High-density housing bill clears major hurdle | Tim Talk | Tim Hunt | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

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High-density housing bill clears major hurdle

Uploaded: Apr 25, 2019
A San Francisco state senator’s bill to require higher density housing near transit stations cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when it passed a key committee.
The bill merged provisions from SB 50 by Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) with a bill by Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg). Provisions of McGuire’s bill exempts smaller communities (under 50,000 population) and counties under 600,000 population (conveniently includes Marin and Sonoma where his residence is located). It also allows only one additional story over the height of existing buildings.
For Tri-Valley communities, the bill’s committee passage means doubling the lobbying effort. Many cities across the state are actively opposing the measure. In Pleasanton, for instance, the parking lot in the East BART station is planned for high density residential to create a high-density neighborhood along with the apartments across Owens Drive. Wiener’s bill calls for four and five story buildings, similar to other apartment complexes in town.
Even more problematic is the ACE train station at the fairgrounds. High density housing there will simply destroy an existing neighborhood. The half-mile provision would allow higher density housing throughout the downtown area—something residents have made clear they do not want during the update process of the downtown specific plan.
Livermore faces similar challenges with both the Isabel Avenue area and the ACE stations downtown and on Greenville Road. Certainly, higher density housing is appropriate in some sites, but mandates from Sacramento are a problem.
The bill’s advance through committee demonstrates how serious some Sacramento politicians are about dealing with the state’s chronic housing shortage. Job-rich areas, particularly in the South Bay, have lagged significantly on housing—driving up prices and forcing lower paid workers into awful commutes.
Mass transit represents a major public investment and one that should be leveraged with nearby housing. The challenge is how to do so without the Wiener bill’s one-size fits all approach.
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 +   5 people like this
Posted by James Michael, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 25, 2019 at 9:12 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

A key committee of liberal democrats is not a committee. That is one party rule and that is communism...which all the witless voters voted for.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jaymes Michell, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 27, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Ah! If only the witless voters could be witFULL, and recognize their actual interests by voting to have everyone holed up in suburban compounds, miles from the nearest bus stop, protected by private militarized police forces, where we can pretend we live in "Leave it to Beaver" until our neighborhoods are all swallowed by the Pacific.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by John B, a resident of Happy Valley,
on Apr 28, 2019 at 1:13 pm

I see this problem is being accumulated, neglected and practically ignored by bay area city mayors and the councils for the last decade or two. While approving permits to companies to open up left and right, in the cause of getting more jobs, they forgot to create equivalent housing. Now this disease is progressed so much, it needed major surgery from the doctors of Sacramento. If any good to happen to Tri-valley, join the forces of SB50 and make rules bend to your benefit or to minimize the effect, just the way it is done by McGuire carefully. Have a dialogue, compromise and have a win-win situation. This is what is called democracy. For example, as a compromise instead of 4 story or 5 story, we allow all R1 to be upzoned to fourplex up to a of FAR 2.0 across the city. Still making meaningful housing production, in the spirit of SB50.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by sjd, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 28, 2019 at 7:37 pm

First off, you ignored the other exclusions. Fire zones, low income areas subject to displacement - exempted. Impact fees - untouched.

"Pleasanton, for instance, the parking lot in the East BART station is planned for high density residential to create a high-density neighborhood along with the apartments across Owens Drive."

BART has not released a proposal for Pleasanton station. They have already started putting up a brand new garage which will be more than replacement for a surface lot. LOL at Owens Drive being high density - it's barely a quarter block, half of it parking, surrounded by more huge parking lots for office. Look at the Dublin side, or Fruitvale, for something reasonably close to real TOD. Poor Pleasanton, having to put housing nearby a multi-billion-dollar state/fed subsidized train station.

"High density housing there will simply destroy an existing neighborhood."
PUH-LEASE. There are already many apartments there, so the economics of destroying them to build just 2 more stories doesn't work out. Most of the rest is parks, which are not zoned residential and thus not even subject to the bill. The Peninsula and West SF are far more effective, which will reduce pressure in Pleasanton. The city's intransigence is destroying the air we breathe by putting more and more people in Stockton. And even if someone decides to leave because you can't stand 4 story buildings, they've got a ~$2M golden parachute to land on.

"something residents have made clear they do not want"
What a surprise, people who can already afford to live in Pleasanton don't have affordability as top-of-the-list.

"Livermore faces similar challenges with both the Isabel Avenue area and the ACE stations downtown and on Greenville Road."
Downtown already has a TOD plan that Livermore has tried to delay many times. The Vasco station is already mostly built out or controlled by HOA and will not face much development pressure. It's taken 14 years for a modest 100 units on the Lucky site. 1800 units in the plan were never built. The city tried to even do a moratorium on new housing downtown in 2016 - it failed, 3-2 (needed 4-1).
Web Link


"The challenge is how to do so without the Wiener bill's one-size fits all approach."
Our transit stations haven't expanded recently, so cities have had more than enough time to plan for growth around them. They've stalled, time and time again. I'm not waiting another 8 years for yet another planning process that will be thrown out the window the second a real development is proposed. Time's up.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by sjd, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 28, 2019 at 8:29 pm

James Michael,

"A key committee of liberal democrats is not a committee. That is one party rule and that is communism...which all the witless voters voted for. "

Wrong. The Senate Committee on Government and Finance includes two Republicans, both of which voted AYE.

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 28, 2019 at 8:30 pm

John McPartland is a member of the Bart board of directors and represents Pleasanton, Livermore, Hayward on the Bart board. He lives in Pleasanton, his contact number as provided by Bart web site is 510-464-6095.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Mike, a resident of Dublin,
on Apr 29, 2019 at 8:52 am

Using James Michael's logic, if the one party in power are Republicans, then that makes it a fascist state?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by John B, a resident of Happy Valley,
on Apr 29, 2019 at 10:36 am

Irrespective of what party is right or wrong, citizens need a viable realistic plans, affordable housing for all income levels. Protesters of SB50 were unable to pin out or come out with counter proposals or compromises. The problem is cities are unable to comprehend the issue or know the issue, but unable to put forward a plan, due to the need of wining next election.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Robert S. Allen, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 30, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Robert S. Allen is a registered user.

Jobs, similar attractions, and parking belong around BART and other transit hubs. For most transit users, their home can be much farther - even miles - from the station than their destination from transit - usually a few blocks. They have the option of driving from home that they don't have at their destination. Residential land use is NOT Transit Oriented Development (TOD). NO on SB 50!

Start with large surface parking lots. As land values increase, go to parking structures opening land for intensive commercial use - without razing housing or disrupting neighborhoods.

For now - until Valley Link is built - enlarge parking at Isabel/I-580 (BART's Airway Park/Ride) and run a freeway bus from there meeting every weekday BART train. It's all in ACTC Integrated study.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Robert S. Allen, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 30, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Robert S. Allen is a registered user.

Michael Austin: I believe BART Director McPartland lives in Castro Valley.



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