Town manager responds to General Plan update concerns
Original post made
on Jan 17, 2013
In an open letter to residents, Town Manager Joe Calabrigo discusses he draft 2030 General Plan and draft Sustainability Action Plan, which has come under heated debate by dozens of speakers and several hundred attendees at two Planning Commission public hearings.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 5:39 PM
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Posted by Heather Gass
a resident of Danville
on Jan 17, 2013 at 9:56 am
Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are developing a land use plan called "Plan Bay Area." This plan will govern zoning and transportation funding in all 9 counties and 101 cities and towns in the Bay Area for the next 30 years, and it will change our way of life forever. It will require almost all new housing built in the Bay Area to be "suburban projects"--multi-use, multi-story developments, each one of which must contain a high percentage of low-income subsidized housing units, and the Plan has a number of other similarly troubling provisions.
Plan Bay Area is being developed by these two unelected and unaccountable regional government entities with almost no awareness on the part of the general publicand they have ignored the substantial opposition of the citizens who are aware of it.
ABAG and MTC's stated intent is to pass this plan by June of 2013.
It's time that we as Danville residents say "enough!" Danville residents want the City Council to withdraw from ABAG, remove the PDA (Priority Development Area) designation from the town and remove any Plan Bay Area language from our 2030 General Plan, EIR and SAP.
1. Plan Bay Area's untested and radical provisions are based on forecasts for new jobs and household formation in the Bay Area over the next 30 years that doubles the rate of growth in each from the most recent decade. ABAG and MTC have rejected calls from multiple cities for an independent review of their forecasts for Bay Area growth, and ignored the overwhelming evidence that severely restrictive zoning policies like the ones they propose have a substantial negative effect on business and household formation.
2. Plan Bay Area takes gas tax funds that were previously committed to maintaining existing roads and bridges and shifts them to increased mass transit subsidies and high density sustainable housing (Web Link not only the intent of the legislature, but the public trust. Doing so will lead to the deterioration of our roads, increased commute times, lower mileage and higher repairsand there is no evidence that increasing mass transit subsidies and infrastructure will increase ridership, especially given that so much of mass transit in the Bay Area is dramatically under-utilized.
3. Virtually all new housing developed in each city, or redevelopments of existing properties for residential use, must be multi-story, multi-unit stack and pack, with a minimum of 20 units per acre--with incentives given for higher densities. Development will be focused in PDAs or "transit villages", within a ½ mile of a major transit station, with retail or office space on the ground floor and stack and pack housing units above. Danville's downtown is currently designated as a PDA, which will ultimately transform our town to an urban high density village. Danville is NOT a transit hub. Danville is not a transit corridor. We are 7 miles to the nearest transit station. Danville is the wrong place to put high density housing!
4. This plan requires a substantial proportion of all new housing units be heavily subsidized, available to very low, low and moderate income people who will be encouraged to move into the town. Who will make up the difference between the market price and the rent charged? You willdirectly or indirectly.
5. Land owners who have developable land or who wish to redevelop their land outside of the "transit villages" will be severely restricted. And, the planners have made no provisions for the costs of the inevitable lawsuits over this broad regulatory taking of the economic value of the land owned by all those people, nor have they considered their fundamental property rights.
6. ABAG and MTC claim that California's greenhouse gas legislation (AB 32 and SB 375) requires them to produce this plan. They are correct that SB 375 requires producing a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it doesn't require them to produce a plan filled with coercive, untested, and unnecessary policy elements.
a. An argument can be made that requiring all new development for housing to be high density will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, not a reduction (See Dimensions of Sustainability study by American Coalition for Sustainable Communities: Web Link there is no provision in Plan Bay Area for new roads, and the planned developments will have almost no parking for people who work, shop, or live in these developments.
b. ABAG and MTC have admitted that requiring almost all new development in stack and pack mixed use units is completely impractical due to a lack of market demand, and the fact that existing city zoning does not support this land use pattern. But nothing has changed now, other than that the evidence of lack of market demand is even more striking due to the number of existing stack and pack developments that sit partially or wholly empty throughout the Bay Area.
c. One of the major reasons given for pushing this plan was to reduce GHGs to 1990 levels by 2020. The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) stated in April of 2012 that the US had returned to at or about the greenhouse gas emission levels of 1990the precise target that SB 375 mandates for Plan Bay Area. Thus, we have met the goal of the statute, and all of Plan Bay Area's untested, coercive, policy proposals are completely unnecessary and unwarranted.
7. No funding or consideration has been given to the impact on Danville schools, fire and safety that will be needed by adding all of these new subsidized families. Will the city council be seeking to add a ballot initiative to increase parcel taxes to fund this? How is the council planning on covering these new costs without increasing taxes?
8. ABAG and MTC have claimed and continue to claim that high density low income housing is required to help the environment, but each of these developments will receive CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) waivers in many cases fully exempting them from environmental review (See CEQA exemption details page 3 and 38 of SB375; Web Link). This demonstrates conclusively that helping the environment is simply being used as a pretext to control every aspect of our lives. The One Bay Area Plan is NOT about the environment. It is about control and money.
9. ABAG and MTC claim that the Plan is voluntary, and in fact SB 375 expressly states that the Plan is voluntary to the counties and cities and towns in the Bay Area (see page 2 of the SB375 bill; Web Link). But MTC and ABAG will be allocating $277B (Current cost as of April 2012: Web Link) in our gas taxes to only those cities and towns who comply with Plan Bay Area. We reject this, ask our city council to withdraw from ABAG, and ask MTC to simply pass on to Danville our share of our gas tax revenues. There are no better stewards of the community and environment of Danville than its citizens.
This plan is not right for Danville. Regional unelected bodies should not be given the money and power to make decisions about how and where we the citizens of Danville live over the next 30 years and beyond. Planning and land use policies should be done locally and transparently. Not behind closed doors without public input. It is time we said, "no" to ABAG's overreach. We must demand local control and reject One Bay Area, and withdraw from ABAG.