ABAG Briefing


Association of Bay Area Governments

ABAG Mourns Passing of Former Executive Director Ezra Rapport

Ezra Rapport

Ezra Rapport, who served as ABAG Executive Director from 2010 to 2016 and as Deputy Executive Director from 2008 to 2010, died Oct. 6 at his Oakland home after an 11-year battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

During his years at ABAG, Mr. Rapport spearheaded development of the regional planning framework that culminated in the 2013 adoption of the original Plan Bay Area and oversaw the ABAG units work on energy efficiency, clean water supply, climate adaptation and disaster resilience, risk management, local finance, trail management, open space and economic development.



$103 Million in State Grant Funding for Cities, Towns and Counties — Investing in Implementation of Regional Plans and Projects

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is working to get $103 million in funding for transformative planning and implementation activities to advance the Plan Bay Area 2050 Growth framework. This includes programs such as the Priority Production Area Pilot program and to continue the Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program work. Some funding would provide direct grants to cities, towns and counties for projects and programs. All proposed programs are in support of accelerating infill development that facilitates housing supply, choice and affordability; reducing VMT; and affirmatively furthering fair housing.

The Regional Early Action Planning Grant Program of 2021 (REAP 2.0) has been released by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), in collaboration with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) and the State Air Resources Board (CARB). The notice of grant awards is expected in early 2023.


Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program

Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program

RHTA, funded by a $24 million state REAP (REAP 1.0) grant from HCD, has delivered more than 25 trainings and more than 150 pieces of technical assistance since its launch in 2020. RHTA provides cost savings for cities, towns and counties through shared consultant services, tools and resources. Some of these more recent trainings, technical assistance work products and tools are described below.

Subgrants Available for Housing Element Work
Find out more about the subgrants available from the RHTA program for local governments to do Housing Element work. Here’s a list of all the awards, see if your jurisdiction has funding available. Send questions to HousingTA@BayAreaMetro.gov

Need Consultant Assistance with Public Meetings?
Free Communications and Public Engagement Services Still Available
Direct, customized community engagement and communications support to local planners and elected officials are available. For more information and to access these services, please email housingTA@bayareametro.gov with a brief description of the support you need and the timing. ABAG covers the cost of eligible services, which a consulting firm provides free of charge to local jurisdictions.

Bay Area Housing Element Status Report
ABAG is tracking the submission of Bay Area draft Housing Elements, as well as corresponding HCD comments. Over half of the Bay Area’s 109 cities, towns and counties had submitted drafts to HCD by the start of October, and seven HCD comment letters have been released. Downloadable copies of the submitted draft Housing Elements and HCD comment letters are available.

Analysis of Current HCD Comment Letters on Bay Area Draft Housing Elements
To date, HCD comments in the Bay Area reflect trends in other regions (review an analysis of other regions’ comments). The top areas of concern for HCD remain Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), site inventories and public engagement. Tailored technical assistance is available on each of these topics. Any local government staff who are unaware that the planning collaborative consultant is available are invited to contact housingTA@bayareametro.gov with questions about accessing regional resources.

Webinar: “How to Address HCD Comments for Certification”
This recent webinar with local planners from the Southern California and Sacramento regions is a discussion on how they responded to HCD comments and got their Housing Elements certified. A recording of the webinar is available online, along with slide presentations. Brief case studies of four cities that attained certification: Citrus Heights, Irvine, Long Beach and Westlake Village also are available.

Webinar: “Making it Possible: Convening on SB 9 and Middle Housing” 
Bay Area planners and housing practitioners joined speakers from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), planning departments in the Bay Area and San Diego, and other housing professionals Sept. 13 to talk about ADUs, state housing legislation and the 6th Cycle Housing Element at Best Practices to Implement SB 9 and Missing Middle Housing. This gathering was co-hosted by ABAG’s Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program, the Terner Center for Housing Innovation and the San Francisco Foundation.

This daylong conversation addressed missing middle housing strategies and HCD’s approach to this and future Housing Element Cycles, as well as SB 9 and effective strategies for creating small-scale housing developments that advance equity. The recording of the webinar and presentation slides are available.

Housing Element Site Selection (HESS) Tool
The Realistic Capacity module within the HESS Tool is available to support cities, towns and counties with site capacity calculations in their Housing Element Site Inventories. Data from local jurisdictions’ Annual Progress Reports, Zoning Ordinances and General Plans has been collected and analyzed to adjust the theoretical maximum capacity of sites to more accurately reflect historical building trends. Users of the HESS Tool can generate realistic capacity reports prepopulated with this data, which can then be submitted to HCD as supportive documentation. Additionally, HESS contains an AFFH module that enables local governments to evaluate sites against a range of fair-housing-related data layers.

