NGOs Work to Fill Transit-Oriented Development Void

cycle.jpgToday the Tri-State Transportation Campaign joined the One Region Funders’ Group* and The Fund for New Jersey in announcing a grant program to foster metro area transit-oriented development.

The program intends to encourage transit oriented development, or mixed use development within a fourth to half mile of a train or bus station, by offering financial support to municipalities ready to address the linkages between affordable housing, energy efficiency and development near transit stations. Up to ten small grants will be awarded to communities across downstate New York and Connecticut. Up to five grants will be awarded in New Jersey.

The grants, according to a TSTC press release, will be awarded to help fund project planning and design. While the state of New Jersey and New Jersey Transit have had TOD funding programs in place since the 1990s, resulting in a number of projects including the Transit Village Initative, New York and Connecticut have not kept pace. Last spring the MTA announced a new plan to encourage TOD development, but has so far not followed through with a formal program. The New York State Department of Transportation, meanwhile, has come up with a "smart growth" web site, and not much else. Connecticut has embraced TOD concepts, but has also been slow to realize a blueprint for carrying them out.

In addition to filling state TOD gaps, the non-profit grants will ideally bring more of a focus on environmentally sound, affordable development. Says TSTC’s Kate Slevin: "It makes total sense to include affordable housing near your transit stations."

To this point, Slevin says, much TOD housing has been targeted at high-income buyers.

By putting homes and businesses near public transportation, transit-oriented development is of course considered a crucial element in reducing auto dependence and its attendant health and environmental impacts. For more, check out TSTC’s new online TOD clearinghouse.

* The One Region Funders’ Group includes the Fairfield County Community Foundation, Long Island Community Foundation, New York Community Trust, Rauch Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and Westchester Community Foundation.

Image: Tri-State Transportation Campaign

  • JK

    Most of the Hudson towns served by MetroNorth require large amounts of parking near newly built amenities like restaurants, stores etc. This results in space gobbling, unwalkable, car dependent, box in parking field development. It’s a disaster. More than tax incentives or grants, the transit oriented towns need to eliminate their counter productive parking requirements and start intelligently pricing existing curb and off-street parking. It is simply impossible to build TOD with existing parking requirements. Also, limiting TOD to a 1/4 to 1/2 mile of a train stop is a joke. The range should be a minimum of 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile, a mile would be better. Americans used to know how to walk. They can learn again.

  • To this point, Slevin says, much TOD housing has been targeted at high-income buyers.

    High-income buyers who will not want to completely surrender the status of car ownership, and thus will require parking. That’s the thinking that the developers and planners have, because they can’t imagine giving up car ownership themselves. But of course, there are plenty of high-income buyers out there who would be quite happy without owning a car. We just need to convince the developers and planners of that. And get them to provide some TOD for medium and low-income buyers. Renters too.

  • Rob B.

    JK writes, “transit oriented towns need to eliminate their counter productive parking requirements”.

    The resistance to TOD in my village along the Hudson is that it would bring more units of housing. More units means bigger schools. Bigger schools mean higher taxes. Each kid in the school is a net loss to the district, since it will require a big school bond issuance to expand the schools.

    Until our development policies are delinked from school funding formulas, you’re going to find resistance to TOD.

  • Ian Turner

    Rob,

    Wouldn’t new residents also bring in additional tax revenue to cover the costs of educating their children? This especially since TOD tends to be at the higher end of the price range, owing to its apparent desirability.

    –Ian

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