General Plan Concepts
Revision Date: 12/22/2003
1. Certainty System & Foundation Components
2. Exceptions to the Certainty System
3. Zoning Ordinance & Consistency Zoning
4. Clustering of Development
5. Incentive Programs
6. Community Centers
8. Policy Areas
9. Split Designations
10. Countywide Design Guidelines & Standards
11. Specific Plans
12. Transit Oasis
1. Certainty System & Foundation Components
The Riverside County Certainty System is an innovative concept of the RCIP General Plan that seeks to sustain the plan’s policy direction over time. The intent is the absolute necessity to maintain a high level of confidence in the plan and enable people affected by it to have reasonable expectations regarding land uses in the foreseeable future.
The Certainty System only allows changes of land use designation from one foundation component to another at five-year intervals, except in specific extraordinary circumstances and in processing amendments from the Agriculture Foundation component to other foundation components (Refer to Handout # 2 for Exceptions to the Certainty System).
The foundation components are broader land use categories that direct the growth of development in a desirable future as envisioned in the RCIP General Plan. The General Plan depicts five foundation components (Community Development, Rural Community, Rural, Agriculture, & Open Space), while Area Plans use a consistent set of land use designations that falls under the umbrella of these Foundation Components.
The Certainty System does not affect a project application that requires a General Plan Amendment (GPA) within the same foundation component. For example, if a project site is designated Light Industrial in the Community Development Foundation Component, and the property owner wants to develop this site according to policies of Medium High Density Residential in the Community Development Foundation Component, the application could be processed with a regular “quarterly” (may be processed and approved up to four times per year, the maximum allowed by state law) GPA.
However, the Certainty System affects a project application that requires a GPA to another foundation component. Those amendments will only be adopted every five years. For example, if a project site is designated Rural Residential in the Rural Foundation Component, and the property owner wants to develop the site according to policies of Medium High Density Residential in the Community Development Foundation Component, the application could be approved and adopted as part of a five year foundation component GPA cycle.
After five years from the adoption of the General Plan (and every five years thereafter), the County will conduct public hearings on, and may adopt some or all of the foundation component amendments requested. Even though a five-year interval between adoptions of the foundation component amendments is established, additional guidelines on application submittal and processing will be developed over the next several months. For now, any project application requiring a foundation component amendment may be submitted to the County Planning Department. Project proponents who are considering applying for foundation component GPAs, are advised to review the “Exceptions to the Certainty System (Handout # 2)” for possible application to their development proposals and to contact the County Planning Department for further information.
The following table depicts all of the foundation components and land use designations that fall within those foundation components in the RCIP General Plan.
|Foundation Component||Area Plan Land Use Designation|
|Community Development (CD)||Estate Density Residential (EDR, 2 Acre Minimum)|
|Very Low Density Residential (VLDR, 1 AC. Min.)|
|Low Density Residential (LDR, 1/2 AC. Min.)|
|Medium Density Resi. (MDR, 2-5 Dwelling Unit/Acre)|
|Medium High Density Residential (MHDR, 5-8 DU/AC)|
|High Density Residential (HDR, 8-14 DU/AC)|
|Very High Density Residential (VHDR, 14-20 DU/AC)|
|Highest Density Residential (H’TDR, 20+ DU/AC)|
|Commercial Retail (CR)|
|Commercial Office (CO)|
|Commercial Tourist (CT)|
|Light Industrial (LI)|
|Heavy Industrial (HI)|
|Business Park (BP)|
|Public Facilities (PF)|
|Community Center (CC)|
|Mixed Use Planning Area (MUPA)|
|Rural Community (RC)||Estate Density Residential (EDR, 2 AC. Min.)|
|Very Low Density Residential (VLDR, 1 AC. Min.)|
|Low Density Residential (LDR, 1/2 AC. Min.)|
|Rural||Rural Residential (RR, 5 AC. Min.)|
|Rural Mountainous (RM, 10 AC. Min.)|
|Rural Desert (RD, 10 AC. Min.)|
|Agriculture||Agriculture (AG, 10 AC. Min.)|
|Open Space (OS)||Conservation|
|Rural (OSR, 20 AC. Min.)|
2. Exceptions Certainity System
As detailed in the RCIP General Plan Certainty System (Refer to Handout # 1 for Certainty System & Foundation Components), General Plan Amendments proposing a change of land use designation from one Foundation Component to another will only be adopted by the County at five year intervals, except in specific extraordinary circumstances and in processing amendments from the Agriculture Foundation Component. These exceptions provide a limited amount of flexibility in the implementation of the Certainty System in order to better achieve the goals of the RCIP.
Findings for Extraordinary Foundation Amendment:
The General Plan specifie s the following extraordinary circumstances that would allow a foundation component amendment without waiting for the five-year interval (Refer to Appendix B in the RCIP General Plan-Technical Appendices). The first two, and any one or more of the subsequent findings listed below will be necessary to justify such an amendment. The last two findings may be of particular interest to land owners and developers in Riverside County.
1) The foundation component amendment is based on evidence that:
New conditions or circumstances disclosed during the review process justify modifying the plan,
The modifications do not conflict with the overall RCIP Vision, and
The modifications would not create an internal inconsistency among elements of the General Plan.
2) A condition exists or an event has occurred that is unusually compelling and can only be rectified by making changes in the current RCIP Vision or in the General Plan policies.
3) An unconstitutional taking of property would occur without the amendment.
4) A natural or man-made disaster or public emergency has occurred that warrants a change in order to protect public health, safety and welfare.
5) Changes in state or federal law, or applicable findings of a court of law, have occurred that requires change in a foundation component.
6) The County Housing Element has been updated or State Housing Element law has changed that require a change in a foundation component.
7) A development application requires a foundation component amendment that will result in significant expansion of basic employment opportunities (excluding medium or small scale retail, service commercial, warehousing, and residential uses not ancillary to the primary employment use) and improve the ratio of jobs to workers in the County.
8) A development application facilitates implementation of the goals of the MSHCP and CETAP programs that could not be accomplished by a regular “quarterly” (may be processed and approved up to four times per year, the maximum allowed by State law) General Plan Amendment.
Agriculture Foundation Amendment:
The Agriculture Foundation Amendment Cycle allows up to 7% of all the land designated as Agriculture to change to other foundation component and land use designations during each 2½year cycle from the date of adoption of the General Plan. The 7% conversion from the Agriculture Foundation Component to any other foundation component may occur anytime within the 2½-year cycle with a regular quarterly General Plan Amendment cycle; however, conversion from any other foundation component to the Agriculture Foundation Component would have to wait for the regular five-year foundation component amendment cycle. The 7% conversion limit will be calculated separately for each of the following three areas
The area covered by the western part of the county, eastward through the REMAP and The Pass Area Plans;
The area covered by the Eastern Coachella Valley and Western Coachella Valley Area Plans; and,
The area covered by the Palo Verde Valley and Desert Center Area Plans and the Eastern Desert Land Use Plan.
To consider applications requiring Agriculture Foundation Amendments exceeding the 7% level, a special task force will be appointed for each of the above areas. The task force will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors and will include, at a minimum, representatives from the farming community and the agricultural lending community. These applications will first be submitted to and reviewed by the task force, and will look at issues of financial hardship for the farmer in question and other factors in making their recommendations. If they recommend to the Board of Supervisors that a General Plan Amendment requiring a foundational change from the Agriculture Foundation Component be processed, and the Board concurs, it will be processed as a quarterly General Plan Amendment. If they don't recommend such, and the Board concurs, the project proponent will need to wait for the next 2½-year cycle for consideration of their application.
3. Zoning Consistency
A General Plan provides long term land use related direction, while a Zoning Ordinance identifies specific immediate uses and development standards consistent with the policies of the General Plan. According to California Law, Government Code Section 65860, “in the event that a zoning ordinance becomes inconsistent with a General Plan, by reason of amendment to the General Plan, or to any element of General Plan, the zoning ordinance shall be amended within a reasonable period of time so that it is consistent with the General Plan as amended.” Also, according to California Law, Government Code Section 65862, “when an inconsistency between the General Plan and zoning arises as a result of adoption of, or amendment to, a General plan, the zoning needs to be brought into consistency with the General Plan,” and, at that time, Consistency Zoning Public Hearings are required.
The County of Riverside adopted the RCIP General Plan on October 07, 2003. As a result, land use designations for individual properties may have changed. Therefore, uses specified in the current zoning may not be consistent with these new land use designations. The process of bringing the current zoning into consistency with the adopted General Plan is called the Consistency Zoning Program. During the period when the consistency zoning program will be going on, there will be two processes concurrently taking place:
1. Riverside County Land Use (zoning) Ordinance, Ordinance No. 348 will be overhauled in order to effectively implement the new General Plan policies.
2. Consistency Zoning Public Hearings will be held for each Area Plan of the RCIP General Plan to adopt property-specific zoning that is consistent with the new plan.
The County will hire a consultant to prepare a draft of the new zoning ordinance, which is intended to accomplish implementation measures for innovative concepts of the RCIP General Plan such as Community Centers, Overlays, Policy Areas, Design Guidelines, Incentive Programs, etc. Depending upon the provisions of the draft new zoning ordinance, properties in Riverside County may be assigned new zoning designations. Prior to holding public hearings on these zoning designations, an extensive public outreach effort will be undertaken to notify property owners. This public outreach may involve public meetings in various communities as well as public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. A specific schedule for the consistency zoning program has not been developed yet; however, because of the scale of the project, it is expected that the program will require two to three years for completion of consistency zoning public hearings and adoption of a new zoning ordinance.
During the period of the consistency zoning program, occasional factual errors involving the General Plan land use designations might be discovered. As needed, the county will make corrections to the adopted General Plan land use maps to rectify those errors.
In the General Plan, certain areas are adopted as “Rural Village Overlay Study Areas” to allow flexibility in their boundary definitions. It is anticipated that during the consistency zoning program, the required studies for these areas will be completed, new zoning will be adopted to implement the village concepts, and the boundaries of the study areas will be reduced in size to correspond to the actual, defined zoned village areas.
