A YIMBY Action Endorsement Questionnaire. View all November 2018 Questionnaires.

Janice Li

Candidate - BART Board District 8

Housing and transit go together. What do you think the role of transportation is in helping us with our regional housing needs?

I have two basic thoughts:

1) Transit agencies such as BART need to develop their land to urgently and rapidly increase housing stock.

2) Development (of all types, not just residential) must actively promote and induce demand for sustainable modes of transportation — biking, walking and public transit.

For BART specifically, affordability is a key piece of my platform, and there are two parts to that: land use and equitable fare policy. Specifically for land use, I am in support of the soon-to-be-passed (fingers crossed!) BART Transit-Oriented Development bill AB 2923 (Chiu). With that said, I am far more interested in the framework that BART develops in order to meet the new standards set in that bill. I believe that 20% affordable housing as written in the bill is far too low (note that 20% is the floor), and it will be on BART to ensure that they push on higher rates of affordability. Currently, most of the 200+ acres of land that BART owns is predominantly tied up in surface parking lots in the East Bay, so there is a huge opportunity for BART to do its part in slowing displacement.

I also don’t believe that ever parcel that BART owns needs to be developed into housing. Particularly for further out in the East Bay, high rates of affordable housing will be controversial and the suburban areas may benefit more from developing BART’s surface parking lots into employment centers, which I would also be in support of.

Do you support AB-2923 (Chiu), requiring cities to update zoning to be compatible with BART TOD policies? Discuss what you see as potential for housing on BART-owned land.

I pre-empted this question — yes, I support it.

However, supporting the bill is the easy step. The harder piece is going to be how BART operationalizes these new standards by the 2022 deadline written into the bill. Ultimately, that will be where I push aggressively for two things:

1) Higher rates of affordability, particularly for the lowest income brackets: These are public lands and BART is a public good. They need to act like it and focus on using their land to benefit the public in the fullest extent, which I believe means higher rates of affordable housing versus the 20% minimum that’s in the bill.

2) Temporary housing for the unhoused: BART has limited land in San Francisco, and given that, we should follow the lead on AB 857 (Ting), which was passed last year and gives the City and County of San Francisco more flexibility to develop land underneath state-owned freeways. Via my leadership, the SF Bicycle Coalition supported this bill, and it led to the opening of the Division Circle Navigation Center earlier this month. This sets a precedent for BART land, and I would urge BART to follow suit to be more creative with its land uses to immediate house and bring shelter to San Francisco’s unhoused population, many of whom are taking shelter in BART stations today.

What improvements would you like to see to create a more unified transit system with coordinated fares and schedules across Bay Area transit services including BART, Caltrain, Muni, SamTrans, and AC Transit? How important do you consider such coordination? Would you support a more integrated transportation system, even if it meant less independence for BART?

I absolutely support a more unified transit system across the region. That’s why establishing an equitable fare policy (expanding discounted fares, increasing fare integration, pushing more schedule coordination, etc.) is a key part of my platform as part of affordability.

When it comes to fares, a core belief of mine is that mobility is a human right. Public transit should be in the business of helping people get around.

Given that, it’s stunning to me that fare integration doesn’t exist, and with 27 public transit agencies across the nine-county Bay Area, the people that are impacted the worst are the transit-dependent folks that are paying too much for the transit service that’s needed. While Clipper has increased access and convenience of paying fares at the point of sale, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has failed at forcing coordination between transit agencies. I would bring leadership at the BART Board to force the issue and work to develop an equitable fare policy.

It’s unclear what the impact on BART would be and I would imagine a better, more integrated public transit network would lift all boats (and buses and trains). But at the end of the day, we should be doing everything we can to help provide affordable and accessible mobility options through high-quality public transit.

What strategies do you support to improve multimodal passenger access to and from BART (transit, bicycling, walking, strollers, wheelchairs, electric kick scooters, transportation network drop-off, other), especially as we build more housing near BART stations? Should BART make increasing accessibility at existing stations a bigger priority?

I work at the SF Bicycle Coalition and have been the lead for the organization’s BART work so I am intimately familiar with improving multimodal access to and from BART.

BART should be doing everything in its power to induce demand for transit, walking and biking to their stations and strongly discouraging driving. That is why I’m in strong support of de-prioritizing surface parking lots on BART property.

For biking, we need to build out bike parking facilities like the 19th Street Bike Station in Oakland or working with local transportation agencies to build bike infrastructure to/from their stations. It’s frustrating that BART hasn’t taken more responsibility for the dangerous streets surrounding many of their SF stations. Balboa Park is surrounding by high-injury corridors like Ocean Avenue and San Jose Avenue; people biking are getting killed along the Embarcadero; and BART has been wholly absent from Better Market Street conversations.

At the end of the day, I have two values around transportation: 1) Public transit is the key to a healthy city, so our mobility options should always seek to reinvest and grow our existing public transit infrastructure and 2) we need to always be supporting options that reduce dependency on single-occupancy vehicles. Therefore, when it comes to emerging mobility, I support expansion of all the things as long as they are affordable, accessible and are grounded in those two values.

Where do you think BART should expand or improve in the urban core, in addition to a second Transbay Tube? Would you focus on building infill stations, serving new corridors, or a mix of both? What corridors or station sites do you think are most promising?

1) I am 100% for focusing on the urban core and beating back costly expansions to suburban regions.

2) The conversations about second transbay tube is a both/and conversation. The alignment will end up being a very heated conversation and I would look to prioritize an alignment that would have the highest capacity ridership (not hypothetical/projected ridership; we need to think of current needs), would be financially/environmentally feasible, and has existing community buy-in.

There is a world in which the second transbay tube’s alignment could extend BART out further west — perhaps not all the way to Ocean Beach, but even just to Divisadero or Masonic would have a huge impact.

Beyond that, I would hesitate in being too prescriptive about the alignment, because I don’t underestimate the immensity of this decision. But a difficult decision doesn’t and shouldn’t mean delays. With $50 million in Regional Measure 3 (a measure which I advocated for since development through to voter approval) dedicated to studying the second transbay tube, it’ll be on BART Board leadership to make sure major milestones are met so that planning moves forward swiftly.

Policing, fare enforcement, equity, and public safety on BART have been top of mind for many riders. What are your policy ideas on these critical issues? Feel free to link to other materials you think are relevant.

1) I am not in support of increasing or expanding BART enforcement as the solution to increasing safety at BART.

2) I do not believe fare enforcement, especially the $62,000/month that is spent on it, is a good or responsible use of BART resources.

3) I believe increasing public safety depends on two things: better station design and increased human services at stations. We need physical improvements to stations so BART workers and passengers feel safe, but we also need significantly more resources for people taking refuge at stations.

4) I would urge strong, comprehensive reform of BART police, including requirements for trainings on crisis intervention, implementation of community policing principles, the establishment of a use of force policy that starts with deescalation tactics, and more. This work must happen urgently, and BART Directors must be involved with engaging a broader community, particularly communities of color that have been unequally impacted by police violence.

See my quote here: http://www.sfweekly.com/news/bart-wages-a-pricey-war-on-fare-dodgers/

Is there anything else you think our members should know about your candidacy? Links, references, endorsements, etc?

Website: http://janice.li (scroll down for list of endorsements)

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JaniceForBART

Streetsblog Q&A: https://sf.streetsblog.org/2018/07/23/streetsblog-qa-with-bart-board-candidate-janice-li/

Thanks for this opportunity!

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