Plan Bay Area has become a way of life since its adoption in 2013. This housing, transportation, resiliency, social justice, climate-governing regional plan is intended to evolve through its regularly-scheduled review and update process. As the Plan evolves the laws of nature will cause it to become increasingly centralized, complex, and outsized. Necessarily, as that progression occurs cities and counties will gradually leave behind their decision-making responsibilities as well as their duty to respond to residents’ wishes and concerns. Such progression can already be detected in differences between Plan Bay Area 2013 and the current 2040 version. Now, Plan Bay Area 2050 is on its way to your city and county.
MTC Public Participation Plan
As the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is tasked with developing and conducting Plan updates. One of the first chores to be accomplished in the update process is implementing a “Public Participation Plan,” and first on the list is getting public participation on the Public Participation Plan. This from the MTC website.
What are the best ways to encourage Bay Area residents to participate in planning for the region’s future? You can tell us by reviewing and commenting on MTC’s Draft 2018 Public Participation Plan…
MTC’s Draft 2018 Public Participation Plan highlights opportunities for Bay Area residents to engage in the range of the agency’s planning work and funding allocations.
Therefore, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is looking for public participation on the “Draft Public Participation Plan for the San Francisco Bay Area.” Deadline for comments is May 7, 2018. Please send comments to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission:
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Attn: Public Information Office
Bay Area Metro Center
375 Beale Street, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94105
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Interesting Part of the Participation Plan
MTC’s Draft Public Participation Plan lists all ways residents can participate -- by accessing documents from the MTC library available at 375 Beale St or on the MTC website, attending public meetings, joining workshops, etc.
Also the Participation Plan lists federal and state mandates that govern MPOs, the planning process, and plan objectives. Emphasis on such mandates implies MTC can listen, but it really cannot substantially act on any of what it hears! Here are three such mandates.
* Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act: This federal act requires metropolitan planning agencies such as MTC to “provide citizens….with a reasonable opportunity to comment” on transportation plans and programs. Thus, the MTC must go through the public comment ritual.
* EO 12898 Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations: State agencies created under federal requirements, such as the MTC in its role as the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, must make achieving environmental justice part of their mission.
* Senate Bill 375 Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act: This state law “calls on MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy — as part of the Regional Transportation Plan — to integrate planning for growth and housing with long-range transportation investments, and to reduce per-capita Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars and light trucks.”
Planning for Plan Bay Area 2050
Development of Plan Bay Area 2050 will take place over the next three years. Public participation is critical to ensure an open process, in which all interested residents have the opportunity to offer input and share their vision for what the Bay Area will look like decades from now.
Given that the Public Participation Plan so frequently mentions that MTC must operate under numerous federal and state mandates, it appears the Plan might perceive residents’ vision for what the Bay Area will look like in the future as limited to what is already on the Plan.
However, that is no reason to remain silent. Forceful indication that there are residents not happy with regional planning would encourage moderation in MTC's behavior. Forceful and organized displeasure expressed towards all levels of centralized governance – federal, state, and regional – is bound to invoke reversal of the current planning trend.
Cynicism and Brazenness?
MTC’s Draft Public Participation Plan contains the following introductory sentiment – verbatim:
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Public Participation Plan
"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but
the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to
exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to
take it from them but to inform their discretion."
— Thomas Jefferson
How is all that people power working out for you?