VTA bets big on housing in Santa Clara County

By Eli Wolfe, San Jose Spotlight, March 19, 2022

“Earlier [in March], VTA announced several significant updates about housing projects being built on agency-owned land, also known as transit-oriented developments (TODs).

“By leasing surplus land near light rail stations to private developers or government housing agencies, VTA hopes to collect steady revenue from leases and new riders. The transportation agency sees this as a strategy to address the regional housing shortage and its own financial problems.

“The agency is betting big on this vision: VTA currently has nine residential projects in various stages of progress or completion in San Jose, Mountain View, and Gilroy. VTA has 25 total sites eligible for future development. By 2040, the agency anticipates it will have more than 7,000 residences — 2,500 listed as affordable — garnering almost $60 million per year in additional revenue.

“Former San Jose Councilmember and VTA board member Johnny Khamis said he is generally supportive of transit-oriented developments, but noted they pose challenges like any housing project.

“ ‘Unless they get an understanding of what they need to do to fix the problem of why nobody wants to ride light rail, these new housing projects aren’t going to keep them out of the hole,’ Khamis told San José Spotlight.

“Last year, [State Sen. Dave Cortese] introduced a bill signed into law, Senate Bill 791, which created a special unit in the state department of housing to help local agencies like VTA develop surplus land into housing.”

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