Ambitious plan to ease Bay Area housing crunch draws heat, but passes

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

It was supposed to be a fairly smooth sign-off on an ambitious plan to stanch the Bay Area’s housing crisis.

Instead, Wednesday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission became a taut showdown. While a panel of mayors, transit officials and business leaders vigorously defended their proposal to build 35,000 homes a year, residents and leaders of smaller cities who had been balking solidified into stiff opposition, saying they’d been left out of the discussions.

After a four-hour debate, the commission voted 14-3 to authorize MTC Chairman Jake Mackenzie to sign the plan — which is advisory only, but meant to serve as a blueprint for state and local lawmakers. Commissioners call it a compact, a compromise among various groups that don’t always trust each other: developers, tech executives, politicians, tenant advocates…

Even so, MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger acknowledged that not everyone is happy about the arrangement. Tension stewed from the outset of the meeting…

CASA members also want to create an agency with taxing authority to shepherd the policies…

Heminger conceded that CASA could have done more community outreach over the year and a half that it worked to create the housing plan.

“Obviously we did not have all 101 (Bay Area) cities involved,” he said. “We’re trying to remedy that as we speak.”

Even so, he urged the commissioners to approve the plan so it could be shipped to lawmakers’ desks in Sacramento. “We’re staring a new legislative session in the face,” he said… (more)

Europe is erupting over taxes and preferential treatment for wealthy corporations that has been driven the lower and middle classes ever deeper into poverty and dispair. It will not take much more pressure on the taxpaying public in California to bring the pitchforks out here. What happens if some of the counties opt out of the regional plan by removing themselves from the MTC? What happens when citizens rebel against a new taxing agency?

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