Plan Bay Area 2040 Draft Plan

Draft Plan Bay Area 2040

Action Plan

The public comment period for the Draft Plan and Draft EIR closed on June 1. View comments received at

Action Plan

The Bay Area must make more progress on key regional priorities, especially housing.

The Bay Area's housing and transportation crisis reflects the cumulative impacts of the region’s robust job market and acute failure to keep pace with housing need, especially near growing job centers. Plan Bay Area 2040 projects these problems will intensify if the region does not take significant corrective steps. As a path forward, MTC and ABAG developed an “Action Plan” to focus on performance targets where the plan is moving in the wrong direction, as well as emerging issues that require proactive regional policy solutions.

MTC and ABAG propose a multi-pronged strategy to address housing affordability, the region’s widening income disparities and economic hardships faced by low and middle-income workers, and finally the Bay Area’s vulnerabilities to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. These three issue areas – Housing, Economic Development, and Resilience – form the core of the Action Plan.

Connection to Targets

The recommendations in this Action Plan address multiple Plan Bay Area 2040 performance target areas.


  • Housing: Share of income spent on housing and transportation costs, displacement risk, and affordable housing

  • Economic development: Access to jobs, middle wage job creation, and pavement maintenance

  • Resilience: Climate protection, open space protection, and healthy and safe communities

Similar to past regional achievements in the environment, transportation, and economy, successfully addressing these needs during the implementation of Plan Bay Area 2040 will require a shared commitment among regional policymakers, local governments and civic organizations. 

Transit-oriented development.
Credit: Martin Klimek

Housing Production, Preservation, and Protection

Regional agencies currently lack the tools, resources, and authority to directly address the issues of production, affordability and displacement identified earlier in “The Bay Area Today.” In response, the Action Plan recommends strengthening and expanding existing regional housing initiatives and pursuing more ambitious policy solutions at the state, regional, and local levels. Regional agencies are committed to partnering with local governments, business leaders, and non-governmental organizations to identify and implement game-changing housing solutions.

What actions have the regional agencies already implemented for housing?


To date, regional agencies have largely focused housing actions on funding planning grants, conducting the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), allocating transportation funds to reward cities that plan for and produce housing, using existing fund sources for limited direct investments in affordable housing, providing best practices and technical assistance, and advocating for statewide legislative proposals to reduce barriers to housing production.


More specifically, MTC and ABAG have:


  • Produced Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) and monitored RHNA performance by income-level


  • Invested in the Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) revolving loan fund


  • Linked approximately $600 million in One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) funds to the adoption of an approved housing element and conditioned nearly $20 billion in transit expansion priorities on minimum zoning densities via MTC's TOD policy


  • Awarded 51 PDA Planning grants to-date, which have led to increased zoning capacity for 70,000 housing units, 110,000 jobs and 26 million square feet of commercial development. PDA Plans remove barriers to infill development by creating a predictable permitting process aligned with community objectives


  • Adopted a new OBAG framework in 2016 to increase incentives and direct investments for affordable housing


  • Convened regional committees for housing including the Housing Forum, Housing Subcommittee of the Regional Planning Committee, and the upcoming CASA initiative


  • Supported CEQA modernization and created an online guide to CEQA streamlining provisions

Two upcoming endeavors will improve the region’s ability to address its chronic housing affordability challenges. The integration of MTC and ABAG staff will lead to more effective long-range planning and increase the region’s housing policy capacities. The newly created CASA initiative will bring together diverse interests to develop a bold new strategy for housing preservation and production. This work will likely evaluate and recommend a range of legislative, regulatory, financial, and market-related measures needed to provide for the region’s housing needs at all income levels.

Housing in Santa Clara County.
Credit: Karl Nielsen



MTC and ABAG are coordinating the CASA initiative, a multi-sector blue-ribbon committee that will bring together diverse interests to identify game-changing solutions to the region’s chronic housing affordability challenges. Core to this strategy will include an effort to replicate the region’s success in generating local revenues for transportation by pursuing a regional “self-help” strategy for funding housing investments. A multi-county fee or bond measure, for example, could be among the suite of recommendations put forward by CASA.

