Public Comment

Plan Bay Area – A Shocking Theft Of Our Democracy

By Vivian Warkentin
Friday June 28, 2013 - 11:46:00 AM

Our local media has been dropping broad, confusing hints about something big, something imminent, coming to the greater Bay Area.

A front page article in the San Francisco Chronicle in March 2013, titled “Hard Choices for a growing S.F.” begins, “San Francisco residents will be getting thousands of new neighbors in the next 30 years, and it’s time to start figuring out where they will live and work. (??) The article goes on to say “Combined with the Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) estimate that San Francisco’s population will soar from the current 812,000 to at least 964,000 by 2025 it’s clear great change is ahead for the city.”

Tim Redmond, editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, lays out similar predictions in his article, “The Zero-Sum Future”: “Streets may have to be torn up, and redirected . . . ABAG, according to its most recent projections, would like to see some 90,000 new housing units in S.F. That’s got plenty of problems, particularly the likelihood of the displacement of existing residents.” 

East Bay Express editor, Robert Gammon, pulled out all the stops with his article, “How an Environmental Law is harming the Environment”, arguing that we need to gut the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it gets in the way of “smart growth”. 

So thousands of new neighbors are coming to our cities, even though there are neither jobs nor housing for them. Streets are going to be torn up and residents will be displaced. Thousands of new housing “units” will be needed. CEQA will have to be revised to accommodate “smart growth”. 

What is going to cause all this upheaval? What are the media outlets softening up the public for? — It’s the Plan Bay Area due to be implemented on July 18 of this year.  

Most people in Berkeley and other Bay Area cities have never heard of Plan Bay Area and only a miniscule percentage of the seven million residents of the nine Bay Area counties who will be affected have had any part in the “planning sessions.” But ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) who have designed it to address SB-375, the California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, say they are responding to the needs and desires of Bay Area residents. No vote of the people is planned. 

Our Berkeley Mayor, Tom Bates (as an MTC commissioner), along with mayors and city and county elected officials of the Bay Area, has been attending public-private meetings alongside non-profit groups who have alliances with corporations, developers, non-governmental organizations and government agencies. A conglomeration of locally elected officials should not constitute a legal governing body when they were not elected for that purpose. ABAG and it’s partners have effectively created an illegitimate regional branch of government that trumps city government, diminishing the rights of average citizens to affect their local environment.  

The principle behind the Plan is to restrict future development in the Bay Area region to redevelopment areas and Priority Development Areas (PDA) only. Increase public transit to outlying areas? No. It’s a cruel hard world now. By allocating federal grant money through ABAG and the MTC, the idea is to starve rural and suburban counties of transportation money and restrict land use of property owners in order to cause a migration of people to designated city centers close to mass transit. Construction in cities will be mixed-use, high density “smart growth” buildings. Wow! The callous disregard for the average person’s property rights, and rights in general, is breathtaking.  

Other policies include a carbon tax which will force us to install GPS monitoring devices on our cars, eliminating even more parking, and paying for parking at night downtown. That will be great for local business. 

People in other affected Bay Area counties are mighty upset. A Youtube videos of a hearings in Walnut Creek is available on line at:

Some Democrats would have us believe that only anti-government Tea Party types would object to a plan like this. I wonder if Democrats have lost their minds over climate change. Is it really environmentalism, or are the usual the money-bags and land grabbers of the world supplying self-enriching “solutions”? 

Democrats, including Loni Hancock, are actually working to gut CEQA, something developers have only dreamed about until now. Only deep-pocketed developers have the wherewithal to build giant multi-unit buildings, and are getting rich off of federal tax dollars doing so. I doubt that our lawmakers will be moving from their single family homes to stack and pack “smart growth” housing units any time soon. 

If we want to continue to call this a democracy, we in Berkeley will have to join our compatriots in other Bay Area cities and counties to say “Hell No!” to the illegitimate, tyrannical Plan Bay Area.