PLATFORM OF THE

BAY AREA TRANSPORTATION AND LAND USE COALITION


SPRING, 1999

The Bay Area has outstanding beauty, a dynamic economy, and incredible opportunities. However, poorly planned, sprawling development in the Bay Area poses a threat to our quality of life and our environment.

Member groups in the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition (BATLUC) believe that current development patterns and projections for the future do not have to be our destiny. The Bay Area can retain its environment and quality of life while ensuring that all residents have access to economic opportunities by: * refocusing public investment to serve and revitalize existing developed areas; * designing livable communities with housing near jobs, recreation, transit and services; * providing real transportation choices; * reforming pricing incentives which promote unsustainable development; and * addressing important equity concerns.

The following platform lays out actions to implement these principles. Members of the Coalition will promote the platform through a broad range of activities that include: providing analysis, reports and fact sheets on topics discussed in the platform; educating and involving residents, community groups, business interests, and public officials; encouraging local and regional leaders to actively participate in the Partnership for Smart Growth and other regional consensus-building efforts, and outlining issues for the media.

The Coalition's overarching goal is to provide information and policy recommendations that allow elected official and the broader public to choose between current development patterns and a more sustainable Bay Area. We hope you will join us.

1. PLAN REGIONALLY FOR SMART GROWTH

To solve the region's most pressing problems, we must plan communities with a high quality of life that also address regional concerns over transportation, affordable housing, air quality, equity, and efficient investment. Growing smarter in just a few cities and counties will not make a dent in addressing the key regional problems. It is time to grow smarter as a region.

COORDINATE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION, LAND USE, AND AIR QUALITY

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) have applied for funding to form a regional "Partnership for Smart Growth", which would include local governments and a broad range of private sector interests. The Coalition will work to ensure this process takes place independent of whether federal funding is granted, and will work to encourage broad participation in this partnership.

TIE TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENTS AND INCENTIVES TO BETTER LAND USE

Development that will strain the regions's road system should not be rewarded with infusions of regional transportation dollars. The Coalition will work to ensure scarce public funds are targeted towards communities which have proven that they will grow in ways that support a range of travel choices. At minimum, the regional gas tax proposal and the process to create a transit expansion blueprint ("new rail starts") should adopt these principles from the outset.

REDUCE INCENTIVES FOR POOR LAND USE

Existing incentives reward cities for building regional malls and other traffic-inducing land uses which generate high sales tax revenues, while penalizing them for accepting affordable housing, which provides little tax base and requires schools and services. Extensive efforts are needed to reduce this "fiscalization of land use". The Coalition will work for regional sharing of new sales tax revenues as one important solution.

DEVELOP PERFORMANCE MEASURES AND GOALS

Setting goals for the region and showing how specific projects and plans can move us towards them will make regional planning more meaningful to area residents and help build support for specific initiatives. Specific performance goals, such as calling for increased transit use per capita, should be included in MTC's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The Coalition will work to ensure that future RTP's and other plans present a meaningful range of alternatives, illustrating ways in which progress can be made towards regional goals.

2. PROMOTE LIVABLE, WALKABLE COMMUNITIES

Designing communities the old-fashioned way--with sidewalks, narrow tree lined streets, integrated street networks, and homes, jobs, shops, and parks within close proximity--has strong market appeal and reduces dependence on automobile travel. These compact, transit-oriented patterns of urban development also help save the Bay Area's open space and agricultural lands.

PROMOTE COMPACT, MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT

Good development can bring homes, shops, restaurants, parks and offices within walking distance of each other and transit facilities. The Coalition will promote changes in general plans, zoning ordinances, and design guidelines to implement these Smart Growth principles. Examples of how to do this are outlined in ABAG's Making Batter Communities report.

PRESERVE OPEN SPACE AND LIMIT SUBURBAN EXPANSION

Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB's) draw a line showing where development ends and open space begins, and are one of the most effective ways to reduce suburban sprawl. The Coalition will work to get UGB's coupled with effective policies to ensure infill development, adopted by additional Bay Area cities and counties. Ecologically sensitive lands and prime farm lands deserve special protection from development.

REQUIRE CONNECTING STREET PATTERNS AND PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY STREETS

Streets in new developments should connect with one another to reduce driving distances, facilitate bicycle and pedestrian use with sidewalks and bike paths. The Coalition will promote revisions of zoning regulation, subdivision codes, and design review processes to encourage these changes.

FUND TRANSIT VILLAGE AND NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT PLANS

Developing comprehensive plans for neighborhoods, especially those in key transit corridors, is essential for developing pedestrian-oriented places areas with a broad mix of land uses and public spaces such as parks. The Transportation for Livable Communities Program, established by MTC, is a model program providing funding for community-oriented planning that also reduces automobile use. The coalition will promote the continuation and expansion of this program and the adoption of similar programs by county transportation agencies.

3. PROVIDE REAL TRANSPORTATION CHOICES

For millions of Bay Area residents, convenient and affordable alternatives to being stuck in traffic are virtually non-existent. Poll after poll has shown that people are increasingly frustrated by having no reliable alternative to driving alone. Walking, bicycling, public transit, and ridesharing need to be far more convenient and deserve greater public investment.

