Bay Area Agencies Approve Preferred Land Use Scenario and Transportation Investment Strategy

At a packed joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), officials voted on May 18 to approve a draft long-range guide to the Bay Area’s transportation, jobs and housing. The “Preferred Land Use and Transportation Investment Strategy” is a key milestone in developing the final Plan Bay Area, which is due for adoption in April 2013. MTC also voted to approve the “One Bay Area Grants” (OBAG) program, and ABAG approved a draft housing allocation methodology for Bay Area cities.

“We’ve heard over and over that the public’s top priorities are preserving the Bay Area’s high quality of life and each community’s unique characteristics,” said Ken Kirkey, ABAG planning director. “Plan Bay Area will achieve these goals by strengthening the connection between housing, jobs and transportation, by growing jobs and the economy, and by ensuring stewardship of our region’s spectacular scenic and natural resources.”

ABAG President and Napa County Supervisor Mark Luce added that “these actions signify the strides we are making toward adopting a long range plan that links local aspirations with goals for a strong economy, healthy environment, and social equity.”

The Preferred Land Use and Transportation Investment Strategy approved by MTC and ABAG steers Plan Bay Area to promote compact, mixed-use development that combines both residential and commercial uses and is located close to public transit, jobs, schools, shopping, parks, recreation and other amenities.

The approved One Bay Area Grants initiative is an incentive-based program designed to stimulate the production of housing in areas well-served by transportation, particularly public transit. It uses federal transportation dollars to reward jurisdictions that accept housing allocations through the state’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) process and that actually produce housing.

When completed, Plan Bay Area will be the region’s 25-year blueprint for transportation, housing and land use policies and investments. California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375, Steinberg) requires that each of the state’s 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations – and in the Bay Area specifically MTC and ABAG – develop a long-range plan to reduce per-capita greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. The Bay Area is required to reduce emissions by 7 percent by 2020 and by 15 percent by 2035. SB 375 also requires Plan Bay Area to include a strategy to house by 2035 all of the Bay Area’s projected 25-year population growth, without displacing current low-income residents.

The Preferred Land Use and Transportation Investment Strategy will comprise the Plan Bay Area project alternative to be evaluated as part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In December 2012, the agencies expect to release the draft Plan Bay Area and EIR, which will be followed by public hearings throughout the region. MTC and ABAG are due to adopt the final Plan Bay Area and certify the final EIR in April 2013.

In a separate action, ABAG voted last night to approve a draft Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) methodology. The methodology will be used to meet state requirements to include sufficient affordable housing for the Bay Area’s projected population growth, so that people won’t have to commute to their jobs from homes outside the Bay Area. ABAG will take final action on the RHNA methodology at its July meeting.

Next Steps

  • June 2012 – Select alternatives to the preferred scenario to be evaluated in Plan Bay Area EIR
  • December 2012 – Release Draft Plan Bay Area and EIR.
  • January through March 2013 – Public hearings/workshops will be held throughout the region, along with online comment opportunities.
  • April 2013 – MTC and ABAG will adopt the final Plan Bay Area and certify the final EIR.