PITTSBURG -- Commercial property owners near the site of a proposed eBART station will be asked to vote on establishing a district that would allow the city to collect a one-time tax to help build it.
If the community facilities district is established, an estimated $3.3 million collected from the tax would go toward the cost of building the Civic Center station at Railroad Avenue and Highway 4 as part of the 10-mile-long eBART extension from the Pittsburg-Bay Point station to Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch.
The tax revenues, which would be collected only when property owners file a building permit for new construction, would reimburse city funds advanced to BART to help pay for the Pittsburg station, estimated to cost between $13 million and $14 million.
Construction on the $462 million eBART extension, which would run along the middle of state Highway 4, is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. The eBART extension will use smaller diesel-powered railcars to carry passengers instead of the larger electric-powered railcars used on the regular BART line.
Funding is in place for the extension, the Hillcrest station, a maintenance facility and a transfer platform just east of the Pittsburg-Bay Point station, but there is no BART funding for the Civic Center station.
"What we are doing (is) trying to find a way to effectively give these folks in this area around the station an opportunity to tax themselves. Why would they tax themselves? Because if this station can get built, it will increase their property values," City Manager Joe Sbranti said at a City Council meeting this month before council members voted 5-0 in favor of a resolution of intent to establish the district.
But it's not a done deal yet. The Council's action clears the way for a March 3 public hearing on forming the district. A vote, which would require a two-thirds passage among property owners to pass, could occur at that meeting or up to 75 days later.
During initial talks, property owners have responded favorably to the proposal and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority has indicated it would be interested in providing funds for the station if the district is established, Sbranti said. The station would be served by an existing 125-space park-and-ride lot on Bliss Avenue.
The city has already contributed $800,000 toward grading and foundation work for the station. And in 2012, the council voted to contribute $500,000 more toward the station's design costs.
Currently, 51 parcels are in the proposed district boundaries within a half-mile radius from the proposed station.
Under the proposal, property owners who file a building permit for a new construction within a quarter-mile radius of the station would be assessed a one-time tax or fee of $1.50 per square foot for commercial development and $2,000 per residential unit of a parcel. For parcels between one-quarter mile and one-half mile from the station, the one-time rate would decrease to 99 cents per square foot for commercial development and $1,320 per residential unit.
Property owners beyond a half-mile radius of the station could vote individually to be included in the district's future annexation area, which would charge parcels at a one-time rate of 49 cents per square foot for commercial development and $660 per residential unit.
A community facilities district will help further the City Council's goal of having an eBART station, Mayor Sal Evola said.
"We've even heard other public officials from other jurisdictions say they will work with us to ensure that BART does not go through Pittsburg without stopping in Pittsburg," he said.
Typically, such districts are used to pay for things like landscaping, street lighting and public safety.
Joel Keller, president of BART's board of directors and whose district includes the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station, said he was not aware of another city using a community facilities district to fund a transit station.
"It is certainly a public facility. I think it's a darn good idea," he said.
It would make sense to build the Pittsburg station while eBART construction is going on, he added.
"We have been working with Pittsburg to try and build a second eBART station. ... It's good planning if we can find the money to do it concurrently," he said.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.