ABAG E-News: July 2023

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Association of Bay Area Governments

General Assembly Returns In-Person; Celebrates 60 Years

Ezra Rapport

Friday, June 16, marked the first in-person General Assembly meeting since 2019 (view photos of the event). A quorum of representatives from the Bay Area’s nine counties and 101 member cities convened to pass the 2023-2024 budget. Delegates attending exceeded quorum with 68 city and town representatives and six county representatives.

The business meeting was followed by a two-part conference: Prosperity and the Power of Place in the Bay Area.

Tracy Hadden Loh, a Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Transformative Placemaking, set the stage by highlighting the power of place and the importance of regional alignment in an uncertain world still recovering from the COVID pandemic. Her keynote was followed by a discussion with ABAG President Jesse Arreguin and Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman.

Part two of the conference – Bay Area Case Studies: Local Efforts that Drive Regional Prosperity – highlighted how communities around the Bay Area are working to bring about inclusive economic prosperity. Panelists included Chris Rico, President and CEO, Solano County Economic Development Council; Diane Burgis, Contra Costa Supervisor; Lily Mei, Fremont Mayor; and Todd Pray, Ph.D., Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The day concluded with a convivial celebration of ABAG’s diamond anniversary, with cake cut by President Arreguin. Festivities to commemorate ABAG’s 1961 founding were postponed due to Covid protocols in June 2021 and again in June 2022.

View the recording of the meeting and other materials.

Plan Bay Area 2050+ Kickoff & Summer Engagement

Following the formal kick-off of Plan Bay Area 2050+ on Friday, July 14, at the Joint MTC Planning Committee with the ABAG Administrative Committee, the first round of engagement will start to shape the Plan’s development.

Pop-up workshops will be held throughout the nine-county region from late July through early September at locations such as farmers markets, community colleges, street festivals, fairs and more. An online/SMS survey will allow the public to provide input when they choose. For more details on pop-up workshop dates and locations, please visit planbayarea.org and sign up for the Plan Bay Area mailing list.

Engagement opportunities for key partners and stakeholders, including federal, state, regional, county, local and Tribal governments are available, as follows:

  • Digital workshop, Wednesday, August 30
  • In-person workshop, Thursday, September 7, at ABAG and MTC, 375 Beale Street, San Francisco
  • Technical webinar, Thursday, September 14.

Additional details will be shared in the coming weeks and more information will be available on planbayarea.org.

As a part of the PBA 2050+ effort, local governments may nominate new Priority Development Areas (PDA) or modify the boundaries of existing PDAs. The PDA nomination form can be downloaded here. The deadline to submit a nomination is July 31, 2023.

BAHFA Eyes $10-20 Billion General Obligation Bond in November 2024

The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) and ABAG are preparing for a potential $10 billion to $20 billion regional general obligation bond for housing on the 2024 ballot. If this measure is successful, the funds could help build and preserve between 40,000 to 80,000 affordable homes across the nine-county region. The law authorizing the bond measure requires that 80 percent of the funds be returned directly to each county and a handful of cities in proportion to their contributions towards the bond.

Staff is developing an expenditure plan, subject to approval by the ABAG Executive Board and BAHFA, for the regionally administered 20 percent of funds. An overview of the statutory framework for the regional housing bond and initial plans for a 2024 measure are available here. At the July 12 meeting of the ABAG Housing Committee and the BAHFA Oversight Committee, staff will introduce a set of policy decisions for the regional funds that are up for discussion this summer, with action slated for October. Materials will be posted here prior to the meeting.

To get more information, sign up for the BAHFA mailing list here. Please contact Kate Hartley, BAHFA’s Director, with any questions or comments.

New Affordable Housing Portal Launches for Bay Area

At the end of June, BAHFA launched the Doorway Housing Portal, a hub to easily find affordable housing in the Bay Area. The first-of-its-kind regional online portal was developed with pro bono support from Google.org Fellows, a team that includes Google researchers, designers, product managers and software engineers.

The need for affordable housing is ever growing, and it’s estimated that the Bay Area will need 180,000 more affordable homes by 2031 to meet demand. This highlights the significant need to build an efficient platform to connect housing seekers and available units across the region – particularly since many Bay Area households are multi-jurisdictional. A subsequent release of the Doorway Housing Portal is planned for next spring which have more comprehensive listings and enable housing seekers to immediately determine their eligibility and apply through a common application. View the full press release here.

Priority Conservation Area Refresh

An Interim Memo will provide updated information on the Priority Conservation Area (PCA) Refresh at the July Executive Board meeting. The Memo highlights the existing PCA program strengths and weaknesses along with program draft goals and objectives. With this milestone complete, the project pivots to considering possible updates to the PCA framework. A workshop for partners and stakeholders to discuss the future PCA framework is planned for later this summer. Sign up for the PCA mailing list to receive additional information.

Priority Sites Pilot Program Highlighted

As noted previously, ABAG and MTC launched the Priority Sites Pilot Program to support implementation of Plan Bay Area 2050 by identifying and supporting major reuse projects on public land or malls/office parks that deliver permanently affordable homes, community-serving amenities, and improved connectivity. Priority Sites may be inside of an existing Priority Development Area (PDA), or part of an expanded or new PDA nominated concurrently as part of the Plan Bay Area 2050+ process. Visit the Priority Sites webpage to learn more. Priority Sites nominations are due by September 30, 2023. Start a nomination here. Direct any questions to Mark Shorett.

 SFEP-led Project Funding to Start Construction

A first-of-its-kind horizontal levee project providing a host of ecological benefits — led by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and the city of Palo Alto — has received $2.1 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for construction in Fall 2024.

