San Francisco, CA Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines
San Francisco, CA is a destination city, characterized by the distinct natural features of the San Francisco Bay, the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Through the years, the City's appeal has caused an upsurge in both population, automobile usage exacerbating traffic congestion and consequently, air pollution. Public transportation is helping to re-focus the San Francisco Bay Area by strengthening existing communities and encouraging pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. Together, San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Guidelines and the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy encourage higher density development within walking and bicycling distance of BART stations. TOD is a concept that places residential, employment and commercial facilitates next to public transit stations to make it easier for people to work, live and shop in different areas of the City without depending on a car.
San Francisco's BART operates a 104-mile rail transit system with 44 stations that runs in four counties: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo BART is part of a larger multi-system regional transit network that includes Muni, Caltrain, VTA, AC Transit and Capital Corridor. San Francisco CityScape created a comprehensive map depicting not only BART rail lines, but also how BART interconnects with the other regional transit network rail lines. As more direct connections are made among these regional transit networks, infill development surrounding BART transit stations becomes a more desired alternative to expanding highways systems. Connecting local development station-to-station links BART to other regional transit systems making a more streamlined network that is more accessible to commuters. The BART 2008 Strategic Plan uses Station Area planning, a significant component of transit oriented development, to encourage multi-modal access to BART stations.
Station area planning focuses on creating spaces that support mixed-use development within approximately a half mile of transit stations. Conducting station area planning is an integral part of creating local development that is accessible and safe for pedestrians. Using a station-by-station approach to transit oriented development is useful for San Francisco since the City is comprised of a network of unique communities. Station area planning helps San Francisco identify the type of commercial and residential development that residents desire on or near different BART station property. TOD construction at eight BART stations will be completed in 2013. BART's Strategic Plan identifies three station area planning objectives:
- Promote TOD on BART property;
- Encourage TOD within a half mile of each BART station; and,
- Advocate for Smart Growth and TOD throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
In June 2003, the San Francisco's Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Guidelines outlined more specific strategies that both planning teams and community members can use when implementing and assessing TOD development. The guidelines emphasize providing station area access that accommodates pedestrians as opposed to automobiles. Concentrating on well-marked, street level crossings that cut through the station area makes it easier for pedestrians to reach their destination safely. On July 14, 2005, the BART Board adopted the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy, which identifies strategies that will increase BART ridership, support long-term system capacity and generate greater revenues. San Francisco's General Plan also contains specific area plans such as the Downtown Area Plan, which encourage TOD initiatives that are tailored to specific neighborhood plans.
San Francisco's TOD Guidelines highlight BART stations that employ TOD principles through station area planning. The Pleasant Hill BART station is considered one of the most easily accessible stations. The Pleasant Hill station connects to BART, public transit buses, Highway 680, and the Iron Horse pedestrian and bicycle trail. The Specific Plan was updated and amended in 1998, calling for transit-oriented developed around BART stations were surrounded by workplace, housing, and shops. The Pleasant Hill BART Station Property Code is a form-based code that provides the framework for station redevelopment centered on TOD.
When considering Station Area planning, it is also important to determine how to implement equitable transit-oriented development. Mixed-income housing can enhance a community by creating an environment more open to sharing and combining different perspectives and traditions. Housing that mixes a variety of income levels sets the foundation for lower income residents to live in diverse neighborhoods near well-funded schools and a wider variety of city services and jobs. A Mixed-income Housing TOD (MITOD) Action Guide, developed in 2008, provides Bay Area stakeholders strategies to ensure that mixed-income TOD is achieved.
Category: Urban Form
Issue: Transit-Oriented Development
Community Type: Urban
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact: Planning Information Center (PIC)
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