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The year that local zoning control comes under attack

January 9, 2017

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

A new move to usurp the ability of cities to control development moves forward, quickly and quietly

2017 is already shaping up as a year in which local control of development will come under unprecedented assault in California and in the Bay Area in particular.

We have rookie State Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 35, submitted only a few hours after Wiener was sworn in to office on December 5. Still in placeholder form, the measure would put legal teeth into the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation and force cities to “meet” the allocation allotted to them by the state. This radical proposal—as Tim Redmond has observed, it could set off a housing war—did not appear on Wiener’s campaign website, nor, to my knowledge, did he ever he mention it on the campaign trail.

And now a new, Bay Area-centric attack on local control is on the way, via the Association of Bay Area Governments’ proposal to have the U.S. Economic Development Administration certify our region as a federal Economic Development District (EDD). Planning for this initiative began in June 2015, when ABAG staff broached the idea to the agency’s Executive Board and Regional Planning Committee.

The EDA requires a planning organization that is applying for an EDA-funded EDD to assemble a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee to oversee the preparation of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The committee must represent “the main  economic interests of the region” and “include Private Sector Representatives…as a majority of its membership,” as well as public officials, community leaders, representatives of workforce development boards, representatives of institutions of higher education, minority and labor groups, and private individuals. (U.S. EDA “CEDS Summary of Requirements”).

Last summer ABAG convened a 38-member committee. The group met in July and September. Its next meeting is on Tuesday, January 10, from 1 to 3 pm in the Yerba Buena Conference Room at the Metro Center, 375 Beale, San Francisco. The agenda was posted on the ABAG website on January 6…

The staff proposals that interested me the most were the ones that would severely curtail local control of development by standardizing permitting and zoning in the region across city boundaries(more)

Thank you Zelda for letting us know how our government is operating on levels that receive little public media attention and less public notice. As many of you must know by now, there is a growing national fight against forced density and infill development. There is also a growing fight against regional non-elected authority usurping local zoning controls. LA has a ballot on the subject coming up on March 7, so these matters are coming to a head at a very fast pace. Details on the LA ballot are at:

These kind of regional efforts to remove local control are going on all over the country. Please comment here if you can to help us spread the word:

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