San Diego’s Proposed One-Mile Walk to Transit Stop Will Bring More High-Rise But No Mass Transit

by on January 10, 2023 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Why San Diego’s proposed Sustainable Development Areas won’t drive adoption of mass transit.

From Neighbors For a Better San Diego / January 5, 2023

Our research confirms (see here and here) that a one-mile walk far exceeds the distance that people are willing to travel to a transit stop, but that’s how the City of San Diego wants to redefine its Transit Priority Area (TPA) for transit-oriented development affecting local zoning codes.

They’re even giving it a new name: Sustainable Development Areas (SDAs). You can learn more about the origins of SDAs from our October 2022 report.

Truth is, it’s just a transparent ploy to encourage even more high-rise construction and investor-owned Bonus ADU apartment complexes in residential neighborhoods by expanding transit-oriented development to one-mile walking distance. These massive projects won’t provide the Very Low- and Low-Income housing our city most desperately needs. There will be no community notice or review, and developers won’t have to pay the infrastructure fees we need to provide new parks, upgraded streets, and water/sewer improvements.

The San Diego Planning Commission approved this concept on December 8, 2022, even though there is no research to support the Planning Department’s move to expand transit-oriented development to one-mile walking distance from a major transit stop. Research shows people simply won’t walk that far for transit and in San Diego, at least 90% of people who take public transportation walk to transit while most of the remaining 10% drive to or from transit.

With your help, Neighbors For A Better San Diego (NFABSD) is taking the lead on educating the public and opposing this ill-conceived proposal.

We believe San Diego needs real transit-oriented development to increase transit ridership and decrease automobile usage. The Mayor’s Planning Department’s deceptively-named Sustainable Development Areas will create the opposite effect and smear density across the City without increasing transit usage.

You can read more about SDAs in this recent San Diego Union-Tribune article by David Garrick: San Diego could OK far more high-rise homes and backyard apartments under a new city housing proposal. The story has prompted additional media outlets to contact NFABSD, and we will share those reports when available.

Stay tuned. This issue will come up at Land Use & Housing next Thursday, January 12th, 2023. Land Use & Housing will have the option to approve or disapprove the Land Development Code (LDC) update, which may include the adoption of SDAs.

This approval would have a far-reaching impact and expand development related to Complete Communities, Bonus ADUs, parking regulations, and even the maximum number of students for new schools. Given the wide-ranging impact of the Sustainable Development Area, this item should not be tossed in the LDC with minor revisions to the building code. We will keep you updated and we may request a Call-to-Action if this is the case.

What you need to know about Sustainable Development Areas (SDAs)

When it comes to driving successful transit-oriented development, distance to transit is a critical factor.

Who uses 1/4 to 1/2 mile walking distance to transit as the appropriate measure of transit-oriented development?

  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • U.S. Federal Transportation Administration
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Institute for Transportation and Development Policy – Translink
  • Ford Foundation
  • UN Habitat
  • Climate Works Foundation
  • California Department of Public Health
  • New Jersey Transit-Oriented Development
  • Jarrett Walker, Public Transit Consultant
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
  • San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
  • Hundreds of academic and professional articles

Who uses ONE MILE walking distance to transit as the appropriate measure of transit-oriented development?

  • Only the San Diego Planning Department

Neighbors For A Better San Diego is a local non-profit group of San Diego neighbors, community leaders, and advocates formed to protect & preserve single-family neighborhoods from overdevelopment.



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