The Dark Side of Sustainable Development and the Regional One Bay Area Plan

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Heather Gass

Heather Gass

Over the past few years, I and many oth­ers in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area have been fight­ing against a plan that seeks to social­ly re-engi­neer our lives: the One Bay Area Plan. Over the next 25 to 30 years it will trans­form the lives of over 9 mil­lion peo­ple in 9 coun­ties by cre­at­ing high den­si­ty stack-and-pack hous­ing next to mass tran­sit, all in the name of sav­ing the plan­et by reduc­ing GHGs (Green House Gas­es). Nev­er mind that glob­al warm­ing has already been debunked by thou­sands of sci­en­tists not on the UN’s pay­roll. The sky is not falling, but our rights are being sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly erod­ed. Pri­vate prop­er­ty out­side of city and coun­ty urban lim­it lines will be high­ly restrict­ed and/or declared com­plete­ly off lim­its as part of the first ever statewide re-wild­ing and “cor­ri­dor” sys­tem in Cal­i­for­nia is cre­at­ed. The crazy thing is that most peo­ple know noth­ing about all this. Bay Area res­i­dents and tax­pay­ers have been inten­tion­al­ly kept out of the process. Most have nev­er heard of the region­al unelect­ed bod­ies push­ing these plans or the leg­is­la­tion we are now being asked to fol­low, yet we all will be affect­ed by it in some way in the near future.

Although I will be focus­ing on the region­al plan in the Bay Area, this is hap­pen­ing all over the state and coun­try under dif­fer­ent names, so don’t feel left out if you don’t live in the Bay Area. I have done thou­sands of hours of research over the past few years and have dis­cov­ered the gen­e­sis of these plans and who is behind them. I am hop­ing that by pro­vid­ing the his­tor­i­cal time­line and links to back up my find­ings, that it will become clear that these plans, although now being pushed by local munic­i­pal­i­ties and state lev­el man­dates, they orig­i­nat­ed else­where. These plans were hatched long before the state leg­is­la­tion was enact­ed by a small group of NGO’s (Non-Gov­ern­men­tal Orga­ni­za­tions), stake­hold­ers, foun­da­tions and region­al unelect­ed bod­ies fund­ed with tax pay­er mon­ey.

There are three main pieces of leg­is­la­tion that are being used in Cal­i­for­nia to com­plete the trans­for­ma­tion and social­ly re-engi­neer our lives; AB32 (2006 Glob­al Warm­ing Act) , SB375 (2008 Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties Strat­e­gy), and AB2785 (2010 Cal­i­for­nia Essen­tial Habi­tat Con­nec­tiv­i­ty Map). All of these bills were signed into law by Gov­er­nor Schwarzeneg­ger. The glob­al warm­ing bill calls for a reduc­tion in GHGs to 1990 lev­els by 2020. The SB375 bill links land use to trans­porta­tion and spec­i­fies the major­i­ty of future con­struc­tion be com­pact, high-den­si­ty, low-income hous­ing next to mass tran­sit, in order to force Cal­i­for­ni­ans out of their cars and sin­gle fam­i­ly homes to osten­si­bly reduce GHGs. AB2785 iden­ti­fies (maps) an ani­mal and veg­e­ta­tion cor­ri­dor sys­tem through­out Cal­i­for­nia, con­nect­ing large blocks of gov­ern­ment-reg­u­lat­ed land through pri­vate prop­er­ty that must be tak­en in some way to com­plete the Cal­i­for­nia Wild­lands cor­ri­dors. This map is most egre­gious in that it casu­al­ly illus­trates (with a slid­ing scale of less to more cost) how much it would cost our gov­ern­ment (in terms of dol­lars, con­ser­va­tion ease­ments, emi­nent domain, zon­ing to open space, etc) to take the land from pri­vate indi­vid­u­als in order to com­plete this map. Cal­i­for­nia plan­ning orga­ni­za­tions are expect­ed to use it in their plan­ning for land use and trans­porta­tion process. What peo­ple don’t real­ize is that this map is NOT about pre­serv­ing land (Open Space) for ani­mals, plants, and people’s recre­ation. These land mass­es that are being set aside are being incor­po­rat­ed into giant land trusts for the pur­pose of sell­ing car­bon cred­its in the tril­lion dol­lar Cap n’ Trade scheme that recent­ly start­ed in this state. A few large land trusts and foun­da­tions will be the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this giant pig­gy bank. Here’s a list of land banks. The CARB board will be giv­ing many of the cred­its away to pre­ferred cor­po­ra­tions and to entice coop­er­a­tion in the pro­gram. This is a fraud­u­lent pay-to-play scheme and giant land grab, not an envi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tive.