Horizontal levees use a gently vegetated slope to provide multiple benefits including wave mitigation, enhancement of transitional habitat between tidal wetlands and terrestrial uplands and filtering treated wastewater.

The project will use highly treated wastewater from the Regional Water Quality Control Plant in Palo Alto to irrigate a vegetated horizontal levee prior to release into San Francisco Bay. The project will be the first in the region to receive treated wastewater for irrigation prior to discharge via shallow surface/subsurface seepage to the bay.

"This project represents a major step forward for innovative design and nature-based solutions in the SF Bay," said Heidi Nutters, Senior Program Manager with the Estuary Partnership. "It highlights our ability to co-create solutions inspired by nature and we are excited to be part of the work."

Among the project’s objectives:

  • Adapt to sea level rise by providing a transitional slope that will support sediment growth and accumulation.
  • Improve and restore habitat along the harbor marsh perimeter for native species, while maintaining and providing opportunities for low-impact recreation and public engagement with nature.
  • Integrate a horizontal levee on the bayfront of a traditional flood control levee to slow wave action and provide vegetative protection for the levee’s core.

The leading-edge project is part of the Transforming Urban Water Initiative.

The San Francisco Estuary Partnership has worked on the project since 2018 in close partnership with the City of Palo Alto and a broad range of community partners, including Save The Bay, Environmental Volunteers, Nuestra Casa and others. Funders include U.S. EPA Region 9, City of Palo Alto and the State Coastal Conservancy.

In all, the partnership received $4.3 million from the EPA that will be used to promote a suite of nature-based solutions, from planning and design to implementation and monitoring, for communities across the San Francisco Bay area.

BayRENABAG, MTC launch Bay Area Housing & Land Use Viewer

ABAG and MTC have launched the Bay Area Housing and Land Use Viewer, a web-based mapping tool created to provide the public with access to data related to housing, land use, transportation, equity and the environment. This is the first time this level of detail has been available in one place and publicly accessible on the agency website.

This tool gives a wide audience the ability to visualize and download robust data for the San Francisco Bay Area. The site consolidates multiple data points from sources including federal, state, and local jurisdictions as well as parcel-level data. All these sources are updated regularly. The tool includes interactive mapping options so users can explore data down to individual properties – including details on over two million parcels in the region.

Providing access to standardized and robust data helps individuals and organizations easily find information about housing and land use subjects that are most important to them. For example, the tool can show areas that are:

  • Identified by the state as having the highest access to opportunity
  • Selected locally as likely to develop with housing by 2031
  • Related to Priority Development Areas and Transit Oriented Communities
  • Recognized at risk for wildfire, sea level rise or seismic activity
  • Sorted by household type and median income.

The tool also gives users the ability to quickly explore the sites that Bay Area jurisdictions have prioritized for housing in their state-mandated Housing Elements since 2007. Even if a site isn’t included in a local Housing Element, users can still look at many site characteristics with the tool.

BayREN Business FLEXmarket Empowers Small Businesses to Save

The Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) is announcing its Business FLEXmarket rebate program designed to support eligible small businesses across the nine Bay Area counties.

Developed in partnership with Recurve, county representatives, and other stakeholders, this initiative is designed to offer small businesses an opportunity to significantly reduce their energy expenses and reinvest the savings into their operations.

“As the economic recovery from the pandemic continues, energy efficiency projects are an opportunity to reduce utility bills for businesses,” said Cara Bautista-Rao, program manager for the BayREN Business FLEXmarket. “The program gives contractors and businesses more flexibility to install energy efficiency projects that deliver deep energy savings.”

What sets this program apart is that incentive payments are directly tied to the actual energy savings achieved. For business owners, actual energy savings mean actual reductions in utility costs. For contractors, they can earn even more compared to traditional rebate programs.

Traditionally, many businesses face barriers to participating in incentive programs due to lack of capacity, capital, and other reasons. With the BayREN Business FLEXmarket, these challenges are being overcome. By offering generous rebates for reducing energy consumption, this groundbreaking initiative aims to deliver unprecedented energy savings for businesses that have been underserved in the past, while supporting California's ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. Visit www.demandflexmarket.com to learn more.

BayREN is a local government coalition of all nine Bay Area counties, led by ABAG, partnering to promote resource efficiency at the regional level, focusing on energy, water and greenhouse gas reduction. BayREN offers resource efficiency programs for residents and small businesses. To learn more, visit: www.bayren.org/rebates-financing.

San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Measure AA 2023 Grant Round is Open

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority's latest grant round is open. The Authority can fund proposals that are:

  • Habitat projects that aim to restore, protect, or enhance natural habitats on the shoreline in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Flood management projects that are part of habitat projects
  • Public access projects that will provide or improve access or recreational amenities that are part of habitat projects.

The Authority is particularly interested in supporting projects that address equity and include benefits to economically disadvantaged communities and California Native American Tribes.

Full proposals are due October 6, 2023. Visit the Restoration Authority's Grants Page for application materials. Contact grants@sfbayrestore.org with any questions.

Measure AA Community Grants Program
The Authority's Community Grants Program is a separate track for eligible projects led by community-based organizations in economically disadvantaged communities. The Program has been accepting applications on a rolling basis since 2020. Please view the Restoration Authority's Community Grants Page for more information. For any questions, contact grants@sfbayrestore.org.

Register for the Measure AA 2023 Grant Round and Community Grants Webinar

To learn more about the 2023 Grant Round and Community Grants Program, attend the webinar on Thursday, July 25, 2023, from 2 – 3 p.m. Register here.

Contact grants@sfbayrestore.org with any questions.


View ABAG Executive Board and Committee meeting information here.