What kind of Bay Area will we leave to our children and grandchildren? Where will they live, work and go to school? How will they get around?

What will the open spaces be like -- will there be any? Will they have clean air to breathe?

Where will I live? How will I get around? Will I still want to maintain a big house and yard? Or will a younger family enjoy it while I live a less demanding lifestyle? Will I find that option here in Clayton close to my friends and family?

How do we plan for 2040 -- for a future 27 years from now that seems so far away yet so soon?

First, I look to see what the past can teach me. What were Clayton and Central County cities like 27 years ago? The time has passed quickly, yet much has changed.

My children have families of their own and Clayton has more than doubled in size, but it's still a wonderful place to live! We've added homes, and new people are here in town. They are good people; many with families, some are our kids and grandkids.

There are new office complexes nearby, schools, parks, trails and stores for shopping. How did that all happen so fast? Who planned for those changes? We did it together, as a community!

When I look back another 27 years to Clayton's earliest days as an incorporated city, I'm grateful that our early planners were vigilant and deliberate in protecting our heritage.


Advertisement

But who was planning regionally then? Was there a regional vision? Is that why many downtowns around the state died as stores moved from Main streets to shopping malls surrounded by asphalt? Is that why we have two-hour commutes today?

So, looking ahead to 2040 -- how do we plan the future of our communities and the Bay Area so our kids and grandkids will have the same or better opportunities than we have today? I hope there will still be beautiful open places for recreation and good, safe schools so they can learn and get good jobs.

What will it take to make that future real? How do we build on what we have so it's better; how do we compensate for past mistakes and turn them into something good?

I represent Clayton and the Contra Costa cities on the Association of Bay Area Governments. I'm working with other city council members and county supervisors who serve on the other Bay Area regional agencies to develop Plan Bay Area, a vision for our children's future.

I am constantly mindful of the need to preserve what we have in Clayton and our county while preparing for that future.

Our economists anticipate by 2040, two million more people will be living and working in the Bay Area. Most of that increase is natural growth -- primarily our kids and people living longer.

Preserving local land-use authority, the plan concentrates the majority of growth in priority development areas already chosen by our communities, mostly near existing transit.

But Clayton must do its share, too. Cities like ours are encouraged to plan for growth in a way that honors local priorities, preserves existing neighborhoods, yet makes room for future generations.

The plan honors voter-approved urban growth boundaries, preserving the Bay Area's natural beauty and agricultural heritage.

Twenty-seven years ago, I was a young mom raising two active little boys and wishing I had a park nearby where they could run and play. Now I'm a grandmother. I'm proud to have helped plan several parks, schools and neighborhoods in Clayton.

It didn't happen overnight, but because we planned together, it happened as we had the resources. We've laid a great foundation.

The economy is coming back; developers are taking note of Clayton's downtown opportunities. As we go forward, we must continue our tradition of thoughtful planning while preparing for the needs of future generations.

It's not easy to plan so far ahead locally or regionally. We will update our local plans and the regional Plan Bay Area frequently and modify them as we must.

By setting our local and regional priorities now, we'll be ready to create the Clayton, central Contra Costa and Bay Area legacy we want to give to our children and grandchildren.

Pierce is the mayor of Clayton, and vice president of ABAG. Email her at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.