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.
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Building Transit Oriented Communities in Los Angeles County
The Metro Board of Directors adopted the groundbreaking TOC Policy in June 2018.The Policy defines TOCs for Metro and TOC activities that are eligible for local return funding, and activities that Metro can lead and where Metro will partner with others in the realization of equitable TOCs in Los Angeles County.
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.
TOCs call for a continual assessment and collaboration on the tools and innovative approaches that 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.
- West Santa Ana Branch Transit Oriented Development Strategic Implementation Plan (TOD SIP ): Metro has led the development of a TOD SIP for the proposed WSAB Transit Corridor, to maximize the transit investment that will be made in the corridor, and to ensure that communities along it equitably benefit from the investment. The TOD SIP provides an overarching vision, strategic guidance, and best practices for local WSAB jurisdictions to use as they develop and implement plans, policies and economic development and mobility strategies in 12 station areas.
- 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 Vision 2028 Strategic Plan, the Equity Platform, long-range transportation planning for the County of Los Angeles, new transit corridor plans funded by Measure M, the Metro Moving Beyond Sustainability Plan, and active transportation goals. Together these policies and programs set the foundation to leverage creative partnerships in support of building TOCs.
Metro’s earliest iteration of TOCs was launched in October 2015, through the TOC Demonstration Program . The TOC Demonstration Program showcased 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 marked Metro’s transition from a vision for TODs to TOCs. Eight sites or projects were selected to highlight the various ways that Metro can support creation of TOCs.
The TOC Demonstration Program concluded in June 2018 with the Board adoption of the TOC Policy. Following the program’s conclusion, Metro staff developed the Transit Oriented Communities Demonstration Program – Lessons Learned Report to review changes to programs and processes, new policies, and special projects that reflect Metro’s commitment to realizing holistic, inclusive community development and land use planning along existing and proposed transit corridors. This resource shares a vast array of TOC initiatives undertaken during the program, along with lessons learned for Metro, its external partners and peer transit agencies.
Building from the TOC Demonstration Program and following the passage of Measure M and the Measure M Guidelines, Metro staff developed the TOC Policy in collaboration with the Measure M Policy Advisory Committee . The TOC Policy includes the following five goals:
- Increase Transportation Ridership and Choice
- Stabilize and Enhance Communities Surrounding Transit
- Engage Organizations, Jurisdictions, and the Public
- Distribute Transit Benefits to All
- Capture the Value Created by Transit
The TOC Policy will be further realized through the in-process TOC Implementation Plan that is being developed in collaboration with the TOC Policy Working Group that includes representatives from the Measure M PAC, the County of Los Angeles, SCAG, and LA County cities. The TOC Implementation Plan is an action document that will identify strategies and programs that Metro will implement directly and activities that Metro will support others to implement with the goal of realizing equitable TOCs in Los Angeles County.
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 holistic 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 .