PCA - Priority Conservation Areas
There is no question that we all want parks and green spaces, and ABAG and MTC have created an opportunity to address this goal across the Bay Area.
Priority Conservation Areas, or PCAs, are regionally significant open spaces which have broad agreement for long-term protection. These are lands that are being pressured by urban development and other factors, and they are supported through local government consensus.
Over 180 PCAs have been adopted by the ABAG Executive Board. Projects located within these areas are eligible for funding through the One Bay Area Grants, or OBAG, program.
PCAs are categorized by four designations that recognize the vitality of the Bay Area’s natural systems, rural economy and the health of all residents:
- Natural Landscapes
- Agricultural Lands
- Urban Greening
- Regional Recreation
The next opportunity to nominate new PCAs will occur as part of the next iteration of Plan Bay Area, no later than 2025.
In November 2021, MTC and ABAG were awarded a grant from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands and Conservation (SALC) Program managed by the California Department of Conservation to support a refresh of the PCA planning framework. This effort kicked off in June 2022. It will identify recommendations to make the region’s conservation planning framework more data-driven and science-based by late 2023, while also incorporating a wider range of policy concerns, such as equity and resilience to climate hazards.
The objectives include:
- Evaluating all aspects of the current PCA nomination, evaluation and designation process;
- Articulating a vision for next-generation PCAs;
- Establishing clear goals and objectives;
- Identifying the needs of project applicants; and
- Developing guidelines and resources, with an emphasis on data and mapping.
In July 2023, an Interim Memo exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the existing PCA framework and outlining draft vision, goals and objectives for the Refresh was released:
- Read the Priority Conservation Area Refresh Interim Memo
- Read the Priority Conservation Area Refresh Interim Memo (less formatting for users of assistive technology)
The effort will culminate in a final report of major findings, including a recommended suite of options for regional policymakers to consider with respect to planning, policy and funding. The Priority Conservation Area Refresh Final Report is anticipated to be released in winter 2024.
Partnership and collaboration will be a key component of the PCA refresh. Planned activities for partner and stakeholder engagement (including with local jurisdictions) will include workshops, surveys, one-on-one and small group focused discussions, among others.
Michael Germeraad, Regional Planning Program
For more information, sign up for the PCA Mailing List on the MTC website.