What happens when 50 people who want a better future for the Bay Area come together to educate themselves and decision-makers? It makes a difference!
Action, leadership, and inspiration are just a few of the words that come to mind when reflecting on yesterday’s Education and Advocacy Day, which united community members from around the Bay Area to learn about regional planning and visit decision-makers in all nine Bay Area counties. With final approval of Plan Bay Area expected in the next month, TransForm joined our allies at the Six Wins for Social Equity Network to make sure our regional leaders know that the draft plan – while a good start – still needs improvement.
Here’s a taste of what happened at this incredible event:
Action. Fifty diverse advocates, traveling from Sonoma County to San Jose and everywhere in between, gathered together at 8:30 am on Tuesday morning in Oakland. The day, organized and led by ACCE and Genesis, called on community members from across the region to do something unprecedented – visit as many MTC Commissioners and ABAG Executive Board Members as the day would allow. Altogether our teams visited over 20 offices for conversations about the draft Plan Bay Area, which will shape the future of our region by deciding how to spend transportation funding over the next 25 years.
We’ve gotten word from participants that the collaboration of so many cross-cutting organizations and Bay Area residents was impressive. TransForm was proud to be a part of this effort. In Alameda County, our Transportation Advocate, Clarrissa Cabansagan, led a team of seven delegates that filled the conference rooms of Berkeley’s Mayor Tom Bates, Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan, and Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf. Our Silicon Valley Community Planner Chris Lepe also participated as part of the Santa Clara County delegation.
Leadership. Zoe Levitt of the Alameda County Public Health Department helped lead the conversation with decision-makers in Berkeley and Oakland. Her department’s recently released Health Impact Assessment studied the effect of bus funding and access on health outcomes for people who depend on public transportation every day, showing how important it is for Plan Bay Area to significantly increase transit service instead of keeping it constant.
Zoe’s voice alongside housing, transportation, and social justice advocates helped complete the picture of the equitable and sustainable Bay Area we are working for. The health of our region is at stake if changes aren’t made to the plan, and it is our most vulnerable neighbors who are most at risk. The Health Department’s backing of the transit policies that TransForm and allies have been advocating is a powerful reminder to the agencies that they shouldn’t be funneling new sources of revenue toward solo driving.
Inspiration. Also in the Alameda County delegation was Genesis member Dennis Fagaly, who stood up for himself and his community members with inspiring testimony about the impact of transportation funding on working families. He shared a story of a friend who lived in the flatlands of Oakland who, like a lot of us these days, had been out of work for many, many months. Finally, one day he received a job offer – but the work schedule did not coincide with times that public transportation was available. He had to return to the job search because of gaps in transit service.
In an era of such economic difficulty, the lack of transportation options to and from work should not be the reason for someone to decline employment. Dennis’s story inspired leaders to take notice of how dire the situation is for community members. The plan can and should do more to address these concerns.
We know these aren’t the only 50 people who want to see more buses and trains, safer walking and biking, and more affordable homes for working families. Even if you couldn’t be there today, you can still help us win critical changes to Plan Bay Area that will improve our communities – for everyone. Here’s how:
- Click here to take action right now by emailing regional leaders to urge them to support policies from the EEJ Alternative in the final Plan Bay Area.
- Come to the next Plan Bay Area hearing this Friday, June 14, at 9:30 am. (Can’t make a daytime meeting? The final meeting on Thursday, July 18, will be at 6:00 pm.)
- Be informed on the issues by reading our background information and checking our blog for updates in the weeks ahead.