Friday, November 9, 2007

Summary Presentation - Rail-Volution Conference Lake Worth Tri-Rail Charette

These are selected slides from the presentation made in the Commission Chambers once the group completed their work during the day. I will also add some explanation to the various slides and amplify on the some of the highlights. Remember to click on the image for a more detailed view. Thanks go to Jeff Tumlin of Nelson/Nygaard for putting together this excellent presentation.

Jeff Tumlin made the point that the common thread for successful transit oriented development is pedestrian friendly design. That is, design the public space with shade trees, ample sidewalks, street furniture, appropriate scale lighting and interesting pedestrian level architecture. Through location within half a mile of transit facilities, you encourage regional connectivity without dependence on the automobile - for access to shopping and residential opportunities that might not have been as readily available in other locations. And by doing so, you create a new project that has additional value to the community - as well as a return on investment. The traditional parking lot next to the station is something to avoid as it does not add value in the same way as transit oriented development (TOD). Note that if you live within half a mile of a transit station, you are five times more likely to use transit than you are if you are outside that radius. More on that later.

The pie-charts above are interesting. They break down common household costs and separate "Location Efficient Environments" (another name for TODs) and "Auto Dependent Exurbs" (Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, the Acreage, etc.). The red slice of the pie represents the portion of income devoted to transportation. Living in close proximity to transit and using it as a mode of transit reduces your cost of transportation significantly - leaving more disposable income or freeing up additional money for housing.

Transit oriented development employs a lower rate of required parking than traditional developments. The two slides above show the impact of the cost in providing parking for a variety of developments over a range of densities. You can see the impact of reduced parking requirements in terms of fixed costs that the revenue producing development must carry. It should also be noted that no where in the City is a density of over 40 units an acre allowed. So Lake Worth is clearly at the left side of the above graph.

In the State of Florida, we have state mandated concurrency which means that public facilities have to be in place at the time the impact of a project happens. Many public facilities are covered by this law, but the one that gets the most is transportation and traffic level of service. In each community's Comprehensive Plan, level of service standards are adopted. When a project comes through the development review process, it has to prove that its traffic impact does not exceed the adopted level of service standards. In Palm Beach County, traffic studies for development in municipalities is covered by the County's Traffic Performance Standards ordinance. The first and second bullet points above identify the need to adjust traffic generation figures as it applies to TOD project since they inherently generate less traffic than traditional auto-oriented development. The last bullet point deals with the need to look at level of service for all modes of transit- including buses, shuttle vehicles and bicycles in this sort of development scenario.

The above slide is particularly interesting. The red line represents the typical "park and ride" parking lot operation - much like we have now at the corner of Erie Street and Lake Worth Road. What is shows is that the lot fills up in the morning as people are parking to commute to work and remains full the rest of the day - essentially restricting the amount of parking available and passenger volume on the transit line is reduced because of this. Managed parking, the blue line, represents parking that is regulated through a pricing structure, a maximum length of stay provision or other method. It does a little better than the typical "park and ride" situation. However, look at the difference in the amount of parking available with a mix of uses (retail, office and residential) along with a managed system of parking - the green line - or the characteristics of a TOD project. Same size of parking facility, but a more efficient utilization over time and a more reliable generator of ridership for the transit system.

This is an aerial of the study area, with the half mile radius around the station shown by the red circle.
This is the "overlay" to the aerial showing the uses that are transit supportive and those that are not. Notice that all the areas indicated in black are not transit supportive. One universal recognition of the group was that I-95 is a tremendous visual and physical barrier. The gray areas were thought to be mildly transit supportive, but the low density of the current land uses within the Park of Commerce and the high school are not great source of transit demand. The lower density residential uses (light green) are somewhat supportive of transit. But the big contributor would be the downtown area and the multi-family zoned area north of Lake Worth Road - as well as Palm Beach Community College, but its impact is less since it is outside the half mile radius. Thus the need for a shuttle, which will come up later in the various comments from the study groups.

The following slides are comments from the four groups and each had a different take on the issues, but shared much in common as well. I think they speak for themselves. Remember you can see more detail by clicking on the image. You can even save it by right clicking on the image and then select save as, then choose an appropriate place on your hard drive to save it.

One of the concepts the Canadians present offered was that of "ECO-density". This is a whole movement that is being promoted by city of Vancouver, British Columbia. You can see mention of it under the comments offered by Group 2. I am preparing an upcoming post that will include some samples of information from Vancouver. There are a lot of things that we can capitalize on here, given their lead. And it happens to be consistent with my approach on redevelopment within Lake Worth. So look for more information on that soon. If you want to get a start on it, you can click here and that will take you to an informative .pdf booklet on the concept of eco-density.

Group 2 Comments

• Broader range of housing
opportunities to match
demographic changes

• “Eco Density”: Enough people
living close enough together to
reduce ecological footprint and
need to drive. Includes high
quality of life, local services within
walking distance

• “Invisible Density” – increase
housing without changing
neighborhood character:
Secondary units, smaller units,
better managed parking

(Note: For some reason the slide with the above information did not translate well to a jpeg format. If you would like a copy of the whole PowerPoint presentation, please e-mail me or we can meet up and I can let you download from a thumb-drive.)