D9 Candidate Josh Arce Proposes 30th Street BART Station and Housing Plan

arce30thst

For 80 years, the citizens of Bernal Heights and La Lengua have fantasized about creating a train station on Mission Street around 30th Street. Indeed, the fantasy is even older than BART itself. Yesterday, the idea of a BART 30th Street Station was revived again.

Standing in the half-empty parking lot of our historically joyless Safeway, D9 Supervisor candidate Joshua Arce unveiled his “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez Plan,” a proposal to build 2000 of units of new housing in La Lengua and add a new BART station at 30th Street.

MissionLocal was there for the announcement:

The development, part of a proposed “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez” plan, would “not touch any existing housing,” Arce said. The housing built would be a mix of market-rate projects and affordable housing.

“There’s never really been a plan for this neighborhood,” he added, standing with some 20 supporters in the Safeway parking lot at 3350 Mission St. where the new station would go. The Safeway itself could be incorporated into the new station, Arce said, or a new store could be built elsewhere.

The triangular slice of the Mission District between Mission and Valencia streets below Cesar Chavez Street — known by some as “La Lengua,” the “tongue” of the Mission — has no integrated transit plan, Arce said, and is ripe for housing needed to address the “displacement crisis” in the gentrifying neighborhood.

“This is a neighborhood that can play a part in the solution,” he said, saying the BART station could be the cornerstone of a new corridor. “What if that solution is just right here below our feet? And that solution, I propose, is the potential for a brand new BART station right here at Mission and 30th streets.”

The plans for the new transit station and housing are preliminary. Arce said the development “might take a long time” and estimated that the BART station alone could cost $200-$300 million. He said a mixture of developer’s fees from new market-rate housing in the corridor and state or federal funds could finance the project.

Innnnnnteresting! Bernalwood contacted Arce to find out more about his proposal. “I sat down with neighbors, local business owners, workers, and transit riders to talk about this unique part of the District,” he said. “What became clear in each and every single conversation is that people feel there is no clear plan for the housing, local business, and transportation needs of the neighborhood.”

Arce says the 2000 units of housing would be built on under-utilized sites in the area that have already been identified by the San Francisco Planning Department.  Today, these sites are parking lots, empty buildings, and locations that could be repurposed  for alternative or mixed uses. Here’s the Planning Department’s site map:

20131105_Mission_OpportunityMap

The basic idea, Arce says, is that the new housing and the new station would be mutually inter-dependent. BART is pretty tapped out financially, so investment in housing and local businesses would generate impact fees that would be used to pay for affordable housing and funding for a new BART station.

Of course, Bernalese have been dreaming about convenient access to a rail link for decades. Here’s a futuristic image from 1948. That’s Cortland Avenue heading up the hill to the right:

bernalstation1948

Let’s zoom and enhance, to take a closer look at our retrofuture:

bernalstationplan2

San Francisco abandoned the whole Mission Freeway idea, thank goodness, but It sure would be nice to be one of those whispy people in the rendering, fashionably boarding and disembarking from a train that stops right at Bernal’s front doorstep.

The idea of adding a 30th Street Station to the existing BART line that runs under Mission Street has been studied from time to time, most recently in 2003:

30th.feasibilityThe 2003 study estimated that a 30th Street Station would cost around $500 million to build, in part because of the challenging grade on the site. The 2003 study also assumed that 30th Street station would include a secondary “pocket track” that could be used for parking or reversing trains as needed.

Arce says that based on conversations he’s had with BART officials, things may be different today. The requirement to level the grade of the track would not be as extreme, the pocket track could be eliminated, and tunnel-boring technology (like the machines used to create the new Central Subway downtown) could simplify construction. The result could be a 40% to 60% reduction in the cost of building a 30th Street Station.

Well, maybe. Hopefully. There’s a lot to like about all this, because we desperately need more housing, and a new BART stop would dramatically improve transit for thousands of current Bernal residents. But is this for real, or is it just a campaign stunt?

“This is a beginning,” Arce says. “Doing all this will take time, maybe a long time. But every plan starts with a first step, and we think this a great place to start.”

IMAGE: 1948 station proposal image courtesy of Eric Fischer.

33 thoughts on “D9 Candidate Josh Arce Proposes 30th Street BART Station and Housing Plan

  1. Totally great idea! Having housing on top of the station instead of a crummy plaza is definitely the key to success here. I’d be surprised if Arce can get past the NIMBYs, and it will cost a lot, but this would be amazing for the neighborhood.

  2. It would, of course, be convenient. But the chances of it ever coming to fruition are so unlikely that it can’t really be taken seriously.

  3. Unfortunately I agree with the other commenters. This is a great idea but it’s unlikely to happen in a city with so many NIMBYs and people who think any government spending is bad. Even if it does happen it’ll be decades from now. Such a shame.

    While the candidate made a big splash with an idea that’s popular in Bernal, that’s all it is, a splash. Given the unlikelihood of it ever coming to fruition it’s not a good reason in and of itself to vote for Arce. Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but I think I’m right on this one.

