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TOD Case Study, Portland, Oregon


Westside MAX Light Rail Project Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Program

This is a case study for 1992-1998 of the Transit Oriented Development Program associated with the Westside MAX Light Rail Project in the state of Oregon USA. Program participants included Tri-Met, Metro, Oregon DOT, Washington County, and the cities of Beaverton, Hillsboro and Portland.

Meta-Goals -- Local, regional, state and federal policy direction was to use pedestrian and transit oriented real estate development as a tool to manage growth, reduce air pollution and vehicle miles traveled, and obtain maximum return on the public investment in light rail.

Regional Context -- Metro adopted 2040 regional growth management plans in 1994 and adopted an implementing ordinance in 1996 which established recommended densities around transit stations.  Cities and counties implemented the state transportation planning rule (TPR).  Tri-Met adopted a strategic plan including a land use goal.  Regional voters approved funds to acquire green spaces.  In 1994-97, about $14 billion was invested in high technology industries in the bi-state, four county metro area, creating thousands of new jobs.  Westside MAX light rail goes through the "Silicon Forest" in Washington County.

Light Rail -- Tri-Met initiated east side light rail service between Portland and Gresham in 1986. Westside service between Hillsboro, Beaverton and Portland began in September 1998.  The Westside Project is eighteen miles long, has twenty stations, nine park & ride lots and three transit centers.  The final route selected for the west side included five station areas with large tracts of vacant land which was intentional not accidental (over 1,100 vacant acres!).  The $964 million budget included a modest level of funding for station area design and development but no funds for land use planning.

Evaluation of 1980's Eastside Light Rail Planning -- In 1993, Tri-Met and the City of Portland hired a consulting team to evaluate the east side transit station area planning program (TSAP) conducted in the early 1980s.  The study included both quantitative and qualitative evaluations.  Conclusions of this study were taken into account when setting up west side station area design, planning and development efforts:

  • Be clear about goals;
  • Promote transit-oriented development as part of a broader investment strategy;
  • Rezone transit station areas for higher densities;
  • To promote transit-oriented development, offer deal-making assistance;
  • Target public agency efforts at the transit stations which offer the greatest potential;
  • Involve elected officials and citizens, across jurisdictional boundaries, to gain their leadership and support;
  • Consider developers' perspective in program design and implementation;
  • Think long-term; and
  • Establish a system to monitor progress.

Another important conclusion was that property values around the stations increased more than comparative values in Multnomah County inside the urban growth boundary.

Westside Station Area Planning Program (WSAP) -- The purpose of WSAP was update of city and county comprehensive plans, development regulations and capital improvement programs for transit-oriented development (TOD) in light rail station areas.  Metro, Tri-Met, ODOT, Washington County, and the Cities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Portland created an intergovernmental management committee that approved goals, work programs, schedules, and budgets.  A unique aspect of the effort was agreement on a common approach and objectives.  The committee met at least once a month for the duration of the program to share information, discuss proposed plans and regulations, and critique development proposals.

WSAP Funding -- Metro is a regional planning agency (MPO), Tri-Met is a regional transit agency, and ODOT is a state transportation agency.  None of them are development agencies or adopt land use plans or development regulations but each has a significant interest and review role in land use decisions.  For different but complementary reasons, all benefit from TOD.  These three agencies provided over $2 million for WSAP.  Additional funding for projects related to WSAP was provided through state transportation and growth management grants, technical assistance grants, local government funds, and other sources including property owners and/or developers.  The grand total spent on WSAP and transit-oriented development master planning by the public sector exceeds $4.0 million not including infrastructure expenditures.  Most of the WSAP and related funds were provided to and spent by four local governments.  Federal Transit Agency (FTA) funds could not be used for station area planning.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) -- There are many definitions of TOD.  The following definition is from Tri-Met's 1997 model TOD property tax abatement ordinance:  "Multiple-unit housing and mixed use projects that support the public investment in light rail and fixed route transit (bus) service because they preserve, enhance, or contribute to creating active pedestrian districts within walking distance of transit.  TODs increase the density of people near transit, including residents, employees, visitors, and customers in a built environment that is pedestrian friendly and connected to transit.  Mixed-use buildings, projects, or areas with a mix of uses are active from early in the morning to late in the evening, making the environment safer for pedestrians and providing peak and off-peak customers for transit service.  A TOD may be a single building, a group of buildings, or a multiple block district."

Transferability -- Lessons learned from the east side or west side light rail station area design, planning and development programs may not apply to other projects.  There was only one large, vacant tract of land on the east side (the Winmar site in Gresham); there were five such sites on the west side in three jurisdictions.  Most of the $1.3 billion of development on the east side in the last ten years was in the downtown and Lloyd District station areas.  The 7,000 dwellings being built around west side stations are located outside of downtown areas.  Development of large, vacant parcels is much easier and less costly than infill and redevelopment.

