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Tools and Practices for Land Use Integration

GIS & Technical Analysis

GIS Map showing density of antelopes in a conservation area and areas of high density around the region's savannas.
GIS Map of Antelope Densities in Conservation Areas | ESRI website

Planners use geographic information systems (GIS) and other technical tools to visualize and analyze land use and transportation connections. Specific software to develop and analyze scenario alternatives, specific projects, or regional assets and vulnerabilities are available to assist planners with spatial planning. Technical software and applications evolve and improve over time, creating new opportunities for a variety of planning applications (see the Visioning and Scenario Planning section).

Agencies can use existing software tools, such as those described in this Toolkit, or can work with programmers or in-house staff to develop programs and models tailored to their individual needs.

GIS Environmental Mapping and Analysis

Two orthophoto samples at four inch resolution and twelve inch resolution, showing the tops of houses, roads and cars. Details of vegetation and street markings are easily seen.
Orthophotography Sample | Pima Association of Governments

State, regional, and local agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, have undertaken database development, mapping, and analysis of land use, community, and environmental features using geographic information systems (GIS). These databases and analysis tools provide information that can help minimize land use, community, and environmental impacts when locating new transportation facilities.

Examples in Practice

Tucson Regional Remote Sensing Project
Pima Association of Governments (Tucson area, AZ MPO)

Through the Regional Remote Sensing project, the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) collects high-resolution digital imagery for use in transportation and land use planning by regional and local agencies. Since 1998, PAG has collected high resolution imagery with sub-meter accuracy. The data are used in transportation corridor studies, preliminary roadway design, hydrology and watershed analysis, floodplain mapping, land use planning, zoning code enforcement, and other applications in the public and private sectors. The data are maintained by PAG on a web-based Regional Data Center.

Contact: Manny Ross, PAG (520) 792-1093. See also the Tucson, AZ: Orthophoto Case Study.

Riverside County Species Habitat Analysis
Riverside County, CA

The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) uses GIS to analyze data on high-priority conservation areas, identified through a multi-species habitat planning effort. The data are used to select transportation corridors that reduce ecological impacts by avoiding sensitive areas or minimizing habitat fragmentation. RCTC has made use of a comprehensive biological and physical database that includes information on vegetation, species occurrences, wetlands, topography, soils, and aerial photography. Outcomes of the project include adoption of an updated general plan and a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan, which will lead to the protection of 153,000 acres.

Contact: Cathy Bechtel, RCTC (951-787-7141).


GIS Development Opportunity, Housing, and Accessibility Analyses

Planners can use GIS and analysis tools for a variety of land use and transportation purposes. Among other uses, these analysis tools can help identify and disseminate information about potential development sites; estimate trip generation and distribution; explore accessibility for people with disabilities; and analyze household costs based on location to transit and services.

Online mapping tool showing best infill opportunities in proximity to the transit stops, community resources, and major transportation corridors.
CAlots online tool | Southern California Association of Governments

Examples in Practice

California Land Opportunities Tracking System
Southern California Association of Governments

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) developed CA Land Opportunities Tracking System, (CAlots) a web-based information portal and mapping platform designed to support and promote transit oriented development. CAlots aims to help assess and maximize the potential for infill development in strategic development opportunity areas identified in SCAG's regional growth and land use vision. These areas include existing or projected employment centers and transportation (particularly transit) infrastructure, such as light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail stations. CAlots runs on the following programs: Coldfusion 7, ESRI's ArcIMS 9, and SQL Server 2000. It contains multiple datasets related to density, build capacity, infill estimates, transportation/travel characteristics, and mode choice. The tool allows users to create customized GIS maps for specific neighborhoods, view associated demographic data, and analyze development potential in diameters of 1/4-mile, 1/2-mile, and one mile around transit stations. Users can also access a "drive-through" function to view a specific parcel or street scene.

Contact: Joe Carreras, SCAG(213) 236-1856.

Trip Generation Tool for Mixed-Use Developments
Environmental Protection Agency and Institute of Transportation Engineers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) developed an analysis tool for planners to estimate the trip-generation impacts of mixed use developments, including walking and biking trips. The spreadsheet based tool is based on research from six metropolitan regions, merging data from household travel surveys, GIS databases, and other sources to create consistent land use and travel measures. The tool has been used in California, Washington, New Mexico, and Virginia. Users enter geographic, demographic and land use information about the development site and surrounding area. There are options to use local parameters for trip generation or to use national data as a default.

