Residents express outrage at Plan Bay Area meeting

Residents expressed their outrage at the 'Plan Bay Area' urban growth meeting held Wednesday night.

January 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
In the next 25 years, it is estimated that two million more people will be living in the Bay Area. To accommodate them, a long-range, land-use and transportation plan is being launched.

In Dublin Wednesday night officials were met by a rather angry crowd. The gathering was part of a series of meetings designed to get feedback on a project called "Plan Bay Area." The strategy is to get more people living near their jobs and mass transportation, which would reduce greenhouse gases. Opponents are calling this "social engineering."

One man stood up and said, "If we need stack and pack housing because there's a sufficient market for it, that's willing to pay for it, it will get built without your intervention."

A growing opposition is forming against the Plan Bay Area -- an integrated land-use and transportation plan for the nine Bay Area counties.

"You are forcing the plan on these cities despite your pretty words about it not being forced, that they have a choice," said Castro Valley resident Mimi Steel.

There are 200 priority development areas, much of it planned for high density living that would rely on mass transit.

"You're going to make it harder for the middle class to use their cars, they're cost of living is going to go up, and so how are people in the low income going to move up, have upward mobility?" said Pleasanton resident Lydia Barrington.

The plan is led by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. They say it's based on the changing demographics of the Bay Area.

"With the change and the preferences by young professionals, by new families, pursuing a more urban environment," said Miriam Chion, the principal planner in the Association of Bay Area Governments.

But the biggest issue these opponents have with the plan is the process. Many called it a sham because the public is left to make only minor decisions.

"All of the most important decisions on this subject have all been made. They've been made by big developers and high-density growth advocacy groups and we were not at the table when all of those decisions were made," said Berkeley resident Doug Buckwald.

The largest development calls for 24,000 housing units in Downtown San Francisco. The smallest is 20 units in Sonoma County.

Plan Bay Area is scheduled to be adopted in April of 2013 and the next public meeting will be held at the Marin Center in San Rafael this coming Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.