Bill to Increase Transit-Oriented Development at BART Stations Signed by Governor

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Legislation requires BART to establish transit-oriented development zoning standards on BART-owned land

SACRAMENTO--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 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown today. 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.  

“We can no longer afford to say no to building housing, especially around transit hubs,” said Assemblymember Chiu, who chairs the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “This law takes on two of our biggest challenges in the Bay Area--housing affordability and traffic congestion.” 

“By signing this bill into law, the Governor is sending a powerful message to residents throughout the Bay Area that the same old ‘Not In My Back Yard’ arguments will no longer be able to drown out their voices and calls for more affordable housing,” said Assemblymember Grayson.  “AB 2923 is an important step towards addressing our regional transportation and housing crises and improving the quality of life for all within our communities.”

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. Amendments to the bill 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 (NPH) and the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) sponsored AB 2923. 

"We at the State Building Trades express our deep gratitude to Governor Brown for his signature on AB 2923, and Assemblymembers Chiu and Grayson for their vision and leadership in advancing policy that produces sustainable development with strong affordable housing requirements,” said Cesar Diaz, SBCTC Legislative Director. “Our members, from apprentices to journeypersons, stand ready to build communities that meet the needs of the environment and housing affordability."

“We thank Governor Brown for signing AB 2923 and deeply appreciate the leadership of Assemblymembers Chiu and Grayson and BART Director Josefowitz as such stalwart champions of smart and progressive transit-oriented affordable housing policy,” said Michael Lane, NPH Policy Director. “This sensible and enlightened legislation allows us to address both our housing affordability and climate change crises simultaneously by enabling the construction of thousands of new homes near BART stations, resulting in fewer cars and less traffic congestion on our region’s roads.”

"I applaud Governor Brown for having the courage to sign AB2923, a vital new tool to deliver tens of thousands of new homes at BART stations across the region," said Nick Josefowitz, BART Board member and one of the bill's chief architects.  "This bill delivers on so many priorities: affordable housing for working families and seniors, congestion relief, and environmental sustainability." 

The law will take effect on January 1, 2019.

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