The Urban Land Institute Takes Its Look at L.A.’s T.O.D.

4_7_10_Slauson.jpgSlauson Station.  T.O.D. Heck.  Photo: The Architect Newspaper Blog

One thing that the National non-profit the Urban Land Institute and Streetsblog have in common is we both have strong views about Transit Oriented Development.  Another thing we have in common?  We both think the state of transit oriented planning in Los Angeles could really use improvement.

To that end, ULI has held a series of Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) to evaluate underperforming development areas around transit stops.  These panels will release their findings piecemeal leading up to the T.O.D. Conference the ULI is planning in June.  You can read more about the conference, here.

The first of their TAP findings is the Slauson Blue Line Station in Los Angeles where they see a lot of problems inhibiting strong Transit Oriented Development from coming to the area.  In particular the station suffers from:

  • poor security;
  • poor pedestrian connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood
    including an; above-grade platform that’s separated from street life;
  • poor insulation from noxious industrial uses; and
  • multiple jurisdictions that inhibit good planning.

Unfortunately, these conditions exist at a lot of Metro stations.  Thus, the suggestions given by ULI could have a more universal application than just one station.  So what does the ULI suggest?:

The ULI panel focused on getting people to the station and adding
retail. This included adding a security kiosk, improved lighting, more
visible crosswalks and sidewalks. But a key proposal may rankle those
who support TODs purely to get people out of cars: The ULI TAP urges
not less but more parking…particularly, a new parking structure
connecting to the boarding platform. “Adding parking is not ‘good’ from
a typical green perspective, but it will increase ridership,” said

More parking?  Consider me rankled.  I guess the good news is that they are recommending parking for the station and not the development.  While the impact on parking and development is clear, the impact on transit is murkier.  Some argue that station parking is needed to support transit, and others that it defeats the point to encourage people to drive to the train.  Currently, Slauson station has no connected automobile parking, six bike racks and two bike lockers.

If you keep reading "The Ground Floor" article, it seems as though the value of parking to a TOD is over rated.  The article goes on to quote the director of the San Francisco ULI damning the policies that led to more parking around BART stations.  As more and more T.A.P. findings come out for Los Angeles it will be interesting to see whether the parking suggestions for Slauson station are the exception, or if even T.O.D. planners in Los Angeles see the need for car parking.

  • Marcotico

    The link to this story from Planetizen was very mis-leading. Their headline read something like “Want TOD to work…add parking.” Not exactly what the article says.

  • Thanks for posting, Damien, and for your rankled thoughts on subsidizing auto use via free parking.

    Curbed LA also wrote about the Urban Land story and its TOD fix-it team projects and has lots of comments about the issue of parking and the subsidizing of driving….

  • Jason Harris

    I take a train to work every day, and if I couldn’t park at the train station, I probably wouldn’t. I’m several miles from the train station, I carry a fairly heavy bag (sometimes 2) to work, and I have a commute that’s already 2 hours long. Taking the bus or walking to the train station adds 30 minutes to that, and that’s at only 2 miles. Change that to 10 miles and it’s silly. The totalitarian no compromise “CARS = BAD” rhetoric just makes people advocating sometimes good ideas look like silly radicals.

  • There’s a big difference between a parking lot at a suburban station or even one in the valley sitting adjacent and a large parking structure attached to the station in an area which actually has the density needed to support rail.

  • Why not make this TOD really work? Yeah, first I’d remove the station and turn the whole place into a parking lot, that way nobody would be inconvenienced when driving a car. Then, with the whole place flattened and covered in black-top, I’d build a couple of drive-thru Starbucks and a burger joint, with a few franchises stuck in there somewhere to get a cell phone and maybe one small business – a smoke shop, a nail salon, etc.

    Then, we’d really be TOD! Nobody would have to stop driving! It would be great!

  • cph

    Is there any development of note near the Slauson Station now?

    Currently, land uses include a DWP telephone pole yard (was this an ex-streetcar yard?), a pallet company (one of the buildings looks like ht had a fire) and a neighborhood of single family homes….

    Metro buses stop eastbound at Slauson, near the station entrance. There is no nearby westbound bus stop because of the BNSF Harbor Subdivision railroad track…

  • CPH:
    YOu seem to know the station area.ULI LA studied it inside and out and the problems are many. FInal recommendations will be presented at TOD Summit, JUne 4:

  • I went to a meeting at Jordan Downs, for recommendation to enhance
    the 103rd Street Blueline Station.
    Who were the people you talked to because the few at the meeting
    knew nothing of the survey about this issue.
    Where was CRA, they own the property?
    There was no issue on the concerns of seniors or what else is to
    be built in and around the station.

  • cph

    Around 103rd St, there was some talk about building a movie theater on the land near the station, about 5-10 years ago. No idea what happened to those plans….

    At least there’s some promising development near Compton station (townhomes, plus they’re doing something to the nearby transit center)

  • cph

    More on the proposed movie theater near 103rd St station:

    I will be looking out for any construction activity….

  • sdm

    That theater is about as far away as the redevelopment of Jordan Downs.
    The community is not informed of the theater or the 103rd street historic
    train station.

    Thses two project have been apart of the Cultural Crescent 1965 and 1994.

    What is put on paper has not happen and will be years before it comes.

    Politicians , City Departments and Non-profit Agencices in Watts are not
    working for the benefit of the community but for their own agenda, this
    is what has kept Watts in the shape it is in, but it is a money maker for
    those who come with false and fabricated promises.

  • sc

    Barbara Stanton(Wattstar) has done nothing in the last fourteen years,
    now there is another non-profit agency that is out to take over this
    project, any project and any committee that they think will bring profit
    to their own agenda for Watts, watch out Barbara.


    So is anyone out there still concerned with the status of the Watts Theater? They say this summer (2010) but I don’t hear/see much going on?


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