"Plan Bay Area" is an initiative authorized by California law that links land use policy with transportation infrastructure. In principal, this could be a good step. In reality, the plan promotes and subsidizes massive, unsustainable growth for our region's 101 towns. We think most residents do not want this and will not benefit from it.
The Big Myth: Plan Bay Area makes many claims regarding jobs, housing, carbon emissions, the environment, and an imagined population growth of 2.1 million more people (between 660,000 and 903,000 new households). That is a lot of people; 29.9% more than are here now.
The Reality: We have tens of thousands of families in foreclosure, a glut of housing vacancies, regular water and energy shortages, a mandate (from A.B.32) to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels, and residents fleeing California faster than any other state.
Plan Bay Area will certainly help those who profit from building major apartment complexes, but the rest of us who live here stand to lose the very things we love about the Bay Area.
We want a better, not bigger, Bay Area.
Our concerns with Plan Bay Area:
- Increased Carbon Emissions: Plan Bay Area claims that housing 2.1 million new residents in transit-based apartments will decrease carbon emissions and traffic congestion. However, the fact is that even if individual emissions drop 15 percent by 2035 (the goal of S.B.375) if population increases at the same time by 30 percent (2.1 million), then total emissions will rise by 10.5 percent (.85 x 130 = 110.5% of current emissions). The math is the same as asking whether you'll have more money if 130 people give you $0.85 each ($110) than if 100 people give you $1.00 each ($100). That would be the right choice for dollars coming in but not for carbon emissions going out into the air. Read more...
Jobs and Housing: Tens of thousands of homes have been foreclosed in the Bay Area and nearly one million residents are currently unemployed. Our Bay Area residents need education and stable jobs, not more competition for temporary construction jobs. Residential apartment construction creates the equivalent of roughly 2 year-long full time jobs for each unit, but it adds 2 adults to the workforce for the life of the building. That adds to our long-term unemployment. Read more...
Traffic and Air quality: Transit-based development may be environmentally sound in theory: Pack people into high-rises near public transportation and they may drive less. However, a closer look at this real estate plan suggests a greenwash of business as usual (think vertical sprawl), making it inconsistent with the existing California environmental laws, which aim to improve air quality by reducing carbon emissions, among other goals. Read more...
- Exemption from Environmental Review: "Transit-priority projects" (transit-based development), as defined by California law S.B. 375 are supposed to help achieve the carbon emissions reduction targets mandated by A.B 32. However, rather than strengthen environmental protections and facilitate emission reductions, S.B. 375 provides loopholes that allow "transit priority projects" to be fast-tracked by developers and avoid compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Read more...
- Zoning Authority and Local Control: Cities are required to sign on to the plan if they wish to qualify for much-needed transportation funding, between $200 and $240 billion dollars in the next 10 years. But by signing on to the plan, they agree to implement the zoning plans of the nine-county panel. It's hard to imagine how local residents living half a mile from a main street (with frequent bus service) will be able to protest a 5 or 6 story apartment building next door. Read more...
- Backers and Supporters: Plan Bay Area has the financial backing of a broad coalition of realtors, bankers and developers who stand to benefit financially from construction and sale of the 660,000 to 903,000 new units. Several of the environmental groups that are offering the most enthusiastic support are also receiving funding from this coalition. Read more...
What You Can Do:
If you agree that endless growth for the sake of a real estate economy is unsustainable, please sign this petition to your elected Representatives.
Bay Area residents need to know they can challenge the agencies implementing Plan Bay Area and demand they refocus their efforts to make our communities better not bigger, and create stable jobs for the people who need them now.
Our priorities for the Bay Area are:
- Reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption;
- Improving air quality and living within our water resources;
- Preserving the features that we love here, including our existing housing.
- Stable jobs for Bay Area residents;
- Fewer housing vacancies and bank foreclosures;
- Protecting open space;
- Ensuring public health and safety; and
- Providing better access to transit.