Public Land Reuse

Throughout the Bay Area, public agencies own thousands of acres of vacant or under-utilized land. Transforming these sites could create 170,000 permanently affordable homes as well as essential services and parks.

A partnership between Contra Costa County, BART and the private sector, the Contra Costa Centre Transit Village transformed land owned by multiple public agencies into a cohesive neighborhood with shops, offices, public spaces and 2,700 homes within a 5-minute walk of the Pleasant Hill BART station.

Karl Nielsen

A Key Plan Bay Area 2050 Strategy

MTC is working with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and communities throughout the region to help solve the Bay Area's housing shortage and bring more affordable homes to the area. Public land reuse is one of the eight housing strategies identified in Plan Bay Area 2050 – the Bay Area’s long-range regional plan – to meet present and future housing needs.

Reuse of public lands would provide for 170,000 permanently affordable homes for 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.

Technical Assistance for Public Land Use

The Public Lands Playbook is designed to guide local governments and other public agencies through the process of inventorying, prioritizing and reusing publicly-owned land. The playbook focuses on mixed income and affordable housing, and includes implementation resources that can be tailored for local use.

Read the Public Lands Playbook.
Cover image from the Public Lands Playbook.

Webinar: "Leveraging Your Land – Best Practices for Reusing Public Land for Housing"

Watch the recording of the MTC/ABAG webinar, "Leveraging Your Land," to learn about best practices for leveraging public land to deliver housing and services. Staff will introduce the Public Lands Playbook and provide guidance on topics ranging from creating a public land framework to complying with the Surplus Land Act.

Public Lands Affordable Housing Study & Action Plan

MTC’s Workforce Housing Action Plan evaluated challenges and opportunities related to building affordable housing on public land served by regional transit. It found that focusing development on these sites would expand access to affordable housing near public transportation while increasing the funding available to developers. Actions recommended by the plan include prioritizing housing construction on public agency-owned land, updating local zoning to streamline the development process and leveraging regional resources.

The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA)

BAHFA has the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help address affordable housing — and housing stability — in the Bay Area.

Priority Development Areas (PDAs)

PDAs are located in downtowns, along main streets and around rail stations. They are identified for focused growth of communities.

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.

Future Sites for Housing on Public Lands?

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