Officials have long envisioned a blueprint for San Diego centered on public transportation. So-called “transit-oriented development” is included in all of San Diego’s planning documents, imagining a future where homes, businesses and infrastructure are built around public transit stations.

The thought is: The more stuff there is near bus stops and trolley stations, the more people will use it. And the environment would ultimately benefit since that would mean fewer people driving cars.

Last month, SANDAG approved a regional plan to encourage more transit-oriented development, but critics say the strategy actually does little to ensure that kind of development happens.

San Diego consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to transit evaluations. In fact, San Diego County’s Gillespie Field trolley station was ranked the worst in the state when it comes to the development around it.

On this week’s San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Maya Srikrishnan and NBC’s Monica Dean visit the county’s worst trolley station and dive deeper into what transit-oriented development is and why it’s important.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

    This article relates to: Land Use, San Diego Explained, Transit

    Written by Amanda Rhoades

    Amanda Rhoades is a reporting intern for Voice of San Diego. You can get in contact with her by phone or email at 619-550-5672 or

    Walt Brewer
    Walt Brewer subscribermember

    Why the canonical status to the trolley in San Diego'sRegional Plans?

    Those bright red cars appear, even dominate, glossy pictures about the hedonic smart growth villages that are supposed for us to believe that's why future air quality levels are met. Hardly. Improved cars, remember the ones we are supposed to stop using, save 3 million gallons of fuel daily according to SANDAG Staff. Absorbing only 0.5% of travel, trolleys consume ~25,000 gallons equivalent.Hardly a basis for meaningful Regional energy reduction.

    So why waste effort on station design, or how to carry out the Transit Oriented communities the resident don't want.

    Unique demographics support the original Blue Lin between downtown and the Mexican border. Fime. But the rest of the trolley system carries only 25% more even though route miles have been more than tripled at high expense.

    But technology is moving us beyond smart growth with at least on-call service doorstep direct to real destination in one vehicle. Non-drivers ca

    hockeysuit subscriber

    @Walt Brewer Ah, the always-amusing Walt Brewer weighs in.  That's the beauty of the internet -- you can post your misspelled, ungrammatical fantasies on any subject in any forum you wish.  I mean it's nice that a nonagenarian like you can muster up the energy to comment on San Diego's transportation issues, even though you don't live here and haven't for, what, 10 years? 20?

    Do you rail against public transport in other cities, states, countries?  Or is it just us San Diegans whom you choose to entertain with your editorial contributions?  Is San Diego somehow unique among large cities in that it can't, or shouldn't, support and extend public transportation networks?  I hear that public transportation is actually popular in many US cities, and abroad as well!

    "On-call service doorstep direct to real destination in one vehicle" sounds pretty cool.  We have that today, of course, as long as you can afford it.

    OK, I've wasted enough time on this.  However, credit where credit is due:  I loved your use of "canonical", and "hedonic smart growth villages" is genius!

    George in BayHo
    George in BayHo subscriber

    What's wrong with FIRST building more trolley lines to service existing population centers?  

    A [monorail?] up Linda Vista Road/Genesee Ave. could immediately relieve congestion by servicing more than two hundred thousand people who already live/work near Sharp/Children's Hospital, Mesa College, Clairemont, Kearny Mesa, University City, UTC, Scripps Hospital, UCSD, La Jolla Colony etc.  

    Compare that impact to SANDAG's Morena trolley line which will pass through miles where its west side is not-developable and the east side has cliffs & bluffs.

    I'm not saying "Don't build the Morena trolley."   I just don't understand why it's next on the list.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    Be clear this is central planning with politicians deciding where people should live instead of people being free to choose. They want to force people to use trolleys and buses instead of cars. Cars are awesome. They're freedom machines. Able to take you wherever you want to go whenever you like! They don't take you part way like trains or trolleys, they take you point to point. They can be luxurious. They offer privacy. They're increasingly efficient and cleaner running. 

    Citizens should reject the notion that politicians know better where people should live and how they should transport themselves than individuals do.