Contra Costa County Transportation and Land Use Planning

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When Contra Costa County decided it wanted to put a transportation sales tax on the 2016 ballot, it produced a Draft 2014 CCTA Countywide Comprehensive Transportation Plan. TRANSDEF submitted extensive comments on the Plan, commending it as containing some forward-looking policy, but overall asserting that the good policy was window dressing, and that its project list represented outmoded thinking.

The Transportation Agency, CCTA, then published a draft EIR. TRANSDEF’s
comments described the EIR as “the most legally inadequate CEQA document TRANSDEF has ever seen.”

In response to CCTA’s Notice of Preparation of a new EIR for the Countywide Plan, TRANSDEF submitted its
comments, stressing the necessity of capping the growth in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), to not exacerbate the dual challenges of climate change (the need to not increase GHG emissions) and congestion (the reality that it is no longer feasible to widen roadways to accommodate more traffic).

Possibly as a result of our forthright criticisms, CCTA appointed TRANSDEF to its [Sales Tax] Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee. As part of the consensus-building process, TRANSDEF submitted its
Vision for the Expenditure Plan. TRANSDEF participated in a public interest coalition, along with Sierra Club, Greenbelt Alliance, Save Mount Diablo, Public Advocates and many other groups. The coalition submitted a comprehensive Community Vision, a new approach to the challenges of transforming suburbs into sustainable places to live and work. (See page 3 for a list of coalition partners.)

As the sales tax process proceeded without addressing the issues raised by our coalition, TRANSDEF sent a
letter to the CCTA Board, asking it to shut down the process, because it was heading in a fundamentally unacceptable direction. This letter identifies some of the key reasons TRANSDEF finds the Measure unacceptable, and why it voted to formally oppose it.

In many ways, Contra Costa is the most suburban of Bay Area counties. It is an important test case for how such areas will cope with the need to fundamentally change the assumptions about how to travel, now that the single-occupant vehicle is no longer a fast and reliable means of transport. Developing an educational program and generating community-wide recognition of current realities are the key to not getting stuck--both literally and figuratively.