New Transit Housing Bill Racks up Endorsements

The Mandela Transit Village, a $900 million housing, office, and retail development planned for the West Oakland BART Station. SB-50 would stop local municipalities from jamming up  dense development such as this around transit. Image: BART
The Mandela Transit Village, a $900 million housing, office, and retail development planned for the West Oakland BART Station. SB-50 would stop local municipalities from jamming up dense development such as this around transit. Image: BART

San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener’s transit-oriented housing bill, S.B. 50, the More HOMES Act, is gaining momentum and endorsements. The latest is kind of a natural one–BART.

From a release from Wiener’s office:

Today, the BART Board of Directors voted to endorse Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) S.B. 50, the More HOMES Act. S.B. 50 eliminates hyper-low-density zoning near public transit and job centers, thus legalizing apartment buildings and affordable housing in these locations so that more people can live near transit and near where they work. S.B. 50 will help make housing more affordable and reduce carbon emissions by allowing people to live closer to where they work and closer to transit. S.B. 50 also reduces or eliminates minimum parking requirements for new developments.

“BART has an ambitious plan for transit-oriented development at BART stations, with the goal of 20,000 housing units, including 7,000 affordable units by 2040. Even when we meet this goal, that won’t be sufficient to address the Bay Area’s housing crisis or to produce enough housing near transit,” said BART Board District 3 Director Rebecca Saltzman in a prepared statement. “S.B. 50 will help ensure the production of more housing around BART stations, addressing housing needs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The bill already had the endorsements of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), CALPIRG, Environment California, the California League of Conservation Voters, and others.

S.B. 50 is, of course, a revamp of the failed S.B. 827. That was Wiener’s last attempt at a transit housing bill to bust through the juggernaut of local opposition to density that leaves so many transit hubs with nothing around them (or only allows for low-density).

S.B. 827 didn’t have sufficient protections in place to guard against displacement, which limited its support and ultimately contributed to its demise. But “S.B. 50 includes bold new protections for disadvantaged communities under threat of displacement, and the communities that are built as a result of this bill will be affordable and deeply inclusive,” wrote MTC Commissioner Nick Josefowitz, in an email to Streetsblog.

For example, in S.B. 50, tenants of mobile home parks have the same protections as other tenants in order to protect against displacement. There is also a mandatory affordable housing requirement of 15-25 percent low-income units, depending on the size of the project, and includes options to meet the requirement by providing “very low-income units.”

“To meet California’s climate goals, we must reform our approach to housing and legalize more housing near jobs and public transit,” said Wiener. “It’s not sustainable to mandate low-density zoning near jobs and transit. Doing so forces people into crushing commutes, covers up farmland and open space, clogs our freeways, and increases carbon emissions.”

S.B. 50 was introduced on December 3, and will be set for hearings in April, according to Wiener’s office.

The Larkspur Ferry Terminal, with its total lack of housing. A train station will open here later this year. Photo: Golden Gate Bridge District
The Larkspur Ferry Terminal, with its total lack of housing. A train station will open here later this year. Photo: Golden Gate Bridge District

 

  • LazyReader

    Build a house near ferry terminal, don’t expect it to be affordable.

  • crazyvag

    And the SMART station is what, a mile away? But handicap accessible just like the ferry. One time you wish today ADA laws restricted how far away the connections can be.

  • DG

    Back in 2015 I rode from the city with SF Bike Coalition/Green Belt Alliance and mostly young planners our tour went through the Presidio where the group had lunch then up and over the Golden Gate bridge when we got to the Marin watershed our group was met by a docent who talked talked about the Marin wetlands then when we got to the town of Corte Madera we regrouped and headed to the other side of the freeway before we rode a short distance before we had to dismounted and walked our bikes over the catwalk and into the Lark Spur landing area, (after we regrouped at the Lark Spur landing a person took a group photograph and I remember Andy Garcia who was with Green Belt Alliance explain how the Housing Needs Allocation funds the planning department to studies the potential for housing development and to offer the housing at different levels of affordability, and after the study was completed the Housing Needs Allocation group had asked the Lark Spur planners what did they like about the pedestrian and bicycle circulation and they say that they don’t like anything, and that because we live in Democracy and that they have to get feed back from their constituency and the people in that area do not want change.

  • This happens everywhere in the Bay Area. Resistance to change is endemic. It goes beyond Nimbyism to paranoia. BART to Livermore…no downtown route because it will bring in crime and undesirables. So, let’s encourage sprawl by sticking the station in the highway median with zero connection to ACE. Geary BRT…speeding up transit on one of the most heavily used bus routes will ruin business along the corridor by removing parking. (Okay, how about building a subway to preserve parking and traffic lanes? Nope, because construction will destroy businesses.)

  • Or anywhere in CA, for that matter.

  • rplatkin

    SB 50 contains many flaws, and Scott Wiener has bamboozled these “Big Green” groups.

    1) Many areas near mass transit already have high density zoning and high density housing, such as the Miracle Mile, part of the Purple Line Extension. It reveals what will happen if SB 50 passes.

    2) This existing high density housing reveals what SB 50’s statewide up-zoning will produce expensive rental housing and condos. The small percentage of the population who can afford these rents mostly own and drive cars. This is why the METRO lines that serve areas (Hollywood, Wilshire Corridor, Koreatown, DTLA) of new, high density, transit-adjacent housing have dismal ridership statistics. The housing, tenants, and transit are all in place, but the mix is incorrect, and transit ridership is plummeting, while the cost of TOD housing soars upward.

    3) The affordable housing requirements do not require physical inspections, and many affordable rental units will be quickly rented out at market rates because of this lack of enforcement.

    4) SB 50 does not have a monitoring program, and this is not an accident. If it passes, its up-zones are permanent, and monitoring would reveal they promote automobile driving and congestion, air pollution, gentrification. Hence, no monitoring.

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