Climate Change Planning Displeases All

Plan Bay Area, a climate change based land use and transit plan in San Francisco and environs was challenged by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Bay Area Citizens and was rejected by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo who said that state state law required the agencies to develop a plan that would meet greenhouse gas-reduction targets. Bay Area Citizens will appeal, said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jonathan Wood.  PLF He said the group doesn't agree that state law requires a regional plan encouraging compact development and mass transit, and argues that the Air Resources Board reinterpreted the law without public notice or comment. Opponents to this type of planning argue that these are mandates set by unelected officials, unaccountable about the effects of high density housing and transit oriented development, including pressures on the school systems and strains on city services, property values, and tax increases.  Higher cost of living and fewer job options can result from these regionalized communities.  Regionalization is the antithesis of self government where the power is supposed to be with the people and their local elected officials. Interestingly, this plan has also been challenged by  Communities for a Better Environment and the Sierra Club, who argued that Plan Bay Area would increase climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and displace low income communities. It is curious that this mega planning seems unable to satisfy the basic needs it was proclaimed to provide, clean air and compact livable communities with more nearby amenities and services.  It is clear in viewing other completed smart growth communities that the mini-sprawl situations advocated by the Sierra Club and others are not especially friendly to low-income or other individuals and families who don't fit the mold of the cookie cutter communities favored by the young upwardly mobile office dwellers.  While this type of sprawl is attractive to them, it is not going to fit the needs of all citizens of any area, the elderly, ill, criminal, and the self employed, including the very people needed to produce these smart growth areas, the trade businessmen and contractors these communities need in order to be constructed and maintained. This type of planning is obviously exclusionary in practice.   Perhaps a little dose of reality should be allowed for in these planning schemes, something these groups should be able to admit.  This land use is suitable for only a segment of the population, and should only be planned for proportionally. Plan Bay Area, approved in July by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, sets guideposts for a 27-year period in which the nine-county population is projected to increase from 7 million to nearly 9 million. It is not legally binding, but designates areas eligible for state funding to encourage housing and jobs in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods near transit lines to keep development compact, reduce vehicle use and preserve open space. The agencies have approved 170 "priority development areas," 100 acres or larger, nominated by local governments.  This carrot and stick type of incentive for planning encompasses too much land for its purposes, and so causes disproportional and incorrect planning not serving the needs of citizens or communities purported to be served in these regions.

July 4, 2014