Working for Complete Streets in the Bay Area

Marty MartinezOn May 17, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved the One Bay Area Grant program to provide $800 million more than four years to cities and counties for transportation projects. As part of the OBAG program, any city or county that receives money must ensure they are implementing Complete Streets policies, either by updating their general plan circulation element, or by passing a Complete Streets resolution that meets minimum criteria.

The minimum criteria and a sample resolution were provided by MTC and can be found here. The nine required elements include ensuring streets serve all users, that Complete Streets is implemented through all relevant city/county departments and ensuring an evaluation plan. 

I’m really excited about the possibility that because of this requirement, we will have new Complete Streets policy resolutions sprouting up and down the Bay Area. Ideally, we want to move to a space in which all 101 local jurisdictions – all the cities and nine counties of the Bay Area – have policies on their books.

And MTC’s inclusion of minimum criteria is also important. That will help ensure that not only will there be a proliferation of new policies, but that the policies will be strong and meaningful for increasing active transportation. One thing advocates for active transportation will have to be vigilant on is making sure MTC and the county Congestion Management Agencies (CMAs), who will share an enforcement role with MTC, monitor to ensure the Complete Streets policy resolutions in fact meet the minimum criteria. There could be a number of Complete Streets resolutions that are already on the books in some cities or counties that could be great in some ways, but deficient in others, and not actually include all the required elements. But it’s a simple matter to pass or alter a policy resolutions, so local jurisdictions hopefully will be able to speedily and easily comply with MTC’s requirements.

We’ve had a number of amazing partners in our work advocating and advising MTC on how best to increase active transportation. ChangeLab Solutions and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition are two of those partners. We worked with them to develop a model Complete Streets policy resolution that can be used to help counties and cities in developing their policies.

The Complete Streets policy requirements are in addition to the inclusion of $20 million for Safe Routes to School funding at the regional level, which was also included in the One Bay Area Grant. Together, these two policy elements show a regional commitment to active transportation and we hope we can make real improvements in the health and well-being of parents and children throughout the Bay Area with these changes.