Friday, May 10, 2013

Plan Bay Area Public Forum Summary Recap.

Marin Headlands
Hi Citizen Marin Friends,

I thought you might be interested in my recap of last night's Plan Bay Area Public Forum.  It includes a quick summary of this morning's ABAG/MTC Executive Committee meeting.


I attended the Plan Bay Area Public Forum last night.  Most (or all?) of the panel of "Experts" were "Pro" Plan Bay Area.  As such, although insightful comments were made, a full examination of the plan was lacking without having "Anti" Plan Bay Area experts on the panel also.

For example, in Richard Halstead's Marin IJ article (scroll down to read his article) you will see that Linda Jackson (Planning Manager for the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM)) touted that the plan maintains local control due to a clause written into SB 375 that nothing in a Sustainable Communities Strategy, like Plan Bay Area, could supersede the land use policies of local jurisdictions.  However, she failed to give the full picture when stating this.

Here's the Full Picture Regarding the Draft Plan Bay Area & Loss of Local Control:
SB 375 does not supersede local laws and local governments are explicitly not required to update their general plans in accordance with the law’s centerpiece, the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). However, SB 375 uses incentives (I.e. transportation funding, etc.) and penalties (I.e. court sanctions; accelerated Housing Element update cycles, etc.) to entice local jurisdictions to follow the law and the Sustainable Communities Strategy.

For example,  the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) ("Transportation 2035" is the Bay Area's RTP and allocates funding to regional transportation) contains an internal consistency requirement.  This consistency requirement effectively trickles down to cities and counties, because the “Metropolitan Planning Organization” (MPO) may only award funding to projects that are consistent with the “Sustainable Communities Strategy” (SCS).  Thus, the incentive of receiving federal funding — or, stated differently, the threat of being denied federal funding — gives local governments a good reason to regulate in a manner consistent with the SCS.

Moreover, under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) state law, a local government is still required to amend its Housing Element and rezone its land in order to accommodate the quantity of housing it was assigned under the RHNA — and SB 375 requires that the RHNA be consistent with the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). In that sense, local governments will still be called
upon to implement major aspects of the SCS (via the RHNA), whether or not they want to.

As a result, when local governments select Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) sites, the sites should be close to mass transit. Furthermore, when local governments update their Housing Elements and zoning, these updates should allow for compact, high-density, mixed-use commercial and affordable residential development at the selected RHNA sites.

Plan Bay Area & the 2007 Countywide Plan:
There was some implication that Plan Bay Area is OK because it directs development in the same areas as the 2007 Countywide Plan (CWP).  Indeed, the conclusion should be the exact opposite.  In my opinion, this should demonstrate that Plan Bay Area is another poor planning document.  One of the most significant findings of the 2007 Countywide Plan's Environmental Impact Report was that "land uses and development consistent with the CWP would result in 42 Significant Unavoidable Adverse Environmental Impacts" (including, as already mentioned, a water deficit).  How could emulating this be a good thing? Two wrongs does not make a right.

Lowering Green House Gas (GHG) Discussion:
There is mounting evidence by renown technical experts that the Draft Plan Bay Area's analysis of lowering Green House Gases is severely flawed.  None of this flawed analysis was recognized or discussed last night.

Significant Unavoidable Adverse Environmental Impacts Caused by Plan Bay Area:
The panelists did acknowledge that the Draft Plan Bay Area did not address sea level rise or Marin's water deficit for new development.  Due to these serious problems alone, it is hard to understand why they would still condone the plan.  Other significant unavoidable adverse environmental impacts were largely ignored.  More over, unless I missed it, one of the basic problems of the plan was not even brought up by the panelists - that encouraging residents to live near transit & busy roadways, known to emit Toxic Air Contaminants, seriously increases their risk of developing life-threatening illnesses.

Lack of Knowledge of Marin's Elected Representatives:
I have received reports from people who attended the City of Mill Valley's hearing about Plan Bay Area and Sausalito's hearing about Plan Bay Area.  At both hearings, it was apparent that the council members were just starting to delve into the Draft Plan Bay Area and it's Draft Environmental Impact Report (both extremely complicated documents) and had a great deal to learn.  For instance, Mill Valley council members didn't even know the concept of a "Statement of Overriding Considerations".

Based on last night's discussion and lack of understanding of Marin's Representatives & residents, it is clear that Marin County needs, at a minimum, another six months to evaluate the Draft Plan Bay Area.  Unfortunately, all implications indicate that the plan will be railroaded through.  A resident just called to tell me that at this morning's ABAG/MTC Executive Committee meeting, the Committee voted to NOT extend the comment time on Plan Bay Area.  Supervisor Steve Kinsey was one of the strongest voices against the extension.  According to the local resident who attended the meeting, out of approximately 20 to 25 Executive Committee Members, only 2 voted for more time for review.  Novato Mayor Pat Eklund was one of the two.

This is a sorry state of affairs


 Experts say Plan Bay Area not 'alot of weird, new ideas,' preserves local control over growth
By Richard Halstead
Marin Independent Journal

Posted:   05/09/2013 10:08:03 PM PDT

Nearly 200 people gathered in Angelico Hall at Dominican University to hear a panel of local experts detail how Plan Bay Area would affect Marin's environment, housing equity and greenhouse gas production. The forum was organized by several local environmental nonprofits, and moderated by Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice.

The broad message that the panelists delivered was that while Plan Bay Area may be flawed, it is not the disaster portrayed by its fiercest critics.

