climate change

Mayors of SF, SJ Push Back on Parts of Bay Area Climate Plan

Tony Avelar/Invision/AP

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Wednesday joined Bay Area state leaders in raising concerns about the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Plan Bay Area 2050, a comprehensive plan that aims to reduce the region's greenhouse gas emissions.

MTC officials approved the final plan late last month, including in it a mandate requiring that all large offices with 25 employees or more have at least 60 percent of its employees work from home on any given day.

The move would drastically reduce traffic and cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly, according to MTC officials.

However, on Wednesday, the 15 members of the Bay Area delegation to the California State Legislature sent a letter to the MTC raising concerns regarding the work from home mandate.

"While requiring or encouraging work from home during the pandemic makes sense, we do not agree that a work-from-home mandate is a viable or appropriate long-term strategy for the Bay Area," read the letter, addressed to MTC Chair Scott Haggerty.

According to the lawmakers, which include state Senators Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner among others, the mandate could result in a loss of revenue for the Bay Area's public transit systems. That, they said, would disproportionately affect seniors, youth and others who rely on public transportation.

Additionally, the mandate undermines walkable neighborhood and housing density goals.

"This mandate would likely result in people leaving the region or moving further from their workplace or from transit that can transport them to their workplace," the letter continued. "Policies that MTC pursues to enable employees to work from home must be designed to ensure that such policies do not result in an increase in (greenhouse gas) emission, a decrease in transit ridership and transit funding, or inequitable outcomes."

According to both Liccardo and Breed, although both cities have been working with the MTC on the proposal, the two mayors share the lawmakers' sentiments.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the pair said, "As the mayors of the two largest cities in the Bay Area, we appreciate the work the Metropolitan Transportation Commission staff have committed to developing and completing the Plan Bay Area 2050 Blueprint that will help us meet our collective climate goals. We also acknowledge Plan Bay Area's responsibility to meet state emissions reduction targets with a fiscally constrained transportation investment plan -- especially given the more recent impacts of COVID-19 on our respective communities.

"While we support many of the innovative and bold strategies MTC has developed to help address our shared transportation challenges and meet our emissions reduction targets, we remain concerned about the telecommute mandate and cannot support it as currently drafted," the joint statement said. "We look forward to working with MTC staff, and our colleagues, on refining this strategy and considering alternatives that allow us to equitably meet our (greenhouse gas) reduction target and support the vitality of our downtowns."

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