Environmental Impact Report
State law requires the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Plan Bay Area. Under the law known as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), MTC and ABAG must inform decision makers and the general public of the range of potential environmental impacts that could result from the implementation Plan Bay Area. The EIR will examine a range of reasonable alternatives, identify the environmentally superior alternative and recommend a set of measures to mitigate the impacts of the selected alternative. The EIR for Plan Bay Area is being developed on a parallel track as the actual plan, and both documents are scheduled to be adopted simultaneously in summer 2013.
MTC and ABAG will study five EIR alternatives. These alternatives are defined by explicit land use and transportation policies and will be evaluated using an integrated regional modeling system comprised of the UrbanSim spatial economic/land use model and the MTC travel model.
The five proposed EIR alternatives are as follows:
- The No Project alternative begins with the 2010 built environment and assumes, through 2040, the continuation of currently-adopted general plans. The transportation network adds all committed projects to a representation of the 2010 transportation system. CEQA requires the examination of a no project alternative.
- The Jobs-Housing Connection, or “Project”, alternative pairs a land development pattern in which 80 percent of household growth and 66 percent of the job growth are located in Priority Development Areas (PDAs) with the Preferred Transportation Investment Strategy. MTC and ABAG approved the land use and transportation element of this scenario in May 2012. The UrbanSim model will be used to adequately recreate the Jobs-Housing Connection land development pattern through land use policies.
- The Transit Priority Focus alternative will evaluate the potential for greater development in Transit Priority Project (TPP) areas and consequently less development intensity in PDAs than Alternative 2. Senate Bill 375 explicitly defines TPPs, which are types and locations of developments that the State would like to see occur. This scenario includes fees on development in regionally-inefficient locations that would be imposed by other regional agencies or local governments. In addition, this alternative will make adjustments to the transportation network by exchanging funds identified in the Preferred Transportation Investment Strategy for arterial signal coordination and transit capital rehabilitation projects in order to make investments in AC Transit and BART.
- The Enhanced Network of Communities alternative is titled and informed by input from the business community. This alternative will be based on the land use pattern previously identified in “Current Regional Plans/Projections 2011.” However, it seeks to eliminate the net daily importing of workers to the region. Thus, it has a higher number of residents and housing units than the other alternatives. Similar to the Jobs-Housing Connection alternative, it assumes significant land use policies need to be implemented by regional and local authorities, including substantial subsidies in PDAs and other areas (except no new development fees), as well as the Preferred Transportation Investment Strategy. In addition, this alternative would clarify that the OneBayArea Grant funding be conditioned on receiving jurisdiction identifying and eliminating or reducing local regulatory constraints to achieving the jobs and housing development as envisioned in PDAs.
- The Environment, Equity, and Jobs alternative is titled and designed with input from Public Advocates, Urban Habitat, and TransForm; this alternative seeks to maximize affordable housing in opportunity areas outside of the PDA framework. It seeks growth in both urban and suburban areas. The suburban growth is supported by increased transit service to Communities of Concern, which is funded by transferring funds identified in the Preferred Transportation Investment Strategy for arterial signal priority and transit capital rehabilitation projects.
Under SB 375, The California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, parts of Plan Bay Area may be eligible for a streamlined version of the environmental review process. These include projects and programs that are consistent with the land use designation, density, intensity and policies of Plan Bay Area, as well as certain types of development projects as defined by SB 375. (more)