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Sonoma County's population will jump 24 percent to nearly 600,000 people by 2040, and new houses will spring up mostly along the Highway 101 corridor but also in far-flung rural outposts.

Over the same period, the county will spend $3.7 billion to repair and replace its sagging roadways and the number of jobs will shoot up 38 percent, mostly in the Santa Rosa area.

Those are just a few predictions in a newly released master plan for Bay Area housing and transportation that will get its first public airing at a town hall meeting in Santa Rosa on Monday night.

It is the culmination of a three-year effort by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to fulfill a government mandate to reduce the region's greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to forecasting growth and spelling out where it will happen, the so-called One Bay Area initiative also lays out ways to accommodate it while listing key projects that will be eligible for state and federal funding.

Among those in the queue are studies toward an extension of the proposed SMART commuter rail north of Windsor, the widening of Airport Boulevard to five lanes and the completion of a countywide bicycle and pedestrian pathway system.

"The plan concentrates development and investment in larger cities so they get bigger, and small towns remain small towns," MTC spokesman John Goodwin said.

The two regional agencies are holding meetings across the Bay Area's nine counties to get input before adopting the plan in this summer. The first meetings will be in Santa Rosa and Napa, both tonight.

The Santa Rosa meeting is at the Friedman Center on Mayette Avenue. There will be an open house with exhibits from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Comments will be taken at a public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m. Details are on the web at www.onebayarea.org.

If last year's meeting of the same group is any indication, this year's gathering is bound to be contentious.

Critics are expected to turn out to rail about government overreach or misplaced development.

Steve Birdlebough, a leader of the Sonoma County Sierra Club, said he's concerned that priority development areas listed in the plan could lead to sprawl in unintended places. Maps show significant new housing in rural places like Forestville, Graton and Boyes Hot Springs.

Also, he is concerned about how money will be spent on certain pet transportation projects.

"We take a great deal of interest in what they are doing and will try to have our voice heard," he said.

At the Finley Center meeting last year, tea party activists carried signs and shouted down speakers. Other critics said the planning process is part of a conspiracy that began with the adoption of Agenda 21, a United Nations resolution 20 years ago aimed at addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development.

Police were called out to Santa Rosa's Finley Center after receiving false reports that someone had been struck by a chair.

Goodwin said some protests were rooted in misunderstanding. The long-range plan aims to fulfill goals set in SB375 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2035. Doing that means shorter commutes and trying to hold population growth to urban areas.

He said regional officials are not trying to wrest control from local government.

"It's not borne out by the facts," Goodwin said. "There's nothing coercive about the plan."

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com