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BART endorses major transit-housing bill

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Bay Area’s biggest transit network backs SB 50

The BART logo on a sign in Oakland. Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald

It’s a busy week for SB 50, the ambitious transit housing bill from San Francisco-based State Sen. Scott Wiener that hopes to remake zoning around both major transit hubs and job centers across the state.

On Tuesday, Sen. Wiener’s office announced new amendments designed to get the bill over the hump in key committee meetings—and help it avoid the fate of his previous drive to change zoning standards.

The bill earned the endorsement of the BART board of directors in a 5-3 vote Thursday, with one director absent (Lateefah Simon, whose district spans San Francisco to El Cerrito).

Board President and SF representative Bevan Dufty backed the endorsement, as did VP Rebecca Saltzman, Director Robert Raburn, YIMBY-backed Director Janice Li, and Contra Costa County Representative Mark Foley.

“SB 50 will help ensure the production of more housing around BART stations,” Saltzman said Thursday, noting that BART plans to build 20,000 housing units on land it owns around stations by 2040.

If passed, SB 50 (dubbed the “More Homes Act”) would radically alter housing development standards across California by outlawing “hyper-low-density zoning” near major transit hubs, effectively upzoning most of the land within half a mile of rail lines, bus lines, and ferry terminals.

As with Wiener’s previous bill, that includes nearly all of San Francisco, though much of that land is already zoned so densely that the new law wouldn’t make as much of a difference compared to cities in dire need of housing.

In less savory news, Devin Osiri, executive director of the LA County Democratic Party, tells Curbed SF that the party voted against endorsing the More Homes Act Tuesday.

SB 50 faces its first legislative committee hearing later this month.