Bay Area Towns Rewarded for Focused Growth Initiatives

Wed July 29, 2009 - West Edition
CEG




Officials from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) July 21 applauded the actions of numerous Bay Area communities that have been awarded voter-approved Proposition 1C housing bond funds from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Of the 21 Bay Area projects slated to receive funding, 20 — worth some $229 million — will help support construction of more than 5,000 housing units in Priority Development Areas (PDAs). A key element in the region’s FOCUS initiative, PDAs are locally designated areas meeting criteria adopted by ABAG and other regional agencies where future growth can be channeled at sufficient densities to take advantage of existing infrastructure and services, especially transit service.

“This state action bolsters efforts in our region to focus our growth and leverage our transportation investments to help the Bay Area achieve goals for compact growth, preservation of agricultural lands and open space, and to help protect the climate,” noted MTC Chair and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who also serves on ABAG’s executive board.

Included in the Bay Area awards are Proposition 1C Infill Infrastructure Grant Program funds for housing projects in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, Union City, El Cerrito, Pittsburg, Sunnyvale and Santa Rosa, as well as Transit-Oriented Development Program awards for housing near transit stations in San Francisco and Hayward.

“We’d like to thank the officials at the California Department of Housing and Community Development for supporting our efforts here in the region to promote development of housing near transit. Residents of these households drive half as much as other Bay Area residents. This kind of development also helps keep residents’ transportation costs down and gives our transit operators a new base of riders,” noted ABAG President and San Mateo County Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson.

“This funding is a critical piece of San Francisco’s economic stimulus efforts — these developments will get people back to work quickly on projects that will make San Francisco a more environmentally and economically sustainable city,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “If not for this state support, these projects would be severely delayed or entirely abandoned.”

In the East Bay, two separate awards will go to the South Hayward BART project — $30 million for mixed-use development adjacent to the BART station, and another $17 million for senior and family housing.

In the city of Pittsburg, officials welcomed the funding for new senior housing. According to Pittsburg Mayor Nancy L. Parent, “This project, Siena Court, will bring much needed, high-density, affordable senior housing to the City of Pittsburg, where there are over 300 seniors on the waiting list for affordable housing.”

The awards were likewise welcomed in the North Bay.

“Funding from the state for a mixed use project in [Santa Rosa’s] Railroad Square builds momentum for the recently adopted Downtown Station Area Specific Plan. This site is key because it is immediately adjacent to the planned SMART station,” said Santa Rosa City Manager Jeff Colin.

Over the past few years, the Bay Area has taken big steps to address current and future population and job growth. In 2007, ABAG and MTC, along with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, launched the incentive-based FOCUS regional development and conservation initiative as a way to encourage more housing next to transit and to protect green spaces.

FOCUS PDAs serve as a way to encourage local governments to approve higher density development near transit stations in their communities. MTC, in its recently adopted Transportation 2035 Plan, doubled the size of its hallmark Transportation for Livable Communities program, to $2.2 billion over 25 years, in order to advance focused growth objectives and support PDAs.

Funding from Proposition 1C — approved by voters in November 2006 as part of a $42 billion bond package — includes $2.85 billion in bond revenues for infrastructure and housing in California. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, the awards are subject to the state’s ability to sell bonds.

MTC is the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area’s transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency. ABAG is the official regional planning agency for the nine counties and 101 cities and towns of the Bay Area.