After the adoption of the General Plan and before the adoption of the new zoning ordinance, an interim Zoning Consistency Matrix (Refer to RCIP General Plan Land Use Designation -Zoning Consistency Guidelines) will be used to determine the level of consistency between the General Plan land use designation and current zoning. For a project site, where the current zoning is not consistent with the land use designation, the zoning will be required to be brought into consistency with the General Plan (Refer to RCIP General Plan Land Use Designation -Zoning Consistency Guidelines Flow Chart).
A property owner who wants to develop his/her property in accordance with the General Plan land use designation, and the current zone on this property is not consistent with the land use designation, has two options to pursue the development application:
1. Along with the development application, apply for Change of Zone application from current zone to a zone that is consistent with the General Plan land use designation, or
2. Wait for the adoption of the consistency zoning program that will ensure a consistent zone after a countywide comprehensive review of existing land uses, proposed land uses, and current zoning.
4. Clustering Development
Open space is an important amenity in Riverside County that provides scenic vistas, recreational opportunities, and ecological values to its communities. This open space, found in remote regions of the County as well as within urban areas, is one of the defining aspects of the County’s livable character since it provides for separations between communities and enhances the distinctive character of communities in the County.
Clustering of Development and Incentive Programs (Refer to Handout # 5 for Incentive Programs) are innovative concepts in the RCIP General Plan that will encourage compact development of communities and permanent preservation of open space. Clustering of Development means grouping new development on part of a project site so that the rest of the site may be preserved as open space, or a use compatible with open space such as agriculture, wildlife habitat, etc.
In other words, Clustering of Development means a number of dwelling units are placed in closer proximity on a site than otherwise allowed in the land use designation with the purpose of preserving an open space area elsewhere on the site.
Clustering of Development may also be accompanied by the density bonus provision of the Incentive Programs, once they are adopted. This concept is a discretionary and voluntary provision of the General Plan. A development application, taking advantage of clustering of development and/or incentive programs, will be required to dedicate the open space portion of a project site for permanent preservation. This concept will only be applicable to residential land use designations.
In the Community Development Foundation Component, the allowable density of a particular land use designation could be clustered in one portion of the site in smaller lots, as long as ratio of dwelling units/acre remains within the allowable density range associated with the designation.
In the Rural Foundation Component and Rural designation of Open Space Foundation Component, the allowable density of a particular designation could be clustered as long as no lot is smaller than ½ acre.
In the Rural Community Foundation Component, the allowable density could be clustered as long as the minimum lot size is ½ acre. However, if the project site in the Rural Community Foundation Component is adjacent to a Community Development Foundation Component area, the allowable density could be clustered as long as the minimum lot size is 10,000 square feet. In this situation, the development application would be required to provide larger lots or open space near the project boundaries that are facing other Rural Community or Rural Foundation Component areas.
Depending upon the Constraints Analysis of the project site, physical constraints including access, topography, and percolation for subsurface sewage disposal may require a minimum lot size greater than the aforementioned. Design constraints including compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood may also result in minimum lot sizes greater than the aforementioned.
Example -1: Community Development (CD) Foundation Component:
If a property is 50 acres (gross) and designated as Medium Density Residential (MDR 2-5 DU/AC) in the Community Development (CD) Foundation Component, the maximum allowable units (based on a site constraints analysis) for this property will be 250 (50 acres multiplied by 5 dwelling units). Under the clustering of development concept, those 250 units may be clustered on 20 acres (or any amount of acres) of the site and the remaining 30 acres of the site may be dedicated as open space for permanent preservation.
Example -2: Rural Community (RC) Foundation Component:
If a property is 50 acres (gross) and is designated as Estate Density Residential (EDR -2 AC. Min.) in the Rural Community (RC) Foundation Component, the maximum allowable units on this property will be 25 (50 acres divided by 2 acres per dwelling unit). Under the clustering of development concept, those 25 units may be clustered in 10 acres of the site adjoining the Community Development Foundation Component area with minimum lot sizes of 10000 sq. ft. and the remaining 40 acres of the site may be dedicated as open space for permanent preservation.
Example -3: Rural Foundation Component:
If a property is 50 acres (gross) and is designated as Rural Residential (5 AC. Min.) in the Rural Foundation Component, the maximum allowable units on this property will be 10 (50 acres divided by 5 acres per dwelling unit). Under the clustering of development concept, those 10 units may be clustered in 5 acres with minimum lot sizes of ½ acre, and the rest of 45 acres of the site may be dedicated as open space for permanent preservation.
5. Incentive Programs
Incentive Programs and Clustering of Development (Refer to Handout # 4 for Clustering of Development) are innovative concepts in the RCIP General Plan that will encourage efficient use of land, compact development of communities, and permanent preservation of open space. The Incentive Programs are not yet available, and under development. Once they are adopted, further information would be provided.
The Incentive Programs are intended to promote higher quality, compact development, and generate funds for acquisition of lands to preserve open space, wildlife habitat, and significant agricultural lands through a density bonus program for residential uses and a floor area ratio intensity bonus program for non-residential uses. The incentives programs will be discretionary in nature and participation will be voluntary. There are three Incentive Programs:
1. The Neighborhood Incentives Program, which applies to all the residential areas in Community Development Foundation Component;
2. The Community Centers Incentives Program, which applies to all the areas designated as Community Center or Community Center Overlay; and
3. The Rural/Agriculture Incentives Program, which applies to all the areas in the Rural, Rural Community, or Agriculture Foundation Component.
In the Incentive Programs, a development receives a density/intensity bonus (in addition to the density/intensity allowed in the land use designation on the development site) for meeting the General Plan goal of higher quality development with preserved open spaces.
6. Community Centers
Community Centers are an important concept identified in the RCIP General Plan vision to accommodate a portion of future growth by allowing increased densities and intensities to reduce sprawl and the amount of land required for urban development and public infrastructure. Communities in Riverside County are encouraged to develop community centers.
Community Centers are planned focal points of communities that integrate a mix of housing, retail, commercial office, business park, and public/quasi-public recreational open space uses. There are four types of Community Centers: Village, Town, Job, & Entertainment. Each type has a unique mix of residential and employment uses. The actual proportion of land uses per community center type may vary. Depending upon the location, scale, size and mixture of uses in the surrounding community, the allowable uses in these community centers may include Medium High Density Residential, High Density Residential, Very High Density Residential, and Highest Density Residential, Commercial Retail, Commercial Office, Public Facilities, Commercial Tourist, Light Industrial, Business Park, and Open Space-Recreation.
Village Centers are pedestrian-oriented community centers that serve adjacent and nearby residential neighborhoods. They are the smallest scale community centers and are intended to reflect a village or small town downtown atmosphere.
Town Centers allow for a more intense mix of land uses when compared to the Village Centers. They may be located in dense urban areas or as a core for large area of suburban development.
Job Centers may be viewed as a concentrated area of employment uses that may vary in size and scale. They are intended to provide a mixture of business park and office uses, support commercial retail centers and high-density residential uses.
Entertainment Centers vary in size, scale, and purpose from resort communities to intense, active centers; and provide regional entertainment, recreation, tourist destinations and public facilities, in addition to support commercial uses.
Areas designated as community centers will be implemented through Specific Plans. Even though an area-wide Specific Plan for a contiguous area designated as Community Center is desirable, because of the multiplicity of smaller parcels and property owners, multiple Specific Plans as well as a combination of Specific Plan/s and Master Plan/s will be acceptable. Certain community centers, where development of a Specific Plan (before development of individual properties) may not seem feasible, are recognized as Community Center Overlays in the General Plan.
Community Center Overlay:
The Community Center Overlay is applied in areas where the intent under the General Plan is for either a community center to be developed, or for the underlying designated land use to be developed according to the desires of the affected landowners (Refer to Handout # 7 for Overlays). In Community Center Overlay areas, the County will take a role in facilitating the process of developing a Master Plan or a Specific Plan.
Community Center Design Guidelines:
The community center guidelines provide direction on the physical development of community centers and community center overlays and promote community identity and civic focus in a neighborhood (Refer to Appendix J). They provide clear guidance to the property owners and design professionals (submitting development applications) about the County’s expectations regarding quality of design in areas designated as Community Center. They are intended to provide a flexible framework for design while allowing great latitude for innovation, and therefore, they are illustrative in nature rather than prescriptive. The Community Center Design Guidelines serve as a foundation to the Community Center Incentive Program.
Community Center Incentives Program:
One of the primary tools for implementation of the Community Centers is a voluntary incentives program to stimulate the desired mixture of land uses and densities. The Community Center Incentives Program is not yet available, and under development. Once it is adopted, it will be applicable to all areas designated as a Community Center or a Community Center Overlay. To take advantage of the program, a development application would voluntarily pay Incentives Program Fees and provide additional design features as identified in the Community Center Incentives Program.
Overlays are the General Plan land use designations that are intended to impart particular nuances to an Area Plan policy to allow flexibility for future development. Overlays are applied “over” an underlying land use designation to provide another layer of guidance or a variety of options. A property owner can choose to develop the property in accordance with either the underlying designation or the overlay designation.
Typically, overlays will contain special policies that address important local issues within the appropriate area plan texts. Overlays are mapped on the appropriate Area Plan Land Use Maps in the General Plan.
1. Community Development Overlay:
Community Development Overlay is a tool that allows Community Development land use designations to be applied through quarterly (may be processed and approved up to four times per year, the maximum allowed by State law) General Plan Amendments (GPAs) in specified areas lying within Rural, Rural Community, Agriculture, or Open Space Foundation Component areas, while maintaining the underlying land use designations of these other foundation components until such time as the Community Development land uses are approved. These overlays are commonly applied in the Jurupa, Lakeview/Nuevo, Eastern Coachella Valley and Southwest Area Plans.
