Caltrain Adopts Policies on Use and Development on its Property


The Caltrain Board of Directors adopted a Rail Corridor Use Policy and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy at their Thursday meeting. These policies will guide the agency’s use of its property, set standards for future development projects and support the delivery of Caltrain’s Long-Term Service Vision.

The Rail Corridor Use Policy will guide the use of the agency’s property and support delivery of Caltrain’s Long-Term Service Vision. Caltrain frequently receives requests from third parties to use its property for non-railroad uses, ranging from utilities to developments to farmers markets. The Rail Corridor Use Policy provides a policy framework for considering and approving the range of proposed uses of Caltrain property, to ensure their compatibility with the railroad’s current and future needs. It identifies which property is needed to support operations and future growth of the railroad, as envisioned by Caltrain’s Long-Term Service Vision, and which property could potentially have other uses located on it, such as potential community or development project uses.  

Based on the Rail Corridor Use Policy’s findings, a preliminary analysis was conducted to identify potential development opportunities along the Caltrain corridor. Two sites are considered to have high potential for development, as they are larger than 1.5 acres in size and have a relatively standard shape, in Redwood City and Mountain View. Seven other sites across the corridor have some development potential, but they are smaller, irregularly shaped and have specific factors that would complicate development, and they require further study and analysis to determine their development potential.

The TOD Policy expresses Caltrain’s policy goals and strategic objectives for development of the agency’s property. For residential projects, it lays out a requirement that 30% of housing units must be affordable units, with 10% targeted at Very Low Income, Low Income and Moderate Income households, respectively. The policy also suggests a minimum of 50 units per acre for residential projects and a height of at least four stories. Every individual project will be held to these standards, rather than an average across all Caltrain properties. It also lays out other objectives, primarily that any developments on Caltrain property would increase ridership on the system, while also providing accessibility to riders who live elsewhere. In addition, the policy promotes working towards multi-modal connectivity, maximizing density, receiving fair market value for the land, paying prevailing wage and favoring long-term ground leases.

While the TOD Policy sets forth the agency’s goals and objectives for development projects, each actual development project and its terms will be negotiated by staff and every transaction will be subject to final approval by the Board of Directors, at their sole and complete discretion.

The Rail Corridor Use Policy and TOD Policy are foundational policies to guide decision-making for the agency; additional study and analysis will be required before the agency considers pursuing any development project in the future along the Caltrain corridor.


About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.

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