Search title image

Smart Growth

TLCSmart Growth in the Bay Area

MTC has developed policies, funding programs and technical studies to foster livability in our communities, improve the quality of our development patterns and enhance alternatives to auto travel. These efforts include:

Focusing our Vision: Smart Growth and Sustainable Development for the Region

“Focusing Our Vision” (FOCUS) is a Bay Area-wide effort to promote compact and equitable development that protects and enhances quality of life, and preserves open space and agricultural resources. FOCUS seeks to strengthen existing city centers, locate more housing near existing and future rail stations and quality bus lines, encourage more compact and walkable suburbs, and protect regional open space.

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented development (TOD), or compact, mixed-use development within walking distance of public transportation — is a key element of livable and sustainable communities.  MTC adopted a TOD Policy (PDF) in July 2005 designed to promote cost-effective transit, ease regional housing shortages, create vibrant communities and preserves open space.

Transportation for Livable Communities

MTC’s Transportation for Livable Communities Program (TLC) supports community-based transportation projects that bring new vibrancy to downtown areas, commercial cores, neighborhoods, and transit corridors, enhancing their amenities and ambiance and making them places where people want to live, work and visit. 

Priority Development Area (PDA) Plans (formerly Station Area Plans)

MTC’s Priority Development Area (PDA) Planning grant program funds city-sponsored planning efforts for the areas around future transit stations. These station-area plans are intended to address the range of transit-supportive features that are necessary to support high levels of transit ridership.

Parking Policies

Parking policies play a key role in influencing individuals’ choice of how to travel and land use development patterns. Parking policies also have a major impact on the quality and feasibility of transit-oriented developments. MTC has embarked on a major new Regional Parking Reform Campaign to support local parking reform efforts. MTC previously conducted a Smart Parking Study/Seminar and created a Parking Toolbox/Handbook (PDF), with best practices, case studies and a demand model tool.

Housing and Transportation Affordability

The Bay Area is known for its high housing costs, but how does adding the cost of daily transportation needs affect household budgets based on where they choose to live? Analysis shows how location affects the affordability of both housing and transportation in the region, and highlights the limited locational choices lower-income households in particular face in finding affordable neighborhoods.

Smart Growth Technical Assistance Program

Technical assistance services are available to local jurisdictions on a competitive basis through the FOCUS Program to advance transit-oriented development (TOD) in Priority Development Areas (PDAs).

Smart Links

From universities, planners and communities across the Bay Area and across the nation, there are large numbers of studies, policies, plans and reports of best practices in the field of smart growth / transit-oriented development. We have noted some of the most important studies, policies, plans, reports of best practices, and Bay Area contacts.

For more information, contact Doug Johnson at (510) 817-5846 or