The few reg­u­lar cit­i­zens who have found out about the One Bay Area plan have been hor­ri­fied at what they dis­cov­ered as they attend­ed work­shops and hear­ings in an attempt to stop this plan from being adopt­ed. Where did this plan come from? And why are unelect­ed region­al agen­cies dic­tat­ing how and where the peo­ple of the Bay Area will live in the future?

Over the years the two main bod­ies push­ing this plan MTC (Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion) and ABAG (Asso­ci­a­tion of Bay Area Gov­ern­ments) have point­ed the blame at either local juris­dic­tions or at state leg­is­la­tors as the respon­si­ble par­ties. At times they claimed it was an organ­ic, bot­tom-up plan that the local munic­i­pal­i­ties want and were ask­ing them to imple­ment. Then on oth­er occa­sions, they claimed they were only fol­low­ing state-lev­el man­dates and that if we had a prob­lem with this plan we should be tak­ing it up with the leg­is­la­tors who vot­ed for the bills. How­ev­er, the truth is that ABAG and MTC were behind this plan way before the leg­is­la­tion was enact­ed and have been qui­et­ly involved in the form­ing of this plan for almost 20 years; if you include inter­na­tion­al con­nec­tions it is even longer (See U.C. Berke­ley PhD. Judith Innes White Paper). ABAG led the effort, and along with oth­er agen­cies they engaged in back­room secret meet­ings, formed inter­na­tion­al alliances, as well as region­al com­pacts with stake­hold­ers and NGOs in an effort to reach their goal of trans­form­ing our cities and towns into the Unit­ed Nations vision of Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties. This ulti­mate­ly led to the pas­sage of AB32 (2006), SB375 (2008) and AB2785 (2010): leg­is­la­tion that cod­i­fied this agen­da in Cal­i­for­nia. The fol­low­ing time­line will illus­trate how this so-called region­al plan came about and who is behind it. You will learn, as I did, that this plan is not a grass­roots effort and was not orig­i­nat­ed at the state lev­el. It is an inter­na­tion­al plan from the Unit­ed Nations and is referred to glob­al­ly as Agenda21 Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment. Again, it is not about the envi­ron­ment; that is a ruse. It is about con­trol­ling our soci­ety and our lives, cur­tail­ing our free­doms, and alter­ing our fun­da­men­tal Con­sti­tu­tion­al right to own prop­er­ty.

These region­al agen­cies are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and the elect­ed offi­cials appoint­ed to them have in my opin­ion vio­lat­ed Arti­cle 1, Sec­tion 10 of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion by join­ing an inter­na­tion­al alliance with ICLEI (the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil for Local Envi­ron­men­tal Ini­tia­tives) and should be at the very least inves­ti­gat­ed and/or abol­ished.

I have includ­ed links through­out so you can check the facts for your­self.

This plan is being dupli­cat­ed all over the coun­try and all over the world, but the Bay Area is one of the four ini­tial pilot pro­grams with­in the U.S. The pilot areas were Den­ver, Atlanta, Chica­go and the Bay Area. In my research I found a white paper about the Bay Area Alliance writ­ten by Judith Innes a PhD from UC Berke­ley (white paper “Get­ting Seri­ous about the Three E’s”). She fol­lowed the alliance process from 2004 to 2007 and val­i­dates my find­ings. Although she was seem­ing­ly onboard with the plan­ners, she points out how flawed the process was with vir­tu­al­ly no experts being used to pre­pare data and reports and how the stake­hold­er work­shops were mis­lead­ing and out­comes were con­trolled and pre­de­ter­mined.

1987 – The term “Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment” was adopt­ed at the Brundt­land Com­mis­sion meet­ing in 1987 as part of the “Our Com­mon Future” out­come doc­u­ment. The offi­cial def­i­n­i­tion of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment is “devel­op­ment that meets the needs of the present with­out com­pro­mis­ing the abil­i­ty of future gen­er­a­tions to meet their own needs.” The term Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment encom­pass­es three main prin­ci­ples: Equi­ty, Envi­ron­ment and Econ­o­my. Econ­o­my is the key word used to describe replac­ing free mar­ket prin­ci­ples with PPPs (Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ships), as in Com­mu­nism and Fas­cism. The Envi­ron­ment is used as a cat­a­lyst for change and Equi­ty describes the “social and envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice” that is real­ly about the redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth. Of course, Amer­i­ca is found­ed on equal rights under the law, and equal oppor­tu­ni­ty, not equal out­comes. Social equi­ty is the dri­ving fac­tor being used to alter the func­tion of law to impose social require­ments, replac­ing the indi­vid­ual rights on which our Con­sti­tu­tion and free Repub­lic are based.

