Lets stay Local !

Supporting local interests includes ensuring that our local zoning code stays in our control.

Supporting local interests includes ensuring that our local zoning code stays in our control.


by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning


Plan Bay Area 2050 is a long-range plan charting the course for the future of the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. 

This 30-year plan is authored by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – none of whose members are directly elected by the eight million residents of the 101 cities. 

Yet these political appointees will make major decisions about the future of your city and your family in four critical areas: 

Transportation Housing Environment Economy 

 Are you confident in MTC – an organization known for scheduling and service snafus, cost overruns, and worsening congestion – to plan your future? 

 MTC can barely manage transportation. Who benefits from also putting it in charge of housing, the environment and our economy? 

 Is it reasonable to assume, in times of rapid change, that MTC can craft a sustainable, economically viable 30-year plan? 

Are you willing to give up local control and local tax dollars to politically-appointed bureaucrats to dictate how you live? 


Public input gathered at pop-up events cannot be relied on for making major decisions:

  • Silicon Valley cities like Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos – where problems are worst – are excluded!

  • Random comments on Post-It notes next to smiley or frowning faces is not a scientific method for gathering meaningful data.

  • Participation depends on who shows up at farmers markets and local events. This process excludes collective community discussion, replacing it with decisions made by politicians and special interest groups behind closed doors.

Consider the facts …

  • MTC/ABAG plans are not working for most Bay Area residents. ABAG’s Regional Plan 1970-1990 and 2013 Plan Bay Area did not save us from unsustainable growth, congestion, inadequate public transit, unaffordable housing, job loss and huge income gaps.

  • We pay a high price for MTC/ABAG. In 2018, total salaries with benefits for 333 employees totaled $43.3 million. https://tinyurl.com/y6exsjld Plan Bay Area’s 2050 “Blueprint” anticipates raising $100 billion in new revenues. https://tinyurl.com/y3yfwse8

No one knows what the world will look like in 30 years. We need more realistic plans to get us through the next five.

Tell ABAG to incorporate transparency and

meaningful public engagement in the planning process. Send your comments to

Dave Vautin dvautin@bayareametro.gov and Ursula Vogler uvogler@bayareametro.gov

For more information:


MTC/ABAG is planning Pop-Up Events with Post-It Notes to Gather Input

If you can, please show up at a Pop-Up event, take notes and take notes on the reporting form.

To obtain a pdf of the Report Form, please click  here .

To obtain a pdf of the Report Form, please click here.


LOCAL ZonING CODE: what does it do for us?

The zoning code represents the collective wisdom of our elected representatives over years of deliberative consideration regarding how to lay out our city: commercial and residential districts and, for example, how setback and height limitations buffer each from the other.


Regardless of where you live, in a single family home or in a condominium near downtown, all residents deserve to be heard regarding whether and how our neighborhoods are developed. It’s just good representative democracy that makes the best use of local expertise accumulated over years of considered decision making guided by resident input. Years of smart decisions determining where high density and affordable housing can be accommodated should not be ignored.

The high market prices of housing does indeed have recognized and significant adverse effects on our city and state. Residents in Los Altos almost universally understand and feel the pain of teachers, police and other service providers that endure hour-long commutes from areas with affordable housing that exist well beyond the urbanized regions of the Bay Area.

But to react by prohibiting residents from having a say regarding local zoning in order to increase the housing stock denies residents their right to representation about their property and their city. Furthermore, residents are saying not only do they want to retain local control of how their neighborhoods are developed, but they are becoming aware of the negative impact of haphazard growth to their property values.

A better approach that brings all parties to the table is needed. We seek to educate residents about the numerous proposed bills in the state senate and assembly that, if passed, will potentially affect the future of their home, their city, and the Bay Area.

Livable California is an organization that promotes local control, see more about them here: www.livablecalifornia.org 

A Better Way Forward to House California is a new Political Action Committee (PAC), formed to challenge housing bills (like SB50, SB592, SB330) that would block or limit local zoning control and could put an end to single-family neighborhoods. www.sustainablecommunitiesinitiative.org

Find an LAR prepared list here of the top most impactful legislative activities happening now.


August 27, 2019

Interviewed on “1A Across America”

Hello Friends of Minneapolis for Everyone,

NPR’s “1A Across America” radio crew was in Minneapolis this past week doing interviews for a show on the national affordable housing problem.

It will air from the State Fair on MPR on Wednesday, Aug 28 at 10 a.m.

