BART is hosting a community meeting on October 12 from 6-8pm via Zoom. Registration is required in advance by clicking this link. We encourage everyone to register and attend the meeting to learn about BART’s plans and make your voice heard.
According to BART, the meeting will start with a presentation covering:
The proposed maximum number of BART rider parking spaces in the development
An initial menu of strategies for riders getting to and from BART without parking
Other potential options for BART rider parking
Questions and comments will follow the presentation.
We believe that in order for the station area to maximize its potential and benefits to the community, we need to minimize the need for BART property to be taken up by vehicle parking spaces.
We hope to see an “all of the above” approach proposed to help BART riders access the station conveniently and safely without needing to drive and park. And for those who absolutely must drive, we hope to see BART refer to the City of El Cerrito’s commitiment to pursue an on-street managed parking program on the streets that surround the station. We believe that taking the “all of the above” approach to station access, combined with managed on-street parking, should lead to a need for 0 replacement parking spaces on BART property, aside from handicapped and station agent spaces.
For more detailed solutions regarding station access, please see our prior post on the topic. If any of our solutions resonate with you, please make your voice heard at this upcoming community meeting.
Use the “raise hand” feature to comment live during the meeting. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com with subject “Public Comments – Agenda #5A”. Be sure to send any emails prior to 4PM on Tuesday 8/17.
Additionally, there is an “online open house” website that is live and available for the public to participate anytime through August 20. This website has a lot of information about the project, plus an opportunity to fill in a survey as well as make suggestions on a map!
In May 2021, the Development Team (Holliday Development, Related California, and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates) presented their initial vision, design principles, and conceptual site plan to the El Cerrito City Council and the community. Link to the full presentation here.
We are excited about the start of this process and the potential for this project to create and help catalyze the growth of a more walkable, amenity-filled, delightful downtown zone for our city. We are eager to participate in subsequent design sessions with the development team and BART and look forward to partnering on the design development process.
Below is the conceptual site plan provided by the development team – we have added our high level ideas, questions, and feedback to it, and summarize them briefly here. The team has not shared more detailed design information yet, and we look forward to reviewing architectural and landscape designs as they progress.
(if you can’t see the image above well, you can download a PDF here).
Site Design and Programming – Key issues:
Plaza for the people – There is broad community support for the creation of a large, sunny plaza space (vs. several smaller nooks) adjacent to shops + cafes, and potentially adjacent to the new park as well. THis would support the retail with outdoor seating and provide space for live music, outdoor art, and other gathering opportunities at different sizes and scales. Consider the optimal location for this, ideally taking advantage of the views, sightlines, and daylight throughout the year.
Pedestrian Flow / Circulation – How does the Plaza location (noted above) relate to and help inform the location / flow of foot traffic from BART to the Plaza and into the community? Consider foot traffic support of retail both within the courtyard and on Fairmont, and flow into the existing EC Plaza and surrounding community.
Bike Parking – Ensure adequate bike parking capacity and security, including for e-bikes, cargo bikes, etc. to meet the needs of both new and existing cyclists (more residents will access the station this way once car parking is reduced).
Playground – Think about playground location – consider locating it closer to family housing units and retail and off the traffic corridor. Make it convenient to families both in the development and visitors to the retail / plaza areas.
Traffic Safety / Walkability – Discourage through traffic for vehicles on the new Oak St. Should it be for bus access only? Perhaps it also can include taxi, rideshare, and private drop-off and pick-up? The key is we want to encourage and facilitate safe pedestrian and bike usage to the maximum extent possible.
Other thoughts regarding issues influencing the design:
Library – We hope to see discussions soon regarding the optimal future location for the Library, considering space needs, access modes, funding sources / amount / timing. What are the tradeoffs between using space for a library versus additional commercial space or homes?
Replacement Parking – Please see our prior post here regarding parking requirements, strategies, and access methods. Ideally, the access needs of local BART riders can be met with a mix of strategies that allow replacement parking to be minimized or eliminated, making more room for retail, dining, homes, and open space.
