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Old Posted Dec 15, 2020, 9:08 PM
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Want More Transit? Develop and Tax the Land Around Stations

Want More Transit? Develop and Tax the Land Around Stations

Dec 9, 2020

By Roger Rudick

Read More: https://sf.streetsblog.org/2020/12/0...ound-stations/

Research Study: http://cacommonground.org/vc.html


It’s long past time for planners to exploit air rights and the development pads around transit stations in today’s Bay Area to fund rail extensions, according to Transit Value Capture for California a new white paper sponsored by Common Ground California. “The land value uplift around the Warms Spring station alone could have paid for the entire extension three times over,” explained one of the study’s authors, Derek Sagehorn, in an email to Streetsblog. The study points out that sales taxes are fundamentally regressive and are often a tough sell with voters. Therefore, it makes more sense to fund transit projects with “value capture.”

- California must significantly shift trips away from private automobiles to less carbon-intensive modes of transportation, including public transit. Investment in public transit is hampered by high costs and lack of federal investment. Regressive consumption taxes instituted by local and state governments to fund public transit investment are approaching legal and political limits. An untapped source of revenue for public transit is land values. Recent studies have shown that private land value uplift associated with rail investment in Fremont, California and Manhattan, New York were multiple times the cost of the transit improvements. This document proposes ways in which California transit operators could re-capture the land value uplift in commercial and residential property to re-invest in public transit expansion and service. --- From Streetsblog’s view, this is, of course, an excellent proposal for funding transit improvements that the Bay Area can emulate. It also throws water on the NIMBY argument that one can’t increase density without first improving transit–no, they should be done concurrently, and the development should be financially tied to it. The next step is to pass more bills such as the newly introduced S.B. 10 from San Francisco state senator Scott Wiener, his latest effort to make it possible to build more housing near transit. As Sagehorn and Hawn’s study indicates, the Bay Area’s housing and transportation problems can only be successfully addressed together.


The paper argues that a “land gain tax” is one of many options for capturing that land value increase.

The North Berkeley BART station is, like others, surrounded by a sea of parking that could be put to much better use. Photo: Google

Rendering of West Oakland BART development down 7th Street. Courtesy JRDV Urban International

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