Downtown San Leandro Transit-Oriented Development Strategy
San Leandro, CA
Downtown San Leandro is one of the most transit-rich locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has direct access to a BART station, several AC Transit bus lines and an AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line is planned for the near future. Despite the abundance of transit facilities, however, much of the new downtown development that has occurred over the past fifty years has been auto-oriented, which has degraded the historic pedestrian environment of the downtown and discouraged the use of transit to its full potential.
In 2005, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) provided a major funding grant to the City of San Leandro to explore measures to enhance transit ridership and strengthen the downtown area. The planners led the project team and provided the station area plan, urban design, and community outreach services.
The Transit-Oriented Development Strategy for Downtown San Leandro included the following goals:
- Increase transit ridership.
- Enhance station access for pedestrians, bicyclists and other modes of transit, such as bus transit.
- Promote a more livable, walkable downtown.
- Revitalize and strengthen economic conditions in the downtown area, with particular emphasis on the growth of retail and entertainment uses.
The project commenced with an analysis of existing conditions within a 1/2 mile radius of the station area. This included study of existing land use, development patterns, circulation and parking networks, market conditions, and policies such as the General Plan and Zoning Code. Studies were then undertaken of different land use and circulation framework plans to determine the impact of various transit-oriented development (TOD) densities on traffic and parking and their contribution to transit ridership and economic revitalization.
The existing conditions analysis identified 39 development opportunity sites totaling 89 acres. Preliminary land use plans and prototype project studies were prepared for several of these sites to test economic feasibility. These prototypes included high density residential development adjacent to the existing BART station, moderate density mixed-use development adjacent to the future BRT hub, and mixed-use infill development throughout the downtown core.
The final Strategy, which serves as a basis to update the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance to facilitate TOD in downtown San Leandro, includes:
- An overall downtown circulation framework to improve linkages between the existing BART station and planned BRT stops, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Definition of appropriate land uses (particularly residential) and densities that will support increased transit ridership and provide strong retail support.
- Identification of projects that are developable in the near term and that will serve as catalysts for future development.
- Changes to existing city policies, such as parking requirements and building heights, to encourage transit-oriented development that is feasible under likely market conditions.
The process included outreach and input from a large stakeholder group which included City of San Leandro staff and elected officials, a Citizen Advisory Committee comprising local business and property owners, and a Technical Advisory Committee comprising members from MTC, BART, AC Transit and ABAG. An extensive community outreach program included several workshops open to the general public to ensure that the TOD Strategy fulfills the goals and objectives of the community at large.