1990 – The Unit­ed Nations’ accred­it­ed NGO (Non-Gov­ern­men­tal Orga­ni­za­tion) ICLEI (Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil for Local and Envi­ron­men­tal Ini­tia­tives) was found­ed in order to estab­lish Agen­da 21 cam­paigns through­out the globe. The ICLEI Charter/Constitution defines a “world con­gress” of may­ors and elect­ed offi­cials work­ing togeth­er with ICLEI serv­ing as the inter­na­tion­al agent rep­re­sent­ing the mem­bers of the world con­gress through­out the globe. ICLEI serves as liai­son between local gov­ern­ments and inter­na­tion­al gov­ern­ments. ICLEI mem­bers pay dues and must explic­it­ly adopt the ICLEI Con­sti­tu­tion which fol­lows the 16 prin­ci­ples of the Earth Char­ter and a mod­el of glob­al gov­er­nance. This inter­na­tion­al mem­ber­ship by cities and coun­ties vio­lates Arti­cle 1, Sec­tion 10 of the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion0 “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Con­fed­er­a­tion… with a for­eign pow­er”. The ICLEI head­quar­ters in North Amer­i­ca is in Oak­land, Ca. Assem­bly­woman Nan­cy Skin­ner found­ed ICLEI USA1. ICLEI is respon­si­ble for inject­ing inter­na­tion­al cli­mate, land use and oth­er poli­cies into local gov­ern­ments. Many cities, coun­ties and region­al bod­ies across the coun­try are con­tract­ing with ICLEI. Very like­ly your own city is a dues-pay­ing mem­ber.

1992UN Agenda21 Earth Sum­mit host­ed by Mau­rice Strong was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At this sum­mit the term “sus­tain­able devel­op­ment” was adopt­ed as part of the glob­al Agenda21 cam­paign. 178 nations pledged their sup­port for Agenda21. Pres­i­dent George Bush, Sr. signed on to this for the U.S. Although this is tech­ni­cal­ly a non-bind­ing soft law, since Con­gress did not rat­i­fy it, Agenda21 and Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment have been incor­po­rat­ed into every aspect of our gov­ern­ment through Exec­u­tive Orders, the EPA, ICLEI and oth­er reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies, bod­ies, boards and com­mis­sions. The fol­low­ing is a quote by Pelosi address­ing Con­gress in 1992:“The Earth Sum­mit Envi­ron­men­tal Lead­er­ship Act, as this is known, presents us with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to fol­low up on the impor­tant work of the Earth Sum­mit to devel­op its blue­print, Agen­da 21, for glob­al envi­ron­men­tal action. House Con­cur­rent Res­o­lu­tion 353 out­lines a com­pre­hen­sive nation­al strat­e­gy for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in accor­dance with the prin­ci­ples of Agen­da 21 to be coor­di­nat­ed under the lead­er­ship of a spe­cif­ic office at the direc­tion of a high-lev­el gov­ern­ment offi­cial.”

1993 – Pres­i­dent Clin­ton signs Exec­u­tive Order 12852 cre­at­ing the President’s Coun­cil for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, effec­tive­ly bypass­ing Con­gres­sion­al approval of Agenda21. This coun­cil was tasked with inject­ing Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment and Agenda21 into all lev­els of our gov­ern­ment nation­wide.

1994APA (Amer­i­can Plan­ning Asso­ci­a­tion) April News let­ter arti­cle by Robert Odland clear­ly links the U.S. V.P. Al Gore, Clinton’s President’s Coun­cil on Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, Agenda21, the APA, the UN, the RIO Earth Sum­mit and con­nects them direct­ly to the Bay Area Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Plan writ­ten by David Ear­ly of Urban Ecol­o­gy (aka DCE Plan­ning Cen­ter). (See arti­cle)

1996 – Richard Clarke, retired Chair­man and CEO of PG&E and Michele Per­rault, Inter­na­tion­al V.P. of the Sier­ra club (both mem­bers of the President’s Coun­cil for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment) present the idea of a region­al sus­tain­able devel­op­ment ini­tia­tive to the ABAG gen­er­al assem­bly and to oth­er NGO’s and stake­hold­er groups.

