Officials have long envisioned a blueprint for San Diego centered on public transportation. So-called “transit-oriented development” is included in all of San Diego’s planning documents, imagining a future where homes, businesses and infrastructure are built around public transit stations.

The thought is: The more stuff there is near bus stops and trolley stations, the more people will use it. And the environment would ultimately benefit since that would mean fewer people driving cars.

Last month, SANDAG approved a regional plan to encourage more transit-oriented development, but critics say the strategy actually does little to ensure that kind of development happens.

San Diego consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to transit evaluations. In fact, San Diego County’s Gillespie Field trolley station was ranked the worst in the state when it comes to the development around it.

On this week’s San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Maya Srikrishnan and NBC’s Monica Dean visit the county’s worst trolley station and dive deeper into what transit-oriented development is and why it’s important.

Amanda Rhoades is a reporting intern for Voice of San Diego. You can get in contact with her by phone or email at 619-550-5672 or

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