We can – and must – plan for an equitable and sustainable Bay Area

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

For the last month, advocates and citizens around the Bay Area have been making their voices heard at public meetings on Plan Bay Area, our region’s first-ever plan for how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing driving. People want to make sure that the plan will advance social equity and environmental health. Now, we have a chance to make sure that the final draft of Plan Bay Area will work for the benefit of all Bay Area residents.

The draft plan takes many steps forward, but leaves out key policies that would increase equity, health, and prosperity for everyone. Because environmental protection, public health, economic prosperity, and social equity of our region are interconnected, addressing each of these issues has a multiplier effect that will put us on the path to a stronger future.

Regional agencies’ own analyses have identified the Environment, Equity, and Jobs (EEJ) Alternative as the “environmentally superior alternative.” This scenario, developed through consultation with TransForm, Public Advocates, Urban Habitat, and other allies, is proof that when equity and community well-being are at the core of regional planning policies, we see the best results for the Bay Area. Compared to all the other alternatives, the EEJ Alternative would bring us less traffic, healthier residents, fewer traffic deaths, more affordable neighborhoods, and it would do a better job of allowing our most vulnerable neighbors to stay in their homes.

Our work is not done. Key policies from the EEJ Alternative are missing from the draft of Plan Bay Area, even though their inclusion would address the most glaring gaps in the plan. We need to do more than prove we have the right policies; we need to put them to work for our region’s future. Now, our broad base of community-minded, housing, transportation, environmental, and social justice organizations are banding together to make sure these solutions are not left on the table in the final plan.

TransForm and our allies have drafted a letter urging regional agencies to make critical improvements to the draft Plan Bay Area that will bring more transportation choices and greater affordability to our region. TransForm and our allies want the final draft of Plan Bay Area to incorporate the best elements from the EEJ Alternative and add key mitigations to improve outcomes on a host of issues vital to the future of the region.

We believe the draft Plan’s performance can be improved with the following policies:

  • Transit: Substantially increase funding for transit operations and institute a regional youth bus pass.
  • Highways: Ensure express lanes expand transportation choices, mitigate impacts on low-income commuters, and optimize use of existing highways without building new lanes.
  • Affordable Housing: Plan for sufficient housing affordable to low-wage workers in all infill locations with access to jobs or transit.
  • Displacement: Strengthen the OneBayArea Grant program to better incentivize local anti-displacement and affordable housing policies. Fund mitigations, such as land banking and housing rehab.
  • Health and Active Transportation: Fund more active transportation and complete streets programs to maximize health co-benefits of physical activity and transit use. Better mitigate air pollution.
  • Jobs: Quantify construction jobs and ripple economic impacts from infrastructure investments. Work to ensure that the plan creates local jobs with decent wages, benefits, and career ladders.
  • Sea Level Rise: Incorporate stronger mitigations in impacted areas, such as levees, floodwalls, setbacks, wetland restoration, and other green infrastructure solutions.
  • Conservation: Strengthen policies to conserve and invest in parks, open space, habitat, and working lands. Incorporate conservation data into plans and project development and approvals.

What You Can Do:

  • Urge regional leaders to support the EEJ Alternative policies to make Plan Bay Area the best it can be.
  • Contact Clarrissa Cabansagan to sign your organization onto our letter by Wednesday, May 15, at 5pm. We will include these additional sign-ons in our final letter to commissioners on May 16.
  • Feel free to use the points from our letter to inform your involvement in the final public workshops or in giving input directly via the online town hall.
  • We have also been busy meeting with MTC Commissioners to bring these points to their attention. Contact Clarrissa Cabansagan if you are interested in joining in on these meetings. 
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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.