Despite an adverse ruling in court, the environmental group, Bay Area Citizens, vowed on June 13 to continue its fight against Plan Bay Area.
Plan Bay Area is a scheme to put controls on motor-vehicle use and on housing patterns in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
On June 11, Judge Evelio Grillo of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Alameda released a ruling denying Bay Area Citizens’ suit to halt Plan Bay Area. Grillo’s courtroom is in Oakland.
In a June 13 statement, Bay Area Citizens said it plans to ” . . . continue to litigate this case through the appellate process.”
Bay Area Citizens, based in Lafayette, California, sued the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) over Plan Bay Area. MTC and ABAG are regional governmental agencies with powers to regulate transportation and housing matters.
On July 18, 2013, MTC and ABAG, at a joint meeting in Oakland, approved Plan Bay Area. A major goal of the plan is to reduce chemical emissions from motor vehicles. Another part of the plan is encourage individuals to move out of single, detached houses and to relocate to high-rise, high-density apartments near public-transportation hubs like train stations.
The boards of directors of MTC and ABAG are not elected directly by voters. The directors come from a pool of locally elected officials.
On June 12, lawyers representing Bay Area Citizens, MTC, and ABAG were given a hearing in Grillo’s courtroom. The purpose of the hearing was to let lawyers for Bay Areas Citizens, MTC, and ABAG respond in person to the judge’s rejection of Bay Area Citizens’ lawsuit.
After the hearing, Jonathan Wood, a lawyer representing Bay Area Citizens, argued that the lawsuit ” . . . against Plan Bay Area and its ‘stack and pack’ decrees for future development raise crucial questions about government accountabilitMTC, ABAG\y and responsiveness.” Wood asked: “May unelected bureaucracies impose sweeping restrictions on the lives and lifestyles of millions of people without transparency and accountability?”
Wood added: ” . . . we always knew that this case would need to be decided, ultimately, at the appellate level — maybe even the California Supreme Court.”
In its June 13 statement, Bay Area Citizens said: “The legal system itself, at least as presently constituted, makes difficult to raise, and even more difficult to prevail on, those overarching questions that challenge the ability of powerful political and powerful elites to make decisions for all the rest of us in their seemingly insatiable demand to micromanage and control every aspect of our lives . . .”
Bay Area Citizens claims that the ultimate court is not a court of law but
” . . . the court of public opinion.”
At press time, no comment from MTC or ABAG was received.