The show will include a section on the Minneapolis 2040 Plan, with Rebecca Arons of Smart Growth Minneapolis, and Lisa McDonald of Minneapolis for Everyone, talking about how the plan is a massive and reckless experiment in land deregulation, enacted without research or precedent, that puts the city at risk.

You can also hear the show online at MPR. The 1A broadcast schedule can be found HERE..

As the plan has proceeded and development has been occurring we are discovering every day the problems with the plan and articles and studies are coming out supporting our concerns and showing the holes in the plan. These include:

Environmental Risks 

· The City refused to study the environmental effects of up zoning the entire city (as other cities have, for much smaller projects), and went to court to avoid having to do so. Such a massive up zoning, unprecedented in North America, should be based on data and science.

· A study by an independent environmental engineering firm shows the plan will likely negatively affect lakes and trees, and overtax infrastructure. It will contribute to the creation of an urban heat island, with all its risks for environmental and human health.

· Minneapolis is already experiencing negative effects of climate change: Increased heat and heavier rainfalls have resulted in fish kills, and — for the first time — beaches were closed because people got sick from E.coli in city lakes.

Much of the City’s storm-water management infrastructure was designed to a 1960’s standard and is already overworked with recent record rains producing flash floods. Our infrastructure isn’t equipped to handle increased density and impervious surfaces, and the plan does not anticipate or budget for it.

Meanwhile, the urban tree canopy has been slowly but steadily shrinking because of development, tree disease and weather events (tornadoes and derecho winds); it has fallen to 29%, while the goal is 40%. This is an urban heat island in the making.
Meanwhile, the urban tree canopy has been slowly but steadily shrinking because of development, tree disease and weather events (tornadoes and derecho winds); it has fallen to 29%, while the goal is 40%. This is an urban heat island in the making.

Housing Risks 

· A major goal of the plan is to create greater housing affordability by increasing density. But there are no statistics to show that more units and greater density lead to greater affordability. The only available statistics say that if it were to happen, it would take at least 20 years.

· Developers will go for the “low-hanging fruit” — thus gentrifying areas that, with help, could otherwise become areas of “naturally occurring affordable housing” (NOAH). Ironically, the homes most economical for developers to demolish in order to build multi-unit buildings are those first-time homeowners can afford.

· Developers will not build in parts of the city that need affordable housing. National real estate journals such as Norada say Minneapolis is one of the best cities to invest in: "Minneapolis appreciation rates continue to be some of the highest in the U.S. at 8.19%, which is higher than appreciation rates in 80.34% of the nation." Premium opportunities will be found in the more affluent, southern half of Minneapolis — not the parts that need affordable housing. So that is where developers are steered to build, and they will build lucrative market rate rental units, not affordable housing.

· Affordable housing requires non-profit subsidies. The plan fails to provide for that. To address this failure, in January the City said that if developers increase the percentage of affordable housing in their buildings, they can in exchange get variances, zoning amendments and density increases. This policy, called “inclusionary zoning,” isn’t working. Between January and June, only one project was eligible, and it produced only seven affordable units. And developers are finding ways to work around the rules to avoid triggering the inclusionary zoning requirement. (See Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Blog at VOX.MN)

Risks the welfare of families 

· The plan will drive larger families, including families of color and immigrant families, out of the city by mandating reduced parking and promoting small apartments suitable for single people and childless couples. Increasingly, immigrants and families of color are moving to the first-ring suburbs, where they can afford family homes.

· Even though the City says a primary aim of the plan is to address racial disparities, it did not invite organizations such as NAACP into its planning discussions. In fact, people of color have been notably absent in testifying in favor of the plan at City Hall.

Risks the City’s financial future 

· Even though homeownership is the traditional path to building generational wealth for the middle class, the plan discourages homeownership in favor of rental. Both Heather Worthington, the head of long-range planning, and City Council President Lisa Bender have frequently claimed— without evidence — that homeownership is not a good vehicle for wealth building, and therefore the 2040 plan doesn’t encourage it. Currently, for every ownership unit being built, 8.5 rental units are being built. Minneapolis Planning likes to describe the city as “majority renter.”

· Handing over 30% to 50% of family income to corporations creates a treadmill of poverty. The plan means that potential homeowners will have to compete with investors, forever closing the door to home ownership.

· As fewer families develop wealth through homeownership, and as more global investors own Minneapolis property, we will become a city of debtors, and wealth will drain out of the city. The plan provides no research or economic model to the contrary.

· The city needs to prioritize new ownership development over rental development to build wealth for residents — and for the community as a whole.

We will continue to update you on new studies and environmental issues in our emails.

Your team from MinneapolisforEveryone.org.

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