  4. Living within a short commute.
  5. Living in a neighborhood where there are places to spend time

The real innovation of this effort was in the delineation of market segments of people moving into the Bay Area.  Of the eight market segments identified, five  are potentially attracted to the right TOD.  Those potential market segments vary in a number of ways, and understanding their diverse interests, characteristics and concerns will be critical to success in attracting more residents.

"This study shows that while there is considerable variation in the preferences of Bay Area home-seekers (as illustrated through the descriptions of the market segments,) some values are shared by many," the report notes.

The ability to walk and bike safely and conveniently to do errands is valued more highly than any other feature, according to the report. It is expressed across all market segments and demographics. Such a widespread sentiment may represent a sea change in broad public attitudes about what makes a quality place to live, the report notes.

"By reducing the separation of land uses (jobs, stores, schools, homes, etc.) and by encouraging more complete, mixed-use communities, transit-oriented developments can play a crucial role in meeting the state’s emission reduction goals," the report concludes. "They can also help to address the local citizenry’s interest in compact, walkable 'great places' with a variety of choices in lifestyle and travel mode."

This report has been added to the Best Practices.

Choosing Where We Live: Attracting Residents to Transit-Oriented Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area