McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Daniel Wu


Major and Classification

International Relations

Faculty Mentor

  • Tridib Banerjee, Ph.D.


  • Policy Planning and Development

McNair Project

Is TOD D.O.A? A Demographic Analysis Examining 2000 - 2008 Los Angeles Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

The triple threat of California's housing crisis, global climate change, and urban poverty has spurred hundreds of millions of dollars of investments into Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) in Los Angeles. As an application of Smart Growth planning, TOD is considered an alternative form of urban development that may counteract this triple threat. Despite these large investments, however, current TOD literature has provided limited attention both on disaggregated demographic patterns and on the issue of equity, particularly to how the impacts of TOD have affected some populations more than others. This limited attention is reflected in a lack of discussion not only around race and class, but also about inner-city TODs, such the Red and Blue line. This limited attention is especially significant because of Los Angeles' racist history of sprawl, particularly with sprawl's relationship with urban poverty. If equity is not considered, TOD may mirror historical patterns of development that simply recreate racialized poverty within Los Angeles. Realizing the significance of equity then, this study seeks a holistically disaggregated approach to demographic analysis around TOD stations. By individually analyzing a half mile "sphere of influence" around 35 rail transit stations along the Red and Blue Lines, this study surveys disaggregated demographic patterns from 2000 to 2008 around specific population characteristics--specifically race, income, and occupation. The analysis involves a comparison among the Red and Blue lines and Los Angeles City by analyzing median percentages and percent changes and identifying significant outliers. The analysis further finds demographic patterns that exhibit warning signs, specifically around significant decreases in minority populations and low-income communities, which may be of relevance to policy-makers and local communities. Based off this study, future directions include in-depth case studies of selected outliers, policy discourse and process analysis, and methodological improvements. The study will thus be important for community-based organizations, neighborhoods, local government, developers, educators and transit agencies perhaps to create more balanced, equitable TOD.