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Sweeping Plan Would Limit Sprawl in Bay Area Communities

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UPDATE: Plan Bay Area was approved just after midnight Friday morning by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Regional planners are voting on a new land use plan for the Bay Area on Thursday evening. Plan Bay Area, as it’s known, is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent per capita over the next 20 years by focusing development in zones close to downtown areas and transit hubs.

The plan aims to cut down on traffic by improving options for taking transit or walking. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

The plan aims to cut down on traffic by improving options for taking transit or walking. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)


The plan has faced opposition from several regional community groups, who object to some of the proposed growth zones, called “Priority Development Areas.”

“Most people still want a single family home,” says Susan Kirsch of Citizen Marin, a Marin County group. “Many of us believe we don’t need to go to the four, five and six story building with the level of density that they’re proposing.”

County and city governments would retain control over land use decisions, but jurisdictions that adopt the plan’s goals would receive prioritized funding through the One Bay Area grant program. It provides $14 billion over the next several decades for transportation projects.

“It really sets a broad tone for where do we want our region to head,” says Stephanie Reyes of the Greenbelt Alliance. “Plan Bay Area makes a very bold statement that the Bay Area is done with sprawl.”

Priority Development Areas under Plan Bay Area:

The plan is the result of SB 375, a bill passed in 2008 requiring regional agencies to help meet California’s climate change goals through land use and transit planning. The Bay Area is expected to grow by 2 million people by 2040 and even under the plan, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to rise.

The Metropolitan Transpiration Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments will vote on the plan Thursday night at 6:30pm.

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About the Author ()

Lauren is a radio reporter covering environment, water, and energy for KQED Science. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals, and desperately tried to get her sea legs - all in pursuit of good radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can find her on Twitter at @lesommer.