– David Ear­ly, Urban Ecol­o­gy pub­lish­es the Draft Blue­print for a Sus­tain­able Bay Area— The Final Plan (1999) is the basis for the One Bay Area Plan.

1997ABAG and sev­er­al dozen NGOs around the Bay Area sign a Com­pact form­ing the BAASC (Bay Area Alliance for Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties) (See Com­pact for Sus­tain­able Bay Area). This doc­u­ment specif­i­cal­ly states that MTC and ABAG as well as oth­er groups joined forces to imple­ment a region­al plan for a Sus­tain­able Bay Area. The doc­u­ment states “It is found­ed on the prin­ci­ple of the Three Es of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment – pros­per­ous Econ­o­my, qual­i­ty Envi­ron­ment, and social Equi­ty.” It also states “The Bay Area Alliance adopt­ed the def­i­n­i­tion of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment endorsed by the Unit­ed Nations’ World Com­mis­sion on Envi­ron­ment and Devel­op­ment.” And goes on to clear­ly point out “The Bay Area Alliance also oper­ates with­in an inter­na­tion­al con­text. The Earth Char­ter Ini­tia­tive is an out­growth of the 1992 Earth Sum­mit in Rio de Janeiro and has many prin­ci­ples sim­i­lar to the visions and com­mit­ments con­tained in this Com­pact.” Sunne McPeak rep­re­sent­ed the Busi­ness (Econ­o­my) side of the Alliance. Sunne McPeak also served on the ABAG board, Bay Area Coun­cil and she over­saw the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (Cal­trans), the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment, the Cal­i­for­nia Hous­ing Finance Agency, the Depart­ment of Real Estate and many oth­ers. She was a key play­er in push­ing the SB375 leg­is­la­tion behind the One Bay Area plan.

1999 – Five region­al agen­cies MTC, ABAG, BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Qual­i­ty Man­age­ment Dis­trict), BCDC (Bay Con­ser­va­tion and Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion) and RWQCD (Region­al Water Qual­i­ty Con­trol Board) were work­ing on Smart Growth Strate­gies

– The BAASC (Bay Area Alliance for Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Com­mu­ni­ties) plans “Region­al Liv­abil­i­ty Foot­print” Project, a pre­ferred land use pat­tern that dic­tat­ed where devel­op­ment could occur in the Bay Area

– These two groups merged, cre­at­ing the Smart Growth Strategy/Regional Liv­abil­i­ty Foot­print Project

– The Bay Area region and the BAASC were select­ed as one of four region­al pilots in the nation by the Part­ner­ship for Region­al Liv­abil­i­ty, a con­sor­tium of major foun­da­tions and fed­er­al agen­cies ded­i­cat­ed to advanc­ing “sus­tain­able devel­op­ment” and “smart growth.”

– “Final Blue­print for a Sus­tain­able Bay Area” is pre­pared by David Ear­ly of Urban Ecol­o­gy (one of the orig­i­nal stake­hold­ers in the Alliance). David Ear­ly also found­ed DCE Plan­ning, which cur­rent­ly con­sults with local cities and coun­ties to ensure the imple­men­ta­tion of the plan local­ly.

2000 – Assem­bly Speak­er Robert Hertzberg launched SCOR (Speaker’s Com­mis­sion on Region­al­ism) to pro­mote region­al­ism and col­lab­o­ra­tion across Cal­i­for­nia. Sunne McPeak rep­re­sent­ing the Bay Area Coun­cil, and many of the BAASC, NGOs and stake­hold­ers, were part of this new group. Its main pur­pose was to push for leg­is­la­tion insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing region­al­ism through­out Cal­i­for­nia. Sunne McPeak was also the ABAG Pres­i­dent.

2001 – First Round of stake­hold­er work­shops (approx­i­mate­ly 1000 par­tic­i­pants) from all 9 Bay Area coun­ties. These meet­ings were most­ly attend­ed by ABAG and MTC offi­cials, plan­ners, devel­op­ers and social / envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice advo­cates who were stake­hold­ers in the BAASC.

2002 – Sec­ond Round of stake­hold­er work­shops (approx. 1000 par­tic­i­pants). Three Region­al Sce­nar­ios are pro­posed (Cen­tral Cities, Net­work of Neigh­bor­hoods and Smarter Sub­urbs). The pre­ferred sce­nario was Net­work of Neigh­bor­hoods. ABAG devel­ops pol­i­cy-based pro­jec­tions using the Smart Growth Sce­nario as a start­ing point.

