August 12, 2013

Plan Bay Area: planners imposing their preferences on residents isn't just a Bay Area problem

By Jonathan Wood Attorney

Last week, we explained why it’s terrible policy for planners to impose their preferences on residents who have different ideas on how they should live.Over at National Review‘s The Corner blog, Stanley Kurtz explains that this is a nationwide problem.

The bureaucratic lingo for this brand of social engineering is TOD, “transit oriented development.” That’s short for letting suburban highways deteriorate while squeezing as many apartments and businesses as possible into tiny neighborhoods around subway stations, so people stop using their cars. With plenty of help from the Obama administration, ambitious plans to impose TOD are about to leap from the Bay Area to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new “fair housing” rule is laying the groundwork for the nationalization of TOD.

[PLF’s] lawsuit slams TOD as a bunch of “draconian development prescriptions” designed to “micro-manage people’s lifestyle choices.” There is a way forward, says the Pacific Legal Foundation, “without curtailing people’s freedom to live in detached homes in suburban and rural areas with lawns and gardens.”

This issue comes up in connection to the lawsuit that we recently filed, challenging Plan Bay Area. As you’ll recall, our suit challenges the way that this plan was sold to the public. The Association of Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Commission adopted the plan based on an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that gives the misimpression that the Plan is necessary to comply with greenhouse gas targets. It isn’t. The targets will be reached without the Plan’s high density housing requirements and transit boondoggles because of car and gas standards adopted by the state. But the agencies and the public wouldn’t know this from reading the EIR—which is supposed to foster deliberation by informing government agencies and the public. For that reason, the Plan’s adoption was illegal under CEQA.

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