Fostering Transit Oriented Communities (TOCs) in Los Angeles County is one of the most important challenges facing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). Metro recently drafted a Transit Oriented Communities Policy (TOC Policy) with the intent on of integrating Measure M transit expansion with addressing community impacts. This report presents several policy recommendations highlighting ways Metro can directly and indirectly enable TOCs, with a focus on producing and preserving affordable housing within station areas. Enabling TOCs is possible when Metro forges stronger relationships with local municipalities and the communities they serve.
Station Area Typology
We present a typology of Metro Rail and Busway station areas, categorizing each existing and planned station in the network based on density, built form, and other characteristics of transit supportive places. We find that each station in the Metro network can be described as one of the following:
ï Urban Center
ï Urban Neighborhood
ï Suburban Neighborhood
ï Production Area
The purpose of this typology is to draw attention to two ideas. First, there are several gradations along the spectrum of density in Los Angeles County. For example, the area surrounding a station need not have the building height and density of Pershing Square to serve an important function within the Los Angeles transit network. Development similar in scale to Pasadenaís Del Mar Station or the station area in Downtown Santa Monica can support transit use while looking significantly different than Downtown Los Angeles.
Second, station-adjacent infrastructure improvements that could improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity and facilitate transit vary by station type. While a pedestrian scramble might be effective in Koreatown, the stations on the Metro Green Line may be best improved with bus shelters to make waiting for the next bus more comfortable. By incentivizing municipalities to cater to the specific needs of each station type, Metro can get the best ridership return on its station area investments.
Appendix A contains:
ï Examples of typologies used in other cities
ï A description of our methodology
ï Several Metro station area maps
ï A table providing quantitative characteristics of each current and planned
Affordable Housing Guide
Los Angeles County residents are facing a housing affordability crisis, and the lowest income residents are disproportionately rent-burdened. Affordable rental housing can be a critical tool for addressing this crisis, and new state legislation gives Metro opportunities to be involved in supporting the housing needs of its most vulnerable riders. We developed an Affordable Housing Guide that identifies how much development could be added to Metro station areas through infill development, reviews recent changes to affordable housing regulations, and describes the potential effects new regulations could have on housing within Metro station areas.
We find that if new housing development in Metro station areas took full advantage of City of Los Angelesís Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentives Program (TOC Program), 262,285 new units could be produced under current zoning-- 56,348 of them affordable.
Additionally, Metro can help municipalities with land use authority increase production of affordable housing using incentives provided under AB 73 and SB 540 - two bills from the recent California legislative package on housing. These laws allow municipalities to: designate areas in which affordable housing is needed; create specific plans and Program Environmental Impact Reports (PEIR) for those areas; and grant developersí permission to build conforming projects within those specific plan areas without requiring additional CEQA analysis, in exchange for designating a percentage of the resulting units affordable.
We term these specific plan areas Housing Opportunity Zones (HOZs) and recommend that Metro include HOZ plans and environmental documents as eligible for funding under its TOD Planning Grant Program. Using a half-mile radius around Metro stations as a boundary for HOZs, we provide criteria for selecting station areas and a sample list of 19 Metro station areas that could serve as HOZs in the City of Los Angeles.
Lastly, we provide background information on AB 1521, a recent bill that protects exiting affordable housing, and provide an inventory of existing affordable housing in Metro station areas. AB 1521 ensures that housing with covenanted rent protections be first offered to qualified affordable housing managers after rent protections expire. We have provided a list of properties in Metro station areas with protections that will expire in the coming decade.
Appendix B contains:
ï A description of the infill potential methodology and TOC Program
ï HOZs selection methodology
ï A catalog of existing affordable housing in Metro station areas
Community Land Trusts
Community Land Trusts (CLTs) provide a property ownership structure that may facilitate Metroís affordable housing goals through both preservation and production of affordable housing in station areas. This chapter identifies how Metro may be able to support the formation of CLTs and the legal hurdles and development constraints that may be encountered in pairing a CLT with Metroís Joint Development process. After a case study analysis and examination of the legal considerations of CLTs generally, and Metroís potential involvement in CLTs specifically, we recommend Metro pursue a CLT Pilot Program.
Appendix C contains:
ï An overview of alternative land and property ownership structures
ï An analysis of CLT case studies
ï A discussion of a CLT resale formula
ï A description of proportional discounting
ï A discussion of federal FTA policy implications
ï A CLT legal framework
ï A table of possible CLT stakeholders
Discretionary Grant Opportunities
After analyzing the fifth round of the Transit Oriented Development Planning Grant Program (TOD Planning Grant) we suggest modifications to the program guidelines, namely that Metro incorporate its TOC-related values into the eligibility requirements and evaluation criteria. We recommend the following changes for the next round of applications to facilitate Metroís TOC goals:
ï Expand the boundary for eligible applicants from half-mile from a station to 1
mile from a station to foster TOCs that influence larger communities
ï Add the creation of HOZ specific plans (described in the Affordable Housing
Guide) and HOZ program EIRs to the list of activities eligible for funding, which
will help Metro station areas become designated HOZs
ï Add screening criteria that require cities to have existing anti-displacement
policies, such as just cause eviction ordinances or rent stabilization policies,
before they may be considered
ï Offer a trial round of two grant programs:
ï A CLT Feasibility Study Grant for local jurisdictions (similar to the TIF
feasibility category in the existing TOD Planning Grant)
ï A Technical Assistance Grant for jurisdictions applying for TOD Planning
Grants, or for other large and innovative TOC-related projects
Appendix D contains:
ï A table of Metroís Transit-Supportive Planning Toolkit characteristics that were
used in the TOD Planning Grant guidelines
Metro has an opportunity to play an active role in making Los Angeles County a more transit-oriented place. Although Metro is a transportation agency, it can be a responsible stakeholder in regional discussions of land use and housing. We hope Metro will use the findings and recommendations of this report to foster TOCs in Los Angeles County.