Despite their best efforts, including accusations of totalitarianism and property-rights infringement, opponents of Plan Bay Area failed to sway a nearly unanimous passing vote on July 18 by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Jake Mackenzie, a Rohnert Park council member, sits on the MTC and is a member of ABAG’s general assembly. He was at the seven-hour-long meeting where the deciding vote in favor of Plan Bay Area was cast. More than four hours of that meeting were taken up by public comment.
“We were being compared to Hitler, Stalin and totalitarian regimes,” says Mackenzie. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
A group calling itself Citizen Marin chartered a 48-seat shuttle to bring opponents to the meeting at the Oakland Marriott, according to the Marin Independent Journal. Protesters outnumbered those testifying in favor of the plan (“They had made a very deliberate effort by busing people in to have a large number testifying for their point of view,” says Mackenzie), which provides incentives for the building of affordable and high-density housing—along with increased use of public transportation—in 160 priority development areas as a way of meeting greenhouse-gas-reduction goals for the coming century.
Plan Bay Area consists of a series of four-year plans that will be under continuous review, says Mackenzie. “It’s going to be a dynamic situation, and it’s not going to be cast in concrete,” he explains. “It’s not like tablets coming down from some mountain or something like that.”
Local control over land-use decisions will still rest with the city and the county, according to Mackenzie. “The opponents claim that we are forcing people to live in high-density housing, high rises and taking away their cars,” he adds. “These are blatant untruths.”