The designs of the partnerships for each of the Sacramento TODs are likely to take different forms at different stations. What is important is that the partnership be tailored for the individual TOD project, and reflect the benefits in transit ridership, neighborhood revitalization and neighborhood building.
4. Role of SACOG in directing planning and transit funds to TODs, particularly through the region’s Community Design Program.
In 2001, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) embarked on the most extensive planning effort ever undertaken in the region, an effort known as The Blueprint, to consider the region’s growth patterns through 2050. The Blueprint planning involved 22 cities, more than 5,000 area residents and took three years. It involved sophisticated modeling of vehicle miles traveled, air quality and land use. In the end, the planners set out four development scenarios, of which the SACOG board chose the development scenario that emphasized the focusing of new residential development at transit stations and on transportation corridors.
SACOG is backing up the Blueprint guidelines with funding. SACOG plays a main role in the region’s distribution of transportation funds, and the SACOG board has committed $500 million over a 20-year period for implementation of the Blueprint.
The Future of TODs in the Sacramento Region
The TOD program in the Sacramento region is likely to proceed sporadically over the next decade, reflecting the fluctuation of the region’s housing market and the delays that inevitably arise with in-fill projects.
The financial partnerships with the city and county are likely to be key to the pace of progress on each, as is the financial participation of SACOG. In the end, a project will only go forward as they make financial sense for the developer. Given that TODs are usually in former or existing commercial/industrial areas, and involve complex interactions of transit operation needs with the neighborhood-building elements, TODs will usually need the financial partnership of one or more public entities. That is the way it has been in nearly all other TODs in Northern California, as noted above.
But TODs are the future of the region. Low-density single-family housing will, for many years in the future, be the prevalent housing form in the Sacramento region, given the sizable housing of single-family houses that exists. However, TODs will emerge as a niche housing market, and one that achieves the TOD vision in Sacramento elsewhere: increased housing options, increased use of transit and more walkable neighborhoods and communities.
Fred Arnold is director of real estate for Sacramento Regional Transit, James Robinson is real estate analyst, TOD for Sacramento Regional Transit and Michael Bernick is counsel for Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP.