Ideas for transit-oriented housing reach new heights


Harbor Drive in San Diego, CA (Image: Bernard Gagnon, Wikimedia)

It’s no secret that California has a deep housing shortage, and good ideas for solving the problem are in high demand. Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is taking a different approach than most mayors around the country by embracing the YIMBY (yes in my backyard) mentality.

During his recent state of the city address, the mayor proposed eliminating height limits in designated transit priority areas throughout the City of San Diego (with the exception of the coastal zones limited by a 1972 vote). The mayor also proposed allowing developers to build “unlimited density” if they included affordable housing and space for homeless residents. And both of these changes connect to another proposal from the mayor that would get rid of parking minimums and unbundle parking and housing costs in multifamily development projects near transit; a vote on the parking proposal is expected later in 2019.

The mayor’s latest height-related proposal comes on the heels of California Governor Gavin Newsom floating the idea of taking away transportation funding from cities that don’t build housing. With a pressing need for more housing, solutions are getting bolder and could change the way people think about the topic. Local observers even believe that the height limit discussion could change the debate in San Diego from one that only affects a couple of neighborhoods to one that defines discussions about housing citywide.

This particular discussion on housing near transit has been simmering for some time. Plans to build more housing near a new light rail line recently received push-back but this new announcement and city council’s willingness to push for denser development near transit will definitely open up more opportunities for debate.

For more information on parking policy for TOD or the relationship between density and transit investments, check out the TODresources library for items like Parking Policy for TOD and Mass Transit & Mass: Densities Needed to Make Transit Investments Pay Off.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • Affordable housing planned near Seattle rail stations (CityLab)
  • Conflict puts transit friendly housing at stake in Los Angeles (Curbed)
  • Miami-Dade passes plan to allow more development near rail, bus lines (Miami Herald)
  • How well is the DC region planning for development near Metro? (Greater Greater Washington)