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Settlement Reached on Bay Area Transportation and Housing Plan

PHOTO: San Francisco Bay Bridge. A settlement reached over Plan Bay Area will ensure the public has a chance to chime in when it comes to future transportation and housing developments. Credit: Sutterstock
PHOTO: San Francisco Bay Bridge. A settlement reached over Plan Bay Area will ensure the public has a chance to chime in when it comes to future transportation and housing developments. Credit: Sutterstock
June 23, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO - Bay-area residents will get a lot more information about housing projects and freight trains moving through their communities. A settlement reached last week over Plan Bay Area will ensure the public has a chance to chime in when it comes to future transportation and housing developments.

Irene Gutierrez, an associate attorney with Earthjustice, said the decision will build a better Bay Area.

"It's a way to make sure people have information about what's going to be happening to their communities," said Gutierrez. "And whether these communities are sustainable, whether they'll be healthy and adequately protected from the freight going through the area."

Communities for a Better Environment and the Sierra Club sued the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments in 2013 for failing to disclose information, and for ignoring the public health effects of increased freight shipments through vulnerable communities.

The settlement required the agencies to better account for the plan's effects on greenhouse gas emissions.

Gutierrez said it's important to develop communities near public transportation that will last for decades.

"In looking at the environmental reporting on the plan," Gutierrez said, "we felt some of these picks were not necessarily sensible or sustainable. Because they're in areas that don't have enough public transportation linkage, or are susceptible to sea-level rise, or liquefaction in the case of an earthquake."

The settlement also required the agencies to examine how freight movement in the area harms already vulnerable communities, and take measures to mitigate those harms.

According to Gutierrez, settlement will provide concrete benefits to all residents in the nine counties surrounding San Francisco Bay.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA