Ready or not, Plan Bay Area is knocking at your door. Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments officials are expected to approve it next month, climaxing a fight that's produced enough bile to give the entire country acid reflux. In case you're late to the party, you probably should know that supporters and opponents have slightly different views of this vision for the future:
What's Plan Bay Area?
PRO: It's an integrated, long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan that will support a growing economy, provide more housing and transportation choices, and reduce transportation-related pollution in the Bay Area
CON: It's a conspiracy perpetrated by the MTC and ABAG to socially engineer peoples' lives, herding them like cattle from their single-family homes and cars into transit villages.
Why is there a Plan Bay Area?
PRO: Senate Bill 375 requires California's 18 metro areas to plan jointly for transportation, land use and housing as part of a "sustainable communities strategy" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light-duty trucks.
CON: Empty-headed bureaucrats, who couldn't find a shadow on a sunny day, have swallowed Al Gore's global warming nonsense and now are using it as their excuse to take control of our lives.
What do MTC and ABAG do?
PRO: MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the Bay Area that makes the regional transportation network function more efficiently. ABAG is the council of governments and regional planning agency for the Bay Area's nine counties and 101 towns and cities.
CON: They are the bureaucratic incarnation of Big Brother and Karl Marx, only worse, leveraging transportation grants to dictate which cities bend over, when and how far to accommodate a fabricated vision of population growth.
How can MTC and ABAG predict growth?
PRO: For several decades they've developed long-term regional plans for the Bay Area by using computer modeling to forecast transportation demands, economic growth, demographics and land-use changes.
CON: Judging by the numbers they forecast -- 2 million more residents in the next 25 years -- they're doing it with Ouija boards and magic 8-balls while under the influence of hallucinogens.
What will happen to individual cities?
PRO: Bay Area communities will continue to control local development, and most neighborhoods will remain largely unchanged, with the biggest growth taking place in urban areas such as San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
CON: High-rise apartments will be wedged into every corner of every town, single-family homes will disappear, riffraff will flock to affordable housing, and schools will be packed tighter than tuna cans. Take a picture of your charming town square, because the charm is about to be removed.
Has the public had a say in this?
PRO: Yes. Oral and written comments from workshops, telephone survey results, a Web survey and focus groups have been studied and analyzed. When the draft plan was released in March, officials opened it up for public comment.
CON: The only say you have is when to list your house and escape this Orwellian mess.
So, to recap: This could be either the best or worst thing ever to happen to us.