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Bay Area Planners Due To Scare You Out of Your Car in 2013

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Despite the economy and the impending arrival of Mothra at Fisherman's Wharf, bay area planners are moving forward with a regional smart growth plan. Which sadly, does not mean embedding your house with chips so you can turn on the microwave from your iPhone. It's really about reducing greenhouse gasses and getting people out of their cars, especially for frequent short trips, and about the transit relationships between work, school, shopping and recreation. The initiative is called One Bay Area and it's all about first steps- a plan won't appear until 2013. Plus it's ambitious, ranging all around the bay, and includes all nine counties. Predictably, lessons from Portland, OR and the bike question:

The benefits of expanding the regional bicycle network should not be underestimated, noted Cohen. Although the MTC previously estimated it would only yield a 20 percent increase in ridership, “What we’re seeing in places like Portland is that as soon as you get to a point of having a network that people are comfortable on, you start to get exponential increases,” he said.

While the video may be lacking in cinematic thrills and spills (these are planners, after all) it does explain the basic underpinnings and what needs to be done. There are indications that we're ready for denser, downtown living as populations shift downtown and people begin to be less dependent on their cars. Meanwhile, there are question marks all along the food chain: whither high-speed rail and the imperiled redevelopment agencies? From the upper-income end of the spectrum, we can already see a move away from commuting as private bus transportation becomes an employee benefit (Genentech and Google, we're looking at you) from Noe Valley and other neighborhoods.
· Bay Area Governments Begin Developing Regional Smart Growth Plan [SF Streets Blog]
· Bay Area Plan [One Bay Area]

*With apologies to Daniel Burnham- the architect of San Francisco's first master plan in 1906. Which ironically, he presented at City Hall the day before the earthquake. It is his best-known quote, and one muttered frequently in planning offices nationwide.