Plan Bay Area Moves Forward with Vote on Five Alternative Strategies for Environmental Impact Report

At a joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Executive Board, officials voted on Thursday, July 19 to approve five alternative transportation and land use strategies to be considered as part of the environmental review process for the region’s long-range transportation and land use plan.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires MTC and ABAG to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the long-range plan, known as Plan Bay Area. The report must identify the plan’s significant environmental impacts and ways to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. The agencies also are required to consider a reasonable range of alternatives to the Plan. The five alternatives approved for analysis are:

  1. The No Project alternative – This alternative begins with the 2010 land use pattern and transportation network and assumes the continuation of currently-adopted general plans through 2040. CEQA requires examination of a no project alternative.
  2. The “Preferred Land Use and Transportation Investment Strategy” alternative – The preferred alternative assumes a land use development pattern in which 80 percent of the Bay Area’s household growth and 66 percent of its job growth are located in “Priority Development Areas” identified by local jurisdictions. It pairs this land development pattern with the Plan Bay Area Preferred Transportation Investment Strategy, which dedicates nearly 90 percent of future revenues to maintaining our existing road and transit system.
  3. The Transit Priority Focus alternative – This alternative will evaluate the potential for more efficient land uses in Transit Priority Project areas, which are areas called out in Senate Bill 375 that could be developed at higher densities to support high quality transit.
  4. The Enhanced Network of Communities alternative – This alternative was informed by input from the business community. It seeks to provide sufficient housing for all people employed in the San Francisco Bay Area and allows for more dispersed growth patterns.
  5. The Environment, Equity and Jobs alternative – This alternative was developed by input from the equity and environmental community. It seeks to maximize affordable housing in opportunity areas in both urban and suburban areas through incentives and housing subsidies. The suburban growth is supported by increased transit service to historically disadvantaged communities through studying a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax and higher bridge tolls.

The next steps in the process are as follows:

  • July - December, 2012 – The agencies will prepare the Draft EIR.
  • December 14, 2012 – The agencies are scheduled to release the Draft EIR and Draft Plan Bay Area for 45- and 55-day public review periods by the Joint MTC Planning and ABAG Administrative committees.
  • January 2013 – The agencies will hold public hearings on the Draft Plan and Draft EIR.
  • February - March 2013 – The agencies will prepare a Final EIR (including Response to Comments).
  • April 2013 – MTC and the ABAG Executive Board are scheduled to certify the Final EIR and adopt the Final Plan Bay Area.