GPAs from designations in other foundation components to designations in the Community Development Foundation Component within the Community Development Overlay areas are exempt from the foundation component amendment cycle. However, applications requiring amendments to expand the boundaries of Community Development overlays will be subject to Board of Supervisors’ approval during the next 5-year foundation component GPA cycle.
2. Specific Community Development Designation Overlay:
The General Plan also offers Specific Community Development Designation Overlays that provide an exemption from the 5-year limit placed on foundation component General Plan amendments, but only for the General Plan amendment to the specific designation of the overlay (not any other Community Development land uses). This provision has been carefully applied after receiving specific requests from the public, and therefore, any amendments to the special provisions or boundaries of these overlays will be subject to a foundation component GPA cycle.
These overlays are commonly applied in the Jurupa and Eastvale Area Plans.
3. Community Center Overlay:
The Community Center Overlay is applied in areas where the intent under the General Plan is either for a Community Center to be developed, or for the underlying designated land use to be developed, depending on the desire of the affected landowners. A property owner who decides to develop the property in accordance with the Community Center Overlay, would first be required to develop either a specific plan or a more general master plan. Because of a multiplicity of property owners and smaller parcels in some Community Center Overlay areas, the County may work with affected property owners to prepare master plan(s) and/or specific plan(s).
Community Center is a land use designation within the Community Development foundation component, and the overlay is normally applied over a Community Development land use designation. Therefore, the Community Center Overlay designation may be enlarged, reduced, added, or eliminated for any site within a Community Development through quarterly GPAs.
4. Rural Village Overlay / Rural Village Overlay Study Area:
Rural Village Overlay is a concentration of development of residential, commercial and other uses as compact villages within areas of rural character. They function in a similar manner as the Community Center Overlays except that they are of a much smaller scale and intensity.
In addition to the uses allowed in the underlying designation, Rural Village Overlay allows the uses and density/intensity of Medium Density Residential, Medium High Density Residential, Commercial Retail, Commercial Office, Light Industrial, Open Space-Recreation and Public Facilities land use designations.
In some Rural Village Overlay areas, dispersed development patterns and physical characteristics such as topography, hydrology, and other factors prevent the final definition of Rural Village Overlay boundaries at the time of the adoption of the General Plan. These overlays are regarded as Rural Village Overlay Study Areas. Following the adoption of the General Plan, all relevant factors will be studied in more detail on a parcel-by-parcel basis through the consistency zoning program, which may result in changes to the boundaries of the Rural Village Overlay areas, resulting in the modifications of these boundaries. Generally, these boundaries will focus on compact sized Rural Village Areas.
8. Policy Areas
Area Plan land use designations don’t always reflect the unique features found in an area, since not all sectors within an area plan are the same. To preserve these distinctive land use patterns of different communities, policies tailored towards these unique features may be required. Accordingly, a Policy Area is a portion of an area plan that contains special or unique characteristics that merit detailed attention and focused policies. For example, the Hot Springs Policy Area in the Western Coachella Valley Area Plan is a thermal resource area with hot mineral water that is clean, clear, and free of sulfur odor. Therefore, even though most of the policy area is designated as Rural Desert in the Rural Foundation Component, additional land uses (more consistent with the Community Development foundation Component) that utilize the natural resources, such as hotels, motels, recreational vehicle parks, mobile home parks, residential developments and institutional uses, will be considered without requiring a foundation component General Plan Amendment.
Within a Policy Area, land use related requirements such as minimum lot sizes, allowable uses and project design may be more or less restrictive than the underlying Area Plan land use designation depending upon the purpose of that specific Policy Area. For example, because of the very low intensity rural lifestyle desired, the Valle De Los Caballos Policy Area in the Southwest Area Plan requires 10-acre minimum parcel sizes regardless of the underlying land use designation.
Certain Policy Areas that require specific findings or further studies to determine policy direction are identified in the General Plan as Study Areas. For Example, in the Agriculture/Potential Development Study Area in the San Jacinto Valley Area Plan, visions of local residents and landowners for the future of the historically agricultural area are not easily reconciled. Therefore, the policy will require a focused study of the agricultural and undeveloped areas within this policy area after the adoption of the General Plan. The Policy Areas and Study Areas are identified in their respective Area Plan maps and text. Any amendment to the Policy Areas will be at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors.
The following table identifies all policy areas in all the area plans. If a property is in one of these policy areas, please be advised to refer to the appropriate area plan text fo r further explanation.
|Area Plan||Policy Area/s||Area Plan||Policy Area/s|
|Eastvale||• Santa Ana River Corridor
• Chino Airport Influence Area
• Archibald Avenue/Cloverdale Policy Area
|• March Air Reserve Base Influence Area|
• City of Moreno Valley Sphere of Influence
|Jurupa||• Business Park
• Limonite Avenue Policy Area
• Mira Loma Warehousing Policy Area
• Protected Equestrian Sphere
• Stringfellow Acid Pits/Pyrite Canyon
• Rubidoux Village
• Mission Boulevard
• Santa Ana River Corridor
• Flabob Airport Influence Area
• Riverside Municipal Airport Influence Area
• Valle de los Caballos
• Walker Basin Policy Area
• Section 25/36 Policy Area
• Keller Road South Side
• North Skinner
• Vail Lake
• Santa Rosa Plateau/ De Luz
• French Valley Airport Influence Area
• Highway 79
|Highgrove||• Highgrove Community Policy Area
• City of Riverside Sphere of Influence Area
• March Air Reserve Base Influence Area
|San Jacinto Valley||• East Hemet/ Valle Vista Communities|
• Maze Stone
• San Jacinto River
• Highway 79
• Hemet Ryan Airport Influence Area
• Agriculture/Potential Development Study Area
|Temescal Canyon||• Design Theme
• El Sobrante Landfill
• East Temescal Hillside
• Santa Ana River Corridor
• Temescal Wash
• Corona Municipal Airport Influence Area
|The Pass||• Banning Municipal Airport Influence Area|
• Banning Bench
• Cherry Valley
• Cherry Valley Gateway Policy Area
• Apache Trail
• San Gorgonio Pass Wind Energy
|Elsinore||• Warm Springs
• Temescal Wash
• Skylark Airport Influence Area
• Walker Canyon Policy Area
• Glen Eden Policy Area
• Rural Village Overlay Study Areas
• Lake Elsinore Environs
|Lakeview/Nuevo||• San Jacinto River|
• 2-4 Dwelling Units Per Acre
• March Air Reserve Base Influence Area
• Juniper Flats Policy Area
|REMAP||• Idyllwild/ Pine Cove Village Tourist Area
• Rural Village Overlay Study Area
|Western Coachella Valley||• Rancho Mirage Sphere of influence Area|
• San Gorgonio Pass Wind Energy
• Hot Springs Policy Area
|Lake Mathews/Woodcrest||• El Sobrante
• Gavilan Hills Policy Area
• March Air Reserve Base Influence Area
• Cajalco Wood
|Palo Verde Valley||• Colorado River|
• Wiley’s Well Road
• Blyth Airport Influence Area
|Mead Valley||• March Air Reserve Base Influence Area
• Rural Village Overlay Study Area
• Highway 74 Goodhope Policy Area and Highway 74 Perris Policy Area
• Cajalco Wood
|Eastern Coachella Valley||• Vista Santa Rosa Community|
• Desert Resort Regional Airport and Chiriaco Summit Airport Influence Area
|Sun City/Menifee Valley||• Senior Design
• Interstate 215 Corridor
• Very Low Density Residential Area West of Interstate 215
• Scott Road Policy Area
• Rural Residential Area East of Interstate 215
• Highway 79
|Desert Center||• Eagle Mountain Landfill and Townside|
• Desert Center and Lake Tamarisk
• Desert Center Airport Influence Areas
• Desert Center
|Harvest Valley/Winchester||• Hemet Ryan Airport Influence Area|
• March Air Reserve Base Influence Area
• Diamond Valley Lake
• Winchester Road/Newport Road
• Holland Road/ Winchester Road
• Highway 79
• Green Acres
9. Split Designations
There can be countless possible situations where a property has more than one land use designation in the General Plan. These “split” designations could be in the same foundation component or in different ones (Refer to Handout # 1 for the Foundation Components). In split designation scenarios, each development proposal needs to be reviewed on case-by-case basis. The issues of consideration in review of a development proposal would involve, but are not limited to the following:
Area Plan land use designations,
Surrounding land use designations,
Existing zoning map designations,
Topography on the site,
Hydrologic features on the site,
Other geological features,
Response to goals of the RCIP (General Plan, Community and Environmental Transportation Acceptability Plan & Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan),
Other Issues, depending upon the location and characteristics of a project.
Example No. 1: Split Designations in Same Foundation Component:
A property has Commercial Retail (CR) and Medium Density Residential [MDR 2-5 Dwelling Units (DU)/Acre (AC)] land use designations that are within the Community Development foundation component.
If the property owner decides to develop a standard residential tract map with 7200 sq. ft. min. lots on the MDR portion of the site and a Plot Plan for a commercial use on the Commercial Retail portion, he/she can concurrently file both the applications.
If the property owner decides to develop a standard residential tract map with 7200 sq. ft. min. lots for the entire property, he/she would need a General Plan Amendment (GPA) to change the Commercial Retail portion of the property to MDR. Because MDR and Commercial Retail land use designations are within the same foundation component of Community Development, the General Plan Amendment will not be subject to the 5-year restriction on foundation component GPAs. Therefore, the application will be processed with a “quarterly” (may be processed and approved up to four times per year, the maximum allowed by the state law) GPA required for the Commercial Retail portion.
If the property owner decides to develop the entire property with a Parcel Map and/or Plot Plan application(s) for commercial uses, a similar “quarterly” GPA from MDR to Commercial Retail will be possible.
