Bureaucratic Octopus Grabs Bay Area

JAN. 16, 2012


Like a giant octopus grabbing helpless humans in a horror movie, a new bureaucracy is squeezing the Bay Area.

One Bay Area is a plan to push Bay Area residents out of their cars and jam them into pack-and-stack high rises in the coming decades. The goal: cut greenhouse gas emissions and supposedly help save the planet from global warming.

One Bay Area is mandated by SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008. It was passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. SB 375 is not as well known as AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. But SB 375 well could affect Californians’ lives more directly.

One Bay Area is supported by the Bay Area’s liberal politicians, planning bureaucrats, environmentalists, social justice advocates and other elites. The plan is scheduled to be approved by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in spring 2013.

Fighting Back

In the meantime, a few folks, many affiliated with the Tea Party, are putting up a fight, despite the long odds. A number of them raised objections last year at the first round of public input meetings in the nine Bay Area counties. And they did so again this month in the second round’s first meeting in San Francisco.

An additional 2 million people are expected to live in the Bay Area by 2040, bringing the current population of 7.1 million to more than 9 million. This will result in a need for an additional 770,000 to 1 million apartments, condos and houses. That’s a jump from the current 2.6 million units. And, theoretically, an additional 1 million-1.4 million jobs will be created to provide employment for them. That’s up from the current 3.2 million jobs.

One Bay Area is designed to accommodate that growth while meeting the SB 375 goal of reducing carbon dioxide, particularly from cars and light trucks, by 7 percent by 2020 and 15 percent by 2035. The five planning scenarios actually fall short of that goal. So more social engineering will be coming, in addition to One Bay Area’s realignment of land use policies.

The plan attempts to thwart individualistic human nature in the name of communitarian progress. Basically, people who live in the suburbs and drive to work are bad. Those who live in apartment/condo buildings above shops in mass transit-oriented villages where everyone walks, bikes and rides buses and BART are good.


Sensitive to the blowback from suburbanites who cling to their McMansions and SUVs, Lou Hexter, the moderator at the San Francisco meeting, was careful to emphasize that the plan “will not prescribe what a property owner must do and will not change the authority of local jurisdictions to make decisions.”

But money is power. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has the ability to determine where to spend the $256 billion that is slated for transportation improvements in the Bay Area in the next 25 years. If the Bay Area’s nine counties and 101 cities toe the transit-oriented infill development line, they are more likely to get a piece of that funding. If they allow more suburban growth, particularly into farms, orchards and open space, they could lose out.

In any case, those who prefer to drive where they want to go, rather than taking a bus to BART and then another bus to their destination, are likely to suffer in the coming decades. Despite an approximate 30 percent increase in population, under current plans roadway capacity is planned to increase by only about 7 percent between 2005 and 2035. The One Bay Area plan likely will not affect that much.

Double-Nickle Speed Limit

On the other hand, mass transit capacity is currently planned to increase by about 22 percent from 2005 to 2035. One Bay Area’s initial vision scenario would increase that to 55 percent.

The idea seems to be to make traffic congestion in the Bay Area, which is already among the worst in the nation, so horrible that tens of thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands, will voluntarily leave their cars at home and instead crowd onto buses, trains and ferries. And if they don’t get sufficiently discouraged from the daily freeway bump-and-grind, the One Bay Area options include increasing parking fees and setting the freeway speed limit at 55 mph (on the rare occasions that such speeds would be possible).

In essence, One Bay Area is the San Franciscation of the Bay Area. So it was appropriate that two San Francisco supervisors who also sit on the Metropolitian Transportation Commission provided the opening remarks. They were David Campos (a leader on the board in sponsoring anti-business legislation) and Scott Wiener (who elicited national snickers by requiring nude San Franciscans to place a cloth underneath them before they sit down in public)

“We have to identify what our priorities are to make sure we have effective use of the limited resources, and equitable outcomes so we have a Bay Area that works for everyone,” said Campos.

“We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and pretend we won’t have more people here and don’t need more housing and transit infrastructure,” said Wiener, who touted San Francisco as leading the way in transit-friendly housing. He also put in a plug for High-Speed Rail, “despite the Republican and media feeding frenzy against it.”

Limited Info

The intent of the meeting was to inform the public — or at least the 100 or so people allowed in to each of the nine meetings — about the plan and gain their feedback. But the information provided was limited, general and vague. And public input was mostly circumscribed to fit the pro-urban bias of the plan. Participants were broken into three groups, who then rotated among three rooms that focused on either transportation trade-offs, quality of complete communities or the Bay Area in 2040.

Any doubt on whether the fix was in to turn motorists into an endangered species was dispelled in the transportation room. Participants were asked to select their five most important transportation investments out of nine options — none of which included building more roads. Most of the options focused on mass transit and pedestrian and bicycle paths. Participants were also asked to select “the five most appropriate policies to reduce auto emissions.” The final question asked whether they supported finding ways to improve public transit.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

The presentation on the quality of complete communities was, naturally, skewed in favor of transit-oriented villages on infill land. San Francisco was touted as a model of urban planning by Ken Kirkey, director of planning for the Association of Bay Area Governments. He said, “No place in the region has done more than San Francisco. There’s been a lot of hard work and pain and blood, sweat and tears in the city.”

Not everyone at the meeting welcomed the prospect of sharing or spreading San Francisco’s pain, blood, sweat and tears.

“There are lots of assumptions about complete communities,” said one man. “I hear they will work because we get neighborhood services so people can walk and won’t have to have a car. In my time in San Francisco, the local supermarkets have shut down, corner stores have gone away. People have to drive for services. Nowhere have I seen how those factors are addressed.”

Another man said, “This is one of the most superficial meetings I’ve been to in a long time. Things were skimmed over, videos were at a middle-school level. I’m shocked at the low level of discourse and ideas presented today. We were shortchanged by MTC and ABAG. Let people speak and listen to them.”

Criticism also came from a man who said, “I have a very hard time with this process. This notion of trying to urbanize and turn the Bay Area into Brooklyn seems like madness to me. Forcing people into four-story walk ups. Those are the places people fled from. These are not homes, folks.”


One woman warned that One Bay Area could be a Frankenstein’s monster or Pandora’s box. “Whenever you plan and build for two million people, four million people will come,” she said. “Growth has some of its own natural limitations. What you’re doing removes those natural limitations. You are altering things, and there will be many unintended consequences. The densification theories you apply, apply to Europe. They do not apply to the West Coast.”

Despite the fact that nearly three-fourths of the participants live in San Francisco, they were split evenly on whether they support the One Bay Area plan. The tally was 43 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed, according to the electronic polling at the end of the meeting.

They also were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Changes will be needed in my community and lifestyle to improve the quality of life in the future.” On that question, 47 percent strongly disagreed, which was the top choice. Asked whether the meeting presented the right level of detail on the One Bay Area plan, 62 percent strongly disagreed.

Ironically, for a process touting the virtues of mass transit, at the beginning of the meeting the moderator announced that the shuttle to the BART station would stop running in 20 minutes. “If you need a ride, see us,” said Hexter. “We want to make sure you don’t have to sleep in the auditorium.”

Similar meetings have been scheduled in the coming weeks in the other Bay Area counties:

Regional Advisory Working Group
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
9:30 a.m.

Housing Methodology Committee
Thursday, February 23, 2012
10:00 a.m.
The Housing Methodology Committee meets on the fourth Thursdays of the month at 10:00 a.m.





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  1. One Voice
    One Voice 16 January, 2012, 12:50

    sounds like social engineering is all around us. Regional planners will tell us how and where we are going to live and we are supposed to sit back and take it. This is some type of horror movie for sure.

    When choice and freedom are taken away you are left with tyranny. Even the people of SF see this isn’t the right thing to do. Good for them.

