BILL ANALYSIS SENATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE Senator Dave Cox, Chair BILL NO: AB 987 HEARING: 6/9/10 AUTHOR: Ma FISCAL: No VERSION: 5/20/10 CONSULTANT: Detwiler TRANSIT VILLAGE PLANS Background and Existing Law Public officials have invested billions of dollars in transit projects and programs. However, this public investment won't pay off if local officials fail to promote private development around transit stations. The Transit Village Development Act allows cities and counties to plan for more intense development around transit stations: rail or light-rail stations, ferry terminals, bus hubs, or bus transfer stations. Transit village plans identify areas where officials want to encourage transit-oriented development and grant density bonuses (AB 3152, Bates, 1994). The maximum size of a transit village development district is the total area within -mile from the exterior boundary of the parcel on which the transit station is located. That distance reflected planners' conventional wisdom in 1994. However, research published in 2007 by San Jos? State University's Mineta Transportation Institute found that transit riders walk farther than commonly assumed. Transit riders in the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland, Oregon said they walked about -miles to their rail transit stations. Transit village proponents want the law to reflect this newer understanding. Proposed Law Assembly Bill 987 expands the maximum size of a transit village development district from the total area within -mile of the exterior boundary of the parcel on which a transit station is located to the total area within -mile of a transit station's main entrance. AB 987 revises the legislative declarations within the Transit Village Planning Act and adds two more findings regarding environmental conditions and sustainable AB 987 -- 5/20/10 -- Page 2 development standards. The bill also clarifies that the Act's reference to a "county" also means a city and county. Comments 1. Public transit, private investment . The public sector's investment in commuter rail, light-rail, ferries, and bus lines is part of a wider strategy to improve air quality, save energy, and improve mobility. When communities encourage transit agencies to build expensive systems, but then fail to promote higher density development around transit stations, the loss is environmental and social, as well as physical and fiscal. Those losses are regional, not just local. One reason that communities don't encourage denser, more compact development around transit stations is the cost of public works needed to support new residents and businesses. Although AB 987 doesn't create a new funding source for those public works, it encourages local officials and their planners to take a wider view of transit village development. By expanding and redefining the area for transit village planning, AB 987 widens the policy horizon. 2. Go figure . A transit village plan with a -mile radius around a transit station covers about 125 acres. Doubling the radius of a circle quadruples the circle's area. A -mile radius covers about 500 acres. There are over 300 rail transit stations in California operated by Amtrak, BART, Metrorail, and several transit agencies with light-rail systems. If local officials lack the money to finance the public works that support transit villages, how will they pay for infrastructure within transit village planning areas that could be four times larger? 3. Earlier attempts . AB 987 is not the first time that Assembly Member Ma has attempted to expand the area for transit village planning. Besides expanding the planning area, AB 338 (Ma, 2009) would have waived the voter-approval requirements for setting up Infrastructure Financing Districts and issuing IFD bonds. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the 2009 Ma bill because "elections are the sole basis of public input and fiscal discipline in the creation of an IFD, and it is necessary to require voter approval." Besides expanding the planning area, AB 1221 (Ma, 2008) would have linked IFDs to transit village AB 987 -- 5/20/10 -- Page 3 development. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the 2008 Ma bill because he said that it was not a statewide priority. Unlike the two recent attempts, this year's bill does not amend the IFD law. 4. Double-jointing . On June 9, the Committee will also consider AB 2509 (Hayashi). Both AB 987 and AB 2509 amend Government Code 65460.2, but in different ways. To avoid one bill chaptering-out the changes made by the other bill, the authors should include double-jointing amendments. Assembly Actions Assembly Local Government Committee: 4-1 Assembly Floor: 43-29 AB 987 -- 5/20/10 -- Page 4 Support and Opposition (6/3/10) Support : California Transit Association. Opposition : Department of Housing and Community Development.