Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 56

n TRANSPORTATION I n south Sacramento, the Meadowview Road Light Rail dense housing near transit hubs will destroy neighborhood station used to be the end of the line. Commuters could character, fuel traffic congestion and limit available parking. leave their cars at the parking lot and take the Blue Line On the other side of the argument, the YIMBYs say that hous- downtown, or keep going north to Watt and I-80. In 2015, a ing near mass transit stops will fuel increased ridership of 4.3-mile extension pushed the line out to Cosumnes River trains and buses while enabling others to walk or bike, cre- College. After that, the 15-acre parking lot fell even further ating more integrated neighborhoods and decreasing carbon off the map, becoming an underutilized property people emissions by limiting the need to drive. rode past. “These transit-oriented development areas become little Could converting this type of lot into residential develop- neighborhoods, and people like to be in neighborhoods,” says ment be a key to solving California’s housing crisis? John Hodgson, former chair of the ULI Sacramento chap- Last September, a panel from the Urban Land Institute, ter and president of The Hodgson Company, a Sacramento- an international nonprofit research and education real-es- based real-estate, land-use and government advocacy firm. tate organization, toured the area near this station and one “But I don’t think it applies that much to the Sacramento re- on Florin Road. According to James Corless, the executive di- gion because, to the best of my knowledge, we really don’t rector for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the have many good transit-oriented locations.” panel concluded that transit-oriented development around Legislators killed SB 827 in its first committee hearing, these stations could fill housing gaps, spur additional rid- but Wiener plans to bring it back this legislative session ership, bring jobs and serve as a template to stimulate more with revisions. He has been working with stakeholders and TOD activity in the Sacramen- certain groups who opposed to region. the original iteration on a re- “The ULI panel said, vised version of SB 827. While ‘You’re not being ambitious the changes haven’t been enough,’” Corless says. “They finalized, Wiener says the told us we have the opportu- new version will offer more nity to use these large par- flexibility to communities cels of undeveloped land, and where displacement has been the market will support more happening. housing options.” Wiener knows how difficult In urban planning, TOD is it will be to win over those who a type of community develop- don’t want the state to have - Scott Wiener, ment that integrates housing, any role in housing but be- office, retail and other ameni- lieves the strategy to be neces- State Senator, San Francisco 11th District ties into walkable neighbor- sary for a sustainable housing hoods within a half-mile of future in California. public transportation. It was “We can’t just keep doing the golden egg behind Sen. Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) things the way we’ve been doing them the past 50 years. … ambitious 2018 legislative proposal, Senate Bill 827, which The state needs to set enforcement standards instead of let- died in its first committee and is poised to resurface in 2019. ting communities do what they want,” he says. But even without a mandate from the state, planners and de- velopers throughout the Capital Region are thinking critical- LOCAL BARRIERS ly on how to bring together transit and housing in a way that When it comes to TOD, the location makes a big difference. fits with their communities. Compared to the Bay Area and Southern California, the Cap- ital Region doesn’t have many mass transit hubs to build A POTENTIAL STATE MANDATE around. Much of Sacramento Regional Transit’s current light Supporters of SB 827 hailed it as a game-changer. This transit rail system opened in 1987 along freight railroad tracks and zoning bill aimed to ease California’s housing crisis by allow- through industrial zones, not having been originally intend- ing developers to build taller, denser housing near high-fre- ed for residential use — which means the infrastructure (wa- quency mass transit stops. ter, sewer, electrical) near the stations needs to be upgraded But not everybody was on board. The battle is basically for TOD, Corless says. a difference in perspectives: On the NIMBY side, the com- This past December, the Sacramento City Council unan- plaints are about infringement on local control and that imously passed the Transit Oriented Development Ordi- “The state needs to set enforcement standards instead of letting communities do what they want.” 56 | January 2019