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Planning for Action

In 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments adopted a new regional transportation plan, the regularly updated blueprint that guides development of the Bay Area’s transportation network 25 years into the future. Entitled Plan Bay Area, it was the region’s first to incorporate a state-mandated Sustainable Communities Strategy for coordinating transportation and land use as a means to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. The plan directed that 80 percent of the region’s future housing be built on 5 percent of the region’s land, within areas identified by local governments as Priority Development Areas (PDAs).

Last week, the two agencies completed another adoption cycle, approving a “limited and focused update” dubbed Plan Bay Area 2040. The special feature this time around is a new Action Plan, included to address concerns that the update will raise housing and transportation costs for lower-income households and leave them increasingly vulnerable to displacement. In attempting to ease this acute problem, the Action Plan is focused on “strengthening and expanding existing regional housing initiatives and pursuing more ambitious policy solutions at the state, regional, and local levels.”

A key facet of this work will be handled by the Committee for Affordable and Sustainable Accommodations, or CASA, “a multi-sector blue-ribbon committee that will bring together diverse interests to identify game-changing solutions to the region’s chronic housing affordability challenges.” First covered by the Monitor in February, this 46-member committee will be chaired by San Francisco Foundation CEO Fred Blackwell, SV@Home Executive Director Leslye Corsiglia, and recent addition Michael Covarrubias, CEO of TMG Partners.

In addition to housing affordability, the Action Plan will support economic development as a means to reducing income disparity and financial hardship, while also seeking to enhance Bay Area resilience to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

The Action Plan was hailed by NGOs as an important step toward confronting some of the Bay Area’s most pressing issues. “Our work isn’t finished though,” said Urban Habitat‘s Mashael Majid, noting, “We have to ensure that MTC and ABAG effectively implement these policies.”

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