Example No. 2: Split Designations in Different Foundation Components:
A property has split designations of Medium Density Residential (2-5 DU/AC) in the Community Development foundation component and Rural Mountainous (10 Ac. Min.) in the Rural foundation component. Both designations are in two different foundation components. If the property owner decides to propose developing the property with a tract map with 7200 sq. ft. min. lot sizes, the application will be reviewed with the aforementioned issues of consideration. However, the applicant may choose to —
Take advantage of the incentive programs and dedicate the Rural Mountainous portion to transfer the density bonus to the MDR portion of the property. In this case, the Rural Mountainous portion would be dedicated for permanent conservation of open space and the MDR portion will achieve a greater density.
Provide a detailed Slope Analysis when there is a question about the exact location of a boundary between the two designations. In this case, depending upon the findings of the refined contour intervals in the slope analysis, the boundary defining the two designations may be adjusted. In this situation, the lots along the boundary line may vary in size to provide a well-planned development.
Apply for a GPA to amend the Rural Mountainous (10 AC. Min.) portion of the property to Medium Density Residential (25 DU/AC). Because the GPA involves moving from one foundation component to another, the GPA will be subject to the discretion of the Board of Supervisors and 5-year restriction on foundation component amendments.
Example No. 3: Split Designations in Different Foundation Components (OS -Water or Conservation):
A property has split designations of Medium Density Residential (2-5 DU/AC) in the Community Development foundation component and Conservation (or Water) in the Open Space foundation component. Both land use designations on the property are in two different foundation components. If the property owner decides to develop the property with a tract map with 7200 sq. ft. min. sized lots, the application will be reviewed with aforementioned issues of consideration. However, the OS-Conservation (or OS-Water) portion of the property cannot be developed for residential purposes and needs to be placed in a use compatible with the conservation objectives of the RCIP General Plan.
10. Design Guidelines
The Countywide Design Guidelines and Standards (Guidelines) are countywide regulations and procedures requiring a better design for communities that are suitable, harmonious, and in keeping with the general appearance, historic character, and/or style of surrounding areas. These Guidelines are under development to assist property owners and design professionals submitting development applications to the County Planning Department. These comprehensive Guidelines provide objective criteria to review a development application and its impact on neighboring communities from the standpoint of site and landscape design, architecture, materials, colors, lighting, signs, etc.
The Objectives of these Guidelines are –
To create interesting and diverse neighborhoods.
To promote high quality development with better building materials and enhanced landscaping.
To create efficient land use patterns that will maintain the economic value of communities and their long-term desirability as places to live and work.
To incorporate neighborhood amenities such as parks, trails, and open space in convenient locations.
To encourage commercial and industrial developers to utilize designs and materials that evoke a sense of quality and performance.
To implement the goals and policies of Riverside County General Plan.
These Guidelines incorporate most of the adopted Design Guidelines for the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Supervisorial Districts, and after their adoption, these Guidelines will supercede all the existing guidelines. By adhering to these Guidelines, property owners and design professionals may realize a faster development review process. To ensure the most efficient use of an applicant’s time and money, early consultation with the County Planning Department staff as well as appropriate Supervisorial District staff is both welcomed and encouraged in implementing these Guidelines.
The document includes both “design standards” and “design guidelines”. The design standards are considered mandatory requirements that can be qualitatively measured and usually include the term “shall.” The design guidelines are more generalized statements, alternatives or illustrations of what is encouraged. Therefore, the design guidelines provide flexible ways to meet the design standards.
Applicability of the Guidelines:
The Countywide Design Guidelines and Standards are applicable to all five Supervisorial Districts unless it is stated otherwise in the document.
The “Residential Standards” apply to any “Schedule A” subdivision in all General Plan residential designations.
The “Commercial Standards” apply to any commercial Variable Building Setbacks development in all General Plan Commercial designations.
The “Industrial Standards” apply to any industrial development in all the General Plan Industrial designations plus the Business Park designation.
Exceptions to Applicability of the Guidelines:
The Board of Supervisors imposes more restrictive standards upon an individual development project at the time of approval of the project.
The Board of Supervisors has adopted more restrictive or different standards relative to a particular designated area of their District either through a master plan, a Specific Plan or a Development Agreement.
Physical constraints of a particular site such as topography, geology, etc. make the application of a particular standard or guideline impractical.
Standard/guideline, if strictly applied, will inhibit the meeting of affordable housing goals.
The Countywide Design Guidelines and Standards and the Incentive Programs (under development as of this writing) are two significant implementation measures of the RCIP General Plan vision to create a high quality physical environment in the county; and both of them will be adopted soon after the adoption of the General Plan. The Guidelines will provide the baseline criteria, and then the Incentive Programs will provide additional criteria to measure and to evaluate justif ication for potential density bonuses under the RCIP Incentive Programs. In other words, all development applications would be required to accommodate design criteria provided in these guidelines; and the development applications taking advantage of the Incentive Programs would be required to accommodate a higher level of design requirements and payment of an Incentive Program Fee, to receive a density bonus above the maximum density range of the underlying land use designation.
11. Specific Plans
A Specific Plan is a tool authorized under the California Government Code (Section 65450 et seq.) for systematic implementation of the general plan in a defined portion of a community. A specific plan specifies in detail the land uses, needed public and private facilities to support the land uses, phasing of development, conservation, development standards, and use of natural resources, and a program of implementation measures, including financial measures. The Area Plan land use designations of properties within adopted Specific Plans are provided for informational and illustrative purposes on the RCIP General Plan Area Plan Maps. You are advised to refer the applicable Specific Plan document for the actual designations and policies.
Because of the volatile nature of the real-estate market, the adopted Specific Plans need to be open to refinements and adjustments as their implementation proceeds. Therefore, the RCIP General Plan has specific provisions to allow flexibility in administration of the Specific Plans.
A regular review of the Specific Plans will be accomplished five years after the adoption of the General Plan, and which will also be conducted every five years thereafter during Foundation Amendment review periods. All the Specific Plans that have been in effect for 20 or more years will be reviewed soon after the adoption of the General Plan to determine whether the types and intensities of proposed development remain appropriate for undeveloped areas within the Specific Plans’ boundaries. Thereafter, during each Foundation Component General plan Amendment cycle, a report on implementation of all Specific Plans will be prepared and discussed in the public hearings.
In the RCIP General Plan, each adopted Specific Plan is identified as a “Community Development” Specific Plan, a “Rural Community” Specific Plan or a “Rural” Specific Plan. All the future Specific Plans will be similarly identified at the time of their adoption. Foundation Component Amendments to the Specific Plans will be permitted in the future without waiting for a five year cycle as long as they involve any land use designation within the same foundation category, or to any designation in a less intense foundation category. Accordingly, the following Specific Plan Amendment and Specific Plan Substantial Conformance applications will be exempt from the 5-year Foundation Amendment Cycle.
All proposed land use designation changes within a “Community Development” Specific Plan;
All proposed land use designation changes within a “Rural Community” Specific Plan, except those that would establish “Community Development” designations within their boundaries;
All proposed land use designation changes within a “Rural” Specific Plan, except those that would establish “Community Development” or “Rural Community” designations within their boundaries.
A proposal to add a “Community Development” Foundation Component designation of Public Facilities within a “Rural” or “Rural Community” Specific Plan.
For example, SP 264 – Arbor Creek Estates is adopted as a Rural Community Specific Plan. If a property owner in the this Specific Plan wants to develop his/her property for a 7200 sq. ft. min. lot size tract map, he/she will require a General Plan land use designation of Medium Density Residential (2-5 DU/AC) in the Community Development Foundation Component. Since it is an adopted Rural Community Specific Plan, and Community Development is a more intense foundation category, the application will be subject to the 5-year foundation component General Plan amendment cycle. However, if the same property owner wants to develop the property in accordance with the policies of the Rural Residential (5 AC. Min.) designation in the Rural foundation component, since Rural is a less intense foundation component than the Rural Community, the application will be exempt from the 5year foundation component General Plan amendment cycle.
12. Transit Oasis
The need for an improved public transportation system in Riverside County that would attract and serve “choice” riders was identified during the initial Visioning sessions and has come up repeatedly from various stakeholders. Traffic forecasts for the RCIP project that most arterials will operate at acceptable levels of service, but that the freeways will be congested. This reinforces the need to develop a transportation plan that addresses all modes of transportation. This multimodal approach relies heavily on the development of a vibrant public transportation system. While a high quality public transportation system is not the total solution for all of our transportation demands, it is an important component of any urban form. The strategy that has evolved through our planning process has come to be known as the Transit Oasis.
The Transit Oasis concept envisions a number of local collector/feeder systems, generally within designated Community Centers, that provide high frequency access to a high-speed regional backbone transit system. The backbone system links higher intensity activity nodes, such as Community Centers, within the County and provides improved connections to activity centers in adjacent counties. Combining the Transit Oasis concept with the Community Centers serves to place a larger percentage of the future population within walking distance of efficient public transit, affording the opportunity to attract larger numbers of choice transit riders. The Transit Oasis, the local collector/feeder service can take many forms, but the original concept was to provide a quality experience, within a separate landscaped right of way, which takes on the appearance of a linear transit park, hence the name Transit Oasis.
The Transit Oasis concept will be implemented through the General Plan via Community Center Development Guidelines which serve to preserve opportunities for Transit Oasis development and encourage Transit Adaptive urban design as part of the fabric of the Community Center. Local transit service providers, such as RTA and Sunline, would actually operate the systems.
THE TRANSIT OASIS STRATEGY:
An Initiative in Transportation Choices for Western Riverside County
This is a draft for review by various agencies and organizations in Riverside County. The Riverside County Transportation Commission has endorsed the general concept of the Transit Oasis Strategy, but the details contained in this draft report have not been endorsed or adopted by any governmental body. It is being prepared as part of the Riverside County Integrated Project.