    Reply this comment
  2. Reality Check
    Reality Check 16 January, 2012, 13:37

    The ultra-high-density crowd are unwitting shills for crony capitalist developers who want public financing and eminent domain powers instead of building what people want. This is an alliance between the Wall Street crowd, who want to broker carbon offsets, the crony capitalist developers, and the environmentalist fanatics.

    Reply this comment
  3. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 16 January, 2012, 14:07

    Let’s count on the Tea Party and the Republicans to save us. They’ve done such a bang-up job at balancing the budget and stopping an increase in the debt ceiling and safeguarding our liberties. Better yet, let’s all vote for Mitt in 2012! He’ll save us!! 😀

    Reply this comment
  4. NormD
    NormD 16 January, 2012, 15:13

    As much as I hate Green Planning, adding 2M people to the Bay Area will requires some planning. Every house puts some load on roads, water, sewer, schools, etc.

    If the Libertarian Party were in charge of the Bay Area, where would they put 2M people?

    Reply this comment
    • CalWatchdog
      CalWatchdog Author 16 January, 2012, 16:15

      NormD: “They” wouldn’t put the 2 million people anywhere. The market would.

      — John Seiler

      Reply this comment
  5. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 16 January, 2012, 16:18

    Mr. B: The Tea Party so far is an inchoate movement. It helped elect a few Republicans in 2010. But its influence is not strong enough to change things in Congress. It also is divided because a large number of its members are older and don’t want to cut SocSec and Medicare.

    Locally, sometimes the Tea Party has had influence. In the Bay Area, alas, they’re unlikely to have much influence given how far-Left most folks there are.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  6. Laer Pearce
    Laer Pearce 17 January, 2012, 09:36

    Were the free market to conduct the outreach meeting described here, participation wouldn’t have been limited and surveys would have been designed to solicit actual opinions, not push the free market’s opinion – since it doesn’t have opinions; it only responds to them. If people are most concerned about pollution, let them live in a condo by the tracks. I f they’re most concerned about the safety and education of their children, or the quaity ofthe air they breathe, let them aspire to the suburbs.

    Oops. Did I say “aspire?” Please forgive me – ad send me to one more “vacation” in the indoctrination camps.

    Reply this comment
  7. Laer Pearce
    Laer Pearce 17 January, 2012, 09:37

    Excuse the typos – iPads are sooo hard to type on!

    Reply this comment
  8. bobaran
    bobaran 17 January, 2012, 10:04

    “Sensitive to the blowback from suburbanites who cling to their McMansions and SUVs”???

    What an insensiteve and biased comment from this reporter. How come he didn’t say:

    “Sensitive to the blowback from urbanites who cling to their 300 sq/ft. apartments, gangbanging heroin-addict neighbors, filthy streets, failing school systems and exploding Chevy Volts?

    Reply this comment
  9. Deborah White
    Deborah White 17 January, 2012, 13:51

    The Benicia Tea Party Patriots will be having a “Workshop” on how to address:

    “Defeating the Delphi”
    JANUARY 21, 2012 1-5pm
    This training will held prior to the January 25th Plan Bay Area Public “Workshop”
    Lighthouse Covenant Fellowship
    1175 Church St., Benicia
    Please attend the above training seminar, to prepare you for below:

    JANUARY 25, 2012 5:45-8:30pm (doors open at 5:15pm)
    Plan Bay Area Public Workshop – Solano County
    Where: 601 Texas St., Fairfield, CA

    Reply this comment
  10. Deborah White
    Deborah White 17 January, 2012, 14:05

    btw, hey CalWatchdog, yes, it’s true…..at the moment, the majority of Tea Party Patriots are old. That’s because we recognized the stench of tyranny and have gathered to do battle against it. Most of the younger citizens are busy bad mouthing old folks on their ipads!!
    Put your playstation away and stand with us. See you at church on Saturday!

