Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Policy
Transit-oriented communities (TOCs) feature housing and business development that is near to transportation, putting public transit in reach for more people and improving the quality of life in the Bay Area.
Transit-oriented communities (TOCs) enable people to access and use transit more often for more types of trips by centering housing, jobs, services and shopping around public transit. They are places where people of all ages, abilities, income levels, and racial and ethnic backgrounds can live, work and thrive.
MTC’s TOC Policy is just one piece of Plan Bay Area 2050, the region’s long-range plan for transportation, housing, the economy and the environment. The TOC Policy supports two high-impact Plan Bay Area 2050 strategies that will help the region reach ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions:
- Strategy H3: Allow a greater mix of housing densities and types in Growth Geographies
- Strategy EC4: Allow greater commercial densities in Growth Geographies
TOC Policy Goals
TOC Policy helps advance Plan Bay Area 2050. The four goals below will make it easier for people in the Bay Area to live a car-free or car-light lifestyle:
- Increase the overall housing supply in part by increasing the density for new residential projects. Prioritize affordable housing in transit-rich areas.
- In areas near regional transit hubs, increase density for businesses and commercial development.
- Prioritize bus transit, active transportation and shared mobility (such as bike share and car share) within and to/from transit-rich areas, particularly to Equity Priority Communities located more than one half-mile from transit stops or stations.
- Support and build partnerships to create equitable transit-oriented communities within the San Francisco Bay Area.
TOC Policy Requirements
The TOC Policy applies to locations within a half-mile of existing and planned stops and stations served by one of the following:
- BART, Caltrain, SMART, Capitol Corridor and ACE stations
- Muni and VTA light-rail stations
- Muni and AC Transit bus rapid transit stops
- Ferry terminals
The policy requirements address the following:
- Minimum residential and commercial office densities for new development;
- Affordable housing production, preservation and protection, and stabilizing businesses to prevent displacement;
- Parking management; and
- Transit station access.
Following adoption of the TOC Policy, MTC staff have been developing administrative guidance to explain the details of policy requirements and how local governments can submit compliance documentation. Since January 2023, MTC has engaged in an extensive outreach process to receive feedback on the TOC Policy administrative guidance. This feedback process has included presentations at all county-based Planning Director and Planning Collaborative meetings as well as opportunities to submit written comments to MTC.
In September 2023, MTC released final draft guidance, which is the latest iteration of the administrative guidance incorporating feedback from jurisdictions and other stakeholders. Overall, changes made in response to comments have resulted in policy requirements that are less prescriptive and allow for greater flexibility for local conditions, while still having guidelines in place to ensure effective policies and meaningful outcomes. After this final round of engagement and feedback in September 2023, finalized guidance is expected around the end of the year.
To ensure eligibility for OBAG 4 funding and any other discretionary funding that may be linked to TOC Policy compliance, jurisdictions should anticipate demonstrating compliance prior to adoption of OBAG 4 (expected in 2026). Compliance with the TOC Policy is voluntary for jurisdictions that want to advance the goals of Plan Bay Area 2050 or to be eligible and/or competitive for some MTC discretionary funding. The process to confirm compliance will begin early 2024 and continue on a rolling basis until an anticipated deadline corresponding with OBAG 4. MTC will provide technical support to assist with the compliance process.
MTC’s 2022 TOC Policy builds on the Transit-Oriented Development Policy, adopted in 2005. The TOC Policy reflects changes in regional transportation and land use trends since 2005, as well as new information from Plan Bay Area 2050.
In Plan Bay Area 2050, Growth Geographies are locations used to guide where future growth in housing and jobs would be focused over the next 30 years. These locations are identified for growth either by local cities and counties or because they are located close to transit or access to opportunity. The four types of Growth Geographies in Plan Bay Area 2050 are:
- Priority Development Areas (PDAs): Areas generally near existing job centers or frequent transit that have been identified by towns, cities or counties for housing and job growth
- Priority Production Areas (PPAs): Locally identified places for job growth in middle-wage industries like manufacturing, logistics or other trades. An area must be zoned for industrial use or have a strong industrial use to be a PPA
- Transit-Rich Areas (TRAs): Areas near rail, ferry or frequent bus service that were not already identified as PDAs. Specifically, these are areas where at least 50% of the area is within 1/2 mile of an existing rail station or ferry terminal (with bus or rail service), a bus stop with peak service frequency of 15 minutes or less, or a planned rail station or planned ferry terminal (with bus or rail service)
- High-Resource Areas (HRAs): Places identified by the state that have well-resourced schools and access to jobs and open space – among other advantages – that may have historically rejected more housing growth. This designation only includes places that meet a baseline transit service threshold of bus service with peak headways of 30 minutes or better