Rep. Scott Peters officially introduced a bill Tuesday that would require the federal government to prioritize housing development when awarding grants for new rapid transit projects.
The Build More Housing Near Transit Act would require the the Federal Transit Administration to consider the potential for housing development when awarding some $2.3 billion annually under the New Starts Program for rail and bus rapid-transit projects.
Peters was joined by other local officials near the future trolley station at Westfield UTC, and he pointed out that funding for the Blue Line trolley extension was approved without consideration of any housing tie-in.
“Our bill will maximize federal investment in transit and increase housing options for families across the country,” said Peters, because it would “make housing part of the competition for federal money.”
He said the legislation would encourage transportation planners to build new routes where the most new housing can be incorporated.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who is a director of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and serves on the California Air Resources Board, said it makes sense to connect new transit projects and housing development.
“It moves us forward to a better-connected, less-congested, more green future with affordable housing,” Fletcher said.
SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata said successful transit requires high-density housing, and commended Peters for introducing the bill. “This is what the future of transit depends on,” he said.
Although high-density housing development has been fought in some San Diego neighborhoods, Peters, a former environmental lawyer, said environmentalists are increasingly supportive.
“Today environmentalism understands the importance of building housing in the right places,” he said.
Peters said his bill already has bipartisan support from five other members of Congress. “I’m pretty optimistic about this being passed,” he said.