Op-Ed: Why Are Local Leaders Paralyzed Over ABAG's One Bay Area Plan?

Longtime local resident says plan's focus on development contradicts its goal of reducing greenhouse gases and challenges county and local officials to "not run with the herd."

Dear Elected Officials:

I encourage you to please read Dick Spotswood's latest piece on the Association of Bay Area Governments' (ABAG) One Bay Area Plan. As he shows with great clarity, the growth assumptions of the plan are without any basis in facts.

To this, I would like to also add these facts:  

  • The number one greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S. and California is "energy production." In fact the Richmond refinery is the number one polluter in the state. That is followed in order by businesses and industry, agriculture, public an commercial transportation and then residential / local driving at the very bottom of the list. So this entire plan is focused on the least important contributor to green house gas emissions.
  • No development plan can guarantee or even guess where individual people will have to go or how far they'll have to go to get to their their job, so driving to work will likely be a part of our lives for any foreseeable future. In fact only tele-commuting will likely have any impact on that.
  • The number one "user" of energy in it's creation and every day after are "buildings." Our homes, commercial offices, institutional, industrial, etc. represent 40 percent of our total ongoing energy usage and their construction is the most resource intensive endeavor on the planet with supply chain impacts that add huge multiples to energy use and socio-economic / environmental impacts worldwide.
  • There is absolutely no science or any studies that would back up the claim that massive development can reduce green house gas emissions. In fact even a cursory review of the science would strongly suggest this will actually be a NET ADDITION to green house gas emissions over what normal regional growth will produce (which will be done gradually, as needed, and incorporate more advanced building technologies available in the future).

At the risk of injecting some logic to this discussion, ABAG / MTC are saying that we need to promote more buildings (and many times what we'll actually need to meet historical growth and using today's building technologies) to solve climate change? (truly "green" building technologies are not yet commonly or economically available) 

Ironically, all the ABAG / MTC greenhouse gas emission goals could be met by 2025 by simply increasing our state vehicle mileage standards by less than 5 percent!  This would cost us nothing, economically, environmentally or otherwise. It would penalize the source (vehicle manufacturers) and not taxpayers and citizens who are doing nothing more than trying to save the communities they've worked so hard to create.

How can you not be appalled by all this? Why aren't any of the Marin County Supervisors convening town halls and community meetings to hear what people have to say? 

Our representatives (city and county) seem paralyzed, cowering before these quasi-governmental juggernauts, without so much as raising their hand. All the focus seems to be on being polite and maintaining decorum at all costs, science and facts be damned.  

I urge you to lead not run with the herd.

This column was re-purposed from a letter sent to county and local leaders, with permission of the author.

Sam McCoy March 24, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Hooray for the Corte Madera Residents! They have a City Council that knows what is going on with ABAG, is educated and is fighting hard for their town and their community! Great leadership! Great people! Those 4 Council members are our heros! Well done! Bravo! How many other councils will stand up for their cities and towns? Mill Valley 's City Council didn't
David Edmondson March 24, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Now now, Sam. Corte Madera doesn't think it's going to grow at all in the next 30 years and won't abide by using its many parking lots to house anything but cars. Let's not try to ruin such a wonderful town by trying to move there. Just drive through and shop at the mall that looks like a European village and thank God you don't have to live somewhere that looks like that.
Bob Silvestri June 07, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Here is a link to Part I of a new 4 part series that will appearing every Thursday throughout June on the Patch: http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/the-best-laid-plans-part-i-a-brief-history-of-planning The goal of this series is to provide a context for the ongoing debates about ABAG, planning and affordable housing in Marin. As the Plan Bay Area initiative moves forward, this conversation is more important than ever.
Bob Silvestri June 14, 2012 at 03:07 PM
The Best Laid Plans: Part II: 21st Century Planning http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/the-best-laid-plans-part-ii-21st-century-planning
Bob Silvestri June 21, 2012 at 06:20 PM
The Best Laid Plans: Part III - Affordable Housing http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/the-best-laid-plans-part-iii-affordable-housing


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