Metro is redefining the role of the transit agency by expanding mobility options, promoting sustainable urban design, and helping transform communities throughout Los Angeles County. At the forefront of this effort is Metro’s vision to create transit oriented communities (TOCs). TOCs include land use planning and community development policies that maximize access to transit as a key organizing principle and acknowledge mobility as an integral part of the urban fabric. TOCs promote equity and sustainable living by offering a mix of uses close to transit to support households at all income levels, as well as building densities, parking policies, urban design elements, and first/last mile facilities that support ridership and reduce auto dependency.
The TOC approach goes beyond the traditional transit oriented development (TOD) model, which typically concentrates on a single development, to focus on shaping vibrant communities around transit. By connecting communities, destinations, and amenities through improved access to transit, TOCs promote walkable and bikeable communities that accommodate more healthy and active lifestyles; improve access to jobs and economic opportunities; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Building Transit Oriented Communities in Los Angeles County
Metro policies and programs along with local, state and federal programs guide the implementation of TOCs. Metro is committed to working with local jurisdictions, community stakeholders and the private sector to support the development of TOCs and a transit-supportive built environment. In October 2015, Metro launched the TOC Demonstration Program, which was intended to showcase this comprehensive approach to facilitating integrated development on Metro-owned land around stations, and to expand and measure the impact of these developments along each transit corridor.
There is no one strategy for implementing TOCs, but rather it is a continual assessment and collaboration as to what tools and innovative approaches can be brought to bear on and around each transit corridor. This website gives an overview of four key programmatic areas that Metro leverages to support TOCs in Los Angeles County:
Metro supports local jurisdictions in adopting transit-supportive land use policies and the development community in designing and building projects near transit services and facilities. Transit supportive planning resources include three programs
- Transit Oriented Planning Grant Program : This grant program provides funding to municipalities seeking to adopt comprehensive, transit-supportive land use plans and initiatives that encourage TOCs. Funded plans include updates to General Plans, specific plans, overlay zones or other planning tools. In addition, a newly created Transit Oriented Communities Tax Increment Financing pilot program is available to fund feasibility studies for cities and/or County who are considering a financing districts around transit stations.
- Transit Supportive Planning Toolkit : Metro developed the Transit Supportive Planning Toolkit to provide municipalities with locally relevant best practices and case studies to advance sustainable, transit-supportive planning policies across a variety of neighborhood typologies. The Toolkit is also an integral part of the Transit Oriented Planning Grant Program criteria and objectives.
- Metro Adjacent Development Review : Metro’s Adjacent Development Review process and Handbook are intended to encourage early coordination with development project teams and guide the design, construction, and maintenance of structures in close proximity to Metro rights-of-way, particularly those directly adjacent to Metro facilities.
A crucial element in accessing transit, Metro’s First/Last Mile program develops plans and implements strategies to provide transit users with safer, more efficient and direct connections to and from transit stations. These typically focus on enhancements to streets to facilitate access transit for people walking or using rolling modes (bikes, skateboards, wheelchairs, scooters). First/Last Mile strategies also include visual aesthetics, technology tools, and facilities for making modal connections (pick-up/drop-off, bike share, transit, etc.)
Systemwide Design works to improve the transit rider experience by unifying designs for Metro Stations using the Systemwide Station Design Standards, which are being implemented on the Metro Regional Connector, Purple Line Extension, and Crenshaw/LAX transit projects. As new station designs are developed they are analyzed and refined to optimize safety, accessibility, clarity, and comfort in moving between modes of transportation.
Joint Development is the real estate asset management and development program through which Metro collaborates with developers to build housing, retail, and other amenities on Metro properties near transit, typically through ground lease. These development projects directly link transit patrons with destinations and services throughout LA County. Joint Development usually occurs through a competitive solicitation issued by the Joint Development Team, but Metro may consider unsolicited proposals in certain circumstances. All Joint Development projects are subject to Metro’s affordable housing policy:
- Joint Development Affordable Housing Policy : Thirty-five (35) percent of housing units built on Metro-owned property, portfolio-wide, shall be “affordable,” defined as 60% of area medium income or below. Metro will also consider a discount to the ground lease payments of a Joint Development project (up to 30%) to support the financial feasibility of affordable housing on Metro-owned land. In addition, as part of its efforts to address displacement of low-income households in transit connected communities, Metro has supported the creation of, and invested in, the Metro Affordable Transit Connected Housing (MATCH) loan fund , which provides early stage financing to new affordable housing projects and targets 75% of its financing to preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing.
Each of these policies and programs is closely integrated with other policy and planning efforts, including Metro’s long range transportation planning for the County of Los Angeles, new transit corridor plans funded by Measure M, the Metro Sustainability Policy, and active transportation goals. Together all of these policies and programs set the foundation to leverage creative partnerships in support of building TOCs.
In October 2015, Metro launched the TOC Demonstration Program to showcase a more comprehensive approach to facilitating development on Metro-owned land around high quality transit stations, and to expanding and measuring the impact of these developments within a one to one and a half mile radius in the transit corridor. The TOC Demonstration Program highlights Metro’s transition from a vision for TODs to TOCs.
Creating TOCs requires that Metro take a leadership role in collaborating with a variety of local stakeholders, including local government, private developers and community members, to make our individual transit oriented developments and policies part of a vibrant built environment for existing and future residents to live, work, play and commute. The TOC Demonstration Program is intended to showcase a broader community development focus to all aspects of Metro’s work in building the public transit system and its related infrastructure. The Program builds on a recalibration of the Joint Development process focused on active collaboration with community stakeholders and local jurisdictions as well as a “TOC Toolkit” that draws upon an array of creative community development tools and programs that support Metro endeavors in achieving broader TOC goals.
Eight sites or projects were selected for the TOC Demonstration Program to highlight the various ways that Metro can support creation of TOCs through its joint development sites, investments in planning efforts, and partnerships with local jurisdictions and stakeholders. Staff provides quarterly reports to the Metro Board which provide updates on the eight Demonstration Sites and share TOC successes that have been realized.
Starting in January 2018, building on the TOC Demonstration Program and best practices to date, Metro staff will work with the Measure M Policy Advisory Committee to develop a TOC Policy that will guide Metro’s program and investments moving forward and formalize how supporting creation of TOCs will become part of the implementation of Measure M corridor projects and the Measure M funding plan.
Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS) is the core of LA County’s transit system and the largest multi-modal transit station in Southern California, connecting over 17 million people across five counties. As the hub of Metro’s multimodal transit system, Union Station directly serves Metro and municipal bus lines, Metrolink and Amtrak, as well as the Metro Gold Line and Metro Red/Purple lines.
Sitting just north of Downtown Los Angeles, the station is also located between significant cultural communities, including El Pueblo de Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Civic Center, and the Historic Core. Its central location and regional transit connectivity give the station immense potential to become a vibrant urban destination.
Metro’s approach to advancing transit oriented communities at LAUS is centered on realizing a robust and diverse work program that enhances passenger experience, creates safer connections to surrounding communities, explores commercial development opportunities at and around the station, and ensures that Union Station is integrated into the larger revitalization in Downtown Los Angeles.
All improvement projects at the station are listed and described further on the LAUS website .