We’ll keep you posted on future discussions and design development, and we invite your thoughts and participation as well. The more community input we gather, the more valuable our feedback will be to the City, BART, and the development team. Feel free to comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of us share high hopes for transit-oriented development at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. We envision many badly-needed new homes for households of all types. We also envision a new downtown for El Cerrito, where residents and visitors alike can have fun, interact, eat, drink, shop, and more. Lastly, we envision the most accessible station in the BART system, with abundant and safe bike parking, safe and well-lit pedestrian access, and easy access to public transportation. Much of this we’ve written about previously. However, in order to maximize all of these benefits to the community, we need to be able to utilize all of the available space on BART’s property for these benefits, and minimize the need for space to be taken up by vehicle parking spaces.
A recent report by Transform also articulates the need for minimizing replacement parking at the BART station in order to achieve BART’s goals for transit oriented development. We encourage everyone to read the report to understand their methodology and conclusions.
We believe that BART and the City of El Cerrito should take action to minimize the need for replacement parking at the station. In fact, we believe that, apart from some handicap and station agent parking, the goal should be for zero replacement parking spaces to be built at the site.
That said, we understand that some of our fellow community members are concerned about how they will access the station without available on-site parking. This is where we believe our transit agencies and city leadership should come together and deliver solutions. The first set of solutions should focus on making it as safe and convenient as possible to get to and from the station without needing to drive and park:
Bicycle infrastructure should be improved on surrounding city streets
Abundant secure bicycle parking should be made available at the station (including space for e-bikes, cargo bikes, bikes with car-seat attachments, etc).
Agencies should consider subsidies for e-bikes and other “last mile” solutions. Conta Costa County currently has a rebate program in place that can be used as an example.
Transit agencies and the City should coordinate to determine the feasibility of additional bus service from the station to the communities that surround the station.
The design of the station area and surrounding streets should leave room for the possible future use of autonomous shuttles and other emerging types of transportation that will exist in the decades to come.
All that being said, we understand that for some, there may be individual circumstances that make driving to the station more of a necessity. For these individuals, they may be asking, “but where am I supposed to park”? Luckily, local resident Laura Maurer studied this very issue for her master’s thesis while earning her degree at San Jose State. While we highly encourage everyone to read her thesis for themselves, Laura found that if we can optimize the available parking on city streets that surround the station, people can still reliably park by the station if that is a necessity. The key recommendations were as follows:
Parking space delineation on surrounding streets. Many of the streets that surround the station do not have parking spaces marked with paint. This leads to inefficient parking of cars, and missed opportunities to fit additional parked cars into the available curb space. Delineating parking spaces would increase the supply of parking spaces, and the cost is minimal (e.g. paint).
Shared on-street parking with the use of BART parking permits, allowing for dedicated on-street parking for BART riders. These permits could be based on zones, with blocks closest to the station differentiated from those further away. BART commuters could have permits giving them the ability to park on specific blocks, knowing that the quantity of permits was regulated to make sure they would be able to access parking on the block and would not need to circle residential streets in search of available spaces. This would also offer a revenue-generating opportunity for the City of El Cerrito, with those revenues used to benefit the affected neighborhoods.
Changes to the El Cerrito residential parking permit program. Laura’s research found that many of the residential parking permit blocks are currently underutilized. By using precise parking zones similar to recommendation #2, and incentivizing residents to park in their driveways and garages, the right balance can be struck between residential permit parking and BART commuter parking.
Demand-based pricing. Currently, BART charges only $3 per day to park at the station. If recommendation #2 were implemented, pricing for BART on-street permits should be dictated by the demand for those spaces. Blocks closest the station should cost more than those further away. This demand-based pricing again manages demand to ensure that those who truly need to park will have a space available and encourages people to park further away from the station or change transportation mode all together (also benefiting public health). This also generates the most revenue for making neighborhood improvements.
