BATWG’s Response to the Proposed CASA Compact

Mr. David Rabbitt, President of ABAG
Mr. Greg Scharff, Vice President of ABAG

Dear Mr. Rabbitt and Mr. Scharff:

Your help in making certain that this BATWG position reaches all members of the ABAG General Assembly would be much appreciated. Thank you!

BATWG opposes the CASA Compact in its present form for the following reasons:

The CASA Compact is based upon the false premise that piling high-density housing around bus stops and rail stations will substantially increase transit use and therefore materially decrease freeway backups and urban congestion. Less than 5% of the Bay Area’s total trips are transit commute trips. Therefore, even if housing close to bus stops and train stations caused some commuters to switch to transit, it wouldn’t count for much. The elephants in the closet are a.) the significant  number of commuters who will continue to drive and b.) the non-commuters, which in the Bay Area account for at least 95% of total daily trips,who will most certainly also continue to drive. Will those rushing their kids to pre-schools and soccer matches, or seeing their doctors, or running errands or heading for Big Box stores exchange their car trips for a series of bus and train trips? No, they will not. Transit-oriented housing will neither significantly increase transit use or materially reduce automobile use.  As have been outlined elsewhere in these pages, there are other much more practical ways of achieving these ends.

casacompactWhile a regional approach to housing has value, it’s clear that the primary purpose of the CASA Compact as written is to facilitate a massive shift in legislative and executive power from elected local officials to a group of 18 appointed individuals, often selected in back rooms in violation of the Brown Act and/or the State legislation that established MTC in 1970. (Refer to Government Code Sec. 66503 b). If such powers are to be vested in a single regional group, then each of its voting members should be duly voted into office by the electorates of his or her respective counties. Giving local land use and planning powers over to an insulated and insular appointive Board like the MTC Board would be a travesty.

The Compact as written should go back to the drawing board.

Best Regards,

Gerald Cauthen
President, BATWG

This article was featured in Newsletter Issue 9. Click here to go back to the newsletter.