Transit Oriented Development

Guidelines for Equitable Transit Oriented Development for Jamaica Plain
Adopted January 30, 2007; Revised September 18, 2007

Transit oriented development can address environmental, land use, and economic concerns in communities throughout the Commonwealth. It is a complex, challenging, and potentially rewarding development approach that links planning for affordable housing and transportation investment in ways that connect residents to economic and social opportunities. Because any development that revitalizes a town center or urban core can fuel gentrification, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council has adopted a set of principles to guide transit oriented development in the neighborhood that energize communities without displacing the people who live there.

The principles, developed with the local constituencies represented by Action!, serve as guidelines for local governments, regional authorities, the state, residents, and the nonprofits that represent them. Their participation is essential throughout the planning processes that result in new developments. If Massachusetts aligns its public policy to these equity principles, everyone can benefit from equitable transit oriented development. On January 30, 2007, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) voted to adopt the following principles as guidelines for future transit oriented development in Jamaica Plain.

  • Ensure community benefit. Because it taps public investment or regulatory relief, transit oriented development should provide measurable community benefit, including connections to productive employment opportunities, access to public amenities, increase in local affordable housing, affordable housing of sufficient size for families, and enrichment activities and services for area youth.
  • Maintain affordability/inclusionary zoning. Any new development of 10 units or more will include affordable housing consistent with the JPNC’s Inclusionary Zoning Proposal approved by the JPNC on June 29, 2004:  At least 25% of all units in developments of 10 units or more will be affordable to persons earning 80% or less of the area median income (AMI) with the average household income limit of all affordable units being 65% of AMI.  In addition, any new development of 10 units or more on publicly-owned land or land sold by a public entity for the purposes of transit-oriented development will include affordable housing such that:  the percentage of units affordable to those earning 80% AMI or less will be equal to the percentage of Jamaica Plain residents earning 80% AMI or less; or 50% of units will be affordable to persons earning 80% or less of the AMI, whichever number is greater.  In either case, the average household income limit of all affordable units to be 65% of AMI.
  • Prevent displacement. Structure state and local regulations so that transit oriented development enables anyone who wants to remain in the community to do so.
  • Encourage community controlled housing. Priority for state funding should be given to jurisdictions that are working to guarantee that at least 20 percent of housing units within one mile of a transit oriented development will be held in community control as a permanently affordable community asset.
  • Improve environmental quality. Design projects that maximize environmental benefit, reduce automobile trips, measurably improve air quality, and reduce the incidence of health issues related to atmospheric pollution.
  • Promote environmental justice. Prioritize equitable transit oriented development and improved public transit for environmental justice neighborhoods as designated by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Justice Policy.
  • Achieve full accessibility. Any development that results from transit investment must be completely accessible to riders regardless of age or physical condition.
  • Boost transit use. Prioritize transit oriented development that increases ridership both for urban and suburban communities that rely heavily on existing public transit and those that have a clear need for greater transit access.
  • Plan for transit growth. Communities embarking on significant development projects must have fully integrated transit options built into their planning, including improved accessibility for riders with disabilities.
  • Encourage local economic development. Land uses resulting from redevelopment near transit should encourage local economic development, effective private partnerships with the nonprofit and public sectors, enhance community-serving establishments, and discourage displacement of existing residents and small businesses.
  • Understand local context. Transit oriented development must take into account regional variations in development patterns and transit modes in different regions of the state.