Transit-oriented development (TOD) improves mobility, enhances connections between destinations, creates efficiencies, and generates economic vitality. That’s why the Metropolitan Council, in November, adopted a TOD policy that positions the Council to play a leadership role in the planning and implementation of TOD in the region.
TOD is moderate to high-density development that is walkable, served by frequent transit, and includes a mix of housing, retail, and employment choices. TOD allows people to live and work without the need for a personal auto, should they choose.
The Council has established a TOD office at Metro Transit to partner and coordinate with communities to advance TOD. The office will be advised by an external group of developers, local government, nonprofits, and other partners, and will coordinate with a multi-department internal working group at the Council.
“We have a big stake in successful TOD, as the regional agency charged with building and operating the transit system, guiding regional development and transportation investments, supporting affordable housing, and providing regional access to opportunity,” said Council Chair Susan Haigh.
“We also recognize that land use, zoning and development approvals are local decisions,” she said. “We are committed to collaborating with our partners to advance TOD in the region. But we are unabashed in our goal to ensure that more housing and more jobs are created where we have made investments in transit service.”
Under the policy, the Council will advance four TOD goals (see graphic at right above).
Stakeholders urge Council to play a more proactive role
The Council interviewed two dozen stakeholders in 2012 and held three think tanks in 2013, attended by more than 100 partners, in order to develop a TOD Strategic Action Plan. Stakeholders urged the Council to:
Be brave in creating successful TOD
Develop a TOD policy
Align principles and priorities with TOD policy
Play a more proactive role
Focus on implementation, yet continue to plan for TOD
Be a regional leader by providing TOD expertise
Build strong partnerships
Be nimble and flexible
Strengthen internal Met Council coordination
In developing the new TOD policy, the Council looked at best practices from other regions and also took direction from its outreach and deliberations during the Thrive MSP 2040 planning process.
Prioritizing resources to advance TOD
The Council has long supported TOD through Livable Communities grants, its growth and transportation policies, the new Regional Transitway Guidelines, and the Guide for Transit Oriented Development. The new policy, however, commits the Council to be more proactive and to prioritize TOD in transit service decisions, regional planning, grant making, data collection and technical assistance.
“To achieve our goals, we must make the most effective use we can of limited public resources,” Haigh said. “We have to be targeted in our efforts and data driven. We are doing extensive analysis to determine what types of investment and involvement make sense in what places. Different locations will call for different strategies.”
TOD office will be first point of contact for partners
A new TOD office at Metro Transit will have several roles in carrying out the Council’s TOD policy, including serving as a first point of contact for TOD partners.
“Our goal is to leverage the considerable legal, real estate, service development and other expertise we already have at the Council, and with a relatively modest investment maximize the impact of our work on TOD,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.
The external TOD advisory committee will be appointed by early 2014, and will include developers, local government representatives and other partners. The group will meet frequently to provide input on the Council’s TOD direction, assess progress toward the TOD policy and goals, and review the annual work plan.