Residents of Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Mill Valley, San Anselmo and San Rafael cheered at the end of the three-hour meeting after Corte Madera's Town Council voted 4-1 to bolt from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)
"These are unelected people who have a personal vision of what's good for everybody else. They have no check, no balance. They force themselves on us… Let's do this," Councilman Michael Lappert said in a fiery speech. "Sometimes you just have to fight. It's not always about consensus. Sometimes you just have to draw the line."
The original concept of ABAG was that local governments would be a more powerful lobbying force in one large group rather than individually. Lappert said that idea has gone insanely wrong. Corte Madera pays a reported $5,500 a year to ABAG in dues, with the expectation that the town would in turn receive funding for housing, transportation and other projects through ABAG. ABAG has called on its members to increase housing in response to projected job growth. ABAG's planners have claimed that by building more housing near to jobs and transportation hubs, towns can cut down on greenhouse gases.
Local leaders are skeptical of ABAG's projections, however. They've asked for an explanation of how ABAG achieved its numbers but, according to some leaders, ABAG would not reveal its formula.
Another problem, ABAG's own scenarios don't show a significant decrease in greenhouse gases with its preferred housing proposals.
"I'd like to see ABAG defend its existence," Lappert said.
, Diane Furst, vice mayor of Corte Madera, said a major problem for the town is that it is three square miles with less than 10,000 residents, but they need to accommodate hundreds of housing where there’s no room for housing growth.
Corte Madera is the first community in Marin County to formally decide to leave ABAG, but residents all over the county are hoping other cities will soon follow. The decision will go into effect in July 2013.
Do you think San Rafael should pull out of ABAG? Tell us in the comments.