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Putting Schools on the Map: Linking Transit-Oriented Development, Families, and Schools in the SF Bay Area

Putting Schools On the Map

In the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area region, municipal and regional leaders are grappling with how to plan for the expected growth of the coming decades. Because of the projected increases in residents under 18 years of age, access to high quality schools – defined by both the educational quality of school programs and a school’s role as a local, place-based community asset – will continue to play a strong part in where families choose to live in the region. Interest in Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) has grown across the country in the last decade and is increasingly employed as a strategy to achieve environmentally sustainable infill development and auto use reduction. The Great Communities Collaborative (GCC) in the San Francisco Bay Area has developed an aspirational vision for guiding new development that aims to increase equity, support families, and create mixed income communities. Given the GCC’s “aspirational” TOD strategy, this paper looks at what must happen to realize these goals. In particular, we examine the connections between TOD and families, which, by extension, includes making the link among TOD, schools, and expanding educational opportunities for all children. This paper is the first of its kind; there is very little research on TOD and families and virtually no research on the relationship between TOD and schools. Therefore, we take an exploratory approach to understanding and framing these interconnections, and provide a rationale for the linkages at this nexus. The findings in this paper are the result of extensive case study research, interviews, and focus groups conducted throughout the Bay Area.

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