New Plan Bay Area targets aim high, and most hit their mark

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

Bay Area communities seem to be changing at lightning speed – and consensus on what these changes mean and whether they are good is nearly impossible to reach. It's no small feat to set goals for what the regional will look like in 5, let alone 25 years. 

Yet that’s the task at hand with Plan Bay Area, the Bay Area’s blueprint for the future of transportation and housing. At the end of 2015, we are proud of the work that has been done to make this regional planning document a stronger tool to help make our region a more affordable, sustainable, and connected place for people of all incomes to live.

The performance targets recently established in Plan Bay Area represent the Bay Area’s values and aspirations for how we want to grow as a region, and we are happy to report that we recently succeeded in setting targets that put more emphasis on equity and sustainability. 

Last month, after dozens of hours of discussion and public comment, our regional agencies – the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – approved the full set of performance targets for Plan Bay Area 2040. The targets include two mandatory statewide targets, and a host of voluntary targets that will help Bay Area agencies work together towards progress as a whole region. These targets will help determine where we should be planning for new housing, and how to spend scarce transportation resources.

Here are the final targets approved by MTC on November 18th:

Plan Bay Area 2040 Final Performance Targets



Performance Target

Climate Protection


Reduce per-capita CO2 emissions from cars and light-duty trucks by 15%

Adequate Housing


House 100% of the region’s projected growth by income level without displacing current low-income residents and with no increase in in-commuters over the Plan baseline year*

Healthy and Safe 


Reduce adverse health impacts associated with air quality, road safety, and physical inactivity by 10%

Open Space and 
Agricultural Preservation


Direct all non-agricultural development within the urban footprint (existing urban development and UGBs)

Equitable Access


Decrease the share of lower-income residents’ household income consumed by transportation and housing by 10%

Equitable Access


Increase the share of affordable housing in PDAs, TPAs, or high-opportunity areas by 15%

Equitable Access


Do not increase the share of low- and moderate-income renter households in PDAs, TPAs, or high-opportunity areas that are at risk of displacement

Economic Vitality


Increase by 20% the share of jobs accessible within 30 minutes by auto or within 45 minutes by transit in congested conditions

Economic Vitality


Increase by 35%** the number of jobs in predominantly middle-wage industries

Economic Vitality


Reduce per-capita delay on the Regional Freight Network by 20%

Transportation System 


Increase non-auto mode share by 10%

Transportation System 


Reduce vehicle operating and maintenance costs due to pavement conditions by 100%

Transportation System 


Reduce per-rider transit delay due to aged infrastructure by 100%




* = The Adequate Housing target relates to the Regional Housing Control Total per the settlement agreement signed with the Building Industry Association (BIA), which increases the housing forecast by the housing equivalent to in-commute growth.
** = The numeric target for #9 will be revised later based on the final ABAG forecast for overall job growth.

For more information on the specific targets, visit the Plan Bay Area website.

How we’re addressing displacement and affordability

As we reported last month, this new set of targets improves on the current targets (which are already held up across the nation as a gold standard). TransForm, alongside our allies in the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network and many other advocacy groups, has been intent on making sure these new targets address some of our most pressing concerns about today’s affordability crisis, including:

  • The serious risk and rate of displacement experienced by so many low income communities of color, especially in areas growing rapidly (priority development areas); and
  • The lack of middle-wage jobs that are essential in helping longtime Bay Area residents afford basic necessities like housing, transportation, and food.

The new targets aren’t exactly all that what we would have liked to see. In particular, TransForm wanted target 7 to aim to reduce displacement risk to 0% with a focus on low income residents; instead it calls for this risk to “not increase”. We also wanted target 9 to greatly increase the number of middle-wage jobs; the final target calls for a 35% increase. But the fact that the targets were included at all speaks volumes about Plan Bay Area’s progress. With these new targets, we will still be able to understand displacement risk by geography, and see how the risk of displacement may vary between income groups. For jobs, we’ve stood alongside our labor allies to highlight how regional planning needs to do more to address the shrinking middle class.

For far too long, planning and investment decisions have often come at the expense of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable communities. TransForm and our allies have been very intentional about bringing this fact to everyone’s attention, and presenting decision-makers with avenues to alleviate the pressures felt by low-income families in the Bay Area.

And we couldn’t have said it better than some of the regional leaders that are tackling this issue in their own communities, like San Francisco Supervisor David Campos:

"It's no secret that the Mission – a part of my district in San Francisco – has been ground zero for evictions, skyrocketing rents, gentrification and displacement. We're continuing to lose low-and moderate-income families who have long called San Francisco home. But many other parts of the region are starting to feel the same pressures of the affordability crisis. Measuring the risk of displacement gives us a sense of the impact Plan Bay Area 2040 will have on vulnerable populations. It gives us a data point for us to recognize how much more we need to do to adequately protect and stabilize low and moderate income communities and communities of color throughout the region. It sends the signal that we care about the situation. And while different parts of the region experience these pressures differently, this target will highlight how all cities in the Bay Area must do their fair share to address the crisis." 

Regional planning with local impacts

The momentum that pushes Plan Bay Area to include these anti-displacement and affordability goals is reverberating throughout the region. In Oakland, TransForm and our partners in the Oakland Community Investment Alliance are working to pass a citywide housing impact fee that would help build and protect affordable housing in the face of new development.

This effort to keep low-income and long-term Oakland residents in their homes is sadly not a struggle unique to one city. That’s why it’s so crucial that we have strong regional guidelines like Plan Bay Area in place to point us toward a future that is affordable, sustainable, and livable for all.

Over the next few months our agencies will develop three different scenarios with distinct development patterns and transportation investments that will further shape Plan Bay Area. Workshops are planned for spring 2016, so visit the Plan Bay Area website here for a list of the upcoming meetings and events.


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