Contact: John Thomas at (202) 566-1285, or Christopher Forinash at (202) 566-0518.

Fredericksburg Accessibility Analysis for Communities with People with Disabilities
George Washington Regional Commission (Fredericksburg, VA area MPO)

The George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC), a regional commission representing Fredericksburg, Virginia and surrounding counties, conducted an analysis in 2009 to improve accessibility for communities with high concentrations of people with disabilities. The analysis first identified the locations of communities (i.e. census block group and component subdivisions) with the highest concentrations of residents of people with disabilities, and then conducted field investigations in those communities to assess mobility patterns and accessibility factors. The study located transportation (and mobility) infrastructure barriers for people with disabilities as they access work, basic retailing and/or services within their community and compiled a list of recommendations for infrastructure or service improvement projects to improve the mobility and accessibility of community members in those locations.

Contact: Kevin Byrnes, George Washington Regional Commission atpe (540) 373-2890.

Housing and Transportation Affordability Index
Center for Neighborhood Technologies

The Center for Neighborhood Technology's Housing and Transportation (H+T ®) Affordability Index is an online tool that examines transportation and housing costs at a neighborhood level. It allows users to view housing and transportation data as maps, charts, and statistics for nearly 900 metropolitan and micropolitan areas. The tool also includes a greenhouse gas factor, which shows urban greenhouse gas emissions associated with household auto use. CNT is currently working to expand and update the H+T Index with 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates data at the Census block group level. Other model components will be investigated, including separating transportation costs for renters and owners and improving auto cost data. CNT is also collecting a uniform dataset of stops and frequencies for transit agencies in all U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan regions for use in the Index. CNT also developed Abogo, an online tool that quickly compares estimated transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions based on address inputs.

Contact: Maria Choca-Urban, CNT (773) 278-4800.

Rural Traffic Shed Model

Traffic Shed map for METROPLAN, showing three traffic shed areas feeding into the rural road network.
Rural Traffic Shed Map | KendigKeast Collaborative

The rural traffic shed model is a method for allocating development permits based on the capacity of the roadway system. It is most applicable where there is a general flow of traffic towards an urban center. The method requires dividing a rural area into "traffic sheds" based on land served by various collectors and arterials. Trip generation rates associated with various land uses are applied to estimate traffic volumes and compare future volumes to roadway capacity with a given amount of development. The method includes a market-based system for phasing development concurrent with roadway improvements.

Examples in Practice

Little Rock Rural Traffic Shed Model Pilot
METROPLAN (Little Rock area, AR MPO)

Using a similar approach to that taken in Williamson County, Tennessee, a Rural Traffic Shed Model was developed by METROPLAN, the MPO for Little Rock, and applied on a pilot basis to the rural portions of Pulaski and Saline Counties. A set of sample regulations was developed for each county consistent with the traffic shed analysis.
Contact: Richard Magee, METROPLAN (501)372-3300.


"Traffic Sheds, Rural Highway Capacity and Growth Management" by Lane Kendig with Stephen Tocknell, AICP

Space Syntax

Space Syntax Map of Oakland
Space Syntax Map of Oakland | City of Oakland

Space Syntax is a GIS-based modeling technique used to identify urban locations that have a potential to increase pedestrian use, based on location of pedestrian-oriented land uses and other facilities. The method uses available or readily obtainable data such as: Census data, street networks, major trip generators, and pedestrian count samples to predict pedestrian volumes.

Examples in Practice

Oakland Pedestrian Plan using Space Syntax
City of Oakland, CA

The City of Oakland applied the Space Syntax model to identify locations with a high pedestrian demand and a low supply of facilities, based on data on population, employment, trip generators, and pedestrian facilities. The maps showed locations of pedestrian/vehicle crashes. The city also solicited community input to identify areas avoided by pedestrians. The results were used to help the city develop the Oakland Pedestrian Master Plan adopted in November 2002. See also the Case Study: Oakland, CA: Pedestrian Plan.

Contact: Eric Angstadt City of Oakland (510) 238-6190.


Updated: 10/20/2015
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