The Sierra Club along with Earthjustice and Communities for a Better Environment have filed a third lawsuit in opposition to Plan Bay Area, the approved framework for building 660,000 new housing units across the Bay Area by 2040.

While “Bay Area Citizens” fear the plan calls for too much building, the Building Industry Association believes the plan calls for too little, and the Sierra Club is concerned about the environmental impacts of the plan regardless.

From the press release for the latest lawsuit: “The Plan does not spend enough on public transportation, and instead invests in building new highways. The current Plan will result in more time on the roads and increased greenhouse gas emissions. The Plan also fails to protect West Oakland and other vulnerable communities from the health effects of cars, trucks, ships and rail that pass through their communities.”

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Kathleen

    Thank Goodness for the Sierra Club.

  2. Posted by curmudgeon

    This is the plan that every edge of the spectrum loves to hate. In the goldilocks theory, it must be just about right!

  3. Posted by SCInNoeValley

    Curmudgeon: I have to agree with you.

  4. Posted by Mark

    660,000 new housing units. How many of these will require ownership of a car? Probably the majority since there is little in the way of mass transit projects slated for the next 25 years other than BART-to-exurbia (which requires driving to stations and parking in their megastructures) and the Central Subway to nowhere.

  5. Posted by anon

    ^I don’t have a car and haven’t used transit in years.

  6. Posted by Drew

    I used to believe in the Sierra Club, but since they have become obstructionists for smart urban planning they are growing quite irrelevant. It is a massive departure from their mission statement: “To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth…”

  7. Posted by frog

    Any increase in density is usually good for the environment. The Sierra Club has lost all credibility as an environmental organization and is now just flat out anti development.
    I grew up in a large house in the woods in rural Pennsylvania in what seems to be an environment that the greens idolize. I doubt that most people in the Bay Area use half as much energy as we did.

  8. Posted by frog

    anon,
    I admire your amazing ability to bike long distances or live your life within a very small radius. But in the real world, people frequently need to go 5 or 10 or 50 miles and public transit or driving are really the only two options.

  9. Posted by Mark

    @anon: that’s great that you don’t own a car or use public transit. However, having an effective and efficient mass transit system in place is for the greater good of the region, not just one individual. Sometimes it’s good to think outside of one’s own sphere of existence. I know I do.

  10. Posted by anon

    ^Sure, I just hate the notion that the alternative to a car is transit. It’s not for many folks, and if we increase density substantially it doesn’t need to be for many more. I’d much rather walk to work than have to deal with a car or a train.

  11. Posted by anon

    @frog – I drive plenty, just don’t need to own a car. Car rental places are super easy to use (used one each of the last four weekends).

  12. Posted by anon

    I guess the Sierra Club would rather if all the new housing were built over greenfield in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, rather than in environmentally friendly infill areas.
    It really annoys me how so many people seem to believe that obstructing development in one place will somehow reduce the global demand for dwelling units by the same amount, as if the people who would live in that space just vanish if they don’t end up living nearby you personally.

  13. Posted by MossyBuddha

    “I guess the Sierra Club would rather if all the new housing were built over greenfield in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, rather than in environmentally friendly infill areas”
    Actually, the snippet says the reason for the lawsuit is: “The Plan does not spend enough on public transportation, and instead invests in building new highways.”
    Might we have a reading comprehension problem here?

  14. Posted by kddid

    yes, but they also complained about displacement of poor folks in the designated priority growth areas, which are close in to the urban core already well served by transit (e.g. west oakland, bayview/HP, inner mission). If new housing doesn’t go there, where else will it go? It wasn’t clear from the complaint what they’d like to see instead – maybe more high rises in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, or near the BART stations in Lafayette?

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