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June 25, 2013 > Letter to the Editor: Opposition to One Bay Area Plan

Letter to the Editor: Opposition to One Bay Area Plan

Plan Bay Area and its supporting environmental impact report are quickly approaching their July 18th approval deadline, but a diverse group of organizations from throughout the nine Bay Area counties is joining forces to challenge the Plan's assumptions, numbers, processes, and recommendations.

The much-debated Plan is purported to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% by 2035 to comply with a state-mandate created by AB32. MTC/ABAG's strategy to reach the goal is to promote high-density housing in corridors near transportation and freeways, impacting almost all of the 9 million residents living in the 101 cities of the Bay Area.

This approach has generated opposition from neighborhood, homeowner, property rights, taxpayer and community groups from across the political spectrum and around the Bay Area.

One primary concern is the loss of local control. An editorial in the Marin Independent Journal (6/2/13) titled Bay Area plan should stress local control says "The plan needs to do a better job reflecting and respecting differences in sizes and densities of cities across the Bay Area."

Proponents of the plan claim that it leaves decisions to local jurisdictions, but acknowledge that cities and towns could be sued by individuals claiming the cities are out of compliance with the plan's dictates - and the burden of proof in those suits may be on the defendant cities. The burden for paying for the projects and lawsuits will fall upon taxpayers.

Experts claim the assumptions that underlie the plan are faulty, and the Plan fails to accomplish its stated objectives.

Oakland-based transportation authority Thomas Rubin, former chief financial officer of the Southern California Rapid Transit District says the plan contains unrealistic financial assumptions and ignores a long history of cost overruns for mass transit projects.

Comment letters on the draft Plan and its draft EIR have offered authoritative analysis and evidence that show the Plan's high-density housing will not reduce GHGs, rather, it will increase them, and the Plan's mass transit subsidies similarly will increase, instead of reducing GHGs.

Many people support the Plan with the belief it will provide affordable housing. But the Plan's own findings conclude it will not provide equitable access. Instead, ABAG/MTC staff found the "Plan moves in wrong direction; the share of household income needed to cover transportation and housing costs is projected to rise to 69 percent for low-income residents."

Citizen leaders reject population and job growth projections and accuse ABAG/MTC staff of using highly manipulative measures throughout the two-year process to secure tepid support for predetermined solutions. These leaders also claim the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be met with measures already put in place by the state and federal government, such as the corporate average fuel economy standard (CAFâ), which requires 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Environmental groups are concerned about disregard for sea-level rise and the increased depletion of resources. Others are worried about weakening California Environmental Quality Act requirements and still others raise concerns about the Plan's failure to address issues of infrastructure such as water and sewage and erosion of the tax base for education, police and fire protection.

The majority of the coalition agrees this 25 year plan will negatively impact generations of Bay Area residents by restricting 66% of jobs and 80% housing to just 4% of the land area in all nine counties.

Rob Sorensen
Newark

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