Wednesday at a packed meeting the unelected joint committee of ABAG (Assoc. of Bay Area Governments) and MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Assoc) members voted to ignore the public and proceed with five pie in the sky scenarios that staffers developed as part of the farce that is “Plan Bay Area”. Attendees sat stunned as committee members delivered the bad news. Many citizens came to testify in front of the committee, begging them not to vote on a plan that has been rushed through without enough information to make an informed decision.
This meeting was a special session scheduled after the previous meeting on June 10th did not deliver a vote.
At the June 10th meeting many of the same citizens were there to question the lack of true public outreach for this Plan. Many questioned the total lack of economic data.
Some were calling for a specific plan that included “Social Equity” and the ABAG/MTC members concurred, but in the end no one could define what social equity really meant. Senior MTC staffer, Steve Heminger, was not happy that his dog and pony show was being derailed by civilians. Heminger was more concerned about his staff meeting, predetermined milestones derived by a select few, and staying on schedule, more than on addressing the publics’ concerns.
The bureaucrats from One Bay Area badgered MTC and ABAG committee members rubber stamping plans regional growth plans that feature dense urban centers reliant on public transit. Can you say new tenement housing?
During the meeting Heminger kept whipping the committee to move for a vote so his staff wouldn’t have to do more work and could just move forward. ABAG Chair Mark Green, called for a vote, but other members questioned why this vote needed to be rushed given the public’s overwhelming negative reaction. Not to mention many of the ABAG and MTC members had already scurried out the door to avoid the public fallout. In the end there were not enough members to form a quorum for a joint vote. With so much public angst, the vote was tabled and the meeting was adjourned. A special session was scheduled for June 22, 2011.
It was obvious that the public had thrown a cog in the well oiled “rubber stamp” machine that day. I’m guessing Mr. Green felt obligated to publicly admonish staff for not including critical information about costs related to five scenarios that were presented. He also called for a specific definition of “Social Equity” and requested that staff change the scenario prior to the next meeting so they all met 100% of GHG (Green House Gas) and housing targets.
Which leads us to yesterday’s Kabuki Theatre. The room was packed. Many were holding bright orange signs that read “I support a Social Equity Scenario”. The staffers presented their slide show again and UNBELIEVEABLY… it was EXACTLY the SAME as the June 10th meeting!
There may have been minor language changes, but I couldn’t find them. None of the requests made by Mr. Green had been changed or included. And no definition of “Social Equity” was given. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. These people must have thought that the heat was off and they could try to push it through again without anyone noticing or holding them accountable. No so.
Many spoke out against the staff’s cooked up scenarios that had no connection with real citizen input. Many questioned why they had not changed. Someone asked why none of the action items from the previous meeting were addressed. All of them urged the committee NOT to vote to move forward, but to stop the process and address the concerns of the public.
One committee member requested a continuance. It was voted down. Senior MTC Staffers, Steve Heminger again reminded the committee that his staff would be missing milestones and timelines if they did not vote to move forward. With a quick flurry of votes on both sides, the committee rammed it through and left leaving the public silent and seething.
I was so disappointed. I live in an unincorporated part of the County of Contra Costa, which means I don’t have a City Council to complain to about this. The only representation I have is through the Board of Supervisors and sadly mine wasn’t there for either meeting.
It’s important to note that ABAG and MTC are regional unelected agencies comprised of appointed officials from the nine bay area counties. These agencies are scheduled to receive $200+ billion dollars from the federal government. They will in turn decide what local municipalities will get some of that money and how much.
Payloa is what it is. Cities that agree to adopt their plan will be rewarded. Cities that do not comply will be punished by not receiving funding. This type of top down approach gives these unelected bodies vast control over your local municipalities.
The ultimate goal is to completely transform and restructure all nine bay area counties using a United Nations initiative referred to as “Sustainable Communities”. The local implementation of this is referred to as “One Bay Area” or “Plan Bay Area”. The goal is to use a cookie cutter approach to housing and mass transit for the entire Bay Area. The Plan has been pitched at all nine Bay Area counties through so called public outreach workshops and an online video program designed to sell YOU on their vision.
The One Bay Area plan is based on the following:
- Climate/GHG is an immediate threat to all of us and we must do something NOW!
- The Bay Area population will increase by 2,000,000 by the year 2035 and the government should build housing for everyone (“stack and pack” style located next to mass transit hubs)
- “Stack and Pack” vertical sprawl housing is somehow environmentally better than all other options because none were given
- Buses, trains, bikes and walking are good and all car owners must be punished
- Private property rights should be regulated or taken by the Government for the greater good
- Jobs will be abundant and close to where you live
- Private Developers who partner with the Government should be given priority to build these stack and pack units with GHG waivers
Item 1: In my opinion, climate change issues like GHG have never been proven to be caused by humans. I understand that many believe these are real issues so I’ll leave it up to the experts. I also understand that Californians voted for two bills that require our local governments to plan for the reduction in GHG. Those two bills are SB375 and AB32. I’m not entirely sure Californians were voting for AB32 since it required a “No” vote to pass, but again I’ll leave that to the experts.