1. The Transportation Challenge in Riverside County
Great opportunities lie ahead for Riverside County. And with these opportunities come equally great challenges. One of the greatest challenges lies in keeping the citizens and businesses of Riverside County moving. Traffic congestion and personal mobility are some of the top concerns of our citizens. The traffic on our freeways and other roadways is getting worse, and projections show that it will be much worse in 20 years, even with improvements that are already planned.
The transportation agencies of Riverside County are pursuing an aggressive approach to providing mobility for our communities. Our approach will be a balanced one, involving both highways and transit. The intent is to provide real choices: choices in lifestyle, activities, and the travel options that link them together.
The “Transit Oasis Strategy” focuses on one aspect of that linkage, the transit system, and how we can make that system work for our citizens. The word “Oasis” has roots in Riverside history, when the City was billed to visitors as similar to a Mediterranean oasis. The vision is one of a series of oases connected together within Western Riverside County and to destinations elsewhere in Southern California.
The strategy discussed in this report provides an overall concept for a transit system that can work together with the highways and trails, connecting us with our daily activities. The Transit Oasis Strategy looks well into the future, at least 30 years. It describes how agencies in Riverside County intend to design and operate a regional transit system that will provide travel options that are convenient and affordable and that can grow as the County grows. This is why we call the Transit Oasis Strategy an “initiative in transportation choices.” The regional transit system must be one component of a transportation network that gives our citizens flexibility in how they want to travel. Transit will not be the only option for travel, but it should be one that is convenient, reliable, and enjoyable.
2. The Transit Oasis Strategy – An Overview
2.1. What Is the Transit Oasis Strategy?
The Transit Oasis Strategy can be summarized in the following four main points:
Connect most major destinations and mixed-use areas or “activity centers” together with regional express transit;
Provide local circulator vehicles within each of these activity centers to carry passengers within the areas and connect them to the express network. These vehicles would operate in loops or linear routes, serving the most riders possible, ideally at frequencies of 10 minutes or less. Local circulators should, wherever feasible, operate in a right-ofway characterized by greenery, hence the “oasis” designation.
Plan land uses to complement this core transit infrastructure , designing the station areas to be places around which development can concentrate;
Provide amenities and operational features that attract “choice” riders – people who have cars, but find it advantageous to take transit.
The intent of this strategy is to create the kind of transit network that can efficiently serve the relatively low densities and dispersed development patterns of Western Riverside County. Certainly, more dense, compact development is desirable from a transportation perspective. It is easier to serve with transit. But this combined express and local circulator strategy is not necessarily dependent on these higher density areas for it to succeed. The strategy can work, at least to a good extent, with the lesser densities typical of the County.
The strategy is conceived as a flexible, cost-effective approach that is tailored to the specific needs and characteristics of Western Riverside County and can be adapted to the changing characteristics of the County as it grows. Key to its success is making transit fast and convenient, reasonably competitive with the car. This will be achieved by having transit vehicles travel on priority lanes, such as the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on certain state highways, or in some cases, their own exclusive lane. Priority can be given to transit vehicles in other ways as well, such as with traffic signals. The RapidBus system in Los Angeles County is a good example of where these strategies are being employed.1 Design requirements and techniques for maintaining the higher speeds required of express service are an the Transit Oasis Strategy.
Exhibit 1 is a conceptual diagram of the “ideal” transit oasis system. The wide lines represent the Regional Express Transit Network. This regional network would consist of Metrolink and the RTA Regional Flyers proposed in their Strategic Business Plan. It would include the SunLink connection to the Coachella Valley.
1 You can learn more about the progress of the MTA RapidBus system at www.mta.net.
These express services would connect principal centers within and outside the county. The shaded areas represent the centers.
The Transit Oasis is a short transit loop, running in dedicated right-of-way as much as possible, extending the reach of a station on the regional express transit network to up to one square mile. The activity centers will be of different sizes. For small centers, the transit loop may not be appropriate or necessary. For others, the loop may actually be linear, depending on the geographic shape of the center and the destinations within it. The location and characteristics of each stop on the express network will need to be a joint decision of the local jurisdiction, RTA, RCTC, and the agency with jurisdiction over the roadway on which the express and local circulator vehicles will travel. The express service and local circulator services would be identified with a distinctive, coordinated theme, different from the other transit services provided in the County.
The ideal transit oasis system would have as much dedicated right-of-way as possible for both the express routes and local circulators and would have the high frequencies identified in Exhibit 1. It would take on the character of a linear park, to both establish the oasis theme and facilitate the protection of right-of-way. Buildings would be oriented toward transit, and pedestrian treatments would be an important design consideration. As in many systems, physical and financial constraints often conspire to limit the extent to which the ideal can be achieved, an important implementation issue addressed later in the report. Although the achievement of the ultimate system may be tempered by the various realities of implementation, our goal should nevertheless be set high.
2.2. How Will We Implement the Transit Oasis Strategy?
The Transit Oasis Strategy will not be implemented all at once. It will take shape step by step, as conditions are right for each portion of the system to succeed. For example, simple transit centers may precede the full development of an oasis, or service may be provided initially only for peak periods, transitioning to all-day service later on.
What the Transit Oasis Strategy provides is an overall scheme or “master plan” so that we know how all the pieces ultimately fit together. This is perhaps the most important idea behind the Transit Oasis Strategy, because opportunities to cost-effectively build or operate parts of the system will come at different points in time. We must be prepared with a plan so that these opportunities are not missed. Other areas have seen how difficult and expensive transit systems are to implement, if there is not a plan to guide their development very early on. Some parts of the plan may not come to fruition for many years. But we will have preserved our options, and will have a much better chance for building a complete, affordable system for having done so.
No single entity can implement the strategy alone. It will be a team effort, and as such, will require a number of local jurisdictions and regional agencies working together. The end result will be better opportunities for our citizens to choose where they want to live, work, and conduct their daily activities, and more choices in how they want to travel between those activities.
In implementing the system, we must recognize the spectrum of circumstances that exist in Western Riverside County. Some cities, such as Riverside and Corona, are already well developed. Other areas are completely undeveloped. The developed areas have the advantage that there is already existing or potential transit ridership. These are the areas where we would most likely start implementing the Transit Oasis Strategy. Unfortunately, these are also the areas where it is most difficult to achieve the “ideal” transit oasis system components. It is hard to find locations for dedicated transit right-ofway in places that are already built out, and even such things as a priority lane at an intersection are much more difficult to implement.
Undeveloped areas have the advantage that the “ideal” transit oasis components can be included from the beginning, at substantially lower cost than in a built environment. However, these areas have no existing transit ridership potential. The potential will be realized only after the area is more fully developed, and this can take many years, in some cases.
This entire spectrum of built out to undeveloped land is represented in Western Riverside County. The implementation of the transit oasis strategy takes on slightly different emphases, depending on where an area is within that spectrum. Exhibit 2 summarizes the strategy for each end of the spectrum.
For all areas, the strategy must be an incremental one. It involves clearly defining the master plan, aggressively pursuing strategic opportunities to build key parts of the system, committing to funding, and adapting the system to conditions as the county grows.
2.3. Why Is This a Good Approach for Riverside County?
The Transit Oasis Strategy is tailored to the specific needs and characteristics of Western Riverside County. It is a good approach for building a regional transit system because:
Exhibit 2. The Transit Oasis Strategy Must be Tailored to the Circumstances
|Built-out Areas ----------------------> Undeveloped Land|
• Existing ridership base
• More difficult to achieve the “ideal”
• Established transit services
• Little or no existing ridership base
• Easier to achieve the “ideal”
• Ample right-of-way can be made available
• Implement or expand express services based on transit oasis “master plan”
• Implement oasis circulators on existing roadways
• Add priority treatments for express and circulator systems as opportunities arise and circumstances allow
• Densify as much as land use plans and economics allow, including infill and redevelopment
• Identify and reserve linear park infrastructure through which local circulators can run.
• Include other Transit Oasis features in land use and circulation plans
• Develop Specific Plans for County community centers
• Implement transit oasis stop on express system when “critical mass” achieved
• Continue to densify as economics allow
It builds on what we are already doing. We already have Metrolink and some limited express bus services. More express services are planned in the near future by RTA (lines between Moreno Valley and Riverside, Temecula/Murrieta to Corona, and enhanced service to Orange County). The strategy is consistent with and enhances RTA and RCTC plans. There are a number of similar applications elsewhere in Southern California, as illustrated in some of the photos in this report.
It is flexible and adaptable. We know that Riverside County will be growing dramatically, but we don’t know exactly where and when. The Transit Oasis Strategy can flex and respond to the growth of the county.
It is cost-effective. The Transit Oasis Strategy does not propose to invest in a major new heavy rail system or other costly technology. We are taking advantage of past and future highway and transit investments and getting the most out of them that we can. The system will cost money. But the cost will be far less than with other more traditional systems. If rail makes sense in the long term, our approach can grow into that as circumstances dictate. Some routes could possibly be converted to rail, if demand warrants it.
It encourages development in areas served by express transit, but does not require a great shift in land use policy to succeed. The strategy can be accommodated largely through design guidance in areas where more intensive land uses are logical anyway. As such, it provides additional critical support for the County’s economic development initiatives. It fits well with existing and possible future incentive programs offered by local governments.
It can be accomplished incrementally. These incremental steps will occur as cities and the development community become participants and as we can afford it. But we must plan it now, or the cost of implementing it later will become exorbitant.
It can be “fine tuned” as experience with it is gained.
Most importantly, it provides better choices in lifestyle and travel options for Riverside County citizens. Further development of the Transit Oasis Strategy, and the land uses that support it, will give our citizens increased flexibility in where to live, work, and engage in their daily activities, and how to travel between those activities. As congestion significantly increases in the future, it will help ensure that mobility options are available for Riverside County citizens. It will speed up a transit system that is currently perceived to be too slow.
2.4. Organization of this Report
This report provides an overview of the Transit Oasis Strategy and how we propose to implement it. As with any plan, it may be adjusted and modified over time. But it provides a framework for how to proceed and who will be responsible for making each part of the system work. In addition to this overview, there are three main parts to the report:
Designing the Transit Oasis Strategy – What should it ultimately look like, and what are some of the specific design features that will help make it work?
