Sac CAAP: affordable housing near transit

The City of Sacramento’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), preliminary draft, sets a goal, in the Measure E-5: Support Infill Growth section to “Enable the development of 8,700 new affordable by design units by 2040 within 0.25 mile of public transit…”. Sound good, but.

This is a low goal. The city already has a deficit of affordable housing, and has no plan for raising the necessary funds to build this affordable housing (it killed inclusionary zoning, and replaced it with a completely insufficient development impact fee, and the $100 Measure U contribution to the housing fund is on hold). The city’s Housing Element, required by RHNA, specifies that 16,769 units of ‘Extremely Low- and Very Low-Income, and Low Income’ housing are needed. While it it true that some affordable projects have been, and will be, developed without any city help, setting a goal of only half what is already needed is meek.

Location within 0.25 miles of transit is a mixed bag. While it is clearly a good that affordable housing is accessible to transit (otherwise it is not truly affordable under the housing+transportation analysis), past practice has been to locate affordable housing projects on arterial roadways, those sources of pollution and noise and traffic violence that families living in affordable housing should be protected against rather than exposed to. Unless the city is making a real commitment to redesigning these roadways to reduce VMT, reduce traffic violence, reduce air pollution, and emphasize active transportation and transit, it would be better to place affordable housing elsewhere. I don’t think that CAAP is making that commitment. A strong argument made by many housing advocates is that we should be encouraging affordable housing everywhere, not just along arterial roadways (also known as stroads).