Plan Bay Area: boon or bane?

'There's no such thing as regional government'

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


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Danville
on Apr 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

Wow!.... Glenn, this is by far one of the most bias articles I've seen posted by the Danville Express. How can you make the following comment?!

"Ironically, some of those at the meeting, with an average age that was probably over 65, may need to use the housing they oppose."

I would argue that most of the people at this meeting would NOT use these government services and do not favor so much government intervention into our daily lives. The very fact that, as you say, "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" illustrates just that point.

Obviously, the government and our elected officials are taking too many liberties and are no longer representing the people (us). The folks who came to this meeting in dissent felt strongly enough to arrive make that statement in person.

Please do the community a service and keep your own personal bias and rhetoric to yourself. Journalists should represent the facts without reflecting their own personal messages within their writing.

Like this comment
Posted by Stan
a resident of Danville
on Apr 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

House is on the market and I am finally leaving California for paradise ! Oh, taking my lovely business also. Good luck to all !!

Like this comment
Posted by O. Striche
a resident of Danville
on Apr 27, 2013 at 6:41 am

Yeah! I mean, why would we choose to collaborate with neighboring communities on any of these problems?? It's not like we breathe the same air, or drink the same water, or travel the same roads as they do -- everybody knows that those things are ours alone.

It's bad enough that Those People borrow our air when we allow them access to our lawns and laundries. And even if some of us earn our livings outside The Bubble, we always come right home, except when the freeways are clogged -- at least most of our vehicle exhaust ends up elsewhere.

I just can't ever imagine laying my head beneath the soil of anyplace else. Our soil, too -- nobody else's.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on Apr 27, 2013 at 10:07 am

Stan, Dont let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Good riddance. Sorry you failed here. Condolences to the place you end up.

Like this comment
Posted by William Stone
a resident of Danville
on Apr 28, 2013 at 8:09 am

A blatantly biased article. The comment about the over 65 group was quite revealing. With Obamacare (obamaKILL?) on the horizon, the plan is to merely "deny" services to that group when needed. They die. Problem solved. Anyone following Congress's current stealth attempt to exempt themselves from it? Google it.

Like this comment
Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on Apr 28, 2013 at 9:52 am


I truly hope you're paid to write a storyline that in response jumps from a 'land-use' plan (right or wrong, loved or hated) for the Bay Area to a slant on 'Obamacare'. If the main article indicated that extraterrestrial alien invasion forces where observed to be headed our direction, should we expect that either yourself or one of your minions would find the 'courage' to spin-it that it must be attributable to their desire to enroll in our Federal healthcare plan?

Give me a break.

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Posted by for local government
a resident of Danville
on Apr 30, 2013 at 8:35 am

@O. Striche: Apparently, you are the one sticking your head in the ground to hide from reality. If you had attended the January Town Hall meeting at the Veteran's Hall in Danville, you would have heard Marin County environmentalist Bob Silvestri explain why so-called "stack and pack" housing is not environmentally friendly. And if you think about it a little bit, you will realize that Danville is not a "transit hub", and has few jobs. Adding more houses here, particularly high density, would mean adding many more car-driving commuters spewing pollutants into our air.

And realize, O.S., that cooperating does not mean cow-towing. ABAG is asking Danville to do things that are clearly not in its self-interest to do. In fact, ABAG's longterm goal is to eliminate city governments like Danville's. Those pesky Councils actually sometimes try to follow the directives of their residents and oppose ABAG plans---what an outrage!

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Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on Apr 30, 2013 at 9:19 am

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge is aware that ABAG and Plan Bay Area has a political slant. Just read their goals and watch what they do and say. That slant is to the left since the majority of the members of these groups are advocates of taking land and designating it for higher density (Danville is doing this - take a look at Kaufmann/Broad new housing project off of San Ramon Valley Blvd),and increasing low income housing (KB project will have low income apartments). Those that don't pay taxes, of course are supportive, because they benefit the most. With the one of highest number of welfare recipients in the country, we should be able to see where California is headed. The increase in population is primarily from immigration and that does not equate to business growth or higher tax revenues, it is a strain on a already faltering economy. (Read about Gov. Brown's proposal of "weighted funding" - giving more revenues to poorer school districts and cutting back on what the state feels are wealthier districts. Just another example of redistribution.)

Like this comment
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Apr 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

There is certainly merit in neighboring towns cooperating on matters of mutual interest, whether it pertains to zoning, traffic management, etc. One of the problems with ABAG is that it is trying to mold very different areas and environments into a one-size-fits-all set of views.

As someone noted above, Danville isn't, and probably never will be, any sort of transit center. Basically because it's roughly halfway between the two most logical areas for transit centers: Walnut Creek and Dublin. Both are at major junctions of freeways, and are directly served by BART. So while it makes some sort of sense to have denser/clustered housing near to these existing transit centers, it doesn't make much sense to do this 20-30 minutes away from the nearest mass transit location. Which is why market dynamics have resulted in apartments being more plentiful in Walnut Creek and Dublin. (Gee, imagine that!)

This has little to do with "elitism" - it is primarily a matter of lifestyle choices. If you want to have good commuting access to public transportation, and by extension, more amenities close by (such as restaurants, shopping, etc.) you will be drawn to Walnut Creek (and also Dublin, to some extent). If you don't want this, then you will be more drawn to Danville, San Ramon, etc. In both cases, the decisions are driven by individual priorities.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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