Plan Bay Area is either a plan to bring all nine counties of the Bay Area into compliance with state law or a United Nations plot -- depending on who one asks.
A hearing Monday night in Walnut Creek drew nearly 200 people who came to speak out against the draft plan or to support it, with those opposed outnumbering those in favor by more than three to one.
Among the crowd was activist Heather Gass, a Danville realtor, who drew scattered applause when she held up a sign that said, "ABAG and MTC don't speak for me. This is a rigged meeting."
Gass was one of four with Danville connections who spoke at the meeting.
"Stop lying to the public. This is about socially engineering our lives," Gass told the panel, made up of one representative of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and two from the Association of Bay Area Governments.
Gass, a member of the East Bay TEA party, drew massive applause and shouts of "Don't cut her off!" when she attempted to speak beyond the two minutes allotted for each of the more than 50 speakers.
She's among a number of people who say Plan Bay Area -- a region-wide model of sustainability to comply with Senate Bill 375 -- was actually conceived to comply with UN Agenda 21, a voluntary plan to promote sustainable development.
Many during the course of the meeting compared the plan to Hitler's Germany or Stalinist Russia.
The plan aims to meet SB 372's goals of reducing greenhouse gases by 7 percent as of 2020 and by 15 percent in 2035.
"To meet the goals of SB 375, Plan Bay Area directs more future development in areas that will be close to public transit, jobs, schools, shopping, parks, recreation and other amenities," according to a booklet that summarizes the plan.
Although Clayton Mayor Julie Pierce -- a member of ABAG selected by other members of the City Council -- assured the crowd that Plan Bay Area would leave local land use decisions in the lands of local government, most of the crowd said otherwise.
Several blamed the plan on "globalists," and accused MTC and ABAG of being part of a larger plan to take away peoples' guns. Some threatened legal action and others said Plan Bay Area was "treason." Opponents charged that the non-elected regional bodies have no authority, although all of the members of ABAG and most of the members of the MTC are elected in their own cities.
"This is all about central planning. It didn't work in the Soviet Union and it won't work here," said Terry Thompson of Alamo. "There's no such thing as regional government."
He also urged residents to contact elected officials to tell them to "get us out of ABAG."
"We're doing it in Danville," Thompson said.
Danville City Manager Joe Calabrigo has said on several occasions that there's no plan for Danville to leave ABAG, noting that it's best for the town to have a voice on the regional governing board.
Mike Arata of Danville said the plan used "vastly overpaid" employees to manufacture "preplanned outcomes."
"Plan Bay Area has been a manipulative Potemkin exercise," Arata said. "I'll invite you to Danville for a debate on these issues, if the town council doesn't invite you."
John Chapman of Danville spoke in favor of the plan. He said all the counties of the Bay Area are facing the same issues.
"We have to find a way to do this together," Chapman said. "I like the plan because it offers choice to people."
He pointed out that SB 375 was brought by a Republican governor, and said it reduces sprawl, protects wildlife and family farms.
A young woman from Moraga also spoke out in favor of the plan; she said she already uses her bike on the Iron Horse Trail to visit her relatives in Danville.
San Ramon Councilman Dave Hudson represents the city on ABAG. He did not attend the meeting.
Some of those at the meeting, with an average age that was probably over 65, may need to use the housing they oppose.
The US Census shows a "gradual but sustained move toward more concentrations of older people in 55-plus neighborhoods and age-restricted communities," and a 2011 report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University predicts many seniors will "move to single-level or elevator-accessed units, while some baby boomers will move to senior or age-restricted housing.
Another recent report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group states younger people are also opting out of owning and driving cars, favoring public transit whenever possible.
The public can also view and comment on the draft plan online through Plan Bay Area Town Hall, which invites comments from residents on each chapter of the draft document. Comments will be reviewed by officials from both agencies as they consider the adoption of the final Plan in summer 2013. Comments may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.