Either the designers of the drastic regional upheaval, commonly known as “Plan Bay Area” or “One Bay Area,” thought they could work around the fact that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, of they did not connect this physical law with human behavior, as most common-sense folks do.


The Libertarian Party of San Francisco, as well as many other groups, sprang into action, as should have been expected, as soon as Plan Bay Area started to take form. We began disseminating information, attending public meetings, and reaching out to form coalitions. See our articles "Plan Bay Area: Vision or Micromanagement?" and "Plan Bay Area Adopted Under the Cloak of Midnight, Literally!"  In the second article, we joined many other groups in sounding the alarm that Plan Bay Area would be a factor in the disappearance of affordable housing, loss of property values in some areas, increased use of eminent domain, and loss of livability and transportation choices.


The second round of reaction came soon after Plan Bay Area was adopted on July 18, 2013, in the form of lawsuits from the right and the left, aimed at the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the architects of Plan Bay Area.  Here is a list of current lawsuits, all of which could use the public’s moral and financial support.



BAY AREA CITIZENS vs. ABAG AND MTC: Filed in Alameda Superior Court on August 6, 2013, represented in court by attorneys from the Pacific Legal Foundation. This petition for a writ of mandate, seeks a court order telling ABAG and MTC to cease their violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and consider alternative plans.


Bay Area Citizens, a non-profit, was co-founded by Peter Singleton, a Larkspur resident and attorney.   The Pacific Legal Foundation’s motto is “Rescuing Liberty from Coast to Coast.” 


A press release by the Pacific Legal Foundation announcing the lawsuit describes their objections to Plan Bay Area:


“Plan Bay Area would foist a one-size-fits-all vision of ‘transit oriented development’ on the region,” said PLF Principal Attorney Damien Schiff.


“In this planner’s dream environment, everyone would complacently agree to a regimented lifestyle, living in multi-family housing, and walking, bike-riding, or taking public transit to work. The drafting agencies have come up with an ambitious strategy to micro-manage people’s lifestyle choices. All that’s missing is the legally required justification for doing so. Instead, they’ve studiously ignored data that contradict their agenda. They’ve cherry picked facts to create a false need for their draconian development prescriptions."




BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION BAY AREA vs. ABAG AND MTC: Filed in Alameda Superior Court on August 16, 2013, represented in court by their own attorneys. This petition for a writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief seeks an official declaration of the legal status of Plan Bay Area, and charges ABAG/MTC with violating California Senate Bill 375 and CEQA.


The Building Industry Association Bay Area is a non-profit association representing builders, developers, and other professionals, both individuals and organizations, involved in the residential development and construction industry in the Bay Area.


Portions of the Petition read as follows:


“Instead of delivering a realistic and feasible plan, Respondents [ABAG/MTC] have prepared an SCS [Sustainable Communities Strategy, mandated by SB375], called “Plan Bay Area,” that fails to solve the Bay Area’s bad habit of exporting its housing needs to outlying areas, condemning more of its workforce to lengthy communities.”


“Respondents did not consider the environmental impacts of their proposed SCS until [the] second phase of the process, which helps explain why the environmental impact review violates the most basic tenets of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQUA).”


“Respondents, however, refused to give adequate consideration to alternatives actually grounded in real world assumptions, and they failed to honor CEQA’s purpose of ensuring informed decision-making.”




COMMUNITIES FOR A BETTER ENVIRONMENT AND THE SIERRA CLUB vs. MTC AND ABAG. Filed in Alameda Superior Court on August 19, 2013. They are represented in court by Earthjustice. This petition for writ of mandate challenges the environmental review conducted by Plan Bay Area under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


Communities for a Better Environment is an environmental justice organization, whose mission is to build people’s power in California’s communities of color and low income. The Sierra Club is a non-profit founded by conservationist John Muir.  Earthjustice is a non-profit, public interest law organization, dedicated to litigating environmental issues.


Earthjustice’s claims against Plan Bay Area are summarized as follows,


Increases the time people will be spending in their car and on the road.


Does not spend enough on shoring up inadequate public transportation systems.


Proposes housing developments without committing to investments in public transportation serving those developments.


Fails to protect the communities closes to major transportation hubs, highways, and ports from increased toxic air pollution, as the region increases freight movement around them.


Fails to address population growth and rising housing costs, which cause more people to move to areas with inadequate public transportation and rely more on cars, worsening air pollution, quality of life, and traffic.




THE POST SUSTAINABILITY INSTITUTE, ROSA KOIRE, MICHAEL SHAW vs. ABAG AND MTC: Filed in Alameda Superior Court on October 15, 2013. They are represented in court by Timothy V. Kassouni, a constitutional property rights attorney. This petition for writ of mandate seeks to overturn Plan Bay Area on grounds that the plan violates constitutional rights as well as voter-approved ordinances.


The Post Sustainability Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental think tank, established to study the impacts that United Nations Agenda 21/Sustainable Development and Communitarianism have on liberty.


A summary of the violations cited by The Post Sustainability Institute reads as follows:


Violates the 5th Amendment by taking property rights without just compensation:  By the creation of Priority Development Areas, this Plan restricts 80% of residential development and 66% of commercial development to just a few small areas of your city--until the year 2040.  If your property is outside of the PDA (96% of property is outside) you will likely not be able to build or expand your building--and you won't be paid for this loss.


Violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause: Owners of properties in the Priority Development Areas will receive development permits at a rate of approximately 80 times more than owners of property outside of the Priority Development Areas.


Violates voter-approved Urban Growth Boundary ordinances:  Because the Priority Development Areas are within the UGBs but are much smaller restricted areas they are in violation of ordinances that clearly state that development must be encouraged out to the limits of city services


Violates the development rights of rural properties in the nine-county Bay Area:  Plan Bay Area is effectively taking conservation easements on all rural lands without paying for them. 


Restricts development rights of property within the Priority Development Areas: Construction will be limited to mixed-use
high density Smart Growth development.  Existing buildings are likely to be out of compliance with your city's General Plan (legal non-conforming) and permits to make additions or changes will likely not be granted.






It seems to us laypeople that Plan Bay Area cannot survive this plethora of lawsuits unscathed. If the plan is taking punches from both the left and the right, what could possibly be good about it? However, at the same time, how about a Goldilocks effect working against the lawsuits? The essence of left-leaning lawsuits calls for more regulation; while that of right-leaning lawsuits want all the regulations to go away and leave everybody be. Might not the courts declare Plan Bay Area “Just right?”


We better support the lawsuit of our choice!