Transit that Doesn’t Displace

Where transit goes, development follows—often with unintended consequences. When property values increase in areas surrounding new transit, higher rents can price out existing residents, who often stand to benefit the most from better access to public transportation. This fall, at the annual conference of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association, HR&A partners Amitabh Barthakur and Stan Wall were joined by Jenna Hornstock (Deputy Executive Officer, LA Metro), Andrew Gross (President, Thomas Safran & Associates), and Mindy Wilcox (Planning Manager, City of Inglewood) to discuss how joint development partnerships can help align private sector objectives with community goals to achieve higher quality transit-oriented development (“TOD”) projects.


Citing Los Angeles’ Expo Line extension, where average rents have risen more than 15% around planned stations, Amitabh outlined how public officials can help offset rising housing costs around highly desirable TOD sites: “Cities must be willing to introduce flexible land-use policies and ease density and parking mandates around station areas, so developments can generate enough revenue to cover the cost of desired community benefits. Often, there are trade-offs to balance project value and social impact, which require careful prioritization of outcomes that are realistically supportable by TOD.”  


Stan underscored the efficacy of transit supportive land-use decisions, such as those currently being utilized by LA Metro, as both attractive incentives to developers and valuable tools for transit agencies seeking to reduce infrastructure cost burdens. Stan also highlighted strategies that maximize the overall value of TOD projects, which include: establishing strong public-private partnerships, ensuring alignment with local jurisdiction stakeholders, mitigating the cost and physical impact of TOD parking, and taking a holistic approach to evaluating the project’s impact on ridership and revenue.


HR&A is currently advising LA Metro on additional joint-development opportunities at multiple stations along the Crenshaw/LAX line that maximize project value and community benefits.


Read more about HR&A’s Transit-Oriented Development work.