Item 2: The projected Bay Area population growth presented by the new overseers is purely speculative and is over inflated. During the visioning process One Bay Area planners did not consult City and County officials about job and population data so this information is simply misleading and unfounded.
Additionally, important questions that should be asked aren’t being asked, like….
- Why is the government assuming responsibility for housing in the first place?
- Shouldn’t land use and zoning should be decided by local City and County planning departments?
- Why are they allowing regional agencies to make those decisions?
- Shouldn’t each local community decide how THEY would like to grow?
- Why are we giving our rights up to unelected regional agencies that cannot be voted out?
- Why are our City Council members and County Supervisors allowing this type of overreach to happen? – Why aren’t they speaking out against this?
- Why aren’t we the people voting on this?
- When will the representatives we elected step up and lead?
Item 3: Vertical sprawl is sprawl in a different direction. How is that environmentally better than all other living scenarios? It isn’t. Vertical sprawl concentrates humans and cars in a smaller densely populated area. People aren’t going to give up their cars. This scenario would actually concentrate more GHG in and around the area so how would that solve any of these so called global warming/cooling issues?
And again, why is our government in the business of housing now? What happened to our freedoms as Americans to choose where we live or how we travel?
Remember that $200 BILLLION DOLLARS is at stake here. So the deck is stacked in favor of the developers, transit association and any other agency or private stakeholder that stands to benefit from these dollars.
All options are designed to benefit those that buy into this vision and against those that don’t. With less than 3% of the population currently using mass transit it makes no sense to put our tax dollars down that rat hole. Ahhhhh, but it does make sense if we build “Stack and Pack” housing as a supportive infrastructure around it. These stakeholders must think the public is stupid. We don’t want all of our communities to be transformed into high density urban transit villages.
I’m not knocking urban cities. If someone wants to live in a city then by all means let them. There are plenty of them around and they are great. I hear Detroit is looking for residents.
However for those who want quiet, less hurried life, the suburbs are a healthier refuge and should be celebrated as well.
You have to ask yourself how is it that this One Bay Area vision of urbanized “Stack and Pack” housing is the same for all 9 Bay Area Counties. It just doesn’t seem plausible that my community would happen to simultaneously choose the same vision as every other City and County in the Bay Area as well as all over the Country. This is just cannot be a coincidence.
Item 4: I find it astounding that unelected agencies are calling for regulatory measures that would punish citizens of this state for choosing to own and use their cars. Our gas taxes currently pay for road repairs and construction. Our bridge tolls are already too high. Licensing fees are used for who knows what and tickets are handed out like candy to fill the coffers. And yet MTC and ABAG are advocating for more regulation and taxation of vehicle owners in the following ways; increased parking rates, higher bridge tolls (as if $5.00 and $6.00 isn’t enough), less parking spaces, pay per mile toll roads, etc. I’m sure there will be others I haven’t heard of yet. These actions are punitive and unjust.
If a citizen of California or any other state chooses to cut back their driving that should be their choice. This is clearly a violation of the freedoms our founding fathers had in mind.
Item 5: In order to achieve the vision of Plan Bay Area there must be the taking of private property. This is unconstitutional. The One Bay Area Plan does not state that eminent domain will be used or private property will be controlled in order to achieve their goal because if they did private property owners would be busting down their doors and lawyering up.
But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the plans they have laid out for the 9 Bay Area Cities to see that eminent domain abuse, the arbitrary shrinking of urban growth boundaries and rezoning of properties are exactly what will be used to make it happen. The phrase they throw around is “Land Use”. I DON’T CARE what they do with government property, but they had better not violate private property rights to do this!
If you are a private property owner you have been forewarned. You had better take a look at your City’s General plan and see if your property has been classified as part of the RDA (Redevelopment Area) or even worse the PRDA (Priority ReDevelopment Area). If so you should contact your local City and/or County to find out what if anything is going to happen to your property.
Item 6: According to the OBA Plan we will all live in “Stack and Pack” villages and we will all work in jobs directly below where we live. They never told us how they knew that fact. Does that mean that our government is now going to dictate where we work too? Never once did they engage the business community in this process. This was a fact brought out time and time again by the public, but we were ignored. I guess this detail just doesn’t fit into their plan. The idea that the government can build housing where there is no plan for jobs is hilariously scary.
Item 7: This last item is clearly cronyism at its best, or worst depending on which side you are on. At each of the visioning meetings private developers were there voting for this plan because they would be benefiting by building these villages. Again, the idea that our government is going to guarantee building contracts to developers who follow this vision is wrong.
It is also important to know that these “Stack and Pack” villages will not be subject to the same GHG standards and regulations as the rest of us. That’s right!! You heard me. Waivers will be given to them for following the PLAN!
This plan is not about saving the environment! This plan is all about CONTROL!! Control over YOU, YOUR PROPERTY and anything else the government deems is for the greater good.
Go talk to your City Council and/or Board of Supervisors and tell them this plan needs to STOP before it is too late!