Plan Bay Area Falling Short, Say EEJ Supporters

By: Wynn Hausser
Date: July 18, 2013
Decry ABAG/MTC leaders leaving out key elements of “environmentally superior” Equity, Environment and Jobs scenario 
 
OAKLAND — Transit riders, workers, faith leaders, policy and public health experts, civil rights advocates, environmentalists and other supporters of the Equity, Environment and Jobs (EEJ) scenario have a message for regional decision-makers voting on Plan Bay Area: We’re not going away.
 
That message will be delivered by members of the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network at tonight’s special joint meeting of the MTC Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Executive Board. A final vote is expected on Plan Bay Area, the far-reaching regional planning document required by SB 375.
 
“The current draft plan falls far short of its promise, especially given they have better solutions right in front of them,” said Bob Allen, Transportation Justice program director at Urban Habitat. “The EEJ scenario is better on equity, better for the environment, better for jobs and better for the Bay Area.”
 
The Equity, Environment and Jobs (EEJ) scenario — shown by MTC/ABAG's own data to be the best plan to meet the region’s climate change goals — was developed by the more than 30 community organizations in the 6 Wins network. Another dozen organizations have signed on in support of the EEJ proposal.
 
They argue that, by incorporating three key elements of the EEJ, Plan Bay Area could more effectively meet the region’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, and advance social equity as well. EEJ advocates have urged MTC and ABAG to amend the draft plan to: 1) maximize funding for public transit operations and provide a regional free youth bus pass; 2) strengthen incentives and policies to protect struggling families from displacement; and 3) reallocate housing more fairly throughout the region.
 
“Tonight’s vote is a chance to begin reversing patterns of development that increase economic and racial inequality in the Bay Area,” said Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, a senior staff attorney at Public Advocates Inc. “Unfortunately, this plan looks like business as usual – a divided Bay Area with more working families priced out of their neighborhoods, excluded from suburban communities, driving farther and waiting longer for the bus.”
 
Advocates remain hopeful decision-makers will take steps to strengthen the plan before adoption tonight. They will also ask that MTC and ABAG develop a robust public process to discuss allocation of funds coming to the region through California’s cap-and-trade legislation. This will open the way for cap-and-trade funds to be used to bolster local transit service, increase the supply of affordable housing near jobs and transit, and protect Bay Area residents from development-induced displacement.
 
“Our advocacy put regional equity in the center of this planning process, but we clearly have a lot of work to do to make the plan more equitable,” said Claire Haas, a lead organizer with ACCE. “MTC and ABAG don’t yet seem to recognize that what’s good for equity is good for the Bay Area."
 
In any case, 6 Wins Network members say they’re in it for the long haul. The planning process for the 2017 plan is expected to begin in two years.
 
“We’ve been here for three years fighting to make sure transit operations, affordable housing opportunity, and anti-displacement protections are part of this plan,” said Mary Lim-Lampe, a lead organizer with Genesis. “We’re not going away until that work is done.”
 
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The special joint MTC Commission and ABAG Executive Board meeting is being held TODAY (Thursday, July 18, 2013) at 6:30 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel at 1001 Broadway in downtown Oakland.
 
EEJ supporters will be available for interviews at the MTC/ABAG meeting, or interviews can be scheduled by calling Wynn Hausser at 650-619-1032.

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