PRESS RELEASE

May 19, 2016

For Immediate Release
Contact: Annie Sajid; annie@urbanhabitat.org

               Regional Agencies Fail to Make the Grade as Efforts  Ramp Up to Prepare Bay Area for Large-Scale Growth 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Two regional agencies responsible for adopting Plan Bay Area 2040 get a “D” for their performance, according to a report card issued today by the 6 Wins Network. Plan Bay Area 2040 is a massive blueprint for future regional development involving nearly $300 billion in transportation funds and proposals for accommodating more than two million new Bay Area residents over the next 25 years.

The two agencies spearheading the effort – the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – are not new to controversy over Plan Bay Area, which was originally approved in 2013 and follows decades of efforts to approach development from a regional perspective.

“These two agencies have continuously failed to consider a scenario they know to be environmentally superior and that dozens of community organizations and experts helped develop,” said David Zisser of the public interest law firm and 6 Wins member, Public Advocates Inc. “Any large-scale regional plan has to address problems familiar to many, especially low-income residents, such as high costs of transportation and housing, a displacement crisis that is forcing thousands away from good-paying jobs, and the health impacts of bad planning,” said Zisser.

MTC and ABAG are currently discussing a possible reconfiguration under the scrutiny of the Select Committee on Bay Area Regional Planning of the California Assembly. The report card will be presented to the Select Committee at its Oakland hearing on Friday morning.

Ironically, MTC and ABAG have agreed that “significant equity challenges exist in all three [Plan Bay Area] scenarios” they are currently considering. All three perform poorly on reducing housing and transportation costs, creating affordable housing, preventing displacement, reducing health impacts, and increasing access to jobs. 

The 6 Wins Network, which is a regional coalition of more than 20 grassroots, policy, faith-based, and labor organizations, has proposed an equity-based “scenario” for Plan Bay Area that prioritizes issues critical to low-income families and communities. In 2013, MTC and ABAG analyzed a similar equity scenario proposed by the 6 Wins, and determined it to be the “environmentally superior alternative.” 

The grade of “D” also comes as the agencies face criticism for failing to carry out provisions they adopted as part of Plan Bay Area in 2013.  One of those provisions would have identified more funding for operating transit throughout the region.

Another provision the agencies failed to implement promised to “link OBAG funding to jurisdiction-level approval of affordable housing planning, production, acquisition, and rehabilitation.” OBAG, or the One Bay Area Grant program, is an innovative pot of $354 million in transportation funds that MTC makes available to Bay Area cities. The 6 Wins Network has proposed that those funds be used to reward cities that are combatting displacement and building homes affordable to low-income households. 

“Our regional decision-makers should ensure that OBAG money flows to cities that have effective renter protections on the books and a clear track record on affordable housing,” said Stevi Dawson of East Bay Housing Organizations, another 6 Wins member.

The authors of the report card emphasized that it isn’t too late for MTC and ABAG to improve their performance and even get an “A” before a final report card is issued. Some key opportunities are coming up. This summer, MTC commissioners are expected to vote on how to use OBAG funds to address the housing crisis, and in September, MTC and ABAG are scheduled to decide on a “preferred scenario” for Plan Bay Area 2040 after getting input at public open houses in May and June.  

Click here to download a copy of the 6 Wins Network’s Interim Report Card to see how MTC and ABAG are performing on creating affordable housing, robust and affordable local transit service, investment without displacement, healthy and safe communities, economic opportunity, and community power – the 6 wins that gave the coalition its name.