Plan Bay Area’s Target: Better Goals for Equity and Affordability

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

Photo: Mukul Kundu It’s no secret that it’s expensive to live in the Bay Area, and rapidly getting less and less affordable in many of our communities. We at TransForm are feeling the crunch, too. Two of our Oakland-based staff have been forced to relocate in the past year; one found another home in Oakland, and the other is now working from our Sacramento office.

Not everyone is so lucky.

That’s why it’s so important that, as our regional agencies revisit Plan Bay Area, they adapt this regional planning tool to address today’s realities, and work harder to maintain diverse, connected, healthy communities that are affordable for all.

Plan Bay Area 2040

This past summer, our regional agencies began the heavy lift of revisiting and improving on some key components to the current Plan Bay Area - our region’s 25-year plan for transportation, housing, and sustainability.

And while agency staff describe the effort as a minor update, the new plan (Plan Bay Area 2040) has the potential to move the needle on some of the Bay Area’s most acute challenges: keeping housing affordable, preventing displacement, and providing reliable and frequent transit service.

TransForm’s role in crafting the Plan Bay Area vision

Right from the start, TransForm helped shape the goals and targets that our regional agencies – the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – developed in 2010 to evaluate the current plan. These targets not only set the course for the future Bay Area we’re aiming for, but they also become the yardstick by which the MTC prioritizes limited funding for new transportation and housing projects.

Now we’re pushing MTC and ABAG to incorporate stronger targets that will protect our most vulnerable communities. We are proud to stand with our partners in the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network including Urban Habitat, Public Advocates, Working Partnerships USA, New Voices Are Rising, San Mateo Union Community Alliance, East Bay Housing Organizations, Center for Sustainable Communities, Council of Community Housing Organizations,  Breakthrough Communities, and our allies like Greenbelt Alliance and the Nature Conservancy.

How we need to change the adopted 2013 Plan Bay Area performance targets

The targets adopted with first version of Plan Bay Area were pretty good to begin with:


Yet the affordability crisis that has gripped the region over the past two years requires us to go even farther to keep the Bay Area affordable, healthy, and prosperous for everyone who lives here. That’s why we’ve been pushing to make the targets stronger, particularly with regards to affordability and equity.

We’ve also been pushing to reduce the number of targets from 15 to a more manageable set, to simplify the targets so they are easily understood by Bay Area residents, and to address emerging concerns over the current set of targets.

Successes – but still more work to do

After months of stakeholder meetings, MTC Commissioners adopted 9 out of 13 targets in September and left 3 placeholders, representing issues to be discussed and voted on next month: displacement, quality jobs/wages, and goods movement (see memo at link above for staff recommendations).

These placeholders come as a result of both MTC and ABAG digging deeper on the issue of displacement in the Bay Area at the urging of Commissioner Campos from San Francisco. Findings summarized in this recent memo present a comprehensive and compelling case for what too many Bay Area residents already know: how dire the situation is in the Bay Area.

Some cities will never build enough of the right type of housing if we continue on the current track. Over the last 7 years, our cities have permitted almost 100% of the region's above-moderate-income housing (such as luxury condos). At the same time, we’re barely permitting a third of the housing we need for low- and moderate-income households.

We’re happy to report that together we’ve won improved targets that will better track outcomes for those most vulnerable among us. For example:

  • Target 6 aims to increase the share of affordable homes outside of the areas where cities have volunteered to take on housing growth—additional places of opportunity with good jobs, schools, and connections to transit.
  • Target 13 aims to reduce all delays on transit due to aged infrastructure.

Next, as regional agencies consider the remaining performance targets, we’re pushing hard for even more improvements, such as:

  • A target with the goal to decrease to 0% the number of low and moderate income households facing risk of displacement.
  • A target that increases the number of living wage jobs available in the Bay Area.

The Bay Area has received numerous accolades for its performance targets framework, even being held up by Transportation 4 America as “the gold standard in using comprehensive performance measures to guide planning and evaluate outcomes.” We continue to urge MTC and ABAG to look closely at their own displacement research, along with other efforts including UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project, and use this information to steer the decisions next month in favor of policies that will help protect families struggling to stay in the Bay Area.

Stay tuned for updates on the next phases of Plan Bay Area 2040, including MTC’s scenario development process and project performance assessment. See where we are in the Plan Bay Area Process here, or contact me for more information.



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