Chiu-Grayson Bill to Encourage Transit-Oriented Development Near BART Stations Passes Assembly

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Legislation would require 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) near certain Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations passed the Assembly 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.  

“Building housing near major transit hubs just makes sense,” said Assemblymember Chiu, who chairs the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “Transit oriented development is good for our environment, helps relieve congestion, and increases transit ridership. Most importantly, speeding up TOD projects will help alleviate our housing crisis and make it easier for residents to afford to live in our very expensive Bay Area.”

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.

“This bill is an example of the type of forward thinking we need to solve the pressing issues of our region and state,” said Assemblymember Grayson. “We're going to make it easier to develop affordable housing, which is a key component of the long-term solution to our housing crisis, and these projects will make it easier for people to access public transportation and will take cars off the road, easing the congestion that plagues our region and reducing mobile emissions that harm our environment.”

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. At least 7,000 of those units will be affordable.

However, TOD projects often face lengthy delays, in some cases 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. Projects that comply with the updated zoning that include 20 percent affordable housing units will be eligible for by-right approval unless a jurisdiction has met its housing goals for both affordable and market rate housing. The bill was amended recently to make clear that local jurisdictions can establish design guidelines for TOD projects.

The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California are co-sponsoring AB 2923. The measure now moves on to the Senate.

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