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Have regional planners set their targets on SF’s growth-control law??

June 16, 2016

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Future scenarios include eliminating Prop. M, which limits office space in the city

Plan Bay Area—the controversial, state-mandated regional “blueprint” for land use and transportation planning through 2040—is back. Actually, it never went away; it just stopped getting attention from the media.

After a stormy public process, the first edition was approved by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in July 2013. State law mandates that PBA—officially, our region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy—be updated every four years. We’re now in the middle of the first update…

According to background material provided by the agencies, Plan Bay Area “[d]oes not interfere with local land use authority.”

Why, then, do two of the three scenarios propose major changes in a mainstay of San Francisco land use policy, the annual 950,000 square foot cap on office development mandated by voter-approved Prop. M? Scenario #2, Connected Neighborhoods, “[r]aises SF office cap to 1.5 million.” Scenario # 3, Big Cities, “[a]ssumes elimination of caps on office development in San Francisco.”…

The legislation mandating the creation and revisions of each region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, SB 375, requires each metropolitan planning organization—in our case, MTC—to adopt “a public participation plan for development of the sustainable communities strategy that includes at least one workshop” in each county of a region with a population greater than 500,000 and at least three public hearings on the draft sustainable communities strategy. The workshops are to “provide the public with the information and tools necessary to provide a clear understanding of the issues and policy choices.”

To state the obvious, in withholding from the public the official proposals to weaken or eliminate San Francisco’s cap on office development, MTC has violated California law…

Even the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network, a coalition of dozens of non-profits that worked hard to get MTC and ABAG to amend the draft PBA 2013, says that the agencies haven’t made good on their promises. At the MetroCenter on June 2, Public Advocates Staff Attorney Dave Zisser was handing out an “Interim Report Card” that gave MTC and ABAG an overall grade of D and the following stricture:

Your continued failure to analyze an Equity scenario that proved to be environmentally superior in 2013, to implement the equity amendments you adopted in 2013, and to address the displacement crisis harms low-income families and the region as a whole. It’s not too late to do the right thing…

Comment on the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the updated PBA. I had to search long and hard to find information online about the DEIR’s Notice of Preparation (there’s nothing about it on the open house pages). The public scoping sessions have all taken place, but written comments may still be submitted. The deadline for getting them to MTC is June 15. Info and a link to the NOP here. The NOP does mention raising or eliminating the office caps in SF. The only place, however, that I’ve seen that 1.5 million sf figure are in documents provided to officials. The NOP also has much more detailed information about the content of each of the scenarios than what’s available to the public via the open houses route… (more)

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