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Sustainable Communities Strategy - Bay Area
What's at stake:
The newly-released Plan Bay Area is our region’s first-ever plan for how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing driving, and could have an incredible impact on the future of our region. If done well, Plan Bay Area could bring more affordable, walkable communities to the Bay Area while reducing greenhouse gas pollution and meeting other equity, health, and safety targets.
What you can do:
- Learn more. Read our blog post: Putting together the Plan Bay Area puzzle, to find out what's good and what should be improved about the plan, and what some of our friends are saying too.
- Send in written comments by Thursday, May 16. Email MTC now via our online action page, submit comments online here, or mail a letter to MTC, Plan Bay Area Public Comment, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, CA 94607.
- April 2013: TransForm's first analysis of the draft plan shows that while the draft Plan Bay Area is headed in the right direction, there are still several critical aspects of the plan that the agencies should improve to truly meet the future needs of our region.
- March 2013: Regional agencies release draft Plan Bay Area, draft Environmental Impact Report, Equity Analysis of draft plan, and several other related documents, and schedule workshops and public hearings to gather public input. Public comments on all documents are due in May.
- February 2013: OBAG success! When some counties proposed One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) criteria that failed to include affordable housing and other key criteria, TransForm and our partners around the Bay joined together to change that. Working with Greenbelt Alliance, Urban Habitat, and other allies, our successes include getting Santa Clara County to triple the importance of a city’s record in creating jobs and homes near transit – including affordable homes, and getting Alameda County to more heavily weight the benefits of affordable homes when making grant decisions.
September 2012: County congestion management agencies (CMAs) began developing their criteria for distributing One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) program funds, meant to support focused growth in areas well-served by public transportation. TransForm and nearly twenty other groups sent a letter to every county agency to start a dialogue about how to make sure the county's implementation of the OBAG program follows the intent of the program.
July 2012: Plan Bay Area moves forward with five alternative strategies for the Environmental Impact Report.
June 2012: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) begin work on a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Plan Bay Area. TransForm submits scoping recomendations.
May 2012: Bay Area agencies approve preferred land use scenario and Transportation Investment Strategy. Major Milestone in the Bay Area’s Sustainable Community Strategy as well as a victory for Climate Innovative Grants.
April 2012: TransForm submits letter to MTC Planning committee with our Transportation Investment Strategy recomendations.
February 2012: based on a revised Project Performance Assessment (PPA), TransForm recommends projects to include and exclude from the RTP. MTC adopts guidelines for using the PPA that keep a focus on performance instead of politics.
December 2011: When agencies analyze five different transportation-land use scenarios, NONE of them meet the greenhouse gas targets! See the agencies' analysis.
November 2011: MTC releases a first draft of the groundbreaking Project Performance Assessment of 80 of the largest projects being considered for inclusion in the 2013 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). (see February 2012 notes for further action!)
July 2011: Agencies release first draft of a One Bay Area Grant program, to use transportation funds to reward cities that do the most to plan and deliver sustainable and equitable development near transit. A program like this was one of the recommendations of TransForm's Strategic Investments for a Better Bay Area platform. See our comments on the draft program.
April 2011: MTC adopts "committed projects" policy that will reconsider many projects that would have previously been included without any further review. The final decision on this "committed projects policy" was much better than in previous years, even though it was not as good as we had hoped (see our blog posts for some history)
March 2011: Agencies release "Initial Vision Scenario" as starting point for conversations with local governments and Bay Area residents about about where new development should occur and how new long-term transportation investments can serve this new growth.
January 2011: Agencies adopts a strong set of performance targets.
As the process moves forward, the most important step is for the agencies to hear from you! The Bay Area, more than any other region, has the potential to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy that sets a model for other regions, and eventually other states, to emulate.
The passage of SB 375 in 2008 created an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally change the paradigm of growth away from sprawl and towards walkable communities. The law’s centerpiece is the development of a “Sustainable Communities Strategy” (SCS), a regional blueprint for transportation, housing and land use that is focused on reducing driving and associated greenhouse gas emissions. This “SCS” will incorporate the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) that TransForm has influenced many times in the past. In our region, this will be called "Plan Bay Area."
TransForm is working with a host of partners to make sure the region achieves at least a 15% reduction in per-capita CO2 emissions. When combined with cleaner fuels and vehicles, this would help California meet AB 32 climate targets.
The SCS is also a chance, if done right, to meet other key regional goals: providing housing for people of all incomes, improving health through more physical activity, reducing the cost of transportation, and preserving open space.
While the opportunity is tremendous, there are also daunting challenges such as:
- a $25-plus billion shortfall just to operate and maintain our existing transit system;
- local governments that need funds to protect open space and focus growth around our existing infrastructure; and
- transportation models that are not sensitive to many critical strategies, like making walking or cycling safer.
- TransForm's blog on regional transportation issues.
- TransForm's factsheet on how SB 375 works.
- Confused by all the jargon? Check out the agencies' useful Glossary.
For more information or to get involved, contact TransForm Staff:
- For Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties: Joel Ramos
- For Santa Clara and San Mateo counties: Chris Lepe
- For region-wide issues or Marin, Sonoma, Solano, and Napa counties: Jeff Hobson