CLAYTON -- Long active in local and regional government, Clayton City Councilwoman Julie Pierce is expanding her role with the start of her two-year term as president of the Association of Bay Area Governments that began in January.

"In July, we passed the first-ever Plan Bay Area. It took three years for ABAG and MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) to put it together," Pierce said. "Now we begin the implementation stage."

Pierce is set to lead the 101 cities in the nine-county ABAG region into Plan Bay Area plan concepts, and continue her work with the ABAG Joint Policy Committee. The JPC assists with communication between ABAG, MTC, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission.

Knowledge acquired as a member of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and as a delegate from that to the statewide California Council of Governments will likely be a valuable resource in her new duties.

"We work to ensure the success of all of our (CCG) governments and to facilitate communication between the members, best practices and strategies statewide," Pierce said.

California state law SB 375, passed in 2008, requires areas throughout the state to make a regional plan to reduce greenhouse gasses emitted by cars and light trucks. Plan Bay Area covers the San Francisco Bay Area region.

"The purpose is to plan land use in a more comprehensive way to reduce the number of miles that people have to drive between home and work," Pierce explained.

Incentives and special grants are available to participating cities, but no penalties, according to Pierce, who adds, "Other than the lack of access to additional funding for cities that do not."

"We (ABAG) will be reaching out to all of the local agencies to offer ABAG support, expertise and planning assistance including best practices, templates, and other resources for them," she emphasized.

"It is clear that we have regional plans, but the final decision is up to the locals," Pierce said. "The big point is that we are trying to lay out regional strategies to accommodate how we grow in the future to sustain our communities, environment and the economy."

Plan Bay Area will not have a big impact on Clayton, but larger cities such as Oakland and San Francisco are expected to use median income infill housing nearer jobs to reduce vehicle use.

"It invites us to centralize the growth," she adds.

The Concord City Council recently approved a "Complete Streets" plan amendment -- an element of Plan Bay Area -- in order to be eligible for special grants by adding more pedestrian, public transit and bicycle traffic aspects to its primarily vehicular street traffic plan.

"Realistically Clayton does not have much to do," Pierce said. "In order to qualify, the city must be close to transit, have an intensity of jobs and you have to be able to show that there is something to do to reduce trips."

Proudly mentioning Clayton's 1998 Walking magazine award as one of the five most walkable U.S. cities, Pierce said, "We can work to make Clayton more walkable ... encourage alternative modes of transportation and add services downtown."

Clayton's public bicycle racks, funded with money from TRANS PAC and installed by local Boy Scouts of America, as well as parent-escorted bike rides to school are examples of locally proactive planning for alternative modes of transportation.

Insisting that the execution of Plan Bay Area is not governmental, Pierce asserted, "As we grow, we have a plan that the market will implement a healthy future."

Contact Dana Guzzetti at dguzzetti10@gmail.com or call 925-202-9292.

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