Bay Area counties should celebrate regional plan’s one-year birthday by including equity and the environment

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

Plan Bay Area just turned one year old! But instead of the traditional cake routine, we’re celebrating the birthday of our first regional plan for sustainable housing and transportation growth by making sure all of its parts are a recipe for success. 

MTC has been working with county Congestion Management Agencies (CMAs) around the Bay Area to revise the guidelines for Countywide Transportation Plans (CTPs).  We’re pleased to see that the draft guidelines, released in July, would support Plan Bay Area’s goals – if counties follow them. 

Remember that time you forgot the baking powder? Cakes don’t turn out so well when you don’t follow the recipe. Regional planning isn’t any different. So if these CMA guidelines are the recipe that gets us to Plan Bay Area, counties need to adhere them in order to end up with the results we want: sustainability and equity. 

But it’s ultimately up to counties to decide how much of the recipe they want to follow. Even though counties aren’t legally bound to follow these guidelines, they should be aligning their own plans so that the vision of Plan Bay Area is fully realized.

This is the greatest challenge of implementing Plan Bay Area, where transportation projects are mostly managed at the county level, and increasingly funded by local sales tax measures (as in Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties).  The CMAs affected by these guidelines are juggling multiple planning efforts and seeking to balance these with local needs and priorities.

That’s why TransForm is working both to ensure adoption of the strongest possible guidelines, and to make sure that counties do their part in helping our region meet the goals of Plan Bay Area.

Baking in the Three E’s: Economy, Environment, and Equity

All experienced bakers know that a cake is only as good as the quality of its ingredients. If Plan Bay Area is the cake, we should be doing our best to make sure the components of our regional plan—the CTPs—measure up to its vision. 

MTC has been working to ensure the new CTP guidelines align with California’s landmark climate laws and federal policies to reduce climate pollution. 

To truly make the Bay Area an affordable, sustainable, delicious place to live as outlined in the regional plan (cake), counties need to align their local planning efforts (ingredients) in support of the Plan Bay Area performance targets, including healthy and safe communities, equitable access, climate protection, and economic vitality. 

The good news is that the new guidelines do a good job in making sure that counties improve public outreach efforts and consider the needs of minority, low-income, and disadvantaged communities that are most affected by climate pollution. Counties are even encouraged to consider a performance-driven, outcome-based approach that emphasizes the three E’s: Economy, Environment, and Equity. 

To further help spread the benefits of Plan Bay Area equally among all communities, MTC also recommends that counties conduct an equity analysis of their countywide transportation plans. This helps agencies make sure that all county residents, especially low-income and disadvantaged communities, receive a fair share of the benefits from transportation investments. 

Many of these great additions came in response to this letter initiated by the 6 Wins Network, backed by over 30 organizations. 

You can help this great regional plan come to life in your county. Last week, MTC held workshops to receive feedback on the draft guidelines. With final guidelines slated for adoption by the Commission in September, there are still a few more opportunities to speak out to strengthen the guidelines so there is true consistency between regional goals and countywide planning. When it comes to making sure that Plan Bay Area is cooked to perfection with all the right ingredients, there is no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen.

Contact Clarrissa Cabansagan for more information about the following hearings taking place at MTC’s offices in Oakland:

  1. MTC Policy Advisory Council: Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 1:30pm
  2. MTC Planning Committee: Friday, September 12, 2014, 9:30am
  3. MTC Commission: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 9:40am



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