Today Governor Brown signed Sen. Ben Allen's SB 961, sponsored by Move LA, allowing local governments to create enhanced infrastructure finance districts (EIFDs) near high-frequency bus and rail corridors and in the half-mile radius around stations—with 40% of the tax increment going to affordable housing, 10% to urban greening and active transportation, and the remaining 50% for transit capital projects and other neighborhood improvements. We believe this bill, the “Second Neighborhood In ll Finance and Transit Improvements Act” or NIFTI-2, can become an important funding source to improve neighborhoods near transit and make them affordable and attractive places where people will want to live and investors want to invest.
Prioritizing construction of this housing near transit for low- and very-low-income residents and people who are homeless is appropriate given the shortage of affordable housing in our communities and the recognition that low-income residents are far more likely to become frequent transit users. The remainder of the tax increment can also make these new and improved neighborhoods more transit-oriented and should include bus rapid transit, shaded bus stops, bike lanes, better and wider sidewalks, and/or new rail stations that can serve as an anchor for activity and development and provide a source of neighborhood vitality.
California needs to recognize that these investments can encourage community development along many of the underutilized commercial corridors that thread through California’s towns and cities, and which are often served by high-frequency transit. These corridors typically fall below the radar of housing developers and might not attract any development at all if investments are not made to show off their potential as transit-oriented neighborhoods that are mixed-income and mixed-use. Such corridors can be especially signi cant opportunities if a transit operator develops high-frequency BRT service there.
Including both affordable and market-rate housing to achieve a mix of incomes is essential to this “community-redevelopment-type” strategy. Market rate housing will help ensure that the tax increment increases so that it can be bonded against to generate the funding that’s needed to make the improvements and to support the develop- ment of local retail and services.
SB 961’s proposal allows bonding against the tax increment in NIFTI-2 districts without voter approval, though, like the CRIA program signed into law in 2016, SB 961 creates a community petition process that can trigger such a public vote. Bonding against the increment is an essential element of any EIFD program because it enables near-term investment in neighborhood improvements, thereby helping to attract developer interest in places that may otherwise not appear to be welcoming investment.
We'd like to thank all those who signed on to our letters of support: Cesar Diaz - State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, Ron Miller - Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council, Stephanie Wang - California Housing Partnership Corporation, Andrew Gross - Thomas Safran Associates, Carter Rubin - National Resources Defense Council, Alan Greenlee - Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, Brian Augusta California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Tracy Hernandez - Los Angeles County Business Federation, Bryn Lindblad - Climate Resolve, Bill Magavern Coalition for Clean Air, Hilary Norton Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic, Larry Gross Coalition for Economic Survival, Michael Dieden - Creative Housing Associates, Lisa Hershey - Housing California, Patricia Hoffman - Santa Monicans For Renters Rights, Tony Salazar - McCormack Baron Salazar, William Allen - Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Anya Lawler - Western Center on Law and Poverty, Josh Stark- Transform, Will Wright - American Institute of Architects – Los Angeles, Chuck Mills - California ReLeaf