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BART Board

Sign the letter today.

Our Letter:

Dear President, Vice-President, and Directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board:

Californians are facing a crisis-level housing shortage. For decades, local policies have unreasonably constrained equitable housing development in California cities. The consequences of this chronic housing shortage have been devastating, displacing hundreds of thousands of former Bay Area residents, dismantling communities, and driving people to rely on cars to commute ever longer distances between work and home. It is time to make major steps to remedy this policy failure.

SB 827, a bill by Senator Scott Wiener, Senator Nancy Skinner, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Senator Ben Hueso would counteract these failures in regional planning by allowing denser, more affordable development near high-quality transit services in California, like BART. Prohibiting apartments near these major public investments in transit is bad for the environment, bad for working people and bad for California. SB 827 is a major step towards creating the vibrant, transit-oriented communities we need.

For many, BART serves as a ticket to opportunity, but not everyone in the Bay Area has the option to live near a BART station, in part because local governments have restricted access to BART with exclusionary zoning practices and unnecessarily high parking requirements. BART has thus been deprived of potential riders — through no fault of its own — who instead commute in private, single-occupancy automobiles that harm our health and threaten to derail our urgent climate goals.

Exclusionary land use policies legislated by and for wealthy areas of the Bay Area have systematically displaced poorer BART riders. The people of the Bay Area depend on reliable, high-quality transit as an effective anti-poverty program, and so it is especially tragic when the working poor cannot access BART. SB 827 would allow non-profit housing developers to build affordable housing in some of the most exclusionary neighborhoods, preempting local zoning that makes such development near BART illegal. With its strong tenants protections, SB 827 opens the door for families to live near great BART stations like Glen Park and Rockridge.

If we ever hope to meet our regional housing needs, we need to utilize every means available to us to secure the human right to housing. We need that development to be located near BART if we are going to meet our Paris Agreement goals and our state climate goals. But, most importantly, we need to build the opportunity for more people at every income levels to live near a BART stop. SB827 is a critical component of BART’s plan to support the maximum amount of affordable housing near its stations; the agency’s recent adoption of a high inclusionary ratio for new construction is well-complemented by this bill.

We the undersigned request the BART Board of Directors formally support SB 827, and we request that you convey this support to the legislature. Together, we can keep the land near BART stops, and the whole Bay Area, a place for everyone. If we seek to follow through on our claim that the Bay Area Rides Together, we must take such steps to ensure success and maximize the agency’s benefit to society.

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