We urgently request that your City Council take immediate action to stop MTC/ABAG from continuing with the Plan Bay Area 2050 process until they follow the legally required mandate to address publicly the huge and growing jobs-housing imbalances in the six cities of Silicon Valley. And, If MTC/ABAG refuses to work with you, you will have no choice but to refuse to accept the RHNA allocations they assign your city.
Honorable Council members:
In the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 lockdown with all its disastrous consequences — some of which will significantly impact future planning for the Region — MTC/ABAG is nonetheless rushing ahead to assign RHNA numbers to our cities this summer. Most importantly, the RHNA allocations for your city are being derived from their aggressive jobs and housing forecasts in priority development areas without any input from the affected communities. These RHNA allocations will not be valid because they have not complied with California Code 65584 to address the issue of the intraregional imbalance in the jobs/housing ratio that has created the serious impacts of unmanaged growth.
We have never needed fair, effective, and thoughtful regional growth planning as much as we do today. Our very lifestyle and the quality of that lifestyle depend on it. It is essential that we have a planning process for our future in which everyone who is critically impacted by this growth can take part in decisions that affect them deeply. That said, MTC/ABAG, the most important regional planning operation that addresses the future growth of jobs and housing for each Bay Area city, lacks any effective participation by local citizens and governments. Instead of local constituent input, MTC/ABAG’s Plan Bay Area 2050, is based on an in-house model that is driven by jobs growth in already jobs-rich areas … a model that has been proven to be profoundly wrong!
To properly and fully serve your constituents, we believe that it is imperative that you contact MTC/ABAG and insist that they stop action on Plan Bay Area 2050 until: (a) the shelter-in-place order is completely lifted and we fully understand the impacts of the pandemic on the future of the Region, and (b) there has been an opportunity for full community participation in the planning process and its resultant model. This imperative includes requiring that MTC/ABAG work with your Council and citizens, in accordance with California Code 65584 (d)(3), to formulate a realistic model to alleviate the growth issues and extreme intraregional jobs/housing imbalance caused by Plan Bay Area 2040. MTC/ABAG will clearly fail again if they work in isolation without your thoughtful, sensitive community input.
In MTC/ABAG’s past planning, their model led to concentrated job growth in a limited number of cities in the West Bay, while producing significant requirements for new housing that cannot be afforded or met, together with tens of thousands of new long-distance commuters on already crowded highways. Moreover, it failed to move jobs growth to the East Bay and San Jose which can more easily accommodate that growth.
The current Plan Bay Area process has completely failed to prevent the current massive intraregional imbalances in the cities of the West Bay, especially among the cities of Silicon Valley. These exaggerated imbalances have caused severe problems throughout the Bay Area, including:
- Escalating land costs and the highest housing costs in the country;
- An annual double-digit increase in traffic congestion with our streets and highways beyond reasonable capacity;
- Growing wealth inequality;
- Dislocation of families, especially those with young children; and
- Imposition of significant lifestyle changes on extant residents.
Increasingly, citizens in the West Bay are demanding to understand the full impacts of new policies and to know the costs of full mitigation! And, specifically, they are asking for an opportunity to have open public discussions of goals and real input to resulting policy decisions. The global COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to affect planning profoundly — many assumptions will need rethinking!
Please do not let unelected agencies like MTC/ABAG and Big Business usurp your rightful roles as the focus and driving influence of effective and balanced local zoning and spending decisions. You are rightly the voice of the people that these plans will impact, and in the spirit of rightfully serving the citizens of your respective communities, we urge you to join with other West Bay City Council members to form a caucus that will accept nothing less than requiring MTC/ABAG to make fair, balanced, and realistic improvements in the intraregional growth, jobs, and housing issues.
The West Bay Citizens Coalition
For more information, you can read the WBCC letter to MTC/ABAG.