Here’s What the Bay Area Could Look Like in 2050
By Olivia Wynkoop, Bay City News Foundation
The Bay Area is one step closer to achieving its $1.4 trillion strategy to improve housing, transportation, economic and environmental concerns as two oversight agencies approved the final roadmap of Plan Bay Area 2050 Thursday evening.
The plan, laid out in 35 different strategies, hopes to improve the quality of life in the Bay Area’s nine counties with five principles in mind: affordability, connectivity, diversity, health and vibrancy.
Per Senate Bill 375, oversight agencies Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are responsible for crafting a long-form plan to adequately meet a larger population’s needs, which includes proper housing, infrastructure improvements and job opportunities, along with solutions to mitigate climate concerns. It took almost four years in the making and over 20,000 community member contributions, but the forerunning agencies agreed to move onto its next step in the process, which they call the Implementation Plan.
“Building and preserving affordable housing. Adapting to sea level rise. Getting more people closer to their jobs and more jobs closer to the people. Sharing prosperity equitably. All of these are big lifts,” MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza wrote in a statement. “But the new plan can serve as a north star for the Bay Area’s journey to 2050.”
The implementation plan is what will transform this goal sheet into action, according to the MTC. Over the next five years, the two agencies will work to complete 80 actions with the help of relevant organizations and local policymakers.
“The Implementation Plan is a commitment to do hard things, not just think about them,” said ABAG-MTC Executive Director Therese McMillan in a statement. “Even if these steps have to be taken incrementally, they will lead us to a more equitable and resilient Bay Area.”
These actions build on the previous Plan Bay Area 2040 long-term plan, backed by assessments on pre-existing local authorities, financial resources, political support and capacity. Some near-future steps include adopting new pilot programs for affordable housing strategies, hiring more workers in infrastructure and transportation industries, investing in freeway congestion studies and further implementing and protecting conservation areas.
As the project calls on an additional $780 billion in revenue to implement its goals, the MTC and ABAG plan to work with their partners to source funds from local, regional, state and federal levels. It also means the plan needs to build on existing agencies and programs that mirror the 30-year plan before all the financial means are secured.
“Plan Bay Area 2050 reflects a shared vision that can’t be implemented by any single agency,” said ABAG Executive Board President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin in a statement. “To bring all these strategies to fruition will require ABAG and MTC to strengthen our existing partnerships and to form new ones — not just with our cities and counties and the state government, but also with the federal government, businesses and nonprofits.”
MTC representative John Goodwin said that though the 2050 plan has more concrete areas of focus and short-term goals than previous plans, the agencies recognized that they can’t do the work on their own. And in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which MTC and ABAG say posed new, long-term effects on the region’s prosperity on all fronts, resiliency is key in the project.
“We’re going to have to work with a lot of partners–public and private alike,” Goodwin said in a statement. “The Implementation Plan candidly identifies where MTC and/or ABAG already have the capability to take action, where we have partial capacity, and where our influence is limited and our partners’ roles necessarily will have to be bigger.”
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