Plan Bay Area - Part 1
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Plan Bay Area - Part 1

Over the next few months, you will be hearing the term "Plan Bay Area" used more frequently in conversations regarding global warming and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Plan is a state-mandated, integrated transportation, land-use, and housing plan to support economic growth with jobs and housing while reducing passenger vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.

This will be the first of a multi-edition article since doing an adequate coverage would not fit in one allocated article space. The more I look and discover about the Plan Bay Area, the more I feel that not enough outreach has been done. It would appear that more needs to be brought forth in sufficient detail for the not only the elected representatives to understand but for the public as well. Also, I hope you will bear with me on the abundance of acronyms as it is not my choice.

As the result of addressing the effects of global warming issues, the State Legislature adopted Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375) whose focus is on the reduction of carbon emissions. It would seem appropriate to establish some historical background into how California has been preparing to address global warming and reduction of carbon emissions. In 2006, the State Assembly passed and signed by the Governor the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) which established a greenhouse emissions goal to be achieved by the year 2020. AB32 directed the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop a plan to reach the 2020 emission goals.

Later, the State Senate passed SB375 which strengthens California's ability to reach the goals set out in AB32 by promoting good planning with the goal of more sustainable communities. SB375 requires the ARB to develop greenhouse gas emission targets for passenger vehicles in each of the 18 metropolitan planning organizations around the State. San Mateo County along with 8 other counties belongs to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and is one of the 18 regions.

Each of the regional planning organizations was to prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" that provides a path as to how each region will meet its greenhouse gas reduction target by integrating land use, housing, and transportation planning. The ARB will review each proposed "strategy" for its ability of reaching the greenhouse gas emission target and if found to not meet the target, an "alternative strategy" must be developed by the region to do so. The approved strategy will then be incorporated into the region's federally enforceable regional transportation plan.

So the basic objective of the Plan Bay Area is to address global warming and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles. Under the legal authority of AB32/SB375, ABAG has been working with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and has created a Draft Sustainable Communities Strategy the most recent version is dated June 27, 2013. I will focus mostly on the San Mateo County portion but each of the other 8 counties will have similar issues with which to address.

The Plan is highlighted by the identification of Priority Development Areas (PDA) where 80% of all new housing will be built. More specifically in San Mateo County, transformation is taking place along El Camino Real from South San Francisco to Menlo Park into the Grand Boulevard, converting from automobile orientation into walkable mix of housing, stores, parks, and services. Are we looking at New York City with modernization?

Since the Plan is heavily influenced by those in the transportation sector, we should expect that it would focus heavily on the transportation and in the San Mateo County portion, focus on the corridors of El Camino and CalTrain. But it totally excludes mention of cities and communities east of Highway 101 like Foster City and East Palo Alto as well as excluding those on the coast and Daly City.

Although we do need to take a serious look at future growth in the Bay Area, there are many more issues that need to be addressed than just jobs, housing, and transportation. There seems to be far too many assumptions being made or are they absent by design? I am going to address several of those issues in my next version. We need to look long and hard at all the ramifications of the Plan Bay Area including the effects on local independence.

I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at or 650-573-7359.

Council Corner

July 17, 2013
Plan Bay Area – Part 1

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