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July 10, 2005
Plan to link housing to transit funding
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Bay Area transportation officials are poised to adopt a groundbreaking policy that would bring life -- and housing -- to neighborhoods that would rise along new transit lines.
"We're going to get out of the Eisenhower era and into the 21st century, '' said Stuart Cohen, executive director of the Transportation and Land Use Coalition, a group that has long advocated a connection between development and funding transit projects.
The policy, endorsed Friday by a committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, would require cities and counties to zone areas surrounding new transit stations and extensions for dense housing development in order to collect transportation funding. The policy would also reward cities for including affordable housing in developments near transit centers. And it would offer money to cities to help pay for the necessary planning.
The commission, the region's transportation planning and funding agency, is scheduled to give final approval to the policy at its July 27 meeting.
While environmental, housing and transit advocacy groups are enthusiastic, officials in some cities are fearful they will have to surrender local control.
But at Friday's meeting, virtually everyone, including some city officials who formerly opposed the policy, lent their support.
"The goal of the policy is to get more people on transit and reduce subsidies (paid to transit operators),'' said James Corless, a senior planner for the commission and coordinator of the policy. "Our research shows that the closer people live to transit, the more likely they are to take it.''
Cohen said the Bay Area has rarely considered the connection between transit and land use.
"When transit lines are surrounded by a sea of parking lots of big box stores, people wonder why transit is empty,'' he said. "Housing is the key to making transit work. More homes mean more riders. And more riders make the transit system more efficient.''
The policy would require planning and zoning for a certain density of housing along each new transit line and around each of its stations. While that has concerned some city officials, Corless said others have been swayed by the success of transit villages elsewhere.
"They're not going to create a downtown San Francisco in Antioch, and we never wanted them to," Corless said. "But they could create something that is uniquely Antioch.''
For more information visit the MTC websitePosted by Coalition Webbies at July 10, 2005 06:28 PM