The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is expected to approve its state-mandated Plan Bay Area 2050 when it meets today. This is the third version of the plan (others were completed in 2013 and 2017) and ranges beyond the core issues of housing, transportation and jobs.
Commissioners are largely elected officials appointed to represent a county, the cities within the county or the larger cities. This structure, similar to the one used by the Bay Area Air Quality Control District, exempts commissioners from ever having to directly face voters and take responsibility for their decisions. That hands-off distance free up commissioners to take some controversial actions without ever having to face the music from voters.
Today, for instance, the plan includes a universal minimum income of $500 per month as it delves into social equity. There have been a couple of pilot programs on guaranteed income and Oakland is preparing to launch one. That type of program seems way too similar to what President Joe Biden and most Democrats are trying to jam down Americans’ throats with the $3.5 trillion bill pushed by Socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders—a favorite of California progressives.
The guaranteed income program will take an act of the Legislature. It’s among the elements of a $1.5 trillion program—no sources of revenue to fund it have been identified.
The authors of the report expect the Bay Area population will grow to about 10.3 million people from the 7.8 million today, while jobs would increase by 1.4 million to 5.4 million. The Bay Area, with its soaring housing prices (both rental and for-sale) has been hamstrung by rapid job growth outstripping new housing by at least a 4-to-1 margin. Planners toned down both the population growth and job growth based on the pandemic experience. Just what that long-term impact of the pandemic will be in an open question.
Planning on a 30-year time frame basically is a series of presumably educated guesses. The Building Industry Association of Northern California, in a 2017 analysis of the 2013 plan for 2040 pointed out just how much job growth has exceeded projections, while housing was 30% below the predictions. That sums up the challenge well.
Incidentally, the East Bay representatives are Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley (Pleasanton is included in his district), Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover and Orinda Councilwoman Amy Worth.