Implementing the Transit Oasis Strategy – Who will be responsible for various parts, what actions do they need to take, and when should they take those actions?
Transit Oasis Design Guidance - Provides additional details on design elements of the Transit Oasis Strategy, contained in a separate document.
3. Designing the Transit Oasis Strategy
Western Riverside County is home to approximately 1.2 million residents and about 400,000 jobs. Over the next 20 years these will increase to about 2 million residents and 730,000 jobs. The population at buildout is projected to be near 3 million. As with most of Southern California, the Western County is heavily dependent on the automobile. Less than two percent of trips in the County are made by transit. Although this is typical of the percentage in many other areas of the region, the geographic dispersion of the population in Western County makes service by transit particularly challenging. RTA’s service area is some 2500 square miles. The travel time by car from Temecula in the south to the northern border of Riverside is nearly an hour.
To a great extent, topography separates cities within Western County, and major roadways were located within many of those gaps to link communities together. Over the years, several of those major roadways have become freeways, including I-15, SR-60, SR-91, I10, and I-215, which carry the bulk of the regional and inter-city traffic. With only a few exceptions, it is along these corridors that the communities of Riverside County have grown. The cities along the freeways tend to be the key locations we are trying to connect.
The significant distances involved and the demographics of Western Riverside County argue strongly for the inclusion of express transit as a part of the overall transit system. In fact, several express routes already exist. Metrolink provides commuter rail service from Riverside and Corona into Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Some 1500 passengers make the trip from Riverside County to Orange County on Metrolink each day, and over 2400 per day travel to and from Los Angeles County. If these 2400 riders were to drive their cars, it would create an additional 20 lane-miles of stop-and-go traffic in the morning and evening peak periods., or an additional 5 miles of peak direction backup on an eight-lane freeway.
Riverside and Orange Counties have plans for significant additional service between the counties over the next several years. RTA provides express bus service to San Bernardino and to Orange County. The cities of Temecula and Murrieta have strong travel connections to the south toward San Diego. Discussions with the North County Transit District have taken place regarding transit connections from there to San Diego County.
3.2. Overall System Design Goals
The development of the Transit Oasis System will be driven by a set of design goals. These goals express the ideal – the characteristics of the system we would like it to have if there were few or no constraints. The reality is that constraints exist, particularly in more developed areas, and the ideal may not always be achievable. Nevertheless, it is useful to discuss the ideal as an expression of what we are attempting to achieve. Decisions will need to be made regarding how much of the vision can actually be implemented in particular sets of circumstances. Exhibit 3 shows the four overall design goals and associated design strategies.
1. Speed – Both the regional express system and the transit oasis circulators must put a premium on maintaining speed, to be as competitive with the automobile as possible. In part, this is done by trying to design delay times out of the system. Average speeds on traditional street-running transit are often 15 miles per hour or less, including stops for boarding and alighting passengers, traffic signals, etc. The transit oasis system must do much better than this. Maintaining higher speeds also pays dividends to system operation. The same distances can be covered with fewer vehicles, reducing costs. With the oasis, higher speeds can be achieved through attention to oasis length, intersection treatments, efficient fare payment, and station spacing.
2. Comfort and convenience – Many people have generally negative impressions of buses and positive impressions of rail. While the Transit Oasis Strategy does not propose an extensive new rail system, the features of comfort and convenience of rail systems that tend to make them attractive should be emulated in our strategy. We must pay particular attention to the ride quality and the overall experience. This would include station facilities and location, vehicle design, and ease of boarding.
3. Economy – The system must be economical to build and operate.
4. Security – This can be thought of as part of comfort and convenience, but warrants special attention not only to attract riders but to retain them.
Exhibit 3. Overall System Goals and Design Strategies
|System Goals||Design Strategies|
|Speed||• Use of HOV lanes or dedicated transit lanes, where possible|
• Priority lanes at intersections, where no dedicated lanes are available.
• Traffic signal priority systems
• Highest frequencies possible for given budget.
• Pre-boarding fare payment and/or smart cards.
• Level loading vehicles/stations
• Wider doors and multiple doors on transit vehicles.
• Minimize the number of stations per Transit Oasis
|Comfort and Convenience||• Minimize the need for sharp turns (approximate the gradual turns of rail, where possible)|
• Create a system image and provide distinctive vehicles that are consistent with the idea of express service.
• Transfers between express and local service at the same level (no steps)
• Locate stations in the center of mixed-use activity centers
• Design stations to be inviting, enjoyable places to wait for transit and to transfer, within or close to major activity areas. They should be pedestrian-oriented and located to keep walks to destinations short.
• Enhance the pedestrian environment within walking distance of stations. .
|Economy||• Use already available infrastructure to the maximum extent possible, hence the proposal for use of HOV lanes.|
• Encourage additional development within transit station areas. Better proximity to destinations translates to more efficient service.
|Security||• Stations must be designed as well-lit places, highly visible to other areas of activity.|
• Camera surveillance and security patrols in transit station areas.
3.3. The Regional Express System
The proposed regional express system connects the primary nodes of activity. It also interfaces with RTA’s local routes at the transit stations or centers. The express system will be composed of existing and expanded Metrolink lines as well as the proposed system of “Regional Flyers” and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines. In addition, it includes proposed links to San Diego from Temecula and a connection to the Coachella Valley via the existing or expanded SunLink service or new service to the Coachella Valley. These routes are reflected in Exhibit 4. In addition to the Metrolink lines, regional express routes are included along I-15, SR-60, I-215, I-10, and SR-79. SR-79 is conceived as an arterial express transit route, while the others are on freeways. Specific routings may be modified over time to best optimize service.
To the extent possible, the regional express system should emulate the characteristics of a rail system – fast, smooth ride, distinctive vehicles, and easy boarding. Metrolink already provides most of the desired characteristics, except that the frequencie s are targeted mainly on the commuting population. It is a commuter rail system. On other routes, the vehicles are anticipated to be rubber-tired, running on highway lanes like other vehicles. This keeps the system affordable, and offers a maximum of flexibility. The regional service can be expanded and modified rather easily. Frequencies are likely to be lower in the beginning and then increase as areas develop. Designing the express system to maintain higher speeds is likely one of the greatest challenges to realizing the full transit oasis vision. Some of the design concepts are discussed below.
3.3.1. Interface Between the Regional Express Routes and the Oasis Stations
The routes for the Metrolink portions of the Regional Express System are already established. The Riverside line provides stops in downtown Riverside, Pedley, nearby Ontario in San Bernardino County, and a number of other stations before reaching downtown Los Angeles. The Inland Empire/Orange County line provides stops in downtown Riverside, La Sierra, and West Corona. The Corona-Main station will be on line in 2002. Metrolink will be expanded to Moreno Valley and Perris, along the San Jacinto Branch line by approximately year 2006. Further extension of the line to Hemet/San Jacinto is possible, but not currently funded or scheduled.
The remainder of the system will use RTA Regional Flyer express buses, operating on existing and future freeway HOV lanes. If HOV lanes do not yet exist, the express service would operate in mixed traffic. The following general rules should apply as to route and station locations:
Most desirably, express transit stations (where they interface with local routes) should be located within each oasis, off the freeway right-of-way. The stations should be located in a pedestrian-oriented environment.
Freeway stations may be considered where diversion of the express route off the freeway will consume an inordinate amount of time, slowing down the express service. Where freeway stations are considered, extra attention must be paid to the station environment, fostering easy pedestrian access to the adjacent land use, efficient interface with local routes, and reducing the harshness of the freeway environment (e.g. through station design, lighting, noise control, and security).
Portions of the express system may be located on arterial streets. This may be appropriate for adjacent stations that are well-connected by arterial roadways amenable to priority treatment and where too much time would be consumed by getting back on and off the freeway.
The decision of on-freeway stations versus off-freeway stations can be a difficult one. On-freeway stations, like those on the Green Line in the median of the 105 freeway in Los Angeles, can create a sense of isolation, with transit patrons waiting in the middle of traffic. Some of the stations on the SR-110 HOV lanes do a good job in both function and form. However, off-freeway stations, absent direct flyover ramps, slow down the express service. Firm decisions cannot be made at this time, but details will have to be worked out between Caltrans, RTA, and local governments.
Access to and from the freeway by express transit vehicles can be envisioned as a series of phased “implementation levels.” The selection of the most appropriate level at any point in time will be a function of existing local access (e.g. presence and type of interchange), potential for freeway or interchange reconstruction, and availability of funding.
The levels are illustrated in Exhibit 5. Level one would involve no priority treatment. Transit vehicles would enter and exit in mixed traffic at conventional interchanges.
Level two would involve an exclusive lane for transit at off-ramps, as well as on-ramps. The lane could allow carpools, if desired, and if operationally feasible.
Level three would involve a direct exit for transit vehicles from the HOV lane. This avoids the need to merge across mixed traffic. The cross-street would likely have mixed traffic, serving as an overpass or underpass, but without mixed traffic access to the freeway. A similar interchange was recently constructed on SR-210 in San Bernardino County, and there are several on I-5 and the 110 freeway.
Level four would involve the best but most expensive solution, direct-connector ramps from the freeway into the oasis. The Transit Oasis Strategy is to provide the highest level that can be afforded. Including these treatments as a part of a larger freeway reconstruction project, will help to minimize the additional cost. This is preferred even though it may mean waiting on some of the priority treatments for a number of years. This is part of the incremental, step-by-step, financially-responsible implementation process envisioned for the Transit Oasis Strategy.
