Joseph S. Buga
Joseph S. Buga

Urban Environment


Work Position
President, Human Services and Community Development, Inc.

Date passed dissertation defense
June 2015


Joe is President of HSCD (Human Services and Community Development, Inc.) which specializes in the planning and financing of public purpose projects including affordable housing, childcare centers, and charter schools. Prior to founding HSCD, Joe worked with DKM Building Enterprises, where he led a division that developed homeownership and rental projects. In the 1980’s he served as Associate Director of the Newark Collaboration Group, a public- private partnership in Newark. Joe holds a Bachelors degree in English and a Master of Public Administration degree from Rutgers University.

Title of the Dissertation

Light Rail and Changing Development Patterns in San Diego, Dallas and Jersey City

Dissertation Proposal Abstract

Since 1985 over 20 metropolitan areas in the United States have built new light rail systems at a cost of over $50 billion, primarily in public funding. During about the same time period, New Urbanism, Smart Growth and Transit Oriented Development, have emerged as new land use planning theories. This research will address how these theories have been incorporated into the planning of light rail systems and how development patterns at several light rail sites have adhered to these theories. A review of secondary sources on planning and transportation will be used to assemble an up-to-date compendium on light rail sites in the United States. Case studies will be prepared on three light rail systems, The Hudson Bergen Light Rail, The Dallas Area Rapid Transit System and the San Diego Trolley.

Each case study will include information gathered from a review of the planning documents specific to the project. Information on project planning will also be supplement through interviews with transit and government officials. A New Theories Scorecard will be developed and used in assessing how the theories are incorporated in major residential and commercial development projects near the light rail lines. Information on specific projects will be supplemented through interviews with project developers. In addition, a Geographic Information System (GIS) study will be used to determine the changes in residential development patterns over the last several decades in the case study cities.

The anticipated findings of the study are that the principles central to these new planning theories are included in early planning documents and over time have become more prevalent. The level to which principles are incorporated into planning documents varies significantly by project. In many instances, the actual developments incorporate many principles; however, in other instances the developments include attributes diametrically opposed to the theories. The residential development patterns in center city areas of the light rail projects have changed significantly and major changes have occurred in some areas outside center cities, while in other areas outside center cities, little or no change in development patterns has occurred.

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