It’s time to develop the next iteration of Plan Bay Area. Regional planning is an important arena for long-range thinking, planning and decision making with far-ranging impacts on the future of the region. Adopted in July 2013, Plan Bay Area sets out a plan for spending nearly $300 billion in transportation funds, affecting not only on transit service and fare levels but housing affordability, greenhouse gas reduction, displacement pressures and regional segregation.
Social justice groups, working together as the 6 Wins Network, engaged proactively in the three-year planning process that culminated in Plan Bay Area, the region’s first regional transportation plan adopted under SB 375(Steinberg 2008). The 6 Wins wrote its own alternative plan, the Equity, Environment and Jobs alternative, which the regional agencies’ own analysis found was superior to their own proposed plan. And its unified advocacy resulted in commitments in Plan Bay Area to improve transit service levels, protect low-income families against displacement and benefit low-income communities of color with new revenues.
Last week, the regional agencies – the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – kicked off the process to develop the 2017 update of Plan Bay Area. Knowing the importance of process and community engagement in helping shape substantive outcomes, the 6 Wins and its supporters seized the opportunity to submit a letter identifying the plusses and deltas in the proposed process and public participation plan. Joined by three dozen Bay Area groups, the letter recommended that, among other things, MTC start by assessing the transportation, jobs and health needs of the region in general and of low-income communities and communities of color in particular, and engage stakeholders in the development of plan “scenarios,” not merely in the evaluation of scenarios developed by MTC staff.
The 6 Wins made a big difference in shaping Plan Bay Area last time. This time, MTC and ABAG know what Public Advocates and our 6 Wins partners already knew – that leading with equity produces the greatest outcomes for our communities and for the environment.