OAKLAND -- Housing built on BART station property will have at least 20 percent affordable units, directors decided Thursday.
The board split 6-3 in a debate over how much flexibility to allow developers, though all agreed the policy was an important step forward.
The policy is supported by several advocacy groups. The debate included whether developers should be allowed to pay an affordable housing fee rather than incorporate the affordable units within the project, but the majority supported an upfront policy with a firm percentage.
That lets developers know in advance what BART expects so they can decidewhether they want to pursue a project, the argument went.
"It is long past time that we as an agency recognize the need," said Director Joel Keller of Antioch. "Will it drive some developers away? Probably," he said. "Those left standing will understand the requirements."
Expanding the policy to consider housing within walking distance of a BART station was suggested but rejected.
"Walking distance is a good idea," said Director Tom Radulovich of San Francisco. "The problem (is) we don't control any of that land."
He said the policy offered by Director Zakhary Mallett, whose cross-bay district touches on San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, was a good floor on which the board can build a more flexible strategy.
At the same meeting the board heard good news: Polling indicates voters would approve a multibillion-dollar bond measure that agency directors want to put on the ballot this year.
A polling firm's report showed that among likely voters in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, 71 percent would support a $4.5 billion bond measure and 76 percent would favor a $2.5 billion measure. The support percentage combined two categories: "definitely yes" and "probably/undecided lean yes." Bond approval would require a 66 percent majority.
The agency has been considering a $3 billion measure. The survey was conducted Jan. 10-18 in English, Spanish and Chinese on landlines and cellphones. Its overall margin of error was plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
The pollsters also found that the perception of the agency is rebounding, with 68 percent having a generally favorable impression of the transit agency compared with 62 percent in June 2015.
Asked whether BART's need for more money is great, some, little or none, 68 percent said great or some. Twenty-nine percent said some or no real need.
Contact Andrew McGall at 925-945-4703. Follow him at Twitter.com/andrewmcgall.