ABAG, MTC Settle Lawsuit Over Plan Bay Area

Lawsuit over regional growth strategy settled with agencies’ pledge to plan for enough new housing for Bay Area’s growing workforce

Association of Bay Area Governments, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Building Industry Association come to terms on key SB 375 implementation issues

Oakland, Calif., Feb. 26, 2014—A building industry lawsuit challenging the legality of the regional growth strategy Plan Bay Area has been settled with a commitment by regional agencies to end the practice of failing to plan for enough housing growth within the region.

As part of the settlement approved today, the Association of Bay Area Governments, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Building Industry Association of the Bay Area also came to broad agreement on procedures for forecasting job growth and housing demand, assessing the feasibility of planned development patterns and progress monitoring.

“We commend both agencies—ABAG and MTC—for rolling up their sleeves with the residential building industry to craft a settlement that will move the Bay Area forward in the spirit of providing housing for all,” said Paul Campos, senior vice president of Building Industry Association | Bay Area. “We now have the framework and a means by which we can credibly accommodate the diverse housing need of our region in a manner that serves our shared economic and environmental objectives.”

Plan Bay Area, adopted by ABAG and MTC on July 18, 2013, was the Bay Area’s initial implementation of SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008—the landmark 2008 statute requiring integrated regional housing and transportation plans that accommodate each region’s housing need while striving to attain greenhouse gas reduction targets. The statute calls for periodic updates with the first one due to be completed in 2017. The lawsuit settlement would govern how the future updates are carried out, including forecasting, modeling and review of alternative approaches for meeting the region’s housing need.

Tracking of building permit activity and construction, as well as market-demand and infrastructure-availability analysis, would be used to verify the feasibility of Plan Bay Area growth patterns.

And crucially, according to Campos, the settlement commits ABAG and MTC to identify areas within the region for enough residential growth in future iterations so as not to add to the amount of commuting into the Bay Area from other regions based on job-growth projections.

BIA | Bay Area sued ABAG and MTC after their adoption of the initial Plan Bay Area charging it effectively locks future workers out of the Bay Area housing market and relied on hundreds of thousands more commuting trips from outside the region.

The settlement agreement declares its fundamental intent as being to ensure that each future Sustainable Communities Strategy “provides housing opportunities within the region to those employees projected to work within the region during the course of the planning period.”

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