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August 7, 2013

PLF sues over “stack and pack” housing mandate for Bay Area

“Plan Bay Area” treats people like sardines — and treats the law like a nuisance

It’s called “Plan Bay Area” — a regional transportation and development scheme that would treat millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area like sardines. The idea is to force future development into narrow, high-density zones, with residential and businesses literally “stacked and packed” on top of each other.

This isn’t just dubious public policy that restricts people’s freedoms and lifestyle choices.

It’s also illegal, according to a lawsuit that Pacific Legal Foundation has just filed. We’re representing, free of charge, a broad coalition of concerned residents who’ve joined together in a nonprofit organization called Bay Area Citizens. They’ve been monitoring the plan as it was developed, offering well-researched critiques and proposing alternatives.

But the agenda-driven bureaucracies wouldn’t listen to credible input from the public. And that’s why the plan is illegal. The drafters violated the requirement — in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) — that all relevant environmental facts be considered, and all legitimate alternative plans be reviewed.

Watch a video on our challenge to Plan Bay Area.


Plan’s drafters said: Don’t confuse us with the facts!

Plan Bay Area aims to achieve legally required greenhouse gas reductions for the nine-county region by mandating that most future housing and employment be crammed into about five percent of the region’s surface area.

“The plan violates CEQA because the drafting agencies refused to factor in important data,” said PLF Principal Attorney Damien Schiff. “They studiously ignored facts showing that high-density development restrictions aren’t needed in order to meet the region’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction. The truth is, the goals will be met naturally, as a result of state fuel efficiency rules that are already on track to be implemented.

“Also in violation of CEQA, the agencies refused to consider credible alternatives to their draconian restrictions on development and people’s lifestyles,” Schiff said.

PLF Podcast Now PlayingListen to PLF Principal Attorney Damien M. Schiff, and PLF Attorney Jonathan Woods discuss Plan Bay Area scheme podcast.
Don't have iTunes? Listen to the podcast online.

“Bay Area Citizens presented a feasible alternative plan for greenhouse gas reduction that focuses, in part, on expanded bus service and reducing transit fares,” said Peter Singleton, a spokesman for the organization. “This alternative would achieve air quality targets and serve the needs of lower income, transit-reliant residents without curtailing people’s freedom to live in detached homes in suburban and rural areas with lawns and gardens. Yet the bureaucracies that came up with Plan Bay Area would not consider this alternative.”

The lawsuit is Bay Area Citizens v. Association of Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The petition for writ of mandate, a video, and a podcast may be viewed at: www.pacificlegal.org.

How you can help

Our challenge to this illegally devised “sardine scheme” for housing and employment is just one example of how PLF fights bureaucracies when they threaten liberty and economic freedom with command-and-control edicts.

YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT makes this vital work possible!  Please DONATE to help us keep “rescuing liberty” from coast to coast!

Rob Rivett
Pacific Legal Foundation

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