Los Angeles aims to get walkable


While Los Angeles makes coordinated efforts to encourage TOD, existing zoning codes may hinder the development of walkable neighborhoods. (Photo of Noho Arts District Metro Station in Los Angeles. Credit: Chris Yarzab)

In 2012, the City of Los Angeles, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), launched its transit neighborhood plans (TNPs) to encourage development around the region’s expanding transit network — which was boosted by last November’s successful ballot measure that will raise billions to invest in transit. The TNPs call for changes to the city’s zoning codes and street designs to make way for walkable, mixed-use development that will provide more housing and jobs near future and existing stations.

“The ultimate goal is to foster transit ridership and to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality,” said Patricia Diefenderfer, a city planner working on the TNPs. “We’re looking at how to create more capacity for housing and jobs. We’re trying to create environments that are more friendly for walking.” (Streetsblog USA)

While certainly an advancement towards promoting TOD and ridership, the TNPs left the areas currently zoned for single-family homes unchanged, as Yonah Freemark points out:

“That’s a lot of land that won’t be getting compact and walkable. In fact, along the Expo Line most of the areas close to most transit stations are zoned for single-family homes.” Low-density development patterns often make it difficult for people to access public transit, leading to diminished ridership.

As Los Angeles takes measured steps towards walkable development, in the meantime, Metro is welcoming smart city technology to help bridge the connectivity gaps of its transit network and help improve first- and last-mile connections to bring in more riders. On-demand vanpools, dubbed micro-transit, “could be hailed by riders at street corners who need to get to transit hubs or destinations not served by buses and trains.”

Metro also released its First Last Mile Strategic Plan in 2012 to better coordinate infrastructure investments in station areas to extend the reach of transit, with the ultimate goal of increasing ridership. The guidelines, available in the TODresources.org library, outline an infrastructure improvement strategy designed to facilitate easy, safe, and efficient access to the Metro system.

Recent TOD news

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