March 2016

Does Zoning Help or Hinder Transit-Oriented (Re)Development?

Jenny Schuetz, Genevieve Giuliano, and Eun Jin Shin


Despite its reputation as a car-oriented city, the Los Angeles metropolitan area has made substantial investments in developing rail transit since 1990. In cities with older "legacy" rail systems, the built environment has developed over time around fixed transit infrastructure, creating land use patterns oriented towards long-standing rail stations. By contrast, rail stations in Los Angeles were added to an already dense built environment, with auto oriented zoning and established land use patterns. In this paper we ask whether redevelopment is occurring around Los Angeles' rail stations, and whether zoning and related public policies are facilitating or constraining transit-oriented development. We conduct case studies of six Metro rail stations in the Los Angeles region, documenting the existing built environment, key components of zoning and land use planning, and the extent and type of new development in the immediate vicinity of stations after they opened. Results illustrate that redevelopment around transit stations involves complex interactions between physical environment, economic conditions and public interventions. Incompatible zoning and related land use policies may constrain growth near stations, but TOD-friendly zoning alone is not sufficient to spur development.

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Keywords: Public transportation, housing markets, land use planning, local government, urban spatial structure, zoning


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Last Update: June 19, 2020