Affordable Housing Opportunities on Public Lands

MTC’s Public Lands Affordable Housing Action Plan identifies potential locations for new affordable housing near transit services.


MTC is working with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to help solve the Bay Area housing crisis. One solution identifies public lands where new affordable housing — near transit services — can be built.

Public Lands Affordable Housing Study

The Public Lands Affordable Housing Action Plan studied whether new housing could be built on lands that:

  • Are owned by public agencies (like transit agencies or cities) and are underutilized as parking lots or occupied by vacant buildings
  • Meet the needs of residents with middle- and low-income jobs who need more affordable housing options
  • Are located in Priority Development Areas (PDAs) with transit access to the region’s job centers

The study’s participants included a cross section of public agency representatives, housing developers and real estate-industry consultants. 

Recommendations from the Study

Recommendations from the study were promising. By developing these areas, residents could have access to more affordable housing near public transportation, and developers could have more funding opportunities to help build in these areas.

Study recommendations include:

  • Prioritize housing construction on land owned by public agencies
  • Identify land parcels for development and streamline the process for zoning, building and project approvals
  • Create local funding resources to boost affordable housing production and preservation
  • Update planning and zoning regulations with policies that support the production of new housing
  • Leverage regional resources

Public Lands: Key Plan Bay Area 2050 Strategy

Plan Bay Area 2050 includes findings from the study and a policy to “accelerate reuse of public and community land for mixed-income housing and essential services.”

This strategy would provide thousands of low- and middle-income families with homes in transit- and opportunity-rich communities. It would also ensure that the reuse of publicly-owned land benefits neighbors by creating community centers, clinics and other essential services.

Stations & Location Focus

The Public Lands Study focused on stations served by BART, SMART, Caltrain and VTA.

Other locations include:

  • SF Bay Ferry Vallejo Terminal
  • Amtrak Capitol Corridor
  • Stations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties
  • The Suisun/Fairfield station in Solano County
  • The Soscol Gateway Transit Center in Napa
  • Along the bus rapid transit corridor now under construction by AC Transit
  • Along the International Blvd./East 14th corridor in the East Bay
Completed Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Projects

Here are just a few completed TOD projects that are helping to make the Bay Area a better place to live:

  • The Contra Costa Centre Transit Village is a large scale, mixed-use multi-phase project. Completed phases of the development provide 422 rental housing units (20% affordable), 35,590 square feet of retail, a parking garage, and a new intermodal hub.
  • Mural is a 90-unit affordable housing development built on the surface parking lot at MacArthur BART Station, and is part of a large-scale, mixed-income development. When complete, the project will have 877 high density residential units (146 affordable), over 35,000 square feet of retail, a new 481 space BART parking garage, a 200+ space BART bike station.
  • Connolly Station, the first phase of development on the Dublin side of the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station, includes 309 apartments built and managed by Essex Properties. Future phases will include an upscale lifestyle hotel, a restaurant and conference facility.
  • At the South Hayward BART station, two apartment buildings opened in 2017: The Alta Mira Senior and Family Apartments have 151 affordable units, while Cadence is a 206 unit market rate apartment development.

Visit the Completed TOD Projects page on the BART website for a list of more than a dozen completed projects and future developments.