A recent public opinion poll of over 2,500 Bay Area residents from all nine counties reported that 84% of respondents believe a regional strategy for creating sustainable communities, like Plan Bay Area, is important. Respondents were particularly enthusiastic about providing access to homes and transportation for all people and improving the local economy.
When the draft Plan Bay Area was released in April, we shared what was good, what was bad, and what was next for the plan. Since the draft’s release, we have been working closely with our partners to preserve the positive elements of the plan and to make it better where the plan fell short.
The final Plan Bay Area is up for adoption by the boards of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) on Thursday, July 18. So where do we stand?
What’s (Still) Good
Our favorite elements of the plan—no sprawl for 30 years and over two-thirds of new development near transit—remain in the final plan. The adoption of the One Bay Area Grant program and a first-of-it-kind conservation grant program from earlier in the Plan Bay Area process are also huge victories for a sustainable future.
What’s (Not As) Bad
Some progress has been made on addressing our two main concerns with the draft plan:
Our Concern: Low-income communities are at risk.
Progress: Regional agencies will direct funding from the Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund to neighborhood stabilization investments, including housing acquisition and rehabilitation; small site acquisition; and land banking in the region’s priority development areas (PDAs). ABAG will provide a menu of affordable housing and anti-displacement policy options for consideration in the next round of One Bay Area Grant funding. The final Plan Bay Area also adds transit-oriented affordable homes as an eligible use of future state cap-and-trade revenues.
Our Concern: Natural and agricultural lands need investment to be viable and productive.
Progress: The final plan commits to updating the priority conservation area (PCA) program and further defining the role of different types of PCAs that support habitat, agriculture, recreation, and other ecological functions. Additionally, there is significant enthusiasm around implementing a Regional Advanced Mitigation Program to leverage millions of dollars in scattered transportation project mitigation funds into a meaningful conservation plan.
Overall, Plan Bay Area is a strong framework for creating a more sustainable and equitable region in the coming decades. Could it have been even better? Of course. But for an unprecedented regional plan, it has a lot of innovative elements that will benefit Bay Area residents and that other regions would do well to copy.
Our work is not yet done—the final version of Plan Bay Area still needs to be adopted by the MTC and ABAG boards on Thursday, July 18.
Opponents of the plan have taken to continuously pestering the elected representatives on the ABAG and MTC boards, in an effort to influence them to not adopt a plan at all. The Conservative Forum has gone so far as renting buses to bring Plan Bay Area opponents to the July 18 meeting en masse. That’s why it is absolutely critical for those of us who like the plan overall to show up at the final adoption hearing in support of Plan Bay Area.
If you plan on attending, click here to RSVP.
Questions about Plan Bay Area or the adoption hearing? Email Senior Program Director Stephanie Reyes at firstname.lastname@example.org.