Two Views, 1992 & 1998 -- In 1992, Tri-Met thought it could use $1.0 million of Westside Project funds for station area planning.  FTA said "construction" funds could not be used for "planning".  Funding was sought from and made available by Metro and ODOT with the local match provided by Tri-Met general funds.  It took about six months for the three funding agencies and the four local jurisdictions to reach agreement on the work program.

One of the first joint efforts was preparation of model interim station area development regulations.  Tri-Met was an advocate for public/private master planning of large, vacant sites; Tri-Met's goal was 8,000 new dwelling units within walking distance of Westside Project stations by opening day.  Based on the evaluation of east side planning, the west side participants agreed that involvement of the development community should be sought and that implementation activities could occur concurrently with planning.

Looking back from 1998, Westside station area design, planning and development was worth the time, effort and cost.  Metro's 2040 regional planning slowed down the WSAP but improved the products.  The decision to work with the development community and advocate for TOD worked better than anyone ever imagined.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Westside Station Area Development - About 7,000 dwellings and more than $505 million of residential and non-residential development have been built, permitted or proposed since 1990 (LRT PE/DEIS began) within one-half mile of west side light rail stations.  About 3,600 of the dwellings were completed in 1998.  Over 3,000 of them are located in two station areas.  One developer is building about 2,000 of these units in three station areas with backing from a pension fund.  Attracting national developers to build TOD projects in the region is a significant achievement -- PacTrust, Trammell Crow Residential, Security Capital Pacific, Columbus Realty Trust (now Post), and Simpson Housing.

Westside Station Area Planning (WSAP) -- A four year intergovernmental effort to update comprehensive plans, development regulations and capital improvement programs for areas within one-half mile of westside light rail stations.  Hillsboro, Portland and Washington County adopted interim development regulations early in the process to minimize parking, increase density, prohibit inappropriate land uses, and require pedestrian oriented design.  By 1998, new plans and development regulations had been adopted for almost all of the light rail station areas.

Sunset Transit Center -- Detailed design standards were adopted in October 1997 by Washington County for an area including 190 acres under a single ownership.  This was a major milestone in a debate that has lasted more than a decade on the best use of this property. The new plan and code was based on intensive discussions between adjacent neighborhoods, the property owner and county staff as well as urban design, market analysis and transportation consultants.  A mixed use center is planned adjacent to the station and more than 2000 housing units in the balance of the area. See the Peterkort website for more information.

Beaverton Central Mixed Use Project - One day the "The Round" may be the "jewel" of Westside Light Rail. Unlike the Orenco community (see below), this project has had a bumpy ride which is still in process as of 2008. See The Round website for more information.

Murray West Master Plan -- A preliminary public/private master plan for a 120-acre area around the Beaverton Creek light rail station was completed in 1995.  Trammell Crow Residential (TCR) completed construction of 830 dwelling units in 1998.  Tri-Met's park & ride was relocated, redesigned and coordinated with TCR's project to create a pedestrian friendly environment.  Nike plans to expand its world headquarters campus on 75 acres north of the station.  City plan and code amendments for the 120-acre area were adopted in December 1997.  Tri-Met managed the master plan effort.  The City of Beaverton was lead on the plan/code amendments.

Hillsboro Light Rail Station Area Urban Design -- In 1993, this project dealt with issues that were not resolved during preliminary engineering and the draft EIS.  There was concern that intergovernmental consensus would be difficult to achieve.  In a five-week intensive effort, agreement was reached to remove two stations and redesign or relocate four others to reduce costs, improve access, and preserve opportunities for station area development.  This was a joint effort with Metro, the City of Hillsboro and Washington County.  Tri-Met was the lead agency.  This is an excellent example of an interagency, interdisciplinary team approach with the right people with the right assignment at the right time.

Orenco/PacTrust Master Plan -- In January 1999, the National Home Builders selected "Orenco Station" out of nearly 1,000 entries for their "Master Planned Community of the Year" gold award.  In 1998, it won the State of Oregon Governor's Livability Award. More than 2,000 dwellings, a mixed use center, parks, and a sub-regional retail "power" center were planned, permitted or under construction between the light rail station and the new $2 billion Intel facility in 1998.  The City of Hillsboro was the lead agency.  Six-hundred apartments and the small lot single family home models were completed in 1997. The project has become a poster child of light rail transit based suburban TOD:

Downtown Hillsboro LID -- The City Council approved the Hillsboro Downtown Business Association petition for creation of a local improvement district (LID) in August 1996.  The project implements the vision of the downtown (TOD) plan and began construction in summer 1997.  The design for new sidewalks, curbs, decorative paving, street lamps, and greenery are complementary to light rail street improvements.