This Action Plan makes the following recommendations for Housing:

TABLE 5.1 Plan Bay Area 2040 “Action Plan” recommendations for housing.
Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments, 2017

Economic Development

Creating a more affordable region also requires a Bay Area economy with greater economic opportunity and mobility for all the region’s residents and jurisdictions. The Action Plan recommends expanding regional economic development capacity through establishing an Economic Development District while also focusing on increasing pathways to middle-wage jobs, preserving infrastructure and increasing affordable transportation access to job centers.

Construction in San Francisco.
Credit: Karl Nielsen

Regional agencies – in partnership with business, workforce agencies and local jurisdictions – are working to establish a regional Economic Development District and accompanying Economic Development Strategy. This work will advance regional solutions related to business expansion and retention, workforce training, housing and workspace, and infrastructure improvements. This work will also enable the region to compete for public and private funding that can help leverage local assets in places poised for growth, particularly in communities of concern and other economically distressed areas.

Long-term economic growth also requires infrastructure investment. While the region has made substantial transportation investments, it still has unmet capital maintenance needs exceeding $50 billion and some of the worst transit crowding and traffic congestion in the nation. Relieving transit crowding and increasing transit access will require broad regional coordination and planning as well as significant state-funding to address shortfalls related to transportation maintenance and infrastructure. The region should also continue advocating for increases in funding for critical expansion projects, as well as maintenance of existing infrastructure.

This Action Plan makes the following recommendations for Economic Development:

TABLE 5.2 Plan Bay Area 2040 “Action Plan” recommendations for economic development.
Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments, 2017


In response to emerging and increasingly pressing threats to the Bay Area’s communities, ecosystem and economy, the Action Plan recommends continuing and expanding existing resilience efforts and developing creative funding solutions to implementing resilience projects.

Regional agencies have initiated several programs advancing resilience against sea level rise, flooding, and extreme events including earthquakes. In 2010, the Bay Conservation and Development District (BCDC) kicked off the Adapting to Rising Tides program, which evaluated vulnerability and risk along the shoreline of several communities and continues to be a platform for sharing best practices. More recently, the Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC), along with BCDC, have been awarded planning and design grants for assessing transportation vulnerability and developing design solutions for climate-related challenges.

Recent Funding Successes for Resilience


Two recent grant awards will significantly advance the regional dialogue on climate vulnerability and develop workable solutions:


  • Caltrans and BATA allocated $1.2 million to continue to conduct a regional vulnerability assessment for transportation infrastructure, Priority Development Areas (PDA), Priority Conservation Areas (PCA) and disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.  In addition to a regional vulnerability assessment, the project goals include developing a regional framework for identifying solutions and strategies to address vulnerability on an ongoing basis.

  • The Rockefeller Foundation awarded a $4.6 million grant to create the Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge. Bay Area leaders will work with international design teams to develop innovative and implementable design solutions for climate-related challenges in 10 sites across the Bay Area region. This project will last through 2018.

Ferry service in Marin County provides passengers with stunning views of the bay.
Credit: Karl Nielsen

Regional agencies have also collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency, FEMA, and the California Earthquake Authority on recommendations for resilient housing, both for earthquakes and flooding. This collaboration established the Resilient Housing Policy Initiative that helps jurisdictions access analysis and policy tools for the seismic retrofit of existing housing. The region should expand these efforts through outreach and technical assistance, as well as develop financial solutions to resilient housing and green infrastructure, especially for communities with high social vulnerability and exposure to natural hazards.

This Action Plan makes the following recommendations for Resilience: 

TABLE 5.3 Plan Bay Area 2040 “Action Plan” recommendations for resilience.
Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Area Regional Collaborative, 2017

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