Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable LivingTags , ,

Santa Rosa council members reluctant to support Bay Area plan for affordable housing

Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

CASA Compact website

Santa Rosa council members are looking sideways at a $37.5 billion plan to ease the Bay Area’s intractable housing crisis, voicing their reluctance to subsidize housing development in other areas when the city is seeking to resolve its own dire shortage.

The Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday gave a chilly reception to a set of 10 reforms known as the CASA compact. It came less than two weeks after a panel of eight local elected officials announced its opposition over the regional plan to boost affordable housing — and about two months after the Rohnert Park City Council booted one of its own, Jake Mackenzie, from two notable posts for publicly backing it.

City representatives and planning officials have touted recent local efforts to attract new housing, such as increasing how many units can be built per acre, changing local ordinances to stimulate the building of secondary homes, slashing certain development fees and lifting limits on downtown building heights.

Gov. Gavin Newsom held up Santa Rosa’s housing efforts as a paradigm of “local governments that do what’s right” in his February State of the State address.

Santa Rosa already has done or is trying to take all the measures outlined in the CASA compact, Councilman Chris Rogers said. The city shouldn’t foot the bill so other Bay Area cities can play catch-up, and especially not in the wake of Santa Rosa voters rejecting a $124 million housing bond, he said.

“We’re asking the public to help fund things we are already doing in places that have not taken this as seriously,” Rogers said.

While some of the regional plan’s policies might work for San Jose or San Francisco, he said they might not make sense for towns like Cotati or Sausalito.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9416431-181/santa-rosa-council-members-reluctant

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, TransportationTags , ,

Bike to Work Day just another day for two Santa Rosa men 

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

May 11 is Bike to Work Day in Sonoma County: Refueling stations will be set up across the county. Click here for more information.

With supplies for his kindergarten class strapped to his bicycle and a pacemaker keeping things orderly in his chest, Steve Bush leaves his home in Santa Rosa’s junior college neighborhood for his morning commute.
The 54-year-old schoolteacher pedals north on Old Redwood Highway before crossing over Highway 101 on Airport Boulevard. The 7-mile journey to Sonoma Country Day School near Windsor is one Bush has made daily for years, rain or shine.
He has few alternatives. About a decade ago, Bush and his wife, Meredith, sold their car. It’s been two-wheels traveling for the couple ever since.
“It’s nice to wake up in the morning with a bike ride and to relieve all the tension in the evening on the way home,” Bush said this week. “It makes my life better.”
Thursday is Bike to Work Day across the Bay Area. But for some, like Bush, it’s just another day to keep doing what they do as a matter of routine and passion.
In recognition of Bush’s dedication, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission named the Santa Rosa man Sonoma County’s bike commuter of the year.
Bush shares the honor with Shaun Ralston, regional program manager for Sutter Health, who cycles to work from his home in the McDonald Avenue area to Sutter’s hospital at Mark West Springs Road, a one-way trip of about 4.5 miles.
Read more at: Bike to Work Day just another day for two Santa Rosa men | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable Living, TransportationTags , , , ,

Much at stake for Bay Area in regional planning merger talks

OP-ED: Daniel Borenstein, CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Now the hard work begins.
Leaders of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday temporarily halted their ham-handed bid for a hostile takeover of the Association of Bay Area Governments. Instead, the two regional planning agencies have promised to work cooperatively toward a needed and long-overdue merger.
There’s much at stake. The Bay Area must better align housing, jobs and public transit. We spend too much time stuck in traffic. It will only get worse if we fail to build densely near transit centers and continue to approve sprawl along highway corridors already filled to capacity.
Unfortunately, for decades we’ve had two regional planning agencies — one for transportation, the other for housing — that have been engaged in passive-aggressive and sometimes open warfare.
Read more at: Daniel Borenstein: Much at stake for Bay Area in regional planning merger talks – ContraCostaTimes.com

For more on the MTC/ABAG power struggle: “A pricey palace, huge losses in risky investments, a busted bridge – and now the agency responsible wants more power.”

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable Living, TransportationTags , , , , , ,

Secrecy rules in regional-planning power struggle between MTC and ABAG

Zelda Bronstein, MARIN POST
Last week the power struggle between the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments intensified, as the Sierra Club and the Six Wins for Equity Network entered the fray. Meanwhile, the agencies’ joint ad hoc committee resumed its secret deliberations on consolidating the planning functions of the two agencies.
Routinely ignored by the media, MTC and ABAG operate in obscurity at their MetroCenter headquarters in Oakland. That’s unfortunate, given their huge impact on where Bay Area residents live and work (or not), and how we get around. MTC oversees the region’s transportation planning; ABAG manages its planning for land use and housing. Together they prepared the region’s first, state-mandated Sustainable Communities Strategy, Plan Bay Area 2040, approved in July 2013. Under the aegis of that “blueprint,” as they call it, the two groups expect to hand out $292 billion in public funds.
Their current dispute involves money. Finance-wise, the two partners are highly unequal. MTC has an annual budget of more than $900 million; ABAG’s budget is $23.6 million. More to the point, ABAG depends on MTC for crucial funding. The first public sign of trouble appeared in late June, when MTC voted to fund ABAG’s planning and research staff for only six months ($1.9 million) instead of the customary full fiscal year.
The timing of the MTC vote was not coincidental. At the end of December the two agencies are scheduled to move into their plush new headquarters in San Francisco. If major administrative changes are in the offing, MTC officials want to make them before the relocation.
But what’s really at stake is not efficiency; it’s who will call the shots, and in what direction they will aim. In particular, will social justice count in Plan Bay Area 2.0?
Read more at: The Marin Post

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Land Use, TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Agencies agree to disclose climate change impacts of Plan Bay Area—Settlement lays groundwork for robust regional planning

Agencies agree to disclose climate change impacts of Plan Bay Area—Settlement lays groundwork for robust regional planning

SIERRA CLUB YODELER

Today the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments reached an agreement with environmental and social justice groups on litigation relating to their latest regional transportation and development plan, Plan Bay Area.

Plan Bay Area’s stated purpose was to reduce climate change pollution by planning for transportation, smart housing development and land management in the nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay.

In August 2013, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and Sierra Club sued the agencies for failing to adopt a plan that would meaningfully achieve these goals. Earthjustice, which represented the groups and was co-counseled by CBE, challenged the agencies for failing to provide information about the viability of communities targeted for development, for ignoring the public health effects of increased freight shipments through vulnerable communities such as East Oakland, and for taking credit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions which actually resulted from other greenhouse gas abatement measures unrelated to Plan (such as California’s low-carbon fuel standards).

Today’s settlement provides concrete benefits to all residents of the region.  The settlement requires the agencies to:

via Agencies agree to disclose environmental impacts of Bay Area Transportation and Housing Plan—Settlement lays groundwork for robust regional planning.