Nicole Cheng

  • Onward with Implementation: How we’re integrating water, land-use and equity in the San Francisco Bay Area

    In August 2020, ClimatePlan released a new report -  Overarching Principles to Better Integrate Water and Land-use in the San Francisco Bay Area. [Thank you again to the water agencies, non-profits, and our partners at MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission), San Francisco Estuary partnership, and Local Government Commission for your wisdom and expertise].  Since the release of the report, we have been moving forward with implementing the principles laid out in the report. I have been working with MTC and ACWD (Alameda County Water District) to refine the implementation plan of Plan Bay Area 2050--the Bay Area’s regional transportation plan-- and have been developing a policy-framework to provide local guidance to implementing the strategies.  I have also been assessing collaboratives and key partnerships within the Bay Area to find spaces to develop this policy-framework.  

    The Issues at Hand: New Report Summary and Centering New Context

    Our new report highlights how water affordability, housing affordability, vulnerability to climate change, and transportation challenges intersect. 

    Housing unaffordability is exacerbated by the challenges of high transportation costs and water costs. This is because both add an additional burden for low income households, and Black and Latinx communities. These communities have been underinvested in because of the legacy of redlining, disinvestment, and systemic racism. It is well known that the current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how many of these communities are not able to comfortably meet basic needs of housing and water. The pandemic has also exacerbated water and housing affordability challenges, by bringing on debt: marginalized and low income residents are now unsure of how much money they owe from their suspended rent and water bills.

    Moreover, these communities are more likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change because they are under-resourced. Preparing for climate change will require infrastructure upgrades to account for flooding and droughts, a financial burden that would mostly fall on residents at this moment. MTC, ABAG, and ACWD recognize these problems, and are taking vital steps towards better integrating water into land-use planning.

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