If all you did was read the newspapers this morning, you’d think that a raging mob of Tea Party activists were the only people who showed up for last night’s final hearing on Plan Bay Area.
The real news is that dozens of people in support of regional planning came to urge decision-makers to strengthen the draft plan before final approval – and succeeded.
Last night, TransForm and a wide range of allies – including Greenbelt Alliance, NRDC, and the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network members ACCE, Genesis, Public Advocates, Urban Habitat, East Bay Housing Organizations and many others – came together to organize turnout in support of regional planning and a better Plan Bay Area. Together we presented a united front and carried yellow signs in support of the Environment, Equity, and Jobs scenario. An impromptu pizza delivery from the Rose Foundation fueled advocates from around the Bay Area to speak up for a future where all Bay Area residents can afford to live in places with great transportation and access to jobs, schools, and services.
Despite the hubbub of those who – ironically – rode buses to the meeting in order to protest investments in public transportation, comments from the podium reflected an even split between folks who wanted a stronger Plan Bay Area, and those who wanted no plan at all. MTC and Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) leaders not only voted a resounding YES on Plan Bay Area, but also approved several amendments to address our concerns about displacement and public transportation funding.
In particular, these four amendments helped address our concerns about Plan Bay Area:
- Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia introduced a motion to require a public process to guide the allocation of any cap-and-trade revenues that the Bay Area receives, and to require at least 25% of those funds be spent toward benefitting disadvantaged communities. We’re hoping that final cap-and-trade investments go beyond this, and we will work to see that they overwhelmingly prioritize those who need it the most.
- San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced a motion to emphasize investments in public transportation for state of good repair using cap-and-trade revenues. The plan was modified to require a “significant portion of revenue from cap-and-trade” to be used for these purposes.
- San Francisco Supervisor David Campos introduced a motion to strengthen the emphasis on local transit operations and service. Passed unanimously, this amendment specifies that MTC make a serious commitment to funding local transit service by adopting a comprehensive strategy to do so. Commitments like these are what will move the Bay Area toward the goal of getting would-be drivers onto transit.
- Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf introduced a motion to require that the OneBayArea Grant (OBAG) funding be linked to affordable housing planning, production, acquisition, and rehabilitation. It further links OBAG funding to anti-displacement measures where the “jurisdiction deems necessary.”
The final plan also formalized a commitment to study conversion of regular lanes to express lanes that was proposed in June. While we would have liked to see additional provisions dedicating express lane revenues to fund public transportation, other alternatives to driving, and low-income mitigations like free FasTrak transponders, the amended Express Lane Network nonetheless represents a step forward and leaves room for improvement as the plan is implemented.
Altogether, these amendments built on the strengths of the original plan as well as key improvements won in smaller hearings over the past two months. Now it’s time to shift our focus to the process of implementation, and making sure the promises made last night truly translate to a better future for the Bay Area. It’s heartening to know that our work has helped to set the stage for success in that regard.
We’re exhausted after a late night out with noisy people. But we’re also energized by the dedication and follow-through of our supporters and allies, who stayed until the final vote to defend a sound plan and make it even better. Thank you to everyone who stood up for Plan Bay Area last night. Your actions made a difference that will be seen for decades to come.