15 Sep 2014
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Residents Rail Against ABAG

Public meeting on the environmental aspects of the One Bay Area Plan turns into a shouting match.

Residents Rail Against ABAG

An angry and frustrated band of North Bay residents found a target for their outrage Wednesday afternoon, describing the Association of Bay Area Governments and its future growth projections for Marin as "communism," Marxism," "socialism" and "treason" at a meeting to discuss ABAG's Plan Bay Area strategy.

The event at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael was hosted by ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to seek community input on a draft environmental impact report for Plan Bay Area, which aims to present guidelines for future growth for the Bay Area.

Those agencies got plenty of input.

The meeting turned into a very one-sided shouting match about the legitimacy of ABAG and SB 375, which was signed into law in 2008 and created the Sustainable Communities Strategy to connect job growth and housing allocations as a way to plan for the future.

"(SB 375) is an affront to democracy and it is a usurpation of local communities and the rights of their zoning and the rights of their building," Mill Valley resident Clayton Smith said. "This whole Plan Bay Area is based on a $250 million bribe by the federal government so as to buy off our local politicians and displace the rights of the actual residents of our community."

Sonoma County resident Jim Bennett added: "I didn't sell my home in Southern California near the beach to come to Sonoma County to live in a human settlement gulag. I came up here to live in the country. … The growth rate postulates are flawed. Your job growth rates are flawed. … Your claim that this plan will create jobs to sustain an equitable economy is flawed."

The One Bay Area Plan, spawned by SB 375, is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and design safe housing near public transportation hubs. The plan allows for "streamlining" or possibly waiving California Environmental Quality Act requirements if housing projects meet certain conditions.

One thing the One Bay Area Plan has done is to unite two opposing camps. Some claimed global warming was just a government ploy invented to make people afraid and pliable. Others were concerned enough about global warming to protest any development which might endanger the environment or increase greenhouse gases.

Almost all railed against ABAG, MTC and the One Bay Area Plan Wednesday afternoon.

"Will eliminating CEQA requirements or streamlining CEQA weaken the California Environmental Quality Act?" asked Karen Nygren, who hoped the agency would back off its proposed plan.

Residents held aloft protest signs after the meeting, apparently unsatisfied with the process and unsure if their voices were really heard.

There will be three more public meetings about the draft EIR in the Bay Area. Comments may also be submitted in writing by July 11 to Ashley Nguyen, EIR project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Email eircomments@mtc.ca.gov or send letters to her at 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, CA 94607.

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