Between 2010 and 2040, the Bay Area’s nine counties are projected to add: 1.1 million jobs and 2.1 million people and 660,000 homes. On July 18th, the Bay Area took a major step in addressing its long-term regional growth. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) adopted Plan Bay Area.
The initiative addresses transportation and land-use strategies through 2040 in a powerful attempt to meet the requirements of California’s Senate Bill 375, which requires the state’s eighteen metropolitan regions to develop plans to accommodate future growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.
The Plan comes at a time when federal aid is lacking, making its implementation that much more important. For too long, the Bay Area has been exporting its housing away from job centers while transit services have been severely lagging. Focusing on infill and transit-oriented development while improving transportation services will be key to sustainable growth.
ABAG and MTC developed Priority Development Areas (PDAs) to determine where the majority of the region’s housing needs will be met. PDAs will also be best served by transit systems, have a variety of housing options and amenities such as nearby retail and groceries. Eighty percent of the regions housing will be served in these neighborhoods.
Despite extensive public outreach, the Plan has been met with opposition. Opponents have expressed concerns over the potential for gentrification, worried low-income and minority communities will be pushed out of their homes. Others claim the approach to the Plan was authoritarian and does not reflect the input of all bodies.
At a recent panel discussion on Plan Bay Area, one attendee brought up an important point regarding public perception. She noted that many people may not understand the benefits of dense, transit-oriented development. If they were to understand that this type of urban planning would help create long-term sustainability for our communities and offspring, maybe they would be more receptive to the plan.
How is your neighborhood taking on regional planning?
Credits: Data linked to sources. Images credit of Robert Poole.