From Planning to Doing: Time to shift to implementation on Plan Bay Area

Over the course of last Thursday’s four-plus hour meeting, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments voted to adopt the final preferred scenario for Plan Bay Area as well as the final One Bay Area grant program.  The votes locked in the many good features and the few disappointments we outlined.

One pleasant surprise change was the addition of $70 million more in grants for cities to create land-use plans for their Priority Development Areas – the places near existing or planned transit where cities are planning for significant new growth.  Thanks to Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty for pushing for that excellent addition.


Democracy in action

If you’re interested in reading more about the robust use of the democratic process that accompanied these actions – like the 80 people who showed up to give public comment – check out articles from KQED, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Contra Costa Times.

Sadly, none of these articles took the time to quote the dozen residents who showed up to tell their personal stories about how Plan Bay Area would help make their lives better. But here are a few that jumped out at me:

  • Pat from Oakland talked about how BART made her commute “do-able” when she first moved to the Bay Area and how she’s about to retire and wants to live in an affordable home near transit.
  • Nancy from Martinez said she’s looking forward to down-sizing her home in a few years and wants to see more options for smaller homes.
  • And Lena from Redwood City said her town has totally revived and become a much more vibrant place to live since the city started investing in more development near the Caltrain station.

 

So what’s next?

Plan Bay Area itself has a couple more steps before it’s officially adopted — the preferred scenario will undergo environmental review and come back for final adoption in the spring.  But overall, the heavy lifting on the planning side is over.

Most exciting for me is the chance to turn my energies towards what it will take to implement this plan in our cities and counties.  County congestion management agencies will draw up criteria for distributing OneBayArea grant funds to cities.  Counties will apply for conservation grants for local conservation projects.  And of course cities and counties — the only governmental bodies with land-use authority — will continue with the essential work they do to plan for the future of our cities and towns – neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.  And Greenbelt Alliance will be right there as they do so, helping to bring about a more sustainable, equitable future.

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