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Residents Rail Against ABAG

Public meeting on the environmental aspects of the One Bay Area Plan turns into a shouting match.

An angry and frustrated band of North Bay residents found a target for their outrage Wednesday afternoon, describing the Association of Bay Area Governments and its future growth projections for Marin as "communism," Marxism," "socialism" and "treason" at a meeting to discuss ABAG's Plan Bay Area strategy.

The event at the in San Rafael was hosted by ABAG and Metropolitan Transportation Commission to seek community input on a draft environmental impact report for Plan Bay Area, which aims to present guidelines for future growth for the Bay Area.

Those agencies got plenty of input.

The meeting turned into a very one-sided shouting match about the legitimacy of ABAG and SB 375, which was signed into law in 2008 and created the Sustainable Communities Strategy to connect job growth and housing allocations as a way to plan for the future.

"(SB 375) is an affront to democracy and it is a usurpation of local communities and the rights of their zoning and the rights of their building," Mill Valley resident Clayton Smith said. "This whole Plan Bay Area is based on a $250 million bribe by the federal government so as to buy off our local politicians and displace the rights of the actual residents of our community."

Sonoma County resident Jim Bennett added: "I didn't sell my home in Southern California near the beach to come to Sonoma County to live in a human settlement gulag. I came up here to live in the country. … The growth rate postulates are flawed. Your job growth rates are flawed. … Your claim that this plan will create jobs to sustain an equitable economy is flawed."

The One Bay Area Plan, spawned by SB 375, is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and design safe housing near public transportation hubs. The plan allows for "streamlining" or possibly waiving California Environmental Quality Act requirements if housing projects meet certain conditions.

One thing the One Bay Area Plan has done is to unite two opposite camps. Some claimed global warming was just a government ploy invented to make people afraid and pliable. Others were concerned enough about global warming to protest any development which might endanger the environment or increase greenhouse gases.

Almost all railed against ABAG, MTC and the One Bay Area Plan Wednesday afternoon.

"Will eliminating CEQA requirements or streamlining CEQA weaken the California Environmental Quality Act?" asked Karen Nygren, who hoped the agency would back off its proposed plan.

Residents held aloft protest signs after the meeting, apparently unsatisfied with the process and unsure if their voices were really heard.

There will be three more public meetings about the draft EIR in the Bay Area. Comments may also be submitted in writing by July 11 to Ashley Nguyen, EIR project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Email eircomments@mtc.ca.gov or send letters to her at 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, CA 94607.

Kevin Moore June 29, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Jobs that use local resources drive growth. Resources, such as water limit growth. ABAG has the cart ahead of the horse looking at building housing and transportation first. "Build it and they will come" is folly, proven by the housing boom / bust. Stockton, Sacramento, and Las Vegas suffer from over building. ABAGS job growth projections are flawed. Marin is losing jobs. Sonoma has never had a large industrial base. For an area to be successful, it needs to export products to offset the products that are imported. The notion that clean office work (e.g. Insurance, banking, accounting) will grow is pure speculation and wishful thinking. Jobs that are not tied to a local resource can be relocated to Texas China or India almost overnight. HP had manufacturing in Somoma and left. Local service jobs just pass around the same money and don't bring in money.
Ryan Ricco-Pena June 29, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Kevin, just because you say something doesn't make it true. Your comment is full big claims with no evidence. Look at the actual numbers and you see that many of those projections are real. Why should we trust you tea-party types over experts who spend their entire lives making these projections? Everyone hates urban sprawl, well, this is how we stop it, with a plan for smart growth. Your comments on the economy are straight out of a textbook from the 1950s. Your reductionist economic model is what is truly flawed. We are living in a globalized world now that relies on innovation to grow the economy. Resource extraction is not the only way to run an economy,plus its totally unsustainable. These people are coming to Marin whether or not we like it. The only question is should we have a plan to deal with the congestion and development or throw our hand up
Kevin Moore June 30, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Your retort is nothing but your opinion. Zero facts. What happened in those cities is real. US census shows 10% loss of jobs in Marin http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06041.html Sonoma nearly went to water rationing a few years ago. It is a global economy. Jobs can be in any location. Many of my coworkers are in China. Tell me why jobs will come here instead of an area with highly trained people willing to work for lower wages. As I said, ABAG has the cart ahead of the horse.
Kevin Moore June 30, 2012 at 07:21 AM
HP leaving Sonoma is not a fact? You must be a newbie.
Kevin Moore July 01, 2012 at 07:57 PM
From 2000 to 2010 Marin's population growth is nearly flat. Sonoma's population growth is 5.5%. Looking at the Google chart, you can see the gowth period for Sonoma ended in 2000. Even with the artificial housing boom, Sonoma only grew 5.5% http://tinyurl.com/7nfsbfr ABAG is gearing up for a population expansion that will not naturally occur in Sonoma and Marin. I believe ABAG will push development beyond what is naturally supported. Then when we don't have enough water, they will turn to the old political cop out, "Well promises were made and we have to live up to them." Then we will get the bill for desalination plants that are energy pigs.

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