San Francisco residents are invited to give their input on the Bay Area’s future during a virtual town hall Wednesday July 29 at 5:30pm, part of the public comment period on the Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint.
The Blueprint paints a picture of what the nine-county Bay Area could look like in 30 years, using 25 strategies to make the region “affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant for all” by focusing on four key areas: the economy, the environment, housing and transportation.
Created by a collaboration of the Metropolitan Transportation Committee and the Association of Bay Area Governments, Plan Bay Area 2050 creates an integrated vision that roadmaps how to achieve the region’s collective priorities. That said, it doesn’t fund any of the recommended projects, change local policy or modify local land use authority.
It does, however, articulate a shared set of priorities and “identify a potential path forward for future investments” that would help achieve a sustainable growth pattern and meet those goals.
Planners forecast 1.4 million new jobs would be created, mostly concentrated in the South Bay. Their plan estimates 1.5 million new homes would be necessary to keep pace with the influx and still fashion “equitable, resilient” communities.
Some lower-income individuals would still struggle to afford a life in the Bay Area, but the plan projects some modest improvement. Whereas 57% of Bay Area residents’ household incomes went toward transportation and housing in 2015, under the plan, that number could decline to 48% by 2050.
But while the Blueprint puts more workplaces close to mass transit, it also predicts more people would drive to work, bringing the average rush-hour drive from Oakland to San Francisco up to 41 minutes from the current 30 minutes.
Recommendations include sizable infrastructure investments to improve public transportation and pedestrian safety, protect Bayside areas against flooding and make neighborhoods more walkable, but reducing greenhouse gas emissions would continue to challenge the increasingly dense region.
Though these strategies and forecasts were crafted before the COVID-19 pandemic, staff has said the 25 recommendations ultimately selected were modeled against a number of “uncertain future” scenarios to test their resiliency and ability to pivot with changing external landscapes.
This isn’t the first plan created by MTC and ABAG. The last, known as Plan Bay Area 2040, underperformed on its equity goals and didn’t successfully prevent displacement risk or steady the rising cost of living, shortcomings staff attempts to rectify with this latest iteration.
In addition to Wednesday’s virtual workshop for San Francisco residents, Plan Bay Area 2050 is hosting similar events in each of the Bay Area’s nine counties. Members of the public can also provide their comment online through August 10. Planners will then use feedback to refine the proposal before it is slated to be adopted next year.
MTC staff describes the public comment period as a “critical milestone” in the process, especially given how COVID-19 has so dramatically changed daily life for Bay Area residents.