Transit-Oriented Development

There is an increasing need and demand not only for housing that is affordable but also for housing that is "green." Green essentially means healthy, energy and resource efficient, and environmentally low-impact. "Green building" is a term that is used to describe a process for designing, developing, constructing, and operating buildings and infrastructure using sustainable methods and materials-to provide healthy living environments for people, to reduce the use of energy and natural resources, and to minimize negative impacts on local, regional, and global ecosystems. The goal of this strategy is essentially to increase convenience for the masses by placing public transit access and employment centers near affordable housing, such as apartment buildings. This increased convenience would enable not only decreased vehicle miles traveled to and from work and other locations, but also decrease personal travel and housing costs for those who need it the most.

Strategies and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Provide affordable housing near mass transit stops and employment centers to reduce the VMT in the region
  • Develop a Web-based program that helps residents find housing close to employment and/or mass transit stops
  • Encourage needed housing and employment densities to maximize the use of public transportation. Encourage transit-oriented development and zone the surrounding areas for needed densities to support public transit. (400 tons CO2)

Cost to the City
It really depends. The transportation system costs more for bus lines, a possible light rail and that aside what needs to be considered here is community planning. Much of Tacoma is already built up, so starting from scratch is not an option, but considering what each smaller community needs to become more walkable and has access to mass transit is a good place to start. This particular recommendation has the potential have a more long term goal in mind.


  • Community members
  • Business owners
  • Employers
  • Commuters
  • Pierce County Transit
  • Developers


  • Existing land-use zoning restrictions
  • Developers' construction costs
  • Community demand

Benefits to residents

  • Lower energy and water bills
  • A healthy living environment
  • Reduced transportation costs
  • Greater employment opportunities
  • A healthier overall lifestyle due to close proximity of amenities and employment

Benefits to developers or building owners

  • Competitive advantage for receiving low-income housing tax credits
  • Green rebates and other financial incentives
  • Community good will and positive public relations
  • Operating cost savings (specifically utilities, maintenance, and replacement costs)
  • Reduced liability risk from building-related health problems that result from chemical and biological contaminants

Benefits to investors

  • Recognition in the marketplace for environmental leadership and stewardship
  • Community good will and positive public relations
  • Strong long-term returns
  • Potential for increased building value

Benefits to community

  • Reduced burden on municipal infrastructure, such as landfills, water supply and treatment, and storm water management systems
  • Reduced air and water pollution
  • Reduced sprawl
  • Healthier populace
  • Healthier working environments for construction, maintenance, and manufacturing workers

Benefits to environment

  • Water conservation
  • Protection of air and water quality
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Habitat protection
  • Natural resource conservation (e.g., more sustainable forest management)
  • Reduced waste


This will be a partnership between the City and builders, planners, employers, Pierce County Transit, and the general community.


  • Deciding which transit stops or employment centers need affordable housing most desperately
  • Possible reformation of already existing zoning codes near these particular locations

Success Stories
San Francisco, CA
Smaller homes, higher taxes; Bay Area residents willing to change to cut greenhouse gas: San Francisco, in order to reach 1999 levels of carbon emissions is encouraging citizens to drive less. In a "random telephone poll of 1,800 residents of the nine Bay Area counties in late September and early October found that 64 percent thought global warming was the most important factor to consider when developing transportation and land-use plans. Another 28 percent considered it at least somewhat important." Their willingness is redefining building codes, making houses smaller with less yard and closer together. But do they mind this change? The telephone survey also "asked whether they would choose to live in a small house with a small backyard instead of a larger house that required a longer commute, 74 percent said yes." (Taken from The San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 2007, Saturday, Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer)

Chicago, IL
The Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group has a detailed plan to implement what they call smart growth initiatives and also expand mass transit, they hope that it will reduce 0.29 MM tons of CO2 by 2020 with this plan. The PDF of the plans is attached in the related information.

Seattle, WA
The city's plan incorporates many elements of transit-oriented development, and has made efforts to revise their multi-family code to "encourage housing close to transit and commercial areas."