– Pub­li­ca­tion of “Shap­ing Our Future” was the result of this coali­tion.

2003ABAG Exec­u­tive Board adopts pol­i­cy-based pro­jec­tions aban­don­ing the trends-based pro­jec­tion mod­el used in the past. This approach forces devel­op­ment to occur based on the pre­ferred land use and trans­porta­tion sce­nario. MTC’s RTP (Region­al Trans­porta­tion Plan) is based on ABAG’s pro­jec­tions.

2005 – Gov­er­nor Schwarzeneg­ger pass­es Exec­u­tive Order S-3–05 to reduce GHGs in Cal­i­for­nia to 80% below 1990 lev­els by the year 2050.

2006AB32 leg­is­la­tion passed – calls for a reduc­tion in GHGs to 1990 lev­els by 2020. CARB (Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board) is appoint­ed to over­see and mon­i­tor state lev­el GHGs.

2007 – Cal­i­for­nia Cen­ter for Region­al Lead­er­ship hosts a meet­ing at which then-Assem­bly Mem­ber 11th Dis­trict DeSaulnier (co-author of SB375 with Dar­rell Stein­berg) and Van Jones both speak about push­ing region­al leg­is­la­tion. (http://calregions.urbaninsight.com/regcivic/bln/20071126/index.html)

SB375 leg­is­la­tion intro­duced (Assem­bly­man Mark DeSaulnier was one of the co-authors of SB375 with Assem­bly­man Dar­rell Stein­berg). Mark DeSaulnier served on the fol­low­ing boards ABAG, MTC, CARB and BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Qual­i­ty Man­age­ment Dis­trict) all pro­po­nents of this leg­is­la­tion.

2008SB375 leg­is­la­tion passed – Links land use to trans­porta­tion. Directs region­al agen­cies to cre­ate blue­prints focus­ing devel­op­ment in PDAs (Pri­or­i­ty Devel­op­ment Areas) next to mass tran­sit for the pur­pose of reduc­ing GHGs based on AB32 leg­is­la­tion.

2010AB2785 leg­is­la­tion passed – Cal­i­for­nia Wild­lands Act. The Cal­i­for­nia Essen­tial Habi­tat Con­nec­tiv­i­ty report spon­sored by DOT (Dept of Trans­porta­tion), Cal­Trans and DFG (Dept of Fish and Game) shows many maps of the intend­ed wildlife cor­ri­dor sys­tem through­out Cal­i­for­nia. This doc­u­ment is qui­et­ly being used by all plan­ning, trans­porta­tion agen­cies and com­mis­sions through­out Cal­i­for­nia with­out the public’s knowl­edge.

2010–2012MTC/ABAG and a host of paid stake­hold­ers and NGOs launch a series of pub­lic work­shops. This time the pub­lic real­ly engaged in oppo­si­tion to the plan. 

of cit­i­zens oppos­ing the plan at a work­shop held in the Coun­ty of Alame­da in Jan­u­ary of 2012.

As you can see, the One Bay Area Plan did not orig­i­nate as an organ­ic bot­tom-up plan, nor did it start with state-lev­el leg­is­la­tion. The President’s Coun­cil on Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment brought the idea to the region­al agen­cies. The region­al agen­cies then joined forces with local NGOs, stake­hold­ers and foun­da­tions. The plan to social­ly re-engi­neer the Bay Area was going on long before the leg­is­la­tion (SB375, AB32 and AB2785) came to pass. This first-ever region­al plan in the Bay Area is sched­uled to be adopt­ed by the JPC (Joint Pol­i­cy Com­mit­tee) of MTC and ABAG in June of 2013 and if and when it does, local juris­dic­tions will become vir­tu­al­ly irrel­e­vant. When mon­ey and pow­er are con­cen­trat­ed at high­er and high­er lev­els by unelect­ed region­al boards, bod­ies, and com­mis­sions, the end result is uncon­trolled pow­er and cor­rup­tion. Some­day the cit­i­zens of the Bay Area and through­out Cal­i­for­nia will won­der what hap­pened to their beau­ti­ful unique towns and sub­urbs and go look­ing for answers. I’m hop­ing my research will give them the answers they seek and help them hold those behind this plan account­able.

No one knows how this will end…. But region­al­ism is tak­ing over and the result is loss of local con­trol for the peo­ple. This is not about right and left any­more. This is about right and wrong.