Bill to Encourage Transit-Oriented Development at BART Stations Clears Senate Floor

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sacramento, CA--A bill authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Timothy S. Grayson (D-Concord) to encourage transit-oriented development (TOD) at certain Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations today passed the Senate Floor. Assembly Bill 2923 will require BART to set new standards for transit-oriented development on BART-owned land within a half mile of a BART station. To reduce delays, the bill requires local governments to update their own zoning to meet BART’s affordability and zoning standards.  

“Building housing near major transit hubs just makes sense,” said Assemblymember Chiu, who chairs the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “Speeding up transit-oriented projects will help alleviate our housing crisis and make it easier for residents to afford to live and work in our very expensive Bay Area.”

“We have acres and acres of underutilized real estate within walking distance of BART that is ripe for affordable, transit-oriented development,” said Assemblymember Grayson. “AB 2923 is a common sense measure to speed up construction in communities throughout the Bay Area, and I am confident that this measure will increase housing supply, reduce traffic congestion, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

Building mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods adjacent to frequent and efficient public transportation will allow the Bay Area to grow while reducing regional congestion. Transit-oriented development results in improved job access, reduced auto dependence, more affordable living, and stronger public transit ridership and fare revenue.

The BART Board of Directors recently passed a progressive and ambitious TOD policy committing itself to fully building out BART-owned land around its stations by 2040, which would produce over 20,000 new units of housing.

However, TOD projects often face lengthy delays, in some cases of more than a decade, due to jurisdictions demanding less housing and more parking for transit-adjacent developments. This increases project costs while reducing project benefits and affordability. As a result, BART has not proposed transit-oriented development on many of the sites that could produce much-needed housing.

AB 2923 will require BART to adopt TOD zoning standards for BART-owned land and in turn will require local jurisdictions to update local zoning within two years to reflect those standards. Thirty percent of the total housing units generated under AB 2923 must be affordable to low- and very low-income residents. Projects will be eligible for by-right approval if they meet affordability standards and satisfy certain updated zoning requirements set by the bill. Recent amendments ensure that housing built on BART property will take into account the surrounding community by only streamlining those projects that are no more than one story above locally approved heights within a half mile of the property.

The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California are co-sponsoring AB 2923. The measure will now go back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote.

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