The effect of light rail transit on land-use development in a city without zoning

Richard Lee, Ipek N Sener

Abstract


Light rail transit (LRT) has become a popular strategy to improve accessibility and mobility in the United States. It has also been touted as a tool to spur urban growth, higher-density development, and revitalization in large, auto-dependent cities like Houston, Texas. Although traditionally known as sprawling and highly auto-oriented, Houston has greatly expanded its light rail system in recent years. The city is also unique in that it is by far the largest city in the United States without zoning ordinances.
The city of Houston is used as a case study to examine land-use development around LRT stations. Analysis of parcel-level land-use data from 2005–2014 revealed a spike in commercial development along the original light rail corridor, approximately 4 to 10 years after its opening. Land-use development along the newer light rail corridors was more modest and not considerably different than the control corridors. Small changes in the levels of high-density residential housing and land-use mix near light rail stations indicated that efforts to encourage transit-oriented development have not yet had much effect.

Keywords


Light rail transit (LRT), land use development, land use mix, Houston, Texas

Full Text:

PDF

References


Begley, D. (2016, May 24). Federal funding pulled for light rail line construction along Richmond Avenue. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/University-Line-federal-funding-pledge-pulled-7846885.php

Cervero, R. (1984). Journal report: Light rail transit and urban development. Journal of the American Planning Association, 50(2), 133–147.

Cervero, R., & Guerra, E. (2011). Urban densities and transit: A multi-dimensional perspective (Publication No. UCB-ITS-VWP-2011-6). Berkeley, CA: Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Cervero, R., & Zupan, J. (1996). Commuter and light rail transit corridors: The land use connection (TCRP Project H-1). Washington, DC: Transit Cooperative Research Program.

City of Houston. (n.d.). Livable centers studies. Retrieved from http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/transportation/LivableCenter.html

City of Houston. (2011). Residential Buffering Ordinance. Retrieved from http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/DevelopRegs/hidensity/adopted_resident_buffer_ordnce.pdf

Cohen-Blankshtain, G., & Feitelson, E. (2011). Light rail routing: Do goals matter? Transportation, 38(2), 343–361.

Dueker, K. J., & Bianco, M. J. (1999). Light-rail-transit impacts in Portland: The first ten years. Transportation Research Record, 1685, 171–180.

Fogarty, N., & Austin, M. (2011). Rails to real estate: Development patterns along three new transit lines. Berkeley, CA: Center for Transit-Oriented Development.

Goetz, E. G., Ko, K., Hagar, A., Hoang, T., & Matson, J. (2010). The Hiawatha Line: Impacts on land use and residential housing value (Publication No. CTS 10-09). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota.

Guerra, E., Cervero, R., & Tischler, D. (2012). Half-mile circle. Transportation Research Record, 2276, 101–109.

Handy, S. (2005). Smart growth and the transportation-land use connection: What does the research tell us? International Regional Science Review, 28(2), 146–167.

Hassell, W., Lewis, C. A., & Auzenne, J. (2014). The effect of the city of Houston Transit Corridor Ordinance on development along METRO’s light rail corridors (Publication No. SWUTC/14/600451-00047-1). College Station, TX: Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Higgins, C., Ferguson, M., & Kanaroglou, P. (2014). Light rail and land-use change: Rail transit’s role in reshaping and revitalizing cities. Journal of Public Transportation, 17(2), 93–112.

Houston Chronicle. (2013, March 22). Houston rail, reborn: Bus rapid transit in uptown deserves funding to create a right-of-way for buses. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Houston-rail-reborn-4377902.php

Hurst, N. B. (2011). How does light rail transit affect urban land use? (Honors project). St. Paul, MN: Macalester College.

Hurst, N. B., & West, S. E. (2014). Public transit and urban redevelopment: The effect of light rail transit on land use in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 46, 57–72.

Kaplan, D. (2013, September 28). Mid main project will ride with the millenials. Houston Chronicle. Houston, TX. Retrieved from http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Mid-Main-project-will-ride-with-the-millennials-4851864.php

Knowles, R. D., & Ferbrache, F. (2016). Evaluation of wider economic impacts of light rail investment on cities. Journal of Transport Geography, 54, 430–439.

Lewyn, M. (2005). How overregulation creates sprawl (Even in a city without zoning). Wayne Law Review, 50(1171).

Margerum, R. D., Brody, S., Parker, R., & McEwen, G. (2013). Metropolitan smart-growth centers: An assessment of incentive policies in four regions. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 6(2), 21–32.

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Texas. (2016). Ridership reports. Retrieved from http://www.ridemetro.org/Pages/RidershipReport.aspx

Mulvaney, E. (2015, May 28). Midtown project breaks ground with high hopes. Houston Chronicle. Houston, TX. Retrieved from http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/real-estate/article/Midtown-project-breaks-ground-with-high-hopes-6292968.php

Ozdil, T. R., Taylor, P. D., Li, J., Mattingly, S., & Bell, B. (University of Texas at Arlington). (2011). Transit-oriented development report. Arlington, TX: North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Pacheco-Raguz, J. F. (2010). Assessing the impacts of light rail transit on urban land in Manila. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 3(1), 113–138.

Porter, D. (1998). Transit-focused development and light rail systems: The lite connection. Transportation Research Record, 1623, 165–169.

Qian, Z. (2010). Without zoning: Urban development and land-use controls in Houston. Cities, 27(1), 31–41.

Ratner, K. A., & Goetz, A. R. (2013). The reshaping of land use and urban form in Denver through transit-oriented development. Cities, 30(1), 31–46.

Sarnoff, N. (2015, May 8). Midtown project to combine Whole Foods, luxury apartments. Houston Chronicle. Houston, TX. Retrieved from http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/real-estate/article/Midtown-project-to-combine-Whole-Foods-luxury-6250297.php

Shen, Q. (2013). Under what conditions can rail transit induce higher density? Evidence from four metropolitan areas in the United States, 1990-2010 (Doctoral dissertation). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Song, Y., Merlin, L., & Rodriguez, D. (2013). Comparing measures of urban land-use mix. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 42, 1–13.

United States Government Accountability Office. (2014). Multiple Factors Influence Extent of Transit-Oriented Development (Publication No. GAO-15-70). Washington, DC: United States Government Accountability Office.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2016.926