DEVELOP A WORLD CLASS PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM

Transit in the Bay Area should be safer, faster, more frequent and more reliable. Regional agencies should focus investment on local service in core Bay Area communities, create seamless connections between transit systems, and ensure that service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The regions should invest in key transit "hubs" such as the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco and downtown San Jose. The Coalition will work with MTC and other agencies to ensure that increased transit usage become a regional goal in the 2000 RTP.

IMPROVE LOCAL BUS SERVICE

Local bus service provides vital links between low income communities and job centers and could serve much more of the regions's population if higher priority were given to needed improvements. The Coalition will work to ensure that federal and state agencies use transportation funds to improve frequency and reliability of bus service, install bus-priority signals on arterials, test regional "busways" and allow for better coordination of transit systems.

IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE ALTERNATIVES

The amount that people walk and bicycle has declined in recent decades as streets have been turned into speedways and fear of traffic forces parent to become personal chauffeurs for their children. Nearly a quarter of all traffic-related fatalities in the Bay Area are bicyclists and pedestrians. The Coalition will work with MTC and Caltrans to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians receive their fair share of funding and that regional bike and pedestrian needs assessment is undertaken. The Coalition will also work for passage of a statewide "safe routes to school" bill and advocate making all sidewalks, cross-walks, trails, and commercial centers wheelchair and ADA accessible.

4. ENSURE THAT SOCIAL EQUITY IS ADDRESSED

More than 2,000,000 Bay Area residents rely on non-automobile modes of transportation to get around--most of them seniors, children, low-income, or disabled individuals. Serving these residents must be a basic principle in all investments and policies.

MAKE SIGNIFICANT NEW INVESTMENTS IN COMMUNITIES THAT RELY ON PUBLIC TRANSIT

Public transportation systems are a life line to certain communities and transit investments in these communities have the added benefit of sparking neighborhood reinvestment and revitalization. The Coalition will support concerted efforts to develop 24 hour, 7 day service on key routes, upgrade the speed and frequency of service, improve lighting, safety and comfort, and provide discount or free passes to those with very low incomes.

INCREASE FUNDING AND INCENTIVES FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

A fair regional distribution of affordable housing is essential. The region should strengthen requirements for developers to include affordable units in each new development (near transit), and cities and counties should accept their fair share. The Coalition will ensure that California's Low-Income Housing Tax Credit criteria are changed to favor locations that are transit accessible and that the value of these credits are significantly increased.

FUND WELFARE-TO-WORK TRANSPORTATION PROGRAMS

Recent federal mandates to provide former welfare recipients with transportation to new jobs challenge our region to eliminate transportation as a barrier to employment, child care,and other social needs. Each county is preparing a welfare-to-work transportation plan. The Coalition will work to ensure these projects are fully funded and the recommended strategies are implemented.

PROVIDE BETTER INFORMATION ON THE EQUITY IMPACTS OF INVESTMENTS

It is critical to know which neighborhoods and groups will benefit from the projected $88 billion of Bay Area transportation investment over the next 20 years. The Coalition will work to ensure that detail equity analyses for the RTP and County Transportation Plans are prepared, and that these plans are evaluated and changed to address social equity problems.

5. GET THE PRICE RIGHT

Current economic incentive promote automobile use and inefficient land development. To clean the air, reduce congestion, and promote livable communities, the region needs to price transportation in a way that promotes alternatives to driving and that reflects the true costs of automobile use to society and the environment.

DEVELOP APPROPRIATE PARKING FEES

One of the most effective ways to promote alternative transportation is to reduce free parking. Parking "cashout" programs give employees the choice of receiving cash for giving up their "free" parking spot at work. Employees can instead walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to work. The Coalition will work to have the California Air Resources Board enforce existing cashout laws and will advocate for stronger cashout provisions from cities and counties. Cities should also reduce parking requirements for transit-oriented development projects.

CHARGE RUSH HOUR TOLLS ON BRIDGES

Used successfully in Southern California and around the world, programs to charge higher road tolls during rush hour can significantly reduce congestion while funding transportation alternatives. State legislation introduced in 1999 calls for increasing Bay Bridge tolls during rush hour. The Coalition will support such road price increases if equity impacts are taken into account and funds are use used to support non- automobile transportation options.

SUPPORT AN EQUITABLE GAS TAX PROPOSAL

MTC has been authorized to place a regional gas tax on the ballot as early as November 2000. The Coalition will work to develop a regional gas tax expenditure plan that significantly expands funding for public transit and non-automobile modes of transportation, and will only support a plan that is both environmentally sound and socially just.

EXPAND FREE AND DISCOUNT TRANSIT PASS PROGRAMS

Free and discount transit passes create a strong financial incentive to take transit, thereby building long-term transit ridership while reducing automobile use and congestion. The Coalition will advocate for greater funding of such programs, especially for seniors, students, and lower-income residents.

For more information, contact Stuart Cohen at 510.843.3878.