PITTSBURG -- Commercial property owners near the site of a proposed eBART station will vote on whether to form a district that would let the city levy a one-time tax on them to help build it.
The special election is made possible by a 5-0 vote of the Pittsburg City Council at a meeting Monday night.
"This is not a general tax. This is specific to 51 properties -- no more, no less," City Manager Joe Sbranti said before the vote. It is targeted "to (commercial) property owners who will directly benefit the most from the development of an eBART station," at Railroad Avenue and state Highway 4, he said.
Commercial property owners within a half-mile radius of the proposed eBART Civic Center station will have ballots mailed to them in May and will need to have them returned by June 16. Two-thirds approval is needed for the community facilities district to be established.
"The closer to the station, the higher the fee; the farther out, the less you pay," Pittsburg's Development Manager Maria Aliotti said.
Only one person spoke at the public hearing before council members voted to hold the special election.
Martin Mackerel, a San Francisco resident who is opposed to the proposed WesPac crude oil storage and transfer facility along the city's waterfront, praised the idea of having an eBART station in downtown Pittsburg.
But he pointed out the WesPac project's component for unloading domestic crude oil from 100 railcars a day five days a week at an existing rail yard next to North Parkside Drive is just outside the proposed district boundaries. "This is a great direction for the city of Pittsburg to build (the station) and improve the downtown area, but that is a conflict with having more heavy industry and having this dangerous stop so close," he said.
Tax revenues would only be collected when property owners file a building permit for new construction.
The station would be part of the 10-mile eBART extension from the Pittsburg-Bay Point station to Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. Construction on the $462 million project, which will use small diesel-powered railcars running along the middle of the freeway, is expected to be done by the end of 2017.
Funding is in place for the extension, the Hillcrest station, a maintenance facility and a transfer facility just east of the Pittsburg-Bay Point station, but there is no BART funding for the Civic Center station. City officials contend that creating the district would benefit commercial property owners because the eBART station would improve property values.
The tax would raise $3.3 million that would repay city funds advanced to BART toward the cost of building the Civic Center station, which is estimated to cost between $12.7 million and $14.5 million. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will contribute additional funds toward the station, a staff report said.
Property owners who file a building permit for new construction within a quarter-mile radius of the station would be assessed a one-time tax of $1.50 per square foot for commercial development and $2,000 per residential unit of a parcel. For parcels between a quarter-mile and a half-mile from the station, the one-time tax would decrease to 99 cents per square foot for commercial development and $1,320 per residential unit.
Property owners beyond the station's half-mile radius could vote individually to be included in the district's future annexation area.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.