A similar incremental implementation process is envisioned for arterial portions of the express network and for the transit oasis circulator systems. Exhibit 6 shows potential levels for the arterials. Level one involves express vehicles in mixed traffic. Level two would implement priority signal control. Level three would add priority lanes for transit vehicles. In this case, the lane could either be shared with right turning vehicles (which would require only additional widening on the far side of the intersection), or an additional lane could be provided for right turning vehicles, leaving the lane for transit only. Level four would involve exclusive lanes for transit in the median of the arterial. This becomes somewhat complex, particularly where there are left-turning vehicles. Level five would be preferable, an exclusive off-street right-of-way.
3.3.2. Design of the Transit Oasis
Transit service within the oasis serves two functions:
Enhancing access to the regional express system, and
Enhancing circulation within the oasis itself
Some oases may not be large enough to warrant circulator services. Others may actually warrant more than one. No single design scheme is envisioned for the oases. Each will likely be unique, tailored to the development and circulation patterns within it. Constraints will exist in realizing the ideal for certain transit oases. However, some common design principles can guide the development of the oases. Some of the design principles relate to the land use side of the equation; others relate to the provision of transit service within the oasis and the amenities that accompany it.
220.127.116.11. Land Use Design Principles
A plethora of guidebooks exist on transit-oriented design. The basic tenets of these approaches involve clustering uses, increasing densities, and mixing uses to provide a pedestrian-oriented environment. There are numbers of examples of these types of mixed-use centers in Southern California. One could point to downtown Anaheim, sections of Brea, or South Coast Plaza as examples in nearby Orange County. Downtown Riverside would clearly be the closest thing to transit-oriented development in Riverside County, but is probably light on the residential and retail side. The new County General Plan places a strong emphasis on creating more compact, transit-oriented community centers, and some of the city general plans do as well. Guidance for design of these centers is provided in documents relating to the General Plan.
The challenge of creating transit-oriented places is not so much in knowing what to do as in how to actually make it happen. The political and economic environment is generally not kind to transit-oriented development. Some of the barriers to more compact, transit-oriented designs are listed in Exhibit 7, along with possible ways to overcome them. References that could be useful to transit-oriented design in Riverside County include: Guidelines for Transit-Sensitive Suburban Land Use Design (U.S. Department of Transportation, July 1991) or information on a variety of web sites (a suggested starting point is www.smartgrowth.org).
Exhibit 7. Example Barriers to Transit-Oriented Design and Possible Ways to Overcome Those Barriers
|Barrier to Transit-Oriented Design||Possible Methods for Overcoming the Barriers|
|Image of higher density developments as problem areas||Provide incentives to developers to come forward with high quality projects;|
|Land values do not support higher densities at this time||Leave options open for easy conversion to higher densities later on (e.g. leave options open for siting additional buildings or parking structures in areas currently used for surface parking).|
|Citizens lobby against higher density projects, especially ones in their back yard||Provide for quality projects that could potentially increase land values for neighbors. Adequately mitigate perceived impacts (e.g. lighting, overflow parking, etc.). Provide information on other “success stories” in Southern California.|
|Local codes and ordinances and project economics put more dense development at a competitive disadvantage.||Make local codes friendlier to such development (e.g. remove restrictions on mixing certain uses), and consider total cost before reverting to traditional lower density project.|
18.104.22.168. Types of Oases and Their Integration with Land Use
A Transit Oasis may take many forms, and can adapt to both urban and suburban conditions. Typically, it would consist of a single lane, called a transitway, for a transit vehicle; a row or double row of trees, which define the “oasis,” provide shade, and beautify the corridor, and other amenities as circumstances warrant. These other amenities may include additional strips of greenery, known as parkways, pathways for pedestrians, bikeways for cyclists, and even limited roadway for low-speed autos (if sufficient right-of-way is available). There are six possible kinds of Transit Oasis rights-of-way:
1. Parallel to Roadway. A Transit Oasis may run parallel to a roadway within the same overall right-of-way, with some form of separation.
2. Street-Running. Portions of a Transit Oasis may run within a street, or a Transit Oasis shuttle might use a portion of a street which itself is not configured as a Transit Oasis. However, creative landscaping and street treatments can go a long way toward creating the feel of a dedicated oasis right-of-way.
3. Hidden. A “hidden” right-of-way is one just wide enough for the exclusively transit component of the Transit Oasis.
4. Linear Park. The “classic” conception of a Transit Oasis has it running through a linear park of variable dimension.
5. Plaza. A Transit Oasis may open into a larger non-motorized space, such as a park or public plaza.
6. Parking lot. A Transit Oasis may traverse part of a parking lot in order to arrive at the front door of a principal trip generator.
Exhibits 8 through 13 suggest the design parameters for each kind of Transit Oasis right-of-way.
22.214.171.124. Vehicle Design
There are a number of significant issues in vehicle design for the Transit Oasis shuttle.
Internal Configuration. It is unlikely that traditional 40’ transit buses would be appropriate to use in most Transit Oasis circumstances. Rather, smaller vehicles, in the 25-35 foot range, should provide sufficient space for early Transit Oasis lines. Since Transit Oasis circulator trips are generally short, and ease of entry and exit are of significant importance, circulator vehicles should emphasize standing room, wide doors, and some space for package storage.
Vehicle Propulsion. Transit Oases represent ideal applications of the new Hybrid Electric technologies; their general quietness and fuel efficiency make them good candidates for circulator service. Other clean fuel technologies would work well in this environment as well.
Vehicle Guidance. The many potential benefits of vehicle guidance make this a potential component of a Transit Oasis at some later point in time. This is discussed in greater detail in Exhibit 14.
External Characteristics. Research of the transit markets suggests that people respond to vehicles that are easy to see into, are small and “cute,” or are sleek and modern. Wide door-level boarding will reduce dwell time, as will the use of fare prepayment.
Identity. The vehicles, stations, and routes should be tied together with an identity that clearly distinguishes it from other services. All classes of transit service are important, but the identification with speed and convenience is particularly critical here. Of course, the system must live up to its identity. Station amenities will be an important element of creating this identity.
3.3.3. Example Oasis Applications in Western Riverside County
It is instructive to envision how the application of these design principles could play out in actual situations in Riverside County. Three areas are illustrated: the Sun City/Menifee area in unincorporated Riverside County; the City of Temecula, and the City of Corona (focusing on the Corona-Main Metrolink station area). Sun City/Menifee is an example application in what is currently a sparsely developed area planned for a future community center. Temecula is an application in a largely developed setting but with a few key undeveloped parcels remaining. Main Street in Corona north of SR-91 represents an area ripe for redevelopment, which is, in fact, already occurring around the Corona-Main Metrolink station, expected to open in 2002. The examples given are illustrations only and do not represent any commitments by the local governments, land owners, RTA, RCTC, or any other entities.
Sun City/Menifee is identified in the proposed County General Plan as an area for a community center of significant size. As with most developments, project elements will materialize in phases, not all at once. The phasing is also not necessarily completely under the control of the developer, particularly with non-residential development. Market conditions need to be right, and commitments are usually needed from potential occupants of retail and employment-oriented uses. That understood, the following steps could be envisioned in the phased development of the Sun City/Menifee transit oasis.
1. Exhibit 15 - An initial major parcel or sets of parcels are developed and occupied sufficient to warrant a stop on the regional express network. At that point, I-215 may not yet have HOV lanes (it is currently two mixed flow lanes in each direction in this area), and no special provisions are made for transit priority. However, plans for the reconstruction of I215 would be modified to include the provision of HOV lanes and direct “drop ramps.” No transit oasis circulator is provided in this phase, as the oasis is not large enough to warrant one. In fact, regional express transit may focus mainly on peak commuting hours during this period.
2. Exhibit 16 - The oasis is expanded, and now is large enough to warrant a transit circulator. Funding is a joint public/private undertaking. In addition, I-215 has been reconstructed to include HOV lanes as well as HOV drop ramps at an overcrossing built at approximately the same time.
3. Exhibit 17 – The oasis is extended to include San Jacinto Community College, and regional express frequencies are increased.
4. Exhibit 18 – The ultimate level of transit service is achieved, and the oasis is expanded to the west side of I-215 as well.
These increments could occur over many years. How soon they occur is not necessarily important. Preserving options for the accommodation of the ultimate concept is perhaps the most important part of the strategy.
The City of Temecula has several opportunities for the implementation of a transit oasis or oases, with major destinations such as Promenade Mall, Old Town, County government offices, and the proposed Harveston development north of Winchester Road. Exhibit 19 shows an aerial photograph of the area, looking south from just north of Winchester Road to the southern limits of the City. The Promenade Mall is in the foreground, along with Guidant, the largest private employer in the City, and the County library and government center. Harveston, a major mixed-use development project is imminent on the Lennar property, also in the foreground. Caltrans and the City are working together on a plan for a new interchange on I-15 just north of Winchester Road. This would be an ideal location for a transit station on the regional express network. A first-phase loop could connect the station with the government center, mall, major employers, and retail facilities on the west of I-15. A second phase could add a loop to old town, the civic center, and other employment locations.
The Corona-Main Metrolink Station area is another location that is amenable to a transit oasis implementation. Currently in the process of redevelopment, the area along Main Street is anticipated to become more dense and will diversify its land uses from the current mainly industrial base. Participants at the Transit Oasis Design Charette, held in Spring, 2001, suggested two transit loops feeding the station, as shown in Exhibit 20, one to the south connecting with activities in the core area along Sixth Street, and one to the north. RTA is planning to expand express service to Orange County along the SR-91 corridor, and East Corona may be a station stop on that route as well.
The Transit Oasis Strategy will succeed to the extent that we can bring the necessary forces to bear in supporting it. In addition to the system itself, these additional forces include developing land in such a way that it maximizes access to the system. A lot of this involves mainly re-thinking certain types of development and how they are situated within the cities and unincorporated areas. It does not mean radical changes in what we do. It does not require us to become another downtown Los Angeles. But putting our higher density developments in areas easily served by transit will help. We must also engage in “speed protection” for transit vehicles. If the transit vehicles get caught in traffic like everyone else, the system will not be as desirable to use, hence the highlighting of speed as the first design goal, stated earlier. It is a goal more easily talked about than implemented, which leads to the importance of the next section of this report.
