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An artist's rendering of a future San Pablo Avenue that shows a cyclist in a designated bike lane, people walking on the street and. a tall white apartment building in the far frame.

El Cerrito to create more than 700 housing units near BART station

on December 28, 2023

A high-density housing development of more than 700 homes, nearly half of them deemed affordable, is in the works in El Cerrito on land owned by BART. 

The city received a $20 million state grant in October to propel the progress it has made on the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan, which was adopted in 2014 to meet community housing needs. 

The plan, updated  in 2019, would put houses on land by the El Cerrito Plaza BART station that is now parking lots. It also would include public open space, and community uses like a library. 

“The community is very supportive of creating housing for lower-income families who truly need these opportunities,” said Aissia Ashoori, El Cerrito senior program manager.

El Cerrito is the smallest of the six cities to receive support from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to build affordable and climate-friendly housing close to transit. 

The BART board selected a team — Holliday Development, Related California and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates — to develop the project. 

Under the Transport Oriented Development plan, 31% of the units will be reserved for residents making between 30% and 60% of Contra Costa County median income, which was about $120,000 in 2022. 

“This might help promote more equity and integration by putting affordable housing near the BART, and it certainly promotes our climate goals as well,” said Jeffrey Levin, senior policy director at East Bay Housing Organizations.

The state gave El Cerrito a prohousing designation in February because it had demonstrated a commitment to climate-friendly housing for lower-income households. That designation makes the city eligible for funding and resources.  

The four-year project will bring 743 residential units, 351 of which will be set at below market rate for Contra Costa County. 

“It is really making sure that we are not just building housing but we are building a mix of housing to address all income levels,” Ashoori said. 

It is too early to say how these housing units will be laid out, said Matt Lewis, BART property development officer. However, they will be close to  transit options, giving residents incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“We’re also really thinking hard about how to make sure that people still have access to the BART station,” he said. 

In the upcoming months, the city will work with the development team to leverage funding for the project.

(Top photo: San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan conceptual drawing by Urban Advantage, courtesy of El Cerrito)

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  1. WGBerger on December 28, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    BART condemned housing to build the system, and now they are removing parking to build housing. Soon we can anticipate the City will rezone every street in the area to 4 hour parking to harass everyone living in El Cerrito.
    We are all told to reduce energy and water use – but the City and BART add more energy and water users.
    We are told California has stopped growing but we know thousands of “migrants” are flooding in from southern border.
    So I guess we are building housing for the newcomers.
    And Aissia Ashoori, El Cerrito senior program manager chirps, “The community is very supportive of creating housing for lower-income families who truly need these opportunities.”

    Life in an insane asylum.

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