OAKLAND -- Plan Bay Area is either a totalitarian government takeover or a complete abandonment of the poor, elderly and children, say critics on both sides of the political spectrum.
Despite the naysayers, the regional plan to reduce greenhouse gases and preserve open space is now headed for a full environmental study.
The plan, which achieves that goal through the concentration of job and housing growth along transportation corridors in the nine-county Bay Area, won unanimous approval late Thursday from a joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.
The packed Oakland hotel ballroom featured vocal critics and wildly disparate viewpoints.
Property rights advocates assailed the "global climate myth" and the regional planning effort as an unconstitutional and treasonous act that will lead to dense "pack 'em and stack 'em" high-rise transit villages.
"Regionalism equals communism," East Bay Tea Party founder Heather Gass said.
Exasperated Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan told them, "For those of you from the suburbs who don't want more growth in your communities, supporting inner-city growth is how you get what you want."
In exchange for the growth, Oakland-based social justice groups demanded restored transit funding for the poor, disabled and elderly; rent increase protections; and safeguards against gentrification.
In contrast, a business coalition
The plan relies on infill construction for its pollution benefits. California metropolitan areas must adopt a greenhouse gas reduction plan as a condition to receive future transportation dollars as set out in SB 375, co-authored by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.
Cities and counties retain local control over their land use and zoning decisions.
Those that eschew the regional plan are ineligible to collect some of the $277 billion in state and federal transportation money projected to flow into the Bay Area through 2035.
The plan calls for directing the majority of the 2.1 million additional people projected to live in the region into sites near transportation corridors.
Many cities and counties already have identified their priority development areas.
Dublin is looking at a transit center, while Livermore envisions downtown infill housing. San Jose wants to develop along its light rail corridor in the north part of the city.
Contra Costa has nearly 30 areas, such the Concord Naval Weapons Station, San Ramon city center and an Antioch BART station village.
The shift, along with other vehicle emission strategies such as high occupancy lanes and electric vehicle charging networks, will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2035, according to the analysis. The state has set the Bay Area reduction target at 15 percent.
Despite the unanimous vote Thursday for a "preferred scenario," the final Plan Bay Area product remains a work in progress.
The two agencies will launch the environmental review in June. They are scheduled to adopt a final plan in April.