Urban Habitat vs. Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Issue: Transportation Justice
Community & State Campaigns
Case Date: March 7, 2014

The legislation that created the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) requires it to adopt guidelines for the long-range countywide transportation plans of the Bay Area countywide Congestion Management Agencies (CMAs). Though that requirement has been on the books since 1995, MTC was unable to produce a copy of its CMA guidelines when Public Advocates requested them last year, both informally and under the Public Records Act.

Why are the guidelines so important?

The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) is subject to a range of federal and state requirements to ensure it promotes important objectives including reducing GHG emissions (SB 375), reducing racial inequality (Title VI), promoting Environmental Justice, improving air quality (Clean Air Act) and more.

At the same time, however, the RTP is subject to a potentially conflicting mandate: it must take the CMA countywide plans as its “primary basis.”

The CMA guidelines are the mechanism the legislature chose for avoiding that potential conflict and ensuring that the CMA long-range countywide transportation plans on which the RTP is based will promote the goals and objectives that the RTP is required to promote.

The statute expressly requires MTC’s guidelines to be “consistent with MTC’s adoption of the RTP.” In other words, the CMA plans must be updated between updates of the RTP. New CMA plans must be adopted before the next RTP is adopted in 2017, and must be consistent with the goals and targets in Plan Bay Area.

Finally, the guidelines will help ensure that countywide transportation plans are updated every two years, another requirement of MTC’s enabling legislation. Currently, most CMA plans go five or more years without being updated, and at least one plan appears to have been last updated in 2001.


In January Public Advocates sent a letter to MTC, asking MTC to agree to adopt the guidelines, and to meet to discuss their scope and content.

After waiting 6 weeks without a response, we filed suit on behalf of Urban Habitat, seeking an order requiring MTC to adopt guidelines for the long-range countywide transportation plans on which MTC bases its Regional Transportation Plan.

1/15/14 Letter to MTC:    letter_to_kirkey_re_cma_guidelines
2/27/14 Petition for order:   petition_for_writ_of_mandate

Latest Updates

MTC Announces It Will Adopt CMA Guidelines

March 13, 2014—In a meeting with Public Advocates and Urban Habitat to discuss the litigation, MTC announced that it will adopt CMA guidelines through a public process. That process will be launched with an informational item on the April 11 agenda of MTC’s Planning Committee. The staff report for that agenda item is expected to describe a recommended process and timeline, and may also include staff recommendations about the scope of the guidelines.

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