Menlo Park: Streamlining TDM for New Developments
In 2015, the City of Menlo Park approved amendments to its Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Guidelines and Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA) Guidelines to encourage the use of TDM measures in new development projects in the City’s M-2 Area (Figure 1) along the Bayfront.
The amendments allow projects that are proposing a change of land use to commit to certain TDM strategies and, as a result, forego the lengthier process of a Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA). The M-2 district allows research and development, manufacturing, warehousing and other general industrial uses, as well as office type uses. If a development project proposes a change to another approved use category (i.e. industrial to office use) then the project can qualify for a streamlined review process.
Figure 1: M2 Planning Area
Through the implementation of these amendments, the City of Menlo Park sought to:
- increase the use of creative TDM strategies by developers and employers due to the incentive of a streamlined project review process,
- encourage growth and development
- reduce the use of city resources and staff time, and
- mitigate the negative impacts of congestion and/or pollution associated with new developments.
The TDM guidelines, adopted by City Council in 2001, encourage the use of creative strategies and programs to reduce vehicle traffic. The guidelines allow new developments to gain “trip credits” for implementing TDM measures. Each trip credit theoretically offsets one predicted trip. The TDM measures include on-site bicycle storage, shuttle service, transit subsidies, and a parking cash-out program (where employees can accept taxable cash income instead of a subsidized parking space). Each measure corresponds to a specific number of trip credits – for example, one peak hour trip is credited for every three new bicycle lockers installed and maintained.
The City refers applicants to the list of potential TDM measures and their associated trip credit maintained by C/CAG as part of the San Mateo County Congestion Management Program (CMP).
The City’s TIA guidelines define whether a proposed project requires an assessment of its transportation impacts. The amendments adopted in 2015 combine the TDM and TIA guidelines by allowing a project to proceed without conducting a TIA if the project meets the following conditions:
- The project is located within the M-2 Zoning District
- The project includes a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program following the City’s TDM Guidelines, prepared to the approval of the Transportation Division
- The TDM Program reduces the number of peak hour vehicle trips generated to less than the City’s current TIA threshold for commercial space (equivalent to a 10,000 square foot commercial building)
- The applicant agrees to implement, and annually monitor and report the TDM program’s effectiveness to the City, and bear the cost of all staff time to review these reports
The policy change was implemented with the hopes of shortening the review process for developers. By modifying the TDM and TIA guidelines, small to mid-size projects can identify their desire to conduct a TDM program up front and commit to TDM measures, and then agree to implement the program as a condition of approval. Previously, these projects would have be required to complete a TIA and possibly an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This modification has benefits for streamlining project review (i.e., schedule and cost savings) of approximately 8 weeks to 24 months, depending on the level of analysis and required review process.
For the City itself, the benefit is threefold: This new process saves time for city staff, encourages development in its Bayfront Area, and ensures transportation impacts are minimal relative to the size of a project.
Menlo Park’s TDM program guidelines apply to the entire city and target mid to large sized employers. However, the streamlined review process is only applicable to new developments in the city’s M-2 area, due to the specific zoning and land uses in this district.
Going forward, the City plans to update the Transportation Demand Management Guidelines to require new non-residential, mixed use and multi-family residential development to provide facilities and programs that ensure a majority of associated travel can occur by walking, bicycling, and/or transit.
The City of Menlo Park is also continuing to explore the development of a Transportation Management Association (TMA). A TMA would assist residents, employees and business owners in identifying transportation options between major nodes in the city.
- City of Menlo Park, Staff Report: “Amend the City’s Transportation Demand Management Guidelines and Transportation Impact Analysis Guidelines for Certain Change of Use Projects in the M-2 Area.” (July 2015)
- General Plan Circulation Element, “Connect Menlo”. (November 2016)
- City of Menlo Park TDM Guidelines. (Updated July 2015)