Plan Bay Area 2040: More Theatre or Genuine Outreach?

Plan Bay Area 2040: More Theatre or Genuine Outreach?

[Originally published in the Marin Post on June 1st 2016] This Saturday, June 4, starting at 8:30am an Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s public workshop will review an update to Plan Bay Area – called Plan Bay Area 2040. The venue is Corte Madera Community Center at 498 Tamalpais Drive. This time around ABAG/MTC are presenting us with three scenarios to choose from: Main Streets Scenario places future population and employment growth in the downtowns in all Bay Area cities. This scenario would expand high-occupancy toll lanes and increase highway widenings. It would also assume some development on land that is currently undeveloped. Connected Neighborhoods Scenario places future population and employment growth in medium-sized cities and provides increased access to the region’s major rail services, such as BART and Caltrain. It would place most of the growth in areas that cities determine as having room for growth, with some additional growth in the biggest cities. There would be no development on open spaces outside the urban footprint. Big Cities Scenario concentrates future population and employment growth within the Bay Area’s three largest cities: San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. Transportation investments would go to the transit and freeways serving these cities. There would be no development on open spaces outside the urban footprint. When you want to control the outcomes a great method is to limit the choices. All three likely pack in the same number of new residents (this is not yet clear). There may be some redemption in scenario 3 for Marin, but the growth still gets packed in the region somehow… Here’s an...
ABAG – Planning for a Population Explosion

ABAG – Planning for a Population Explosion

If the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is to be believed, the Bay Area is about to take on a wholly remarkable and unprecedented growth in population – growth far in excess of growth estimates by experts. This is important because it is these rapid growth forecasts justify ABAG and Plan Bay Area’s imposing policies – policies such as urbanizing small towns, significantly increasing densities and reducing automobile usage. Why Present Inflated Projections? Why would ABAG seek to maximize its’ population projections? I have started to learn an increasing amount about how an organization or individual becomes successful in the public sector. In the private sector the matter is simple – sell more, make money – this will lead to more responsibilities and a higher salary. In the public center it’s also about increasing one’s influence, but this is achieved by building a case to secure grants and financing. The bigger the problem a public entity can set itself up to solve – the more it can secure state and federal grants. The issue is further compounded by ABAG creating a housing & transportation ecosystem or industry – where it pays to join the parade as there are lucrative contracts for transit and housing consultants; and developers and builders stand to benefit from increased development opportunities. Others simply join the parade as it serves to progress their cause (e.g. transit and housing advocates). I cover this in more detail in the article Disenfranchised by an Ecosystem. Just How High Are ABAG’s Projections? Transportation consultant and former Controller-Treasurer of the Southern California Rapid Transit District Thomas Rubin, lays it out clearly:...