  4. I am so pleased, first of all, to finally hear from Joshua Arce. He is a moderate voice and one that we need to represent Bernal Heights. I’m really tired the progressive hold on our neighborhood.
    And I have a much more optimistic view and some of the previous posts. I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way.

  5. Are you a registered supporter of Arce. The neighborhood center studied extending Bart to 30st and it was dismissed by Bart and the transit authority as being ludicrously expensive. He is talking pie in the sky for the free publicity and you have fallen for it.!pathetic and not good for district 9. Carren Shagley

    Sent from my iPhone Carren Shagley Associate Broker Zephyr 415-871-4046

    • Carren, this is actually addressed in the piece above: “The 2003 study estimated that a 30th Street Station would cost around $500 million to build, in part because of the challenging grade on the site. The 2003 study also assumed that 30th Street station would include a secondary “pocket track” that could be used for parking or reversing trains as needed.

      Arce says that based on conversations he’s had with BART officials, things may be different today. The requirement to level the grade of the track would not be as extreme, the pocket track could be eliminated, and tunnel-boring technology (like the machines used to create the new Central Subway downtown) could simplify construction. The result could be a 40% to 60% reduction in the cost of building a 30th Street Station.”

  6. Honestly, we need another tunnel between Oakland and SF before we need any other BART stations. Oh yeah, and how about getting those new train cars on the tracks? That would be awesome too.

    • Yeah, the 30th Street BART station seems more like it belongs in the “nice to have” category whereas a second connection between SF and the East Bay falls under the “critical” category.

  7. But the difference now is that a dedicated revenue source could be attached to the new BART station. It’s a pretty clever idea. And of course a station was planned for that location originally, but was cut when BART was blowing through its budget during construction.

    Probably still a long shoot, but some thought’s been put into this.

  8. The only way projects like this get done is when someone weighs the feasibility, the benefits for the residents (all residents), the extent of the bureaucracy and gets folks behind it that are doers. It is not done by anyone alone. I was impressed by the folks that were there for this press conference. heads of unions, Mission residents, transportation experts. There was a lot of thought put into this…the Mission is changing before our very eyes and it would be great if there were visionaries slogging through city hall and developers that get their way just because they have the $.
    I am trying to get crosswalks paved to mark each intersection from Pinhole to Folsolm and mid intersection at Moultrie (library) and between Bennington and Andover (New Wheel/B of A). It has been my dream project to make Cortland safer for pedestrians. It is still a thoroughfare/cut through for trucks and cars getting between Mission and Bayshore. Josh has helped me every step of the way. I know my project is tiny but I have been very impressed with the way he listens and cares and gets folks on board.

    • It is still a thoroughfare/cut through for trucks and cars getting between Mission and Bayshore.

      Also known as a “street,” or “road,” if you prefer…

      What is the problem being alluded to?

      • Not speaking for Around but I’m guessing the problem is that Cortland has a lot of pedestrian traffic but isn’t safe for pedestrians. Marked crosswalks at intersections would discourage pedestrians from crossing mid-block and encourage drivers to pay attention.

  9. This seems like a distraction for BART when the system has such extensive problems getting workers from the East Bay to SF and back. Transit in SF is good. Transit TO and FROM SF is harder. SF may be getting somewhat denser, but the region is getting much denser. I want a leader who can see the Bay Area as well as D10.

    This project makes me think Josh Arce has a very narrow lens. He’s a Community Liaison for the Laborer’s Union. (I was in this union for 5 years myself.) So he suggests building something big. How innovative. To me, it looks like a campaign stunt.

  10. Please no. Absolutely not. We do not need 2000 housing units in Bernal, we do not need a 30th St station, we need money spent on mental health support for the poor and homeless, we need shelters, we need parking spaces so all the people who will be riding Bart and their bicycles have somewhere to leave their cars while they do so. In 2003 that station would have been budgeted at $500 million, in 2017 dollars even counting a cheaper way to do it it will still cost over $500 million. In a city that cannot provide for homeless, or pay teachers enough….500 million is obscene!

    • I’m dumbstruck that you think we do not need more housing. Have you not been reading anything about how affordability of housing has been ascending like a rocket for years? Have you somehow missed the fact that lots of jobs and residents have entered the City without nearly enough housing built to accommodate them?

      It all feels like a pipe dream, but for crying out loud, we can wish, can’t we?

      • Er, I mixed my metaphors. Housing costs have ascended like a rocket. Affordability has descended like a soap box car screaming down from the top of Bernal Hill

  11. Awesome, I have dreamed about this Bart station for years. Great that Arce et al actually figured out how to pay for it.

  12. YOU SILLY PEOPLE! BART was BUILT with a 30th Street station in mind all along! The grade and the platform fundamentals are already there. It just needs to be built out.