    Reply this comment
  11. Mike Carter
    Mike Carter 17 January, 2012, 18:43

    The one thing that strikes me as interesting about this is that they do not explain where the Bay Area is getting the additional 2 million people. I think I know the answer. Part of those will be from the 70,000 residents of Klamath and Siskiyou Counties when the dams from on Klamath River are removed and it destroys their farms, ranches and businesses. Another portion will be from Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties now that the timber and ranching industries there are being eliminated. Some may be from the Central Valley where the restrictions on water are destroying farms and agriculture.

    I’m very happy that the government is planning to allow all these displaced persons to relocate to the One Bay Area Zone of California where we can all live in little rooms and walk to our government assigned jobs. They will have to be government assigned jobs considering how quickly California is hemorrhaging privately owned-businesses.

    I do have one little question. Once the agriculture, ranches, timber industry and fishing industry are destroyed in rural areas in the name of environmental justice, where are people going to get the food and raw materials to live in the Government-controlled One Bay Area Zone?

    Reply this comment
  12. Chucksters
    Chucksters 17 January, 2012, 18:56

    Years ago, when I lived in Ventura, CA. I visited the Bay area and San Francisco twice, maybe three times, and couldn’t wait to get out of there. Why anyone would choose to live there is beyond any comprehension. I’ll take South Texas over anything CA has to offer. Texas born and bred, California can shove it.

    Reply this comment
  13. Wanda Tucker
    Wanda Tucker 17 January, 2012, 19:10

    Nonetheless (relative to these comments about the Tea Party being too weak to do anything, the pride of the suburbanite, the confused Independent, ad infinitum) WE who care (and I think that is all of us who posted comments), must never ever ever give up. Seriously! Also, just try to keep educating people. It works, one by one. I am one who was completely ignorant just 4 years ago. I thought our country would do nothing to harm me or mine. A friend of mine gently woke me up; Robin Rohr. I’m awake now, and waking others. I actually voted for Obama out of my ignorance. Let’s just keep trying to shine the light on those who are still ignorant, as I was.

    Reply this comment
  14. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 17 January, 2012, 20:37

    I see that the occupy movement marched on the Capital Building and Supreme Court today in DC. Last week they protested in front of Obama’s campaign HQ’s. In December they marched on the Federal Reserve Building in San Francisco. At least they’re doing something. What protest methods does the Tea Party use??? Letters and telephone calls to their congressmen??? How’s that worked out??? After Sarah Palin successfully manipulated the anger of the Tea Partiers and wrote her million-dollar book I haven’t heard much from her. Did she resign her leadership role as soon as the check from the publisher cleared the bank??? 😀

    Reply this comment
  15. xango
    xango 17 January, 2012, 21:26

    Well, #15 guess you haven’t been listening or reading..she has said….plenty..just try and keep up OK!!!!

    Reply this comment
  16. Bill-San Jose
    Bill-San Jose 18 January, 2012, 04:08


    The move to create another Mumbai – stack em and rack em style of housing in the South Bay has been going on since the mid-90s. Is it for the environment or is it for the making of money?

    Clearly it is not for the environment. If people will pay to own property on top of one another and thus create a higher ROI for the REITs, that is their choice.

    If you actually look at it, stacking more people into smaller areas is what creates great places like Rio de Janeiro. Think about what I just said and how most of Rio is a slum.

    Yeah, you need to really think about it. The greenhouse gas effect folly they are trying to “prevent” will be thrice that in short order.

    Enjoy it folks. =) Funny how I don’t see anything dedicated in the plans related to a high speed corridor gashing San Jose in half, do you? Imagine that. Something that enormous without a dedicated section.

    If you want to see the future of social engineering, try to read the planning commission documentation buried to where you can’t make heads or tails of what is really going on.

    Reply this comment
  17. helen
    helen 5 February, 2012, 20:43

    Re: @17: the stack & pack housing is going to be paid for by taxpayers. It’s all about subsidized housing, redistribution of wealth, making communities absorb the cost of supporting illegals and welfare recipients. The plan is totally upfront about “equitable outcomes” being a core part of it. The condescending attitude of the presenters at the public meetings is just another indicator that what we might want does not count.

    Reply this comment

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