Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition

Fair Share Housing Campaign Platform

Drafted and signed by:

California Affordable Housing Law Project, Greenbelt Alliance, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Urban Ecology

The Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition is comprised of over 60 organizations committed to creating an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable Bay Area. The Bay Area needs housing that meets the present and future needs of the workforce and households of all income levels. This housing should be accommodated through compact, infill development sites on land close to job centers and transit nodes. The Fair Share Housing distribution process is a key opportunity for our region to meet these needs.

Association of Bay Area Government’s Housing Distribution
For the first time in a decade, the Association of Bay Area Governments has been enabled by the state to determine the amount of housing each jurisdiction must incorporate in their General Plan Housing Element in order to meet the region’s housing needs. The State’s housing needs analysis shows that there will be a regional need of 230,743 households seeking housing in the nine Bay Area counties over the seven and a half-year period of 1999-2006. That amounts to a need of 30,766 units per year – at least a third of which are needed for low and very low-income households.

Environmental Impacts
The Bay Area’s dominant land use pattern of low-density, single-use development is a threat to the environment because it encroaches on agricultural land and open space, and because it forces reliance on driving to meet all daily needs. Car pollution is the central reason that the Bay Area has been out of compliance with federal clean air status for ozone since 1998. At 5 units per acre – the typical density of Bay Area development over the last few decades – this new 230,743 housing units would require paving one and ½ times the land area of San Francisco. On the other hand, if just one-third of this new development occurs at 20 units per acre, then 130,741 more workers would live in neighborhoods with enough population density to support regular transit service.

Social & Economic Impacts
Dispersed housing development encourages a similar pattern of dispersed job development. An increased investment in public transit could provide more connections among jobs and housing, but there is no practical way for public transit to serve the majority of local and long-distance trips created by suburban sprawl. Thus drivers suffer nightmarish commutes, reducing family quality time, and transportation problems pose a significant barrier to employment for low-income Bay Area residents. Historically the greatest housing gap has been for low and moderate-income households – cashiers, teachers, bus drivers – who cannot afford to live and work in the same community. Finally, Bay Area businesses struggle to attract and retain a workforce without sufficient housing.

The Coalition’s Recommendations
The Coalition urges all Bay Area cities to provide enough compact housing to meet the needs of every income category. Cities should create special programs and incentives to meet the housing needs of low income residents — which are often not met by the market. Compact housing development can be achieved through numerous strategies, including:

identifying sites for re-development and land re-use including brownfields and other vacant sites
re-zoning for higher density on transit corridors
encouraging second units and density bonuses
setting urban growth boundaries

Many of the same strategies can ensure that the affordable housing needs requirement is met. Additionally, cities can use tools such as:

inclusionary zoning – a percentage of every housing project is affordable
land-banking/land trust – local government purchases land and preserves it as permanently affordable
fast-tracking for affordable housing – simplifying the permit and approvals process
enforce and raise the requirement to set-aside 20% of redevelopment funds for affordable housing.

For more strategies, please read Blueprint for Bay Area Housing, published by the Local Housing Element Assistance Project (LHEAP), a joint effort of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Bay Area Council. A paper copy can be ordered by calling ABAG at (510) 464-7000.

For more information about the Fair Share Housing Campaign, contact the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California and Greenbelt Alliance.