LWV Bay Area

The League of Women Voters of the Bay Area is the Inter-League Organization of the 20 Bay Area Leagues in the 9 county region surrounding San Francisco Bay. LWVBA specializes  in dealing with regional environmental and transportation issues affecting part or all of the greater bay area. Representatives of all member leagues elect the LWVBA board and determining its policies and priorities at  its Convention held in even years.

The Monitor, published every other month by LWVBA, publishes reports on urgent regional issues and activities of key agencies.You may subscribe by mail or on-line for free.

Decision Makers is a very useful on-line directory of regional agencies, which you can download from the LWVBA website.
Reports of Bay Area
research projects and videos of the outstanding speeches presented at their Bay Area League Day are on the website.

LWV Bay Area has adopted strong policies on regional issues, read them at
LWV Bay Area Policy Positions 2012

Want to find and connect with other Leagues in other  towns? Follow this link to the League of Women Voters of California. To find Leagues in other states, follow this link to LWVUS.

EXPLORE THE BAY AREA MONITOR and get to know the Bay Area League

Dec 2015

The Bay Area League and its magazine the Bay Area Monitor are powerful but hidden treasures of our multilevel League organization. LWV Bay Area is an inter-league organization and, as such, the 20 local leagues in the 9 county region are its members. Its work is carried out by a board, with help from representatives from local leagues. It has several committees that observe and advocate on specific issues. For example, the Climate Change Team meets the 4th Wed of each month from 1:30-3 at our own office in collaboration with our local Team, chaired by Regina Beatus.

LWVBAE’s local rep or liaison is Regina Beatus, whose job is to report to our board and members on LWVBA’s activities and represent us to the BA Board. Three LWVBAE members serve on the board: Eloise Bodine is Treasurer, Sherry Smith serves as Education Fund VP and oversees the Monitor Project, Janice Blumenkrantz is Air Quality and Climate Change Director.

The Bay Area Monitor, edited by Alec MacDonald, includes thoughtful reports on key regional issues. You can read or subscribe to the on-line edition at http://bayareamonitor.org/ The Dec 2015-Jan 2016 issue includes the following articles:

The Congestion Conundrum, Keeping Microplastic out of the San Francisco Bay, Refining Refinery Regulations: Air District to Vote on New Rules, The Working Grass: Four-legged Land Management



From LWVBA History


April 2013

 1.     The League of Women Voters strongly supports the process of regional planning that has successfully coordinated land use and transportation planning for the draft Plan Bay Area. (If there are certain Priority Developments that you support in your County, it is a good idea to mention them.)

  (Background information:  The draft Plan is a good example of successful collaboration among the Bay Area’s regional agencies, primarily MTC and ABAG.  The draft Environmental Impact Report for the plan concludes that the plan will result in 100% of the Bay Area’s population growth being housed in urban areas, with no new sprawl development, during the 18-year period covered by the Plan.  Overall, over 2/3 of all regional growth by 2040 is allocated within PDAs, which are expected to accommodated 79% of new housing and 63% of new jobs.)

2.     The League places a high priority on reducing carbon and other emissions from cars and light trucks that worsen air quality and the impacts of climate change.  We are pleased that the draft Plan slightly exceeds the threshold of a 15% per capita reduction in greenhouse gases (GhG ) within the Bay Area by 2035 that is required under SB 375.

(Background information: The reduction in harmful emissions is expected to be achieved as a result of the plan’s encouragement for more compact development in areas with good transit service, in order to reduce the need to drive. The growing use of hybrid and electric vehicles in the Bay Area will also play a role in the reductions.)

3.     Draft Plan Bay Area places primary emphasis on maintaining the existing transportation system. Despite this goal, the two largest expenditures are slated to be for a BART extension to San Jose/ Santa Clara, and a regional express (HOT) lane system that will require building 120 miles of new freeway lanes.  Together, these two projects will cost more than $15 billion, as shown in the table on page 13 of the draft PLAN.

