Recap - July 2019 Lunch Program
On Thursday July 25th, WTS Sacramento provided a different kind of lunch program and held a panel discussion on transportation and housing. The panel consisted of Annie Fryman, the Legislative Aide for California State Senator Scott Wiener; Kacey Lizon, SACOG’s Deputy Executive Director of Planning & Programs; and Cesar Diaz, the Legislative and Political Director for State Building & Construction Trades Council of California. As moderator for the lunch, we had Shannon Simonds, Associate Transportation Planner in the Division of Rail and Mass Transit at Caltrans.
Each panelist gave a brief introduction on their backgrounds. Annie, who works for Senator Wiener, worked on getting SB 1 approved and had worked on SB 35 (affordable housing and
zoning streamlined approval process). She also assisted with SB 27, SB 28 and SB 50. Cesar works on commuting strain issues and addresses policy for local and government planning and environmental mandates. In his position, working closely with contractors and laborers, had originally opposed SB 27 and SB 35. One of his main challenges is bringing developers and laborers together. Kacey works on long range transportation planning and how each region works together with state and local goals when the funding comes from various sources (local, government and federal monies). SACOG is looking to adopt a 2020 Strategy Plan early next year with infill areas for all types of infrastructure.
Question number 1: “Rail and transit are spatially efficient, high capacity modes of transport. What are some opportunities to generate housing and economic development at a station or along a corridor? How can we better incentivize that type of development?”
Cesar: The SBCTC are strong proponents of High Speed Rail. There is a need to improve transit and better mobility to allow people to not depend on vehicles. One way to achieve this is through new regional measures. For example, the BART housing bill was recently passed in San Francisco, which makes it easier for BART to potentially develop “tens of thousands” of new homes on their own right of way.
Annie: There are differences between housing and economy in different regions such as Sacramento, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, etc. A redevelopment approach could help prevent future housing crisis, have affordable housing that is nearby transit and developments such as schools, hospitals, grocery stores, etc. to allow the option to not use a vehicle but to walk or bike. One barrier to this approach is the current parking requirements.
Kacey: Agencies should be on the lookout and explore more financing options such as the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program.
Question number 2: “What are your thoughts on leveraging SB 1 or other transportation funding for certain housing planning or production outcomes?”
Cesar: There is still going to be an incentive, a “carrot and stick” approach with the SB 1 funding, but it is at a lesser, softer approach than what was originally proposed.
Annie: SB 1 has limited monies to address many pressing issues. Funding needs to be in alignment with goals and the bill incentivizes housing improvement. The low-income people are the most affected if public money is withheld.
Kacey: The bill needs to “hold true” with the transportation pact – the money needs to go where the bill says it should.
Question number 3: “What are the research needs and/or opportunities to address the transportation and housing challenges?”
Kacey: We need a replacement for the gasoline tax as reduced income is being generated with the increase of electronic and fuel-efficient vehicles. There is potential for more express lanes and “pay as you go” fees to explore. However, need to ensure progress does not negatively impact low income and rural areas.
Annie: There are numerous political problems needing to be addressed.
Question number 4: “In one word, what is the single most important thing to support improvements to the housing problem and transportation issues?”
Cesar: “Ditto.” (meaning funding)
Annie: “Up zoning.”
Thank you to all of our panel members and moderator. WTS Sacramento appreciates your support!