    As for 2,000 new homes, STOP already! There are already too many homes in SF. Do we seriously want to keep up this Manhattanization of SF? Building homes only INCREASES the prices because people want to live near other people. South of Market used to be cheap until they built condos among the machine shops and warehouses. Then suddenly, South of Market became a Destination and people suddenly wanted to live there. This changed South of Market from the most affordable neighborhood to the LEAST affordable. Housing works the opposite of most commodities.

  13. Sorry David, but the overwhelming consensus among economists right and left (e.g. Enrico Moretti, Paul Krugman) is that increasing housing supply reduces prices, just like any other commodity.

    • “Sorry David, but the overwhelming consensus among economists right and left (e.g. Enrico Moretti, Paul Krugman) is that increasing housing supply reduces prices, just like any other commodity”

      EXCEPT that economics is not a science. It’s voodoo. People WANT to live near each other, so the tighter you jam them together the higher the prices they’re willing to pay. What are the most expensive places? NYC, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, London, SF — all densely packed places. What are the least expensive places? Well, in California there’s Alturas where you can buy a 3-bedroom home on half an acre for less than $200,000. But few people want to live there because they want community. They want to live in a DESTINATION.

      Again, I call your attention to South of Market where there were lots of apartments scattered about the warehouses, machine shops, and auto body shops. But when the “live/work” construction loophole came into play and every spare lot was turned into “live/work” condos, South of Market suddenly became a destination and prices shot up. South of Market has about 20,000 more homes today than it did in 1990 and yet instead of prices coming down, they went up. ‘Splain that, Lucy.

      • More housing built South of Market definitely resulted in a change of perception of the neighborhood and an increase in prices but ultimately, people pay a premium to live where there are jobs. Adding units South of Market and basically no-where else in large numbers while simultaneously adding thousands of jobs is what caused the housing crisis.

      • You are wrong about the 30th st BART station already being graded and the platform being there.

        Also, you keep shouting “South of Market” as if it’s merely an example of density. Rather, it was a combination of factors including the ballpark, world class high speed internet cable, Willie Brown’s pro-development tenure (your point), and the Eastern Neighborhoods plan.

      • I can’t find it now, but I have a copy of drawings that clearly show the intention of putting a station at 30th. I’ll do some more searching. Rick Prelinger might know, given that he has the most complete archive of BART ephemera of anyone I know (including original carbon copies of the resumes of the BART engineers!)

        As to my citing of South of Market as going from being a nothing to becoming a destination, I stand my ground there. It’s the case where any place becomes a destination. People WANT to live next to other people. My friend Shawn Magee (formerly of Amnesia) moved his family to Mexico to surf. They got bored and came back to the Bay Area. Happens all the time. People want to be near other people and are willing to pay a premium for it.

        As for jobs, well, if you ask “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe, he’ll tell you that there are thousands of jobs in rural areas that are going begging.

  14. Oy. You housing problem deniers. What do think will happen to this City without more housing? You talk about Manhattanization, but when it comes to affordability we’re already there. Teachers cannot afford to live here, and you don’t care about the have-nots, or you simply don’t believe in supply and demand, or you have some sort of chaos fantasy where things will get better after some breaking point is reached.

    Please. Sit on your laurels and dream of the past all you like, but soon enough, even you will be leaving to look for a place with a lower cost of living.

    • Supply and demand does NOT apply to housing because the more homes you build the more the place becomes a “destination” and oodles of people want to live there. Prior to about 1995 few people wanted to live South of Market, and those who did had to look around to find a vacant place. But now that it’s a destination with a Lucky Strike bowling alley, a Safeway, and a ballpark, suddenly it is THE most expensive place to live per foot.

      As for not caring about the “have-nots” it’s true. I was here first. There is no “right” to live in SF. Things will get better price-wise when the FEDERAL RESERVE raises interest rates and the Big Money puts its money back into corporate and government bonds. Big Money does not want to invest in real estate because it’s too risky. It wants bonds, but because of the low interest rates bonds don’t pay very well. So, Big Money is not going to settle for a 2% rate of return when it can get a 15% to 25% annual return with real estate. As soon as the Fed raises interest rates Big Money will pull out of real estate and go back into bonds.

      THE BBC did a story on just this very topic back in May. Vancouver has even higher home prices than SF but many sit empty because Big Money (largely from China) is just parking their money in real estate. They don’t want to be landlords. So, a reporter was taken on a nighttime tour of Vancouver’s biggest housing developments and most of the places were unlit at night because nobody was living in them. Here’s a URL to the program: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36369108

  15. That’s a good one. You cite two examples of where people tried to fight fires with one or two small buckets of water and, concluded that water doesn’t put out fires because the building still burned down.

    Nice logic.

  16. Would rather see Bart money spend on extending hours of service so it’s not impossible to travel between the East Bay and SF at night and/or extending the tracks into San Mateo and beyond to San Jose.

    The short bus ride or walk from 30th to 24th street would be worth the inconvenience if we had service that allowed you to leave the neighborhood and actually get to where you needed to go.

  17. Pingback: Bernalwood Endorsements for the November 8, 2016 Election | Bernalwood

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