Shared parking lots. There are several other parking lots near the station, linked to banks, churches, and other organizations (even the Plaza shopping center) whose usage may not be very high during commute hours. Portions of these parking lots could be incorporated into the BART parking permit program, or the parking lot owners could manage it themselves.
While not mentioned in Laura’s thesis, another option is for local homeowners and renters to rent out their driveway space to BART commuters. I’m sure someone in our Bay Area tech community could develop such an online marketplace.
The solutions are out there — it is possible to maximize the benefits to the community on the BART site itself, with BART riders able to access the station without circling cars through residential neighborhoods. We need the will of the people and leadership from our transit agencies and elected officials to make it happen.
Want to get involved? There are many ways to do so:
BART is running a Berkeley / El Cerrito corridor access study. Please make a commenton their website with the suggestions listed above.
Contact the City of El Cerrito, asking them to optimize the parking on the streets that surround the station, per our suggestions above.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about the project and the teams that will be working on it. There will also be opportunity to hear from the public, so please join and participate! Please speak to what matters most to you. This could include housing, station accessibility, walkability, biking, environment / greenhouse gas reductions, a new town center, shops / parks / restaurants / public amenities, and more. A lot of great ideas can be found here.
Thanks to everyone who attended, wrote, or spoke at the El Cerrito City Council meeting this week. For those who missed it, you can see the video of the meeting here (you can use the event bookmarks to jump to the relevant section of the video).
The next public event planned for this project is on May 25, from 6-7:30pm. We will have more to say as the date approaches, but mark your calendars now! Your voices matter!
Zoom link for the event is here. Please see the flyer and details below:
RELEASE DATE: 04/30/2021
El Cerrito Plaza TOD Team Introduction & Community Meeting: Last fall, BART selected the team of Holliday Development, Related California, and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates to advance transit-oriented development (TOD) at El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Two meetings on this topic are coming up in May:
On Tuesday, May 4 at 7:00pm, the City Council of El Cerrito will hear a presentation on TOD at El Cerrito Plaza BART station during its regularly scheduled meeting. The presentation is item 5 on the agenda and will cover the City’s and BART’s goals for this potential project and an introduction to the developer team. The agenda, materials and link to join are posted here.
On Tuesday, May 25 at 6:00 pm, the City of El Cerrito and BART will be co-hosting a community meeting along with the developer team selected for El Cerrito Plaza station. All are invited to join this introductory meeting; similar to the May 4 presentation, this will be a chance to learn about the City’s and BART’s goals for this potential project, and to meet the developer team: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84342090452
These events are the first of many opportunities planned for community residents and other interested people to ask questions and share comments with the project team. A flyer for the May 25 community meeting is attached – please share with other community members who may be interested.
The El Cerrito Plaza BART TOD project is on the agenda for the May 4 City Council Meeting. Included in the meeting packet are presentations by city staff, BART staff, and the developer team. This is a great opportunity to hear from the key players involved with the project. You can join the meeting via this zoom link.
Since this is a presentation item on the agenda, there will not be public comment at the time of the presentation. Any public comments for this item will need to happen at the beginning of the council meeting during “oral communications from the public”, item #3 of the agenda. You can also email email@example.com with subject line “Public Comments – Agenda Item #5” before 4pm on Tuesday 5/4 and have your comments shared with the council in their supplemental materials prior to the meeting.
We encourage everyone to speak in support of our core principles. Our Plaza For The People community is advocating for the El Cerrito Plaza BART station to become a vibrant center with mixed-income housing, commerce, and public spaces that enhance the existing neighborhood and further the Plaza’s potential to serve as a community-gathering hub for all.
We believe in housing for all, market rate and affordable, units for households of all types and sizes. We believe in a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly destination where the broader community can gather and enjoy. We believe the station should be accessible to all, encouraging walking, biking, and public transportation.
This piece articulates our vision in greater detail. Please join the Council meeting and make your voice heard. Thank you!
