- About Us
- Bay Area Transportation
- Bay Area Land Use
- California Advocacy
- Past Campaigns
- Great Communities Collaborative
- Safe Routes to Schools
- Safe Routes to Transit
- Get Involved
Great Access: Deep Affordability
GreenTRIP has proved that a new paradigm for infill, transit-oriented development is possible. The pilot project, funded by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Rockefeller Foundation, led to easier approvals for 1,970 TOD units that included over 80,000 years of free transit passes, and 24,000 years of car-share memberships for residents. By freeing up space from significant reductions in parking requirements, it allowed the addition of 30 additional affordable units in one development alone (fact sheet).
View this information with slides of the potential tool in our GADA Brochure.
Unlike energy efficiency or other standards, however, it is difficult for GreenTRIP to scale up quickly; each project requires significant analysis, local data gathering and often code variances. We have run into a similar limitation as we engage and mobilize community groups on these issues; we provide localized data and recommendations when they are in the midst of a community planning process, but when it is over and goes into a decade of “implementation,” there is no way for them to stay up-to-date on the latest research and to bring that to bear on each development proposal.
To overcome these barriers and unleash the power of GreenTRIP at a broader scale, TransForm recently launched the Great Access: Deep Affordability initiative. The initiative seeks to increase the total supply of homes near transit and job-centers. It will create a new model of “deep affordability,” where we create more homes near transit affordable to people at every income, while dramatically decreasing household costs for transportation.
Affordable homes receive tremendous resistance at every stage – from housing elements, to zoning, to specific proposals. The opposition has perpetually used the fear of traffic to fight these proposals. The data, the dynamic web-based tool, and community education that will be part of GADA will help overcome this obstacle by showing affordable homes are actually a low-traffic, economic development strategy. In addition, by supporting transit, opening carshare pods, and generating more pedestrian activity near affordable homes with transit passes, GADA can also enhance community and economic vitality.
The four key components of Great Access/Deep Affordability include:
Dynamic Web-based Tool. TransForm will work with the Center for Neighborhood Technology to create a single, credible, up-to-date resource that will unleash the power of GreenTRIP on a broader scale. This dynamic web-based tool would be available free to any user – developers, city planners or community groups – and would allow them to identify a particular parcel of land for a multi-family or mixed-use building, seeing what the actual parking demand and trip generation should be, and comparing them to regional averages.
Using simple toggles, users would be able to instantly see how the impact of adding affordable homes, trip reduction strategies, more compact design, and other factors can reduce vehicle ownership and trip generation, free up space for other uses, create cost savings for developers and residents, and more. Partial funding for development of this tool was included in the Bay Area’s HUD Sustainable Communities Planning grant, and support from the Rosin Fund could serve as matching funds.
Data Collection and Empirical Analysis: Some local studies suggest that affordable housing and TDM strategies reduce car use and parking needs by up to 50%, but the empirical data available is not robust enough for most cities and planners to incorporate reductions into codes, policies and models. Indeed many models predict residents of affordable homes will drive just 1% less! In partnership with UC Davis and the California Housing Partnership Corporation we have proposed a major effort to collect data from the Bay Area and California to accurately estimate the benefits of affordable housing and trip reduction strategies.
The data will be available via the web-based tool and as a database. We are working with Google staff (including the creator of Google Transit) to develop templates that can be easily replicated, updated and stored in a way that it is accessible and free to as wide an audience as possible.
This data will allow the benefits of affordable homes and TDM to be integrated at many levels: from local codes to travel models, to regional and state policy decisions. Some current efforts that would benefit greatly include TransForm and Housing California’s campaign to fund affordable TOD from the State’s cap and trade program, investment tools such as the Bay Area’s Transit Oriented Affordable Housing Fund, and the push to have affordable homes and TDM measures as a funded category in upcoming county transportation sales tax measures.
Expanded GreenTRIP Certification: TransForm will continue certifications, but will have three specific foci to push new paradigms forward more quickly. We have received support to subsidize certifications for affordable housing developers, and will create new outreach materials to show the broad benefits of low transportation-cost housing. We will create a new standard for zero-parking buildings to awaken communities to this potential, particularly in places with high transit frequencies and managed parking at the district scale. Finally, we are engaging with several leading affordable housing developers on paradigm-shifting buildings; ones that could cut transportation and energy costs to near-zero through smarter design coupled with transportation incentives.
Community Engagement and Stakeholder Education: We will conduct trainings for a wide range of audiences, as we know there is a real thirst for this data and tools. In December 2012 the Federal Reserve Bank hosted a policy briefing on GADA. Sparked by the possibility of this new paradigm of deep affordability, the large audience included lenders, developers, transit agencies, elected officials, city staff, and community advocates. We will share ourwork with these audiences at national and statewide conferences, webinars, and through special outreach and trainings tohousing, social justice, and environmental advocates.
We are confident the use of our tool will profoundly affect development considerations at the project level, but expect there will also be significant impacts upstream at city and regional planning levels.Berkeley, after approving a GreenTRIP certified project, adopted GreenTRIP standards for all new development in the downtown area. Now, six cities in our region, including the high-growth cities of San Jose and Oakland, have agreed to use the data and the tool, ideally referencing them to determine parking and trip generation, as an alternative to add on to what the Institute for Transportation Engineers provides. This would dramatically speed time for reviews and correct some of the information imbalances that cause distrust between developers, city staff and community members. Some of the cities are excited that it can save on the tremendous cost of updating these codes (only to have them become quickly outdated again).
We are also working with Calthorpe Associates to see how the dynamic tool could integrate with Urban Footprint, their regional modeling software that will soon be used across California. This collaboration would allow decision-makers to see how site-specific changes can scale up at the regional level. With inquiries already expressed from Southern California and San Diego, we expect that other metropolitan regions of California, and then other states, will be ready for our tool once developed.
All of these components combined – as the comprehensive GADA initiative – will provide a critical program development path, with great potential to accelerate reduced GHG emissions, improved community and individual health, increased social cohesion, and accessibility and equity. Read more in our GADA Brochure.