COURSEY: Are we aiming for a post-sustainable world?

Civility is in; sustainability is out.

That's what I learned Monday evening at the public meeting on "Plan Bay Area," the proposal for guiding growth and development in the nine-county San Francisco Bay region between now and 2040.

The meeting at the Friedman Center, attended by about 50 people if you don't count the legions of government staffers and the three armed security guards, was a far cry from the last time the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments came to Sonoma County to talk about regional planning. When they convened here in January 2012, the meeting was repeatedly disrupted by angry opponents of the plan, prompting calls to police and this sad commentary by Rohnert Park Councilman and MTC Commissioner Jake Mackenzie: "I've never dealt with a group of people at a public meeting who were so disrespectful or out of control."

On Monday, though, many of those same people – who still vehemently oppose Plan Bay Area – were on their best behavior.

Maybe it was the armed security guards. Maybe it was the cookies.

Most likely, though, it was a change in tactics. Disruption of meetings throughout the Bay Area over the past year has failed to derail the plan. So Rosa Koire, the Santa Rosa activist who headed a group that sued the city over the Gateways redevelopment project, announced Monday that she now heads a group that will sue MTC and ABAG over Plan Bay Area.

Her new organization is called the "Post Sustainability Institute." Imagine, if you will, a post-sustainable world.

I don't know when, how or why "sustainability" became a bad word, but speaker after speaker on Monday made clear that it has. James Bennett, another Santa Rosa activist who has taken up the fight against regional government, accused the plan of applying the concept of sustainability (and U.N. Agenda 21, of course) to "everything," which he said will lead to the "forfeit of (people's) freedom of choice in deciding where to live."

The truth is, the plan will have more of an impact on limiting developers' choices in deciding where to build. It is a blueprint for guiding development to areas with existing urban services, jobs and transit, and discouraging development that will cause sprawl. In other words, it continues city-centered growth policies that have been in place, to one degree or another, across the region for 30 years.

Some find that nefarious. Koire noted darkly that similar plans are in place "all across the U.S. … all across the world. It's a worldwide plan. Ask yourself what this is all about."

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