Contact Joshua Croff (jcroff@bayareametro.gov) with jurisdiction-specific questions and requests, including office hours and bulk data updates requests.


Additional Planning Programs and Activities

Sea Level Rise Adaptation Funding and Investment Framework
The Sea Level Rise Adaptation Funding and Investment Framework is a project co-led by MTC-ABAG and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Building on prior research to advance our understanding of what it will cost the region to adapt to sea level rise, the project explores the most equitable means to raise new revenues to address the funding gap. Meetings with local staff were held in late August and early September to receive feedback on the analysis thus far. This opportunity allowed local governments to review our regional understanding of local adaptation plans and projects.

Contact Rachael Hartofelis at rhartofelis@bayareametro.gov to express interest or ask questions.

New Regional “Priority Sites” Pilot Program
This fall, ABAG-MTC expect to launch a Priority Sites Pilot Program to support implementation of local Housing Elements, Priority Development Area plans and Plan Bay Area 2050. The pilot will provide funding and expertise to advance major reuse projects on public land or at shopping malls or office parks as long as the projects deliver permanently affordable homes, community-serving amenities, and improved connectivity. The Priority Sites concept paper was released in a webinar and the recording is available here. MTC-ABAG staff will then engage with local government staff to discuss program design details and a Call for Projects will be released later.

For more information, contact Mark Shorett at mshorett@bayareametro.gov.

Priority Production Area Pilot Grant Program
Summer 2022 saw the ABAG-MTC staff engaging jurisdictions with adopted Priority Production Areas (PPAs) and with other stakeholders to help shape an anticipated pilot grant program. Staff expects to bring the grant program to the MTC Commission for approval in fall 2022, with a call for projects in winter 2022-23. Contact Ada Chan at achan@bayareametro.gov with any questions.


San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Recent Release of the 2022 San Francisco Estuary Blueprint Addresses Issues – Unprecedented Federal Funding Available
Sea level rise, water quality and habitat protection are among the issues addressed in the 2022 San Francisco Estuary Blueprint released by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, mapping how San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be managed over the next five years.

Release of the Blueprint coincides with unprecedented federal funding approved over the past year to support the San Francisco Estuary. This includes $24 million from the omnibus spending bill signed into law in March, plus a total of $29 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted in November 2021, including $5 million allocated directly to the Estuary Partnership over the next five years to begin implementing the Blueprint. Additionally, the Bay Area’s 2016 voter-approved Measure AA dedicates $25 million annually to fund multi-benefit shoreline projects that protect and restore San Francisco Bay.

To bring full health back to the Estuary, the Blueprint proposes an ambitious combination of solutions, including moving sediment, restoring creeks, recycling water, removing invasive species, monitoring conditions, among other steps. The full plan and its recommended actions and a Blueprint video are available.

Regional Water Needs AssessmentAnnouncing the Regional Water Needs Assessment
The Disadvantaged Communities and Tribal Involvement Program, funded by Prop. 1 through the Department of Water Resources for the Integrated Regional Water Management Program, released its Regional Water Needs Assessment.

The report presents the findings from 13 individual needs assessment processes conducted between 2017 and 2021 by the Disadvantaged Community Outreach Partners, from a Tribal needs assessment process administered by five Tribal Outreach Partners, and from the peer-to-peer needs assessment, to understand how people experiencing homelessness are accessing water for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene.

Read the Regional Water Needs Assessment.

Led by Disadvantaged Communities and Tribes, this report is the product of many partners’ work. The report was financed under the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, administered by State of California, Department of Water Resources.



Codes and Standards Training
This training is available to educate local building departments on 2019 Energy Code (Title 24, Part 6) requirements, plan check review and field inspections processes and best practices for improving code compliance and enforcement at no cost. If building department staff are interested, e-mail codes@bayren.org and provide the following information:

  • Requested training(s)
  • Preferred date(s) and time(s)
  • Expected number of attendees from your jurisdiction (if space allows, we will open trainings to staff from other jurisdictions as well to maximize training opportunities).

BayREN instructors are available remotely Monday to Friday.

CalAPP Grant Money For Solar Permitting
Cities and counties are eligible for grants from $40,000 to $100,000 for adoption of an online, automated solar permitting platform such as SolarAPP+. This kind of software can help reduce the time and resources needed to review and approve small residential solar installations. Funds can be used to recover the costs of establishing the system, including reimbursing staff or consultant time to implement the software.

Applications are due to the California Energy Commission by May 1, 2023, and funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. More information is available via the program flyer and the program website.