San Diego, California

The City of San Diego, one of the fastest growing urban areas in California, has adopted Design Guidelines for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) as a key component in their Land Guidance and Urban Form programs. TODs are being used to help the city reduce urban sprawl, plan the urbanized area efficiently, encourage infill and redevelopment, and support the trolley and bus transit system. A particular focus of the guidelines is to encourage infill and redevelopment patterns and transit integration. The work includes an Implementation Strategy that outlines the steps necessary to fully adopt the principles and specific recommendations of the design guidelines into city-wide zoning, street standards, and other policies.

The process of preparation and adoption of the guidelines was inclusive and very effective. A forty-person steering committee, including a broad range of public and private interests, set the overall direction and reviewed each guideline individually, giving input and suggesting modifications. The draft guidelines were then tested on three sites by a workshop of citizens, professionals, and city staff. They used the guidelines to design the future development and redevelopment of an existing suburban station area, an industrial zone, and a shopping mall. Finally, city staff presented the ideas, guidelines, and illustrative designs to every neighborhood group and community planning board within the city. This exhaustive input and education process proved successful in both tailoring the guidelines to the unique qualities of San Diego and allowing people to understand the changes that were proposed.

Trolley leaving American Plaza
Trolley, seen in the downtown Gaslamp District
Proposed infill at Tecolote District
Proposed infill at University City shopping complex
San Diego sites with TOD potential
Conceptual TOD diagram

Project Summary



City of San Diego, California


TOD Guidelines


Region-specific guidelines for TOD


Completed 1992