Plan Bay Area Charts Course for Stronger Economy, Cleaner Air
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) last night adopted Plan Bay Area, an integrated transportation and land-use strategy through 2040 that marks the nine-county region’s first long-range plan to meet the requirements of California’s landmark 2008 Senate Bill 375, which calls on each of the state’s 18 metropolitan areas to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy to accommodate future population growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. Working in collaboration with cities and counties, the Plan advances initiatives to expand housing and transportation choices, create healthier communities, and build a stronger regional economy.
At an evening meeting in Oakland, MTC and the ABAG Executive Board jointly approved both the final Plan Bay Area — which includes the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy and the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan — and an associated final Environmental Impact Report. The ABAG Executive Board separately approved a state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation for 2014 through 2022. MTC separately approved the 2013 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which updates the list of Bay Area projects that receive federal funds, are subject to federal action, or are considered regionally significant; as well as a final Air Quality Conformity Analysis that establishes both the TIP and Plan Bay Area comply with federal air pollution standards.
“Plan Bay Area is an historic and important step forward for our region,” explained Napa County Supervisor Mark Luce, who also serves as President of the ABAG Executive Board and as an MTC Commissioner. “It’s the product of more than three years of collaboration between cities and counties to do our part to create a more sustainable Bay Area for current and future generations.”
Noting that Plan Bay Area is the successor to Transportation 2035, the long-range plan adopted by MTC in 2009, Commission Chair and Orinda Mayor Amy Rein Worth described the new plan as evolutionary rather than revolutionary. “For decades, MTC has been charged by state and federal law to produce a long-term regional transportation plan, while ABAG has been responsible for assessing regional housing needs. Plan Bay Area puts these elements together in a way that makes sense.”
Projecting a healthy regional economy, the Plan anticipates that the Bay Area’s population will grow from about 7 million today to some 9 million by 2040. “Maintaining our region’s high quality of life,” continued Worth, “will depend on making wise decisions about transportation, housing and land use.”
Plan Bay Area provides a strategy for meeting 80% of the region’s future housing needs in Priority Development Areas (PDAs). These are neighborhoods within walking distance of frequent transit service, offering a wide variety of housing options, and featuring amenities such as grocery stores, community centers, and restaurants. Identified by cities and towns across the region, the PDAs range from regional centers like downtown San Jose to suburban centers like Walnut Creek’s West Downtown area, and smaller town centers such as the Suisun City Waterfront. The Plan funds mixed-income housing production and locally-led planning in PDAs.
Plan Bay Area’s transportation element specifies how some $292 billion in anticipated federal, state and local funds will be spent through 2040. Nearly 87 percent (or $253 billion) will be used to maintain and operate the transportation network we already have. Another way of looking at the distribution of the revenues — which include fuel taxes, public transit fares, bridge tolls, property taxes and dedicated sales taxes — is by mode of transportation. Maintenance and operation of the Bay Area’s existing public transit services will receive about 54 percent ($159 billion) of the revenues. The remainder includes 32 percent for street, road, highway and bridge maintenance; 7 percent for transit expansion; and 5 percent for roadway and bridge expansion. A $3.1 billion reserve comprised of anticipated future funding through the California Air Resources Board’s Cap-and-Trade program for greenhouse gas emissions accounts for another 1 percent of expected revenues.