Friday, January 15, 2016

LEARN: A Crash Course on ABAG and MTC

Politicians and Planners are hiding the truth behind jargon, agencies and committees.

Bill Graham-Reefer  explains:
For those of you who have never heard of ABAG and MTC let me give you a crash course. MTC is the Bay Area Regional transportation authority. It was created by statute to coordinate the funding and construction of mass transit and road maintenance throughout the Bay Area. ABAG is not a statutorily created government body. It is at best a quasi-governmental group. It calls itself “part regional planning agency and part local government service provider.” All Nine Bay Area counties and 101 cities in the region can volunteer to contract with ABAG by paying membership dues. ABAG deals with the RHNA housing allocations and is also tasked with creating a regional Sustainable Communities Strategy Plan for all 9 Bay Area Counties.

In 2006 the legislature passed AB32 the Global Warming Act which created a state level agency CARB (California Air Resource Board) to inventory GHG (Green House Gas) emissions statewide and come up with a plan to reduce GHGs to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2008 the SB375 (SCS) Sustainable Communities Strategy bill passed which links transportation to land use. The SCS plan for the Bay Area is referred to as “Plan Bay Area” or “One Bay Area”.

This plan has been sold to the public as a way to save the planet from GHGs and global warming by transforming our single family residential neighborhoods and suburban towns into high density stack and pack housing next to transit. This plan also advocates for a less cars, higher fees for parking, gas, bridge tolls as well as environmental and social justice. There are $277 billion dollars in our tax and gas funds that are being handed to ABAG by our federal government to ensure that this plan gets adopted by the local municipalities.

If local cities and counties do not adopt these plans ABAG will withhold much of their transportation funds. So our tax dollars are being used to coerce our councils into adopting this otherwise voluntary plan. You see, any town that wants their portion of the $277 billion dollar transportation pie must agree to designate an area within their town as a PDA (Priority Development Area). SB375 page 32 defines PDA development projects or TPPs Transit Priority Projects as an area that is within ½ mile of a major transportation hub or is along a major transportation line.  Marinwood/Lucas Valley is laughably refered to as an "urban" county and must build at minimum of 30 units per acre.
This is where the real issue lies. If  Marin County does NOT adopt the higher-density housing provision put forth in it’s 2014 General Plan, it will lose it’s share of the $277 billion dollars.
How much is that exactly? I have no clue. But I’d bet you that the money is already included in the town budgets. Losing it will no-doubt have an impact.

What I’d like to see is simply more transparency. We citizens deserve to know exactly how much money we stand to lose if we refuse to comply. Then, we can make an informed decision.
The only thing constant is change itself. Property owners will continue to develop downtown for the highest-and-best-use of their land. Having more residential units downtown isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor is having a percentage for lower-income earners.

What matters is that we should be in control of our own destiny. We should know all the players involved and all of the stakes. It may be that the best thing for Marinwood/Lucas Valley and all of it’s residents is to comply with the plan to get’s is share of the global warming pie. Our Supervisors seems to think so.

But lay everything out on the table and let us decide. It’s our community.

ABAG = Association of Bay Area Governments

Supervisor Susan Adams served as Vice President in the past.

MTC = Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Supervisor Steve Kinsey currently serves as President

No comments:

Post a Comment