Plan Bay Area: A Dud or Just Needs More Money to Succeed?

Plan Bay Area 2040 is a done deal.  The bureaucracy is in place in the form of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and its unwelcome stepchild the Association of Bay Area Governments.  California legislators churn out legislation enabling regional bureaucracies like the Bay Restoration Authority (which spawned the “first of its kind” regional tax, Measure AA), and pass laws supporting development of transit-oriented walkable cities replete with subsidized housing in every county.

The Problem

No one likes to commute many miles to work every day because they cannot afford to live close to where they work.  No family or senior wants to be forced to move from a home they love because property taxes and rents become unaffordable.  No one likes to drive over poorly-maintained roads or commute to work in crowded and unreliable public transportation.  We all enjoy some open space, like a neighborhood park, a public beach, or a natural monument such as Muir Woods.

The Flawed Response

Plan Bay Area 2040’s ostensible purpose is to ensure a good mix of housing for all, transit as car replacement, and copious open space – all in the name of fighting climate change.  So far, we have seen continued high housing costs despite untold sums poured into subsidies and no relief from potholes or decrepit transit.

It would appear that Plan Bay Area is not working.  It also appears that planners as well as California legislators are doubling down on what does not work, with the not uncommon idea that if something does not work the solution is to throw more money and more rules at it.

Alternative Strategies

Opponents of Plan Bay Area, including the Nine-County Coalition, have focused on pointing to the perils and inefficiencies of regional governance.  Yet, regionalism marches on.  Perhaps a different strategy is needed?  Different strategies might include,

*   Focused effort by diverse groups to address the downside of specific proposals on the ballot.  

*   Partisan groups (the Nine-County Coalition is non-partisan) working together to change the central planning focus of the state legislature.  This would require finding and supporting political candidates.

*    Development, publication, and promotion of a credible alternative to Plan Bay Area.  As a rule, the public does not respond favorably to highlighting of problems without realistic alternative solutions.  By the way, “doing nothing” has never been an alternative embraced by the public!

Call to Action

 Astronomically expensive housing, shabby public transit, and ill-maintained roads are a drag on the economy and on quality of life.  Plan Bay Area has so far not fixed anything.  In addition, future generations will have to deal with the debt left behind by a plethora on bond measures passed to satisfy the perceived needs of the present generation.  The public has the choice to believe that all Plan Bay Area needs is more taxpayer money to succeed, or understand that the plan is flawed and a new one needs to come from those concerned.