Special thank you to community member Cara Houser for writing this! To join the conversation, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
We’re excited about the opportunity to transform El Cerrito Plaza BART station into a vibrant gathering hub with mixed-income housing, shops, restaurants, and public spaces. A thoughtful plan will enhance and serve the existing neighborhood residents as well as the broader community, which relies on BART and surrounding amenities and services.
…to keep in mind as we partner with BART, city leaders, and the development team to create a concept that benefits both nearby residents and the community as a whole. Here, we offer some ideas and invite you to share your vision and ideas for the space.
A successful design would provide ample opportunities for homes near transit, with high quality design/materials and opportunities for delightful public gathering spaces— shops, cafes, and art. Happily, these goals can be complementary, if done thoughtfully. More dense projects near transit provide not only a greater number of environmentally sustainable homes, but also free up funds and space to use for quality design, materials, and significant enhancement to the public realm.
· Transit + Access – Provide excellent transit, bike, and pedestrian access around the area. Building housing in walkable communities adjacent to quality transit and amenities is shown not to lead to increases in cars or traffic. These homes attract residents preferring a car-free lifestyle. Studies are beginning to address the significant issues of BART access for people unable to walk or outside of walking distance. Ideas to support access include:
Subsidizing bikes and e-bikes,
Enhanced bike lanes / safe routes to the station area,
Secure bike parking,
“Last mile” bike rentals,
Bike and scooter share,
Local shuttle service, enhanced local bus service
Carpooling to a reduced number of spaces at or near the station, and more.
· Housing + Sustainability – Creating higher-density housing around transit is an impactful way we can support mixed-income housing opportunities, a healthy commercial sector, and environmental sustainability. Compact development dramatically reduces the need for driving, which for most people is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. This relieves pressure on green areas that would otherwise be used to build suburban sprawl. Multifamily homes, built to current standards, are far more energy efficient simply by design. The double benefit goes to families who are relieved from crushing commutes, pay less in utilities, and who enjoy improved quality of life.
· Public Realm + Plaza + Art – A neighbor envisions this space as one where he could arrive home from work on BART and meet up with his family or friends, grab an outdoor table and relax/eat/drink while kids play at the adjacent park/plaza, with perhaps a band playing, and public art on display for all to enjoy.
· Shops + Restaurants + Amenities – A higher concentration of residents at this transit hub will not only support existing neighborhood businesses, but add new retail amenities such as cafes, restaurants, and bars (with outdoor seating). These could spill out onto the public plaza, providing opportunities for chance encounters, events, and recreation for all to enjoy. Imagine sunset at a rooftop bar/restaurant with breathtaking bay and city views!
Ideas and Inspiration
This section includes a number of selection of ideas, images, and precedent projects that integrate mixed income housing, art, and public realm plaza spaces. We’d love to hear from others as to additional examples of interesting/ successful/ noteworthy projects.
· The Passage (in San Mateo) is a mixed use development adjacent to a transit hub that strives to deliver “lifestyle as a service.” Elements include: landscaped open space, public art, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, childcare, wellness amenities, and housing into a multi-faceted community. Though the site is larger in scale than ours, it provides some interesting mixed-use mid-rise building and site design concepts. The following three images are from this project. More info here and here.
· The former Regatta Plaza strip mall in Aurora, CO – replaced by retail with apartments plus nearby office and entertainment uses across from a light-rail station. From “Transforming Inner-Ring Suburbs with Walkable Mixed-Use Development” – link below.
· A selection of images illustrating the intersection of homes and public spaces + art, from projects in a lower rise neighborhood in SF, such as Dogpatch. Note the last one, which shows a lovely rooftop deck in the evening. Imagine a rooftop bar/restaurant where residents and visitors could enjoy the incredible bay views. See Resources section below for links.
· This image is not from EC, but you get the idea of a rooftop bar with views!
If you’d like to join the conversation with fellow community members, please contact email@example.com or fill out the contact form here: