Advancing Equitable Transit Oriented Development The Great Communities Collaborative and the Bay Area TOAH Fund

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1 Image credit: CASE STUDY: SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CA Photo caption and credit Advancing Equitable Transit Oriented Development The Great Communities Collaborative and the Bay Area TOAH Fund Background Information Since 2006, the Great Communities Collaborative (GCC), a partnership of community and philanthropic organizations has been working to support the development of thriving, affordable, transit-oriented neighborhoods and to advance regional prosperity. 1 The GCC has not only succeeded in creating more inclusive planning processes and building the capacity of community leaders to influence TOD projects, it has also been instrumental in aligning funding to create the Bay Area Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Fund to support the development of equitable TOD projects in transit-rich areas. The San Francisco Bay Area is widely recognized as a very expensive place to live. Half of all Bay Area households spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, compared to 1/3 of residents nationally. 2 The high cost of housing continues to drive residents to live further and further out from the City, contributing to issues of traffic congestion and air quality, as well as impacting quality of life. The development of affordable housing in walkable neighborhoods with access to 1 For more information, see Case Study: San Francisco Bay Area, CA 1

2 high quality transit is a key strategy to reducing transportation costs for middle and low-income families and ensuring that all residents have access to economic opportunity. However because of the complexity of TOD and the market demand for downtown housing, most TOD development in the Bay Area caters to higher income clients. Through collaboration and the targeted deployment of resources, the partners of the GCC are working to support equitable TOD and create the tools that will enable development without displacement. Process Getting started Great Communities Collaborative. The concept of the Great Communities Collaborative emerged when program officers at the San Francisco and East Bay Community Foundations realized that they were often funding grantees to do similar work. They agreed that a coordinated effort to significantly invest in livable communities and local planning would increase their impact around the Bay Area. Staff and board champions at each foundation, as well as key grantees, worked through how to share governance and eventually both foundation boards agreed to create the Collaborative. In 2008, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation joined as a key partner. Together, the community foundations and five core service-delivery nonprofits 3 coordinate the G the San Francisco Foundation, which acts as the Engagement on station area plans. The GCC first mobilized its network of partners to support work in Priority Development Areas (PDAs), which had been previously selected through the FOCUS Initiative. 4 The GCC provided technical support, incentive grants, research and helped local advocates engage in station area TOD planning. Their support ranged from providing childcare during meetings to helping advocates provide input to city officials. The resulting plans, clearly reflected communities priorities, calling not just for general commercial development, but getting specific on identifying critical needs like childcare and grocery stores. Engaging community members on TOD planning. Image credit: Creating the Bay Area TOAH Fund. To move from planning to actually implementing TOD, the GCC recognized the need for a financing tool that could help acquire and develop projects in transit-rich neighborhoods. To support this work, the GCC established the Bay Area Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Fund, the first regional, multi-jurisdictional TOD fund in the country. The mission of the Fund is to promote equitable TOD across the nine-county Bay Area and 3 One national, Reconnecting America; and four local, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California, TransForm, and Urban Habitat. 4 Case Study: San Francisco Bay Area, CA 2

3 to catalyze the development of affordable housing, community services, and other neighborhood assets. The Low-Income Investment Fund a regional community development financial institution (CDFI) was selected to manage the Fund and raise capital, in partnerships with five other CDFIs, three with offices nationwide and two regionally-based. 5 The Metropolitan Transportation Commission stepped up to provide the initial $10 million through one of its existing funding programs, Transportation for Livable Communities. 6 Additional capital, provided by Citi Community Capital, Morgan Stanley, the Ford Foundation, Living Cities, and the San Francisco Foundation, has created a $50 million fund. The fund is now being used to support projects like the Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments, a mixeduse, affordable, and green senior housing project in San Jose that will provide 64 units in close proximity to a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail station. And, in proximity to the Powell Street BART station, a $7.2 million loan to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation has enabled the redevelopment of a parking lot into a 14-story building with affordable housing and retail space. Lessons Learned The Challenge of Collaboration. Collaboration across jurisdictions is not easy in a region which has four regional agencies, nine counties, over 100 cities, and a population of 7.5 million. The GCC has provided a great platform for collaboration, but the region continues to struggle to align the work of different organizations and agencies. The emerging collaborations between the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), however, holds some promise for an integrated outcome. These agencies have worked together infrequently and attempts to integrate their work have often proved difficult. This changed several years ago under the commitment of a new executive director, helping to create a positive relationship between the two agencies, which in turn helped set the tone for staff. A state legislated working group between four of the regional agencies provided an official vehicle for collaboration. Subsequently, passage of SB375 statewide legislation that requires regions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through integrated land use, housing, and transportation planning has made collaboration between ABAG and MTC all but mandatory. Building Trust Takes Time. The many actors in these partnerships stressed that none of these outcomes the GCC, the coordination with ABAG and million to a TOD Fund happened overnight. It took almost a decade of relationship building through various projects, and informal and official meetings, for results to really advance. A project in San Leandro illustrates this point. The BART station in the community was surrounded by large parking lots, and yet the community was resistant to TOD because they saw TOD projects 5 The three national CDFIs are the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Enterprise Community Loan Fund, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The two regional are the Northern California Community Loan Fund and Opportunity Fund Case Study: San Francisco Bay Area, CA 3

4 in other neighborhoods driving up property values and leading to gentrification. While the city conducted its planning process, GCC partners conducted complementary outreach with community members and leadership, and commissioned technical studies to answer questions about possibilities and impact. This work resulted in a final plan that included a permanent affordable housing stock of 30%, and unanimous city council approval. 7 on, Senior Transportation Planner at e real Over time, relationships and results led to the establishment of the Great Communities l the right ingredients for scaling up results: ongoing engagement and buy-in by a number of important regional partners; a focus on problem solving; and, in particular, alignment of foundation, private, and public resources in vehicles like the TOD Fund. The importance of data. Compelling data undergirds good programs and makes the case for involved in TOD because the high-cost Bay Area region was displacing their transit-dependent riders. To better support their substantive engagement, staff pulled together readily available information: the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index maps for the region from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, 8 demographics, and affordable housing building stocks. convince decision-makers to develop TOD programming. helped Image credit: , which includes the cost of transportation in housing affordability calculations. Metros in the database include Asheville NC, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Fresno, Gulfport, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Madison, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, and Seattle: Case Study: San Francisco Bay Area, CA 4

5 Economic opportunity. ABAG and MTC are also considering how to use the transit network and infill capacity as a basis for an economic development strategy. Until recently, the perception was that the regional agencies did not need an economic development function, because jobs always came to the Bay Area. They now know, however, that they can no longer take the situation for granted, and that to not engage can result in inequitable outcomes, particularly the displacement of low-income people around transit. Overall, Ken Kirkey, Director of Planning at ABAG explains that the current strategy is not necessarily to have enough housing in all employment centers to house all the people that work there, but to work towards a corridor approach, which provides housing within a 25-minute transit ride (versus the trend of a 1.5 hour drive). For the foundations and nonprofits, growing GCC programming to include economic opportunity has been a process of evolution. Initial activities were focused on fostering meaningful community participation in planning livable communities. The next step was to develop a tool that could actually deliver on some of the equitable outcomes desired by the communities a TOD Fund to preserve affordable housing around transit. Now GCC is trying to figure out a meaningful role they can play in bringing economic opportunity i.e. jobs to low-income and historically o make Heather Hood, Initiative Officer of GCC. Some of the steps : educating cities that are not monitoring hiring policies around a transit stop, and scenario planning exercises with cities to model VMT impacts of job clusters. Updated by Debra Perry, Institute for Sustainable Communities. Acknowledgements Thanks to Heather Hood, Great Communities Collaborative; Doug Johnson, MTC; Ken Kirkey, ABAG; Arlene Rodriguez, The San Francisco Foundation/Living Cities; Allison Brooks, Reconnecting America. For More Information Great Communities Collaborative website, Bay Area TOAH Fund: Case Study: San Francisco Bay Area, CA 5

6 The Institute for Sustainable Communities produced this case study for the Sustainable Communities Leadership Academy. The Academy is a state-of-the-art training and technical assistance program on community-based climate solutions. Its purpose is to build the capacity of communities to take smarter, swifter, more effective action to increase energy efficiency, reduce climate pollution and dependency on fossil fuels, create green businesses and jobs, and strengthen their resilience to the local impacts of climate disruption. Learn more at: Case Study: San Francisco Bay Area, CA 6

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