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North Santa Rosa SMART Station’s Construction is Fast-Tracked to Create New Jobs and a New Outlook o

May 17, 2012

Oakland, CA - PMC, a municipal services consulting firm specializing in environmental, urban planning facilitation, and design services, has recently completed the public draft Station Area Specific Plan for the North Santa Rosa SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) station in Santa Rosa, Calif.  As part of the larger development of SMART, the new station and rail service will help promote local economic growth, lower commuter congestion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the area. The Specific Plan will serve as a roadmap to the station area’s envisioned future including public and private projects necessary to achieve the community visionSanta Rosa and Marin County authorities have recently approved funding for the rail station’s implementation, which has been fast-tracked with an expected construction completion by 2014.  Upon completion of the station, the North Santa Rosa SMART station will be one of several Sonoma and Marin County SMART stations, and will play an integral role in the Bay Area’s evolving transportation network. 

With the growing number of Bay Area residents moving to surrounding suburbs and an increase in commuters turning to rail as a means of transportation, the needs of outlying Bay Area communities are shifting in terms of how rail stations and surrounding neighborhoods are designed and utilized. Future stations will serve as both transportation hubs for the current and future rail users, and as major focal points for new businesses, residences, parks, and other gathering spaces in the community. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is providing funding for the North Santa Rosa Station Area Specific Plan as well as a number of other Bay Area station plans. “As an agency, we recognize we need to equip Bay Area communities to meet the needs of a 21st century municipality,” said Therese Trivedi from MTC. “In the Bay Area, MTC has awarded 35 planning grants, providing $12.5 million in funding to conduct station area plans that will promote vibrant communities for years to come.”

Guiding Principles for Future Transit Station Communities

PMC and MTC are working with a number of Bay Area cities to design station area plans that will boost transit ridership, reduce vehicle miles traveled, transition suburban areas into multimodal hubs, and focus on accommodating a variety of functions including both residential and commercial uses, as well as open space. Additionally, there is a growing need to promote walkable and livable environments, support transit-oriented uses, improve motorized and non-motorized transportation connections between stations and surrounding commercial and residential areas, and reduce community greenhouse gas emissions. “For the North Santa Rosa SMART station, we worked with the community to design a station area plan that will guide the next 25 years of development,” said Loreli Cappel, Urban Revitalization and Design Services lead for PMC. “The overall goal is to make the community less dependent on cars, boost ridership, and improve the local economy by introducing and strengthening hubs of activity for shopping and local businesses. In short, we’re looking for creative ways to transform the new station area into a well-connected and successful suburban SMART station with a distinct sense of place.”

Compact Growth

Station area plans focus on compact development patterns that support curbing land and energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with both transportation and the built environment. As the Santa Rosa project is an infill/revitalization project with the goal of increasing the density and efficiency of already developed land, PMC’s Urban Revitalization and Design Team focused on the principles of sustainability and smart growth in order to make the best use of existing infrastructure and community assets.

“We’re taking a new look at how station areas can be put to use and rethinking their long-term role in the community,” said Cappel. “In Santa Rosa’s case, the community outreach process reinforced the public values of keeping the area green in the way of communal public spaces, public parks, and community gardens. The plan calls for a community park with new higher-density residential development just south of the station, and several public plazas along a pedestrian/bike path that connects the project areas from east to west.”

“The station area planning effort offers local jurisdictions the opportunity to set a path towards a more sustainable future,” said Trivedi.  “An added benefit will be a noticeable reduction in the community’s carbon footprint. By establishing a mix of land uses that prioritize pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders, we hope to create station areas that reduce the local carbon footprint and provide long-term environmental benefits.”

Creating a Workable Community

For many Bay Area communities, the station area plans will have a number of long-term economic as well as transportation-related benefits. 

“In Santa Rosa, we’re designing the station area to increase economic development and the establishment of both transit and resident-serving businesses in the vicinity,” said Cappel. “We’re predicting that the Santa Rosa SMART station will create 6,000 new jobs, add tax revenues for the City from rising land values, enhance market opportunities and revenues for businesses, and increase income and value for property owners in the area.”


Expected Santa Rosa Station Area Employment Potential (Job Creation):

Job Type

Net  Increase in Jobs

Office Jobs


Retail/Business Jobs


Industrial Jobs


Public/Institutional Jobs


Total Jobs


In the near term, the market around the North Santa Rosa Station is expected to support two- to three-story residential projects. However, over time the market is expected to support higher densities and a greater mix of uses, including some mixed-use buildings. 


Expected Growth by Land Use: 

Land Use Type

Increase from Existing Conditions

Office Square Feet


Retail Square Feet


Institutional Square Feet


Total Residential Units


Single-Family Units


Multi-Family Units


Industrial Square Feet



1 neighborhood park

4 urban plazas/ community garden

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