Victory in getting affordable housing included in Bay Area's new grant program, One Bay Area

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

The four-year, $320 million OneBayArea Grant (OBAG) Program is a new funding approach that better integrates the region’s federal transportation program with California’s climate law (Senate Bill 375, Steinberg, 2008) and the Sustainable Communities Strategy. Funding is targeted at achieving local land-use and housing policies by:

  • Rewarding jurisdictions that accept housing allocations through the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) process.
  • Supporting the Sustainable Communities Strategy for the Bay Area by promoting transportation investments in Priority Development Areas (PDAs).
  • Initiating a pilot program that will support open space preservation in Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs).

The OBAG program allows flexibility to invest in transportation categories such as Transportation for Livable Communities, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, local streets and roads preservation, and planning activities, while also providing specific funding opportunities for Safe Routes to School (SR2S) and PCAs.

For more information see the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) OBAG Fact Sheet.

Victory: Incorporating affordable housing into OneBayArea Grants, February 2013

Last fall, county congestion management agencies (CMAs) began developing their criteria for distributing the OneBayArea Grants meant to support focused growth in areas well-served by public transportation. But Santa Clara and Alameda Counties proposed criteria that failed to include affordable housing and other key criteria, so TransForm and our partners around the Bay joined together to change that.  

Working with Greenbelt Alliance, Urban Habitat, and other allies, our successes include the following:

  • Santa Clara County tripled the importance of a city’s record in creating jobs and homes near transit, including affordable homes. Thanks to our efforts, the county added four new criteria categories: Jobs Density, Housing Density, Affordable Housing and/or Senior/Disabled-Serving Facilities, and Proximity to Transit Station. 
  • Alameda County more heavily weighted the benefits of affordable homes when making grant decisions. The top two comments that county officials reported back before finalizing the criteria were "Support transportation investment in low income areas without displacing affordable housing" and "Increase the weighting given to the 'Affordable Housing Creation and Preservation' criteria." You can read the full final criteria in this slideshow (due to file size, page loading may take a few minutes), beginning on page 31.

The Santa Clara VTA also incorporated an unusual and welcome degree of public outreach into its grantmaking with a brochure explaining the grants and inviting residents to suggest transportation improvements in their communities.

The next step for these two counties is project selection in the spring of 2013, and TransForm will continue to meet with CMAs to keep land use issues front and center during the process. 

In September 2012, TransForm and nearly twenty other groups sent a letter to every county agency to start a dialogue about how to make sure the county's implementation of the OBAG program follows the intent of the program.

In April 2012, TransForm submitted a letter to the MTC Planning Committee with our Transportation Investment Strategy recommedations. 

In January 2011, MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) adopted a strong set of perfomance targets for the upcoming Sustainable Communities Strategy.

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.