This article from Damien Newton of Streetsblog is one of the more reasonable critiques of Los Angeles‘ new TOD projects that I have seen (there has been a lot of passionate chatter on the subject). Newton asks, “Is it TAD or TOD?” TAD (Transit Adjacent Development) is the “evil twin” of TOD. While they look similar, TAD doesn’t do anything to make life better for existing residents and doesn’t encourage people to use transit facilities, no matter how close they are. Newton analyzes the project by answering these questions: “does the design take advantage of the transit node, does it create an attractive and safe pedestrian network, how are the bike amenities, does it create a mix of housing options and uses, and is there a restriction of automobile parking?”
While the development isn’t on the same block as the station, it is one block away and has access to a number of bus routes. These bus routes, however, have not been a part of the marketing strategy of the development. The proposals show wide sidewalks, street trees and underground utilities, but proposals and reality often show a disparity. There are no planned bike amenities, despite the area having a large number of cyclists. There will be 90 affordable housing units and ground floor retail, but the developers have not been known to do quality retail development. As with many LA “TOD’s,” the major failing comes when trying to compromise with LA’s car culture. There will be three levels of underground parking, 100 commuter parking spots and the required parking for residences and retail. Renters will receive a monthly Metro pass, but that doesn’t mean much. Newton comes to the conclusion that “there are some troubling aspects as well such as the de-emphasis of the bus, the lack of bike parking in an area which (anecdotally, because the city doesn’t do bike counts) has a large number of cyclists and the levels of car-parking make it difficult to to declare it an example of Transit Oriented Development.” Although LA does have its urban pockets, it is a car culture, and that may not change until we run out of oil.