4. Implementing The Transit Oasis Strategy
The overview has already indicated that the Transit Oasis Strategy will be implemented gradually, not as a crash program. In fact, the likely outcome is difficult to predict at this point. The system may not develop exactly as we currently envision it. The strategy will need to be updated to modify certain features in response to opportunities or constraints that are currently not foreseen. The near-term strategy is clearer, and for this reason, the strategy involves not only the master plan, but also several “early implementation routes” to gain experience with the system, gauge citizen response, and make appropriate adjustments to the strategy. We can also learn from the experiences of other systems. The Los Angeles RapidBus experience will be one to watch carefully, and perhaps emulate.
This section discusses several aspects of implementation:
Implementation actions, schedule, and agency
Estimated costs and funding strategies
4.1. Implementation Principles
A major effort like the Transit Oasis Strategy raises a lot of questions: How much will it cost? Which areas will it serve? How can we build more transit-friendly communities in the County, when we are so dependent on cars? The approach we have chosen allows us to deal with these questions one by one, area by area. But the overall concept is necessary to tie the entire framework together; and we must have the resolve to make it happen and stick with it over the long term. A half-hearted effort is not likely to succeed. If developers and cities commit to being a part of the process, they must count on the service being there over the long term.
What makes implementing the Transit Oasis Strategy so challenging is the multiplicity of agencies that must be involved in implementing it – RTA, RCTC, Caltrans, all the local governments, WRCOG as a local government coordinating agency, and the development community, to name a few. Implementation opportunities will come in different areas and at different times. All of these opportunities must be anticipated and pursued.
Some of the key principles for implementing the system are:
Define the Transit Oasis Strategy as the “master plan” for development of express transit services in Western Riverside County, and regularly update that plan as new information becomes available.
Assign specific agencies and personnel the responsibility of identifying implementation opportunities as land development occurs and as transportation infrastructure is planned. The system will not happen on its own. Each implementation opportunity will need to be individually pursued and advocated. The appointment of a Transit Oasis Strategy coordinator will be essential to ensure that opportunities do not fall through the cracks.
Identify routes for early implementation, learn from that experience, and make the necessary adjustments. Several such routes are recommended later in this section.
Aggressively pursue funding from all levels of government and seek participation from the private sector.
Provide an incentive structure that encourages participation by local governments and the development community.
4.2. Implementation Actions, Schedule, and Agency Responsibilities
Exhibit 21 presents a series of proposed implementation actions, and a schedule. The actions are organized by agency, to make it easy for agencies to identify their responsibilities for implementing parts of the plan. The schedule is approximate at this point, but is needed to provide a general time frame for action. The schedule focuses on the next two years of activity. A number of the actions are ongoing. The exhibit is self-explanatory, but discussions will be needed among all the participating entities to obtain agreement that the schedule is realistic. The proposed schedule does not imply any concurrence with these dates at this point. They are merely stated for consideration as part of the strategy. Possible approval of the Transit Oasis Strategy is suggested for June, 2002, and it is anticipated that the schedule would become part of that approval.
It is important to recognize that the citizens of Riverside County will ultimately drive what the Transit Oasis Strategy becomes. Investment decisions on the part of both the public and private sector will be determined by what the citizens are willing to support and pay for.
Citizens can help support the strategy by recognizing that transit serves an important function, and that with good design, more of us will want to use it. Understandably, people get concerned about higher density development, and they should be concerned when it is located in places where it does not belong. But it does belong in some areas and, in fact, it is essential if we are to offer people true mobility choices. Not everyone will want to ride transit, nor to live in more urban-style activity centers. But some people will want that lifestyle, and we need to offer them ways of getting around that do not require the car. Higher density development in the right places will be a real asset to Riverside County. Many opportunities will be retained for rural living as well. And that is what the Transit Oasis Strategy is all about – maintaining choices. The Transit Oasis Strategy will be an important part of how we provide choices to our citizens, choices of lifestyles, activities, and how we travel between them.
|Exhibit 21. Proposed Actions By Agency and Target Completion Date|
|RTA, RCTC, and WRCOG|
|• Review and approve the Transit Oasis Strategy||June 2002|
|• Identify specific actions and funds required for early implementation routes||July 2002|
|• Periodically update the Transit Oasis Strategy||Review annually for possible updates|
|• Develop design guidelines for cities and developers to use when implementing oases, amenities, and priority treatments||July 2002|
|• Designate specific individuals responsible for seeing that components of the system are implemented and to serve as points of contact||July 2002|
|• Identify specific funding possible through Measure A||March 2002|
|• Identify possible incentive programs to encourage city/county participation||July 2002|
|• Identify and procure funds to expand and operate the system||Ongoing|
|• Begin operation of at least one early implementation route (RTA and RCTC)||December 2002|
|• Work with cities to identify specific express transit station locations and routes system wide||December 2002|
|Cities and County|
|• Review and approve the Transit Oasis Strategy through representation on RCTC, RTA, and WRCOG||June 2002|
|• Work with RTA, RCTC, and WRCOG to begin operation of early implementation routes||December 2002|
|• Work with RTA, RCTC, and WRCOG to identify specific express transit station locations and routes system wide||December 2002|
|• Incorporate design guidelines for transit oases, as modified for local implementation, into local ordinances and design standards.||Mid-2003|
|• Recognize regional transit routes, oases, and stations in amendments to local general plans. Prepare Specific Plans for selected oases, in cooperation with property owners.||As needed|
|• Work with RTA and RCTC to include transit priority treatments in local construction projects and signalization projects.||Ongoing|
|• Specify incentives local governments are willing to provide to developers for transit amenities, densification, etc. within transit oases.||Mid-2003|
|• Work with RTA and RCTC to define specific design features that need to be included on State highways||December 2002|
|• Update Route Concept Fact Sheets for all affected facilities||At regular update cycle|
|• Come forward with economically viable, quality projects that promote development in transit station areas||Ongoing|
|• Work with local governments to develop design guidelines and incentive programs that work for all parties: the agencies, the public, and the development community||Mid-2003|
4.3. Early Implementation Routes
Three routes are identified for early implementation of Regional Express Transit:
Moreno Valley to Metrolink and downtown Riverside
Temecula/Murrieta to Corona
Riverside to Corona corridor
Initiatives are already underway on each of these potential routes. In Moreno Valley, the express would run from a transit center at Moreno Valley Mall to a transit center in downtown and/or at Metrolink. Since HOV lanes are not completely in place on SR-60/I215, the opportunities for express routing are being explored along Alessandro Boulevard. The service could transition to the HOV lanes at a later date. In the early stages, the service would focus on the peak commuting periods, with additional service contemplated once it becomes established. Connections to UC Riverside are a natural follow-on, and would serve a substantial number of people mid-day, including students, staff, and faculty. Extension of the route to the east, would be another logical phase, with connection to a second transit center or oasis.
Temecula/Murrieta to Corona is a substantially longer route, but an important one to commuters along I-15 and into Orange County via Metrolink. The Corona-Main station of Metrolink will be operational in year 2002, and an oasis at that location is ideal. Potential transit loops for this location were identified earlier. Likewise, concepts for a transit station and interfacing loops in Temecula were discussed earlier as well. An intermediate stop in Lake Elsinore would serve as a focal point for transit there. RTA at the Lake Elsinore outlet center has identified a potential transit center.
The third early implementation route is being examined in a study of Bus Rapid Transit. The specific corridor(s) for BRT have not been determined. The Riverside to Corona corridor has been mentioned as a possibility. The BRT implementation would likely utilize arterial streets, at least in part, and be based on principles similar to the MTA RapidBus system.
These three early implementation express routes would connect six out of some 15 possible transit centers being contemplated by RTA and local jurisdictions. With the establishment of the express service, the stage is then set for enhancing travel time through targeted priority treatments, and the development of circulator services, where warranted. Opportunities also exist for transit-enhancing land use decisions, particularly around the Corona-Main station and in Temecula/Murrieta.
4.4. Estimated Costs and Funding Strategies
The cost of operating a transit oasis circulator service with full-size vehicles from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 365 days per year (assuming 18 hours of actual operating time) can be estimated at approximately $400,000 per year (assuming RTA system-wide average cost of $62 per vehicle-hour). Farebox recovery of 20 to 30 percent can be assumed, resulting in net operating cost of some $300,000 annually. Reductions in cost can be achieved through reducing days or hours of operation. Smaller vehicles can reduce costs by potentially 25 percent, if warranted. Capital costs for full-size vehicles are in the $300,000 range per vehicle.
Express service costs will be a function of route length, headways, and hours of service. For example, shorter routes, such as Moreno Valley to Riverside, would be serviceable with no more than two vehicles running at 30-minute headways during the peak periods and hour headways off-peak. An estimated 24 hours of daily vehicle operation on weekdays only, as estimated for a number of the Regional Flyer routes, would result in operating costs of approximately $380,000 per year. Longer routes will involve additional vehicles to maintain the same headways. The RTA Strategic Business Plan identified transit center costs in the range of $1.5 million per center. On an oasis loop, two or three secondary stops may be employed, with lesser levels of amenities, at substantially lower costs.
Though the levels of cost are significant, they are still considerably less than the capital and operating costs of light rail systems. It should also be remembered that these systems will be incrementally developed. Although operating costs will be recurring, the capital investments are one-time, or in the case of vehicles, a number of years apart.
Funding for the Regional Express Network and the oasis circulators will need to involve a multiplicity of sources. RTA and RCTC are aware of the opportunities to procure Federal and State funds. The extension of Measure A offers an additional opportunity to support the implementation of additional transit services as well as increases in highway capacity. The RTA Strategic Business Plan identifies potential funding sources for funding service expansions. Funding availability will be one determining factor for how and where the system is able to expand. Tradeoffs will need to be made regarding geographic expansion versus expansion in service frequency and coverage of off-peak time periods.