By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views : citizensjournal – excerpt
Next Monday in a obscure Sacramento meeting room, an important event is set to transpire that affects the course of California politics for years to come. The Senate Appropriations Committee will determine if AB 2923, which has already been passed by the Assembly, is to be sent to the floor for a vote.
The legislation co-sponsored by Assemblymen Tim Grayson (D) Concord and David Chiu (D-San Francisco, is expected to be approved in the Senate If the vote is affirmative and Governor Brown signs the bill, local government’s authority to determine what is to be constructed within a half mile of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART ) stations will be obliterated.
Outside of property within station boundaries that the transit agency owns, they will be able to purchase land and use the power of eminent domain to procure building sites to construct what is expected to be stack and pack housing… (more)
In the suburbs where most of the construction is to take place, approximately 20,000 units are planned to be built. As might be expected, opposition is fierce. Last week the Mayors of Contra Costa County unanimously passed a resolution opposing AB 2923. Such a negative reaction did not resonate with the proponents of the bill which is a loose coalition of developers, labor unions, and low income housing advocates.
In an article this group wrote on the editorial page of the East Bay Times last Sunday authored by Michael Lane of The Housing Association of California, he stated
“The bill would require the elected BART Board of Directors to establish guidelines for transit-oriented development for BART-owned land at or around a BART station. Cities would then update their local zoning to be consistent with these standards while retaining control over community design standards and final permitting authority.”
From reading this it does not appear that communities where BART wants to build would have much of a choice in determining zoning options near or around where the transit agency puts up their so called affordable housing. How existing neighborhoods would be changed does not seem to be even a minor consideration of theirs.
Of course Lane did not take into account what would transpire if local communities did not want to go along with BART’s plans. In his mind the need for affordable housing along with the interests of developers, and their crony capitalist pals in crafts unions, who would do all the work under Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), is all that matters…
It apparently matters not that BART has no experience as a developer. In reality the transit agency is eager to receive revenue generated by leasing lands to large developers to offset deficits in their operating budgets and pension liabilities. With such objectives, how could they possibly care about their negative impacts on life in suburbia?…
We can also talk about a myriad of other issues about BART’s history of never bringing construction of new track or train equipment to meet estimated budget allocations…
Is this the type of organization that should be increasing their responsibilities to overrule democratically elected local representatives where new construction of residential housing is planned?
If the answer is “no” then the Senate Appropriations Committee should do the right thing and kill AB 2923 before this political cancer spreads to Southern California. Sources indicate that officials in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) are closely following the passage of the BART bill in Sacramento.
If it goes into law the MTA can be expected to introduce a bill tailored to its plans and find a way to overrule local decision making in passing their own version AB 2923.
This entire Draconian scenario goes on with no end in sight. When can we expect the real will of the people to persist?
One such person is BART Director Debora Allen, who represents nearby residents of planned Stack and Pack projects in Concord. She and a couple of her colleagues wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee which goes into more detail of why AB 2923 is such a horrible idea.
If after reading this brilliantly composed argument any sane person who would even contemplate passing this bill, should be ordered to receive psychological counseling and sent to a half way house for treatment. But then again as we all know being “progressive” is indeed a mental disorder.
Good luck next week in killing AB 2923. Below is the link to Debora Allen’s correspondence.
Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.
The day of the hearing in the Senate Appropriation Committee is today. If this bill is not stopped in committee it may go to the full Senate to be voted on soon. Contacting your State Senator to let them know you oppose this bill, may be the best action at this time.
Where indeed are the voters in this fight? How many know about this legal blitzkrieg that is going on in Sacramento? How many of the thousands of victims of the wildfires will be helped by this legislation in their dire needs for help? This bill is poorly timed and off track for delivering the housing we need in the state right now. See updates and action items here : https://sfceqa.wordpress.com/ab-2923/