This cartoon, "Corral Them with a Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax," captures the power structure of the OneBayArea combo: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission working with the Association of Bay Area Governments. While MTC/ABAG organizes the herd, the Three E's — environment, economy and equity — supply the muscle. The cartoon adds additional description to the Three E's and highlights the inclusion of the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Study in July 19's EIR Alternatives vote.
If you have been following the process, you may want to stop right here and begin finding a way to be counted as an existing resident in favor of gradual change, slower growth, and moderate transportation and housing policy. You are a member of the fourth E.
You might find the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax study shocking with the mention of a tax as high as 10 cents a mile. Enroll, register or sign up for any local effort to count those who are not part of the Three E's.
You might want to signal city councils that a voting population of existing residents will vote out sitting officials because of their collusion or passive co-operation with MTC/ABAG's unjust, slanted bias toward radical change and the Three E's. Existing residents might just be able to preserve some of their way of life while embracing earth-friendly policies at the same time. Existing residents are seeking equity as well.
If you haven't been following the process, read on.
The PlanBayArea strategy, in my opinion, is to involve these three identified special interests at each stage of the unveiling of the plan and to invite them to add more suggestions at each juncture. The recent Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax study approved in Alternate 5 at the recent MTC/ABAG Joint Meeting of July 19 is one example of this strategy.
This meeting was billed as dealing with the EIR for PlanBayArea and the Vehicle Miles Travel Tax study was hardly mentioned at the meeting. The VMT tax study was subsumed by Alternative 5 in the Final EIR Alternatives. The VMT tax study was introduced in a presentation on July 13, at a committee meeting, six days before it was approved as an innocent part of Alternative 5 by the Special Joint Meeting of MTC/ABAG. The public comment period was sidestepped in this manner essentially by stealth.
In January after the PlanBayArea workshops, I thought PlanBayArea was chosen and would simply be refined. That was purportedly the time of one significant marker in the process. The choosing of the EIR Alternatives July 19 was another.
Now I understand my idea to be well wide of the mark.
PlanBayArea is designed to be a moving target to its opponents. Only people on the inside can follow the plethora of committees and the initiatives that they introduce. PlanBayArea is designed to absorb more and more of the aims and strategies of the chosen special organized groups as the planning process continues. The alternatives can be combined and recombined in endless configurations at will by the votes of the executive boards. No plan is distinctly determined at any stage except that the envelope is pushed a little further in the special interest agenda of the Three E's.
Existing residents are systematically excluded from the power structure of PlanBayArea. There are special organized groups — the Bay Area Economic Council, the Northern California Chapter of the American Planning Association (norcalapa), the large community funds such as Marin Community Foundation, S.F. Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Fund, TransForm, Public Advocates, Greenbelt Alliance and Urban Institute, which are all listened to. Existing residents are allowed to speak and to write as if they were communicating with MTC and ABAG, but their communications are not listened to.
Existing residents are unlikely to support gut-wrenching change transferring large government sector assets and power from those invested in the present to those betting on a particular lifestyle in the future. To systematically emasculate, discredit and to disenfranchise existing residents makes sense if the struggle to impose radical change is framed as a war of sorts.
The network of those wanting rapid, major change encompassing nothing less than the abolishment of any advantage held by single family residence zoning is firmly ensconced both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Expanded Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, not to mention other large metropolitan areas. One of the existing residents' long-term options appears to be either a statewide initiative or a massive lawsuit about lack of due process and improper representation of the populace by regional bodies like MTC/ABAG. This requires huge amounts of money.
Another more immediate strategy is to enroll or to register or sign up for any local effort to count those in favor of gradual change, slower growth, and moderate transportation and housing policy. The fourth E must be reckoned with.
Here is a summary of Alternative 5 with the VMT tax study from PlanBayArea Spotlight:
"5. The Environment, Equity and Jobs alternative – This alternative was developed by input from the equity and environmental community. It seeks to maximize affordable housing in opportunity areas in both urban and suburban areas through incentives and housing subsidies. The suburban growth is supported by increased transit service to historically disadvantaged communities through studying a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax and higher bridge tolls."
Below is page 15 from the MTC Planning Committee/ABAG Administrative Committee, which introduced it July 13.