Friday, July 19, 2013

Bay Area Agencies Boost Support for Affordable Housing and Local Transit

By Jean Tepperman
Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Before adopting a sweeping thirty-year plan for Bay Area housing and transportation just after midnight Friday morning, the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) added significant provisions to boost support for affordable housing and local transit operations.

As we previously reported, a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations called “6 Wins for Social Equity” had been pushing for those priorities throughout the planning process, and claimed these last-minute amendments as victories.

Plan Bay Area aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by designing communities to require less driving, as required by a 2008 state law. The 6 Wins coalition developed a proposal that also emphasized social equity; the MTC/ABAG staff analysis labeled the 6 Wins proposal as environmentally superior to five others, including the one they themselves had developed.

One of the amendments adopted before the final vote commits the MTC to develop a “comprehensive strategy” for supporting local transit operations. Another requires local governments to adopt a plan for creating affordable housing as a condition of receiving grants from the One Bay Area Grants program, which provides funding for transportation infrastructure.

The third amendment concerned an estimated $3.1 billion the region is due to receive from the state’s new “cap and trade” system, through which companies must buy permits to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The final plan calls for an inclusive public process to set priorities for spending this money, focusing on the needs of disadvantaged communities

Spokespeople for the 6 Wins coalition said these victories were only a “first step” and vowed to continue advocating for the interests of low-income families and communities as the planning process continues.

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