The One Bay Area Jobs-Housing Report was released nearly two months ago on May 16, 2012. The report does an excellent job of identifying current conditions, and attempts to predict where the region will be by the year 2040. This vision of the future that attempts to identify different types of development that may occur and steer development within the existing development footprint. The benefits are Preserved Conservation Area (PCAs) and Preferred Development Areas (PDAs.)
It is easier to criticize a plan than it is to create one. The plan does an admirable job connecting Land Use, Housing and Transportation. It appears, at this juncture, that the current land use will dictate future land use. The current mass-transit pattern will remain dendritic, rather than connecting the area with a spider-web approach that could include loops. The recent failure of the BART system due to a fire alongside the track in West Oakland provides an opportunity to reevaluate the linear approach to transit. Mobility within the region was greatly diminished by one fire during rush hour.
Transit development from 580 to Northern Contra Costa County along the 680 corridor is absent, even though there are areas along the corridor identified for large increases in net job growth density. (Page 47 of the report offers a Vehicle Mile Traveled map that shows the current inequity of travel time for residents east of 680.)
The report also assumes that as we age that we will age in place, and suddenly have a desire for multi-family housing, in the form of apartments, condominiums, and senior housing rather than aging in place with single family homes. My real estate experience, selling condominium units and single family units, leads me to believe that there will always be a need for single family houses with yards. Some people enjoy the high-rise or low-rise life, while others will prefer to live on ¼ and 1/8 acre lots. If this shift is to occur, a western corridor development plan will need to be developed that incorporates new workforce development areas within Preferred Development Areas.
This vision of the future fails to take into account that there is an imbalance of housing and work and that this imbalance can be corrected by increasing the work areas on the eastern and northern borders of existing development in the communities of Livermore and Antioch or Stockton, respectively.
The population is supposed to expand, housing is expected to grow, and employment increase. Professional Services, Health and Education, and Hospitality are anticipated to lead the way for the next thirty years, while retail and construction trades are expected to remain relatively flat and agriculture is expected to decrease in importance. This is ironic when the importance of open space is promoted in the report.
Coordination of Capital Improvement Programs and Transportation Improvement Programs will smooth the process over the next 30 years. More information is available on the One Bay Area website and community input on the proposed community land use is being received July through September of this year.