Board members used words like "shocked" and "astonished" at the report by consultant Bob Peskin, who analyzed sales tax projections through 2036. Once inflation is factored out, his sales tax projections are essentially a flat line.But if true, this comes at the same time as a SPUR report that states suburban job growth imperils emissions reductions due to increased driving. As a practical goal, the region should focus growth in the more urban downtowns and urban areas that aren't office parks.
The city, and other urban areas better served by mass transit than suburban business parks, must adjust policies to attract a greater share of office development and employers, concludes "Recentering Work: The Future of Transit-Oriented Jobs in Downtown San Francisco," released by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.So while the BART extension to downtown San Jose might seem like a good idea, its important to note that the round about way in which BART reaches downtown doesn't connect the areas which hold most of Silicon Valley's jobs but rather takes the path of least resistance (ie: existing ROW).
This is a big problem. The line which was conceived many years ago is a continuation of BART and regional authorities poor planning for rapid transit integration with land use. While it might have been state of the art as an idea decades ago, we've learned so much since then about TOD and how connecting destinations strengthens them. No longer will the suburban to urban model work with parking lots catering to the automobile. We need a better analysis of what to do but unfortunately it seems like nothing will stop this move from going through.
The map below shows job density in the valley (From LEHD 2004). Areas with the darkest green are over 20 jobs per acre. But the new BART line (dark blue) touches only the clusters downtown and extension of the VTA light rail line (light purple) go nowhere near the jobs that would attract transit riders.
The VTA Light Rail line hits a lot of the dense job clusters but underperforms because it is seen as slower. I don't know how many people who live in San Francisco have told me that the killer for thier connection to a job in San Jose is the slow round about light rail. This will be the same excuse for BART to light rail on the other side of the Valley.
When we look into these long term Bay Area projects, we need to push planners to think about where people work and where they want to go. It's really important to think about these long term strategies to connect people with jobs and connect jobs to each other. If we're going to be dependent on a knowledge economy here in the bay area, allowing people easy access through transit to amenities and each other is the best way to facilitate energy and emissions reductions. Even if TOD springs up along the new BART line, it won't be as good as connecting the existing clusters of dense jobs with tons of redevelopable parking spaces (see above photo) that might not be needed with rapid transit easily accessible.