One of the panelists, Marjorie Macris, a leader of the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative and a former Marin County planning director, said, "First of all, we need to recognize that Plan Bay Area is not talking about a lot of weird, new ideas."

Macris said the plan's most basic objective — to focus future growth around transportation corridors to prevent sprawl — is shared by the Marin Countywide Plan that she helped write in 1973.

Nevertheless, Plan Bay Area has ignited controversy in Marin with a coalition of neighborhood groups calling itself Citizen Marin opposing it, and another group of residents, Concerned Marinites to End NIMBYism, defending the plan.

Citizen Marin asserts that the plan robs local jurisdictions of control over land use decisions and will
result in high-density apartment developments that will damage Marin's pristine natural environment. Concerned Marinites to End NIMBYism counter that opponents are really worried that the creation of higher-density, more affordable housing will attract lower-income, more ethnically diverse residents to the county.

Another panelist, Linda Jackson, planning manager for the Transportation Authority of Marin, said that concerns about a loss of local control are misplaced. Jackson said that when the California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, from which Plan Bay Area springs, was written "local control was a big issue for all of your city council members." As result, Jackson said, a clause was written into the law specifying that nothing in the plan could supersede the land use policies of local jurisdictions.

Jackson explained that Plan Bay Area was developed largely as a response to that Climate Protection Act of 2008, which requires each of the state's 18 metropolitan areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. Statewide, the plan seeks to channel 80 percent of housing growth and 66 percent of the job growth in "priority development areas," or PDAs. Marin has just two PDAs, both in San Rafael, the second-fewest of the nine Bay Area counties.

For those worried that Plan Bay Area would mandate unbridled development in Marin, Marcis said the Marin Countywide Plan, updated in 2007, lays the groundwork for an amount of commercial development much larger than Plan Bay Area — an amount equal in size to the Transamerica Pyramid.

"If you're concerned about excessive growth, the place to focus your attention would be on your local, elected representatives," Macris said. "They can control it."

But the panelists also had critical things to say about the plan, as well. For example, they said it fails to adequately plan for sea level rise due to global warming or address Marin's shortage of water for new development.

Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at




Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Susan Adams responds to concerns about Urbanization of Marinwood in 2008

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Was Susan Adams completely transparent at this Marinwood Village Public Meeting on October 22, 2008?

Seven years ago, Supervisor Susan Adams calmed resident's fears of overbuilding Marinwood-Lucas Valley.  This was about the same time the Marinwood Priority Development Area was being planned.
Later,  Supervisor Adams served  a highly influential post as Vice President for ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) where the One Bay Area Plan was created which plans to urbanize the whole Highway 101 corridor.  This plan for growth is unprecedented in the recent history of Marin.

A few years later, Cyane Dandridge, Marinwood CSD director was appointed to the committee that chose to locate 70% of all affordable housing for unincorporated Marin inside our tiny 5.78 square miles.

We must fight the unfair exploitation of Marinwood-Lucas Valley and the Dixie School District.  We must save our future. 

Here is Susan Adams 2010 Campaign Video

At the time of both of these videos, the Marinwood Priority Development Area had been established for years.  To this day she has not had a large public meeting in Marinwood-Lucas Valley to discuss full plans for urbanization of our neighborhoods.  Does she really think she can fool us forever?
If you are attending one of her "intimate coffees" please ask.  She was one of the architects of the One Bay Area Plan as the vice president of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
 For the complete presentation see:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Choosing the Future We Want September 19, 2012

This forum "Choosing the Future We Want" is presented by leading housing activists groups in Marin. It is unfortunate that really rigorous debate does not occur from the vast majority of citizens who are concerned with the massive growth, very little tax contribution and the massive urbanization of our villages in Marin.

They are having another forum on Thursday, May 9th at Dominican College. from 7-9 pm

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Does a $16 toll on the Golden Gate Bridge make sense?

Dave Edmundson: Author of the linked article will be speaking at the housing advocates forum "The Future of Marin " at Dominican College on May 9th.

Golden Gate Transit ridership is down despite the all of the government effort to increase it.

This is no surprise to the average person one who needs to reach destinations promptly. Most small businesses rely on driving for customer contact, deliveries and services.  Even in the most "progressive" of  "Smart Growth" cities, Portland, Oregon,  all of public transit accounts for a mere 6% of total transportation.

Clearly, the car provides the most flexibility and in most cases, the least pollution per actual passenger mile.  Empty buses are horrible polluters while a Toyota Prius delivers 52 mpg.  Public transit advocates love to talk in theory.  They hate providing real world statistics.

Dave Edmondson, writes from Washington, DC in his blog The greater Marin  about all manner of Smart Growth solutions about how we should live in Marin. 

Among his solutions?  Increase the Golden Gate Bridge tolls to be equal to bus fares.

" A driver should pay just as much to cross the bridge as a bus rider. If we raise the base FasTrak toll to $7.20 and the congestion toll to $8.80 – the cost of going to San Francisco and back from Southern and Central Marin, respectively – the bus becomes a much more attractive alternative. A commuter would pay the same no matter which mode she chooses, so why not choose a bus? "

I guess it makes great sense from Washington DC .  For the average commuter, your daily commute costs would triple to $352 plus gas, oil, etc. Gee, I'd rather put my kid through college or save for retirement.

 Do you think it makes sense?  Do these "Smart Growth" zealots understand what this would do to the average person and local economy?  Are you aware that such ideas are being seriously considered at the MTC, TAM and the Golden Gate Bridge District?

Indeed, they want to "improve" our lives by making them "worse".  Dave's blog has many followers  among planners and politicians in Marin. Check it out. 

The greater Marin