Comment on Housing Plan Due Aug. 10

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(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Monteverde senior apartments at 2 Irwin Way, formerly the site of the old Orinda Library, allowed Orinda to meet its low-income Regional Housing Needs Allocation during a previous state-mandated housing element process.

    Housing remains a critical priority for California with more than 100 housing-related bills proposed at the beginning of the year. While that number has since been reduced substantially, there is still a myriad of proposals winding their way through the State Legislature with any pertaining to COVID-19 taking priority.
    “It’s quite a confusing array of legislation,” said Mayor Darlene Gee. “SB474 would eliminate building any new housing in a high-fire zone while SB1120 would virtually eliminate single-family housing in favor of multi-family dwellings. That’s the one that upsets me the most.”
    While Sacramento struggles with complicated and often contradictory legislation, local residents have the opportunity to guide the growth of the Bay Area’s nine-county region by commenting on a long-range plan being developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
    Plan Bay Area 2050 includes 25 proposed strategies that could influence the way people live, work and travel in the Bay Area over the next generation. The final blueprint is scheduled to be adopted this fall with an environmental analysis taking place during the winter. Scheduled for adoption in the summer of 2021, the plan attempts to integrate transportation, housing, the environment and the economy.
    While the plan pinpoints policies and investments necessary to advance the goal of a more affordable and connected Bay Area, it neither funds specific infrastructure projects nor changes local policies. Cities and counties retain all local land use authority.
    “It’s really important for people to give their input into the plan,” said Vice Mayor Amy Worth, who also has been an MTC commissioner since 2007. “Under federal law, we are required to do regional transportation plans and under state law, we are responsible for presenting regional housing needs. Plan Bay Area combines these two entities into one.”
    According to Worth, Plan Bay Area is in the early stages with its transportation committee currently putting together the draft transportation plan followed by housing later in August or September.
    “Following the draft plans, an Environmental Impact Report will be done. ABAG should be voting on the housing component around August 2021 and by January 2022, cities will receive the number of housing units allotted to them,” Worth said.
    Cities then have the often daunting task of making sure they have zoning in place to accommodate the allocated numbers.
    The public comment period for Plan Bay Area 2050 continues through Aug. 10. By going to http://www.planbayarea.org/2050-plan/blueprint/blueprint-public-comment, residents can find out more about the plan’s draft strategies and provide feedback.
    MTC and ABAG have been holding virtual meetings through Zoom as well as Telephone Town Hall meetings. The Zoom meeting for Contra Costa County was held July 20. Remaining Town Hall meetings are 2 – 4 p.m. Aug. 1 (Spanish) and 4 – 6 p.m. Aug. 6 (English). To join, call 877-229-8493 and use access code 119791.

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