Westside Corridor Level Public Outreach -- Activities included a newsletter (seven issues), brochures, Rail Trail Guide, conferences, seminars, workshops, displays, slide shows, videos, cable TV shows, and telephone hot line.  Washington County was the lead agency.

Development outreach activities included station area development profiles and maps which were prepared by Tri-Met; the Spring 1997 issues of the "Connections" newsletter focused on transit oriented development; the first day of the May 1994 "Westside Light Rail Station Community Planning Conference" for members of the development community attracted a standing room only crowd to the World Forestry Center; the April 1995 seminar on "The Economics of mid-rise housing and TOD's" was attended by 245 bankers, Realtors, developers, architects, consultants and planners.

Other outreach activities included WSAP team members being advocates for transit-oriented planning and development.  Technical assistance was provided to developers, background information was prepared for reporters, staff led land use and development tours, spoke at real estate seminars, organized conference sessions, and similar activities.

Portland TOD Property Tax Exemption Ordinance - It provides for a ten-year exemption for high density housing and mixed use projects.  The City of Portland adopted an ordinance in October 1996 based on state legislation passed in 1995.  Washington County and Tri-Met sought passage of the new state law; Tri-Met prepared a model ordinance.

Joint Development Projects -- Tri-Met has four projects in the Goose Hollow station area just west of downtown Portland.  Arbor Vista ("Tree House" site) and Stadium Station Apartments ("Civic Stadium") are done; the project at Collins Circle is under construction; and the Butler Block project is in process.  These projects pioneered the FTA waiver to the common grant rule for joint development; now all USA transit agencies can take advantage of these opportunities to increase ridership through TOD based on new regulations adopted in spring 1997 by FTA.

BEST DOCUMENTS

City of Beaverton, Community Development
PO Box 4755, Beaverton, Oregon, 97076

  • Beaverton Creek Multiple Use District (plan, code, maps); December 1997 & January 1998.
  • Downtown Connectivity Plan (transportation text and map amendments), adopted in June 1997; prepared by DKS Associates.
  • Carrying Capacity Analysis and Capital Improvement Plan for the Beaverton Regional Center and Tek Station Area, December 1996, prepared by KCM, DKS, Hobson Johnson & Associates, and Janice Kelley.
  • Downtown Redevelopment Alternatives Study, September 1997; Pacific Rim Resources, Leland Consulting Group, Cascade Design Collaborative.

City of Hillsboro, Planning Department
123 West Main Street, Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

  • Choices for the Future, Station Community Planning, Downtown Hillsboro Station Area, February 1995.
  • Downtown Hillsboro Station Community Plan, June 1995.
  • Hillsboro Light Rail Station Area Master Plan: Transportation Design Element, November 1995, prepared by DKS Associates and Janice Kelley.
  • Station Community Planning Areas (SCPA), Amendments to the City of Hillsboro Comprehensive Plan Text and Map, Zoning Ordinance Text and Map, adopted August 6, 1996; amended April 15, 1997.

City of Portland, Planning Bureau
1220 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204

  • Goose Hollow Station Community Plan, January 1996; and Goose Hollow District Design Guidelines, February 1996.
  • Property Tax Exemption for New Transit Supportive Residential or Mixed Use Development, October 1996; note - applies to east side Portland MAX stations too.
  • Transit-Oriented Development Credit Provisions, Transportation System Development Charge Ordinance, June 1997; note - applies to east side Portland MAX stations too.

Washington County, Land Use & Transportation
155 North First Avenue, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124

  • "Connections" newsletter, focus on station area development, Volume 7, Spring 1997.
  • "It's About Time: The Story of Westside Light Rail Station Community Planning", 20 minute video, shown on cable TV, 1996.
  • Ordinance No. 418, June 1993, light rail station area interim development regulations.
  • Ordinance No's. 483-486, light rail station area land use and transportation plans and development code, October 1997; applies to the Sunset Transit Center and the 158th, 170th and 185th station areas.

Tri-Met, Project Development
710 NE Holladay Street, Portland, Oregon 97232

  • At work in the Field of Dreams: Light Rail and Smart Growth in Portland, September 1998.
  • Evaluation of Banfield Light Rail Transit Station Area Planning Program, July 1993.
  • Hillsboro LRT Extension Station Location Recommendations, prepared by FFA, 1993.
  • Planning and Design For Transit Handbook, January 1996.
  • Station Area Development Profiles (and maps) for Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, Portland and Washington County, 1994-1997.

 

 

Copyright 1998-2010 Henry Stephen Markus, AICP, Seattle, WA, USA, All rights reserved. Contact

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