(Background information)    Neither of these top two expenditures is rated highly in terms of cost effectiveness or effectiveness in meeting goals of the draft Plan.   Neither appear as one of the top ten high-performing projects in the draft Plan, as shown in the table on page 113 of the plan.)

4.     The funds allocated to transit operations in the draft Plan do not appear to be adequate to restore the service cuts made during the past few years or to meet the needs of the Bay Area’s growing population.  Moreover, the Plan specifies that transit agencies are to be given funds as rewards  for increasing ridership and improving productivity – goals that do not take into account the diverse needs of many residents for affordable transit.  The focus on a narrow mission for transit – that of cutting operating costs – threatens the public service goal of meeting the needs of all residents.  We urge that consideration be given to shifting draft Plan funding from  high-cost, low cost/effective projects  to transit operations and transit system maintenance.  

(Background information) Transit agencies achieve their highest productivity at times of peak demand – rush hours — and in directions of peak travel – usually to job centers.  But transit services are also needed in off-peak hours and to multiple kinds of destinations to serve the needs of a diverse population.  An assessment of the draft  Plan’s impact on transportation costs for low-income households shows that these costs, which combined with housing costs under the Plan, will rise steeply; a 69% increase over current conditions. A vision for transit limited to cost-cutting is too narrow to ensure that the Bay Area will have a world-class transit system that will act as an incentive to drivers to leave their cars at home.

5.     We commend the regional agencies for their collaborative work to study the rise in sea and Bay water levels that will increase at an accelerating rate over the Plan’s duration.  We are concerned, however, that many draft Plan investments will be located in areas projected to be in flood zones  as the sea levels rise. Before new infrastructure and facilities are built in flood-prone areas, risk assessments need to be preformed and mitigation measures, together with funding mechanisms to implement them, need to be designed. 

 (Background information)  The draft Environmental Impact report for the draft Plan states that all nine Bay Area Counties are vulnerable to the rising seas. Sea levels are predicted to increase 6”, plus or minus 2” by the year 2030, and by 11”, plus or minus

3.6” by 2050.  In addition, intermittent high tides can be as much as 12” higher than median sea levels.  Unfortunately, areas most vulnerable to the rise contain some of the

Bay Area’s most significant transportation infrastructure, and the draft Plan includes projects to expand and improve many of these facilities.  Recommended mitigations range from risk assessments to new designs for infrastructure, levees, seawalls, and setbacks (for more information on recommended mitigations, see the table beginning on page 2.5-42 of the draft EIR.  All proposed projects in vulnerable areas need to be evaluated for their designs and their needs for mitigation.

6.     Four alternatives to the “preferred” draft Plan were evaluated as part of the draft EIR, and several among them include elements that perform somewhat better than the draft Plan.  For example, the “Equity, Environment, and Jobs (EEJ)” alternative is judged the “environmentally preferred alternative,” and the “Transit Priority Focus (TPF)” alternative is judged superior for transportation. We strongly urge that the elements of the alternatives that offer superior benefits to the environment, provide robust incentives for affordable housing, and enhance the services of the transit systems be included in the draft Plan .

(Background information)  The alternatives studied, in addition to those named above, are the following: the “No Project ” (NP),  which continues existing policies with some expansion of urban growth boundaries;  the “Network of Communities” (NC),  which features less compact land uses than the draft Plan and an increased Bay Bridge toll for subsidies to achieve the desired land uses.  The measures mentioned above —  the Environment, Equity, and Jobs (EEJ),  calls for encouraging more low-income housing development through zoning changes , more funds for transit services, the elimination of all road expansions, and a tax on vehicle miles traveled;  the Transit Preference Focus (TPF), calls for upzoning high quality transit areas, more funding for transit and less for the express lane network, and a new development fee in areas with high vehicle miles of travel.  Differences between results of the alternatives  and the draft Plan are all within a few percentage points, with slightly better performances from the EEJ and TPF Plans in areas such as reductions in particulate matter emissions, fewer injuries and fatalities from collisions, and more walking or biking.  A comparison of the results of each alternative is shown on page 116 of the draft Plan.