But I haven't been paying as much attention to a critical element of the plan: its dismissal of industrial and manufacturing jobs and willingness to write off what is now a significant sector of the regional economy -- and by the way, one that offers middle-class, often unionized, employment.
So I'm glad Zelda Bronstein, former chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission, is on this. Her story in California Progress Report is well-done -- and alarming:
That the region's industrial sector has shrunk and its economy undergone a transformation is undeniable. But to frame this makeover in terms of low-tech vs. high, stagnation vs. innovation, brawn vs. brains, and bad vs. good is a mistake. For one thing, the line between the "old" and "new" economies often zigzags and blurs. For another, there's still a significant amount of industry in the Bay Area. According to MTC/ABAG, in 2010 manufacturing and wholesale enterprise accounted for 460,200 jobs or 14% of the region's employment.Again: Smart growth is fine, but not if it ignores the fact that there are already people, and businesses, in the path of large-scale, mostly high-end housing development.
Contrary to "new" economy hype, industrial decline isn't inevitable, and the health of the industrial sector is critical to both broad regional prosperity and environmental amelioration. But for industry to thrive, public officials have to support its essential role in the region's well-being.
Instead, Plan Bay Area puts industry at risk.
Maybe it's time to talk seriously about a ballot measure to regulate housing development in San Francisco, on the order of the famous 1986 Proposition M. Then maybe other cities will follow.