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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Bay Area program targets traffic snarls and housing shortage

Hoping to simultaneously ease traffic congestion and a housing crunch, San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Dec. 4 initiated a program designed to encourage compact housing construction near public transit facilities.

MTC would set aside $9 million over three years to finance Housing Incentive Program (HIP), which is modeled after a similar program in San Mateo County.

A study released last month estimated that the area would require more than 230,000 new homes in the next six years. And, should current trends continue, MTC forecasts that by 2020 300,000 of the region’s employees and their families would live outside of MTC’s nine-county Bay service area.

"We want to stimulate transit use while also addressing the regional housing shortage," said MTC Chair James Beall Jr. in a prepared statement. "The HIP project … incorporates transportation, housing and land use."

The regional HIP would disburse funds to local jurisdictions. To qualify, projects would need to be in initial planning stages; be within a third of a mile from a bus route, rail station or ferry dock offering 15-minute frequencies or better; and provide a minimum of 25 units per acre.

Award amounts range from $1,000 per bedroom for 25-units-per-acre projects, to $2,000 per bedroom for projects with 60 units per acre. All-affordable units would qualify for a $500 bonus. Mixed-use development would be encouraged, but not required.

Funding for HIP and MTC’s Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) program, of which HIP is a part, would be derived from federal highway funds in the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, Transportation Enhancements, and Surface Transportation programs. State Transportation Development Act provides funds for TLC planning grants.

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More News from 12/13/2000