Tomorrow morning, Thursday January 10, the Caltrain board will be considering a set of land use policies in the context of the business plan. The topics for consideration include policies for land that Caltrain owns, and for station areas where land use might be influenced by the station.
Unlike BART and VTA, which combined own over 400 acres of land near stations, mostly as big parking lots, Caltrain does not own nearly as large swaths of land, although it does own some notable land, including parking lots that Mountain View may be looking to build on. And Caltrain is in the process of assessing how much of the land that it owns will be needed for transportation purposes, and how much could be used for buildings.
Even so, there are important decisions to make regarding land that Caltrain does own, as well policies to consider for station areas.
Two big important areas, the Diridon Station Area where Caltrain owns large parking lots where San Jose plans to allow building, and the 4th and King railyards, where Caltrain has usage rights for train storage and maintenance and San Francisco may want to allow buildings instead, will be addressed separately at the next board meeting in February.
For land that Caltrain owns, the board is considering goals including maximizing density, and encouraging walking, biking, and other modes over driving and parking. For station areas, the board is considering whether to advocate for transit-supportive uses and higher densities, and actively support station access and vehicle trip reduction; and whether to support transit-oriented development with policies that are advancing at the state level.
In recent years, the BART board has actively developed TOD policies, with goals to build 20,000 homes and 4.5 million square feet of commercial space on land it owns by 2040, with a target of 35% affordable housing across all its properties, and an average density of at least 75 dwelling units per acre.
In the past, Caltrain has not had assertive policies, relying on the policies of cities, and delegating decisions to private developers, as occurred with the San Carlos Transit Village. In that case, local supporters of transit-oriented development wanted more affordable housing, the private developer did not want to provide it, and opponents were successful in getting the project to be built with fewer homes.
What do you think? Should Caltrain have goals for land that it owns and support policies for land near its stations? Should there be goals for density, affordable housing, station access?
Send your thoughts firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. And if you can attend in person, the agenda item will be up for discussion between 9am and 10am, at 1250 San Carlos Avenue in San Carlos.