Regional Government

No single body governs the San Francisco Bay Area as a region. The Bay Area’s more than 100 local juridisctions—cities, counties and special districts—retain primary land use decision-making control. Nonetheless, three regional planning initiatives—the Bay Adapt Joint Platform (BCDC), Plan Bay Area 2050 (MTC/ABAG), and the Estuary Blueprint (SFEP)—together provide a basis for a regional response to climate change. With increasing climate challenges and imperatives to create an equitable response, a clear regional vision for future resilience is an emerging priority.

bay area counties map

“The next big question is who will step into the regional leadership role? We need coordinated advocacy on climate adaptation.”

Dana Brechwald


dana brechwald headshot


Bay Adapt Joint Platform  A roadmap for how the region will adapt faster, better and more equitably to a rising Bay. This joint platform is an initiative of the SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the regional agency that regulates any projects involving the filling, alteration or conservation of the bayshore. The platform is a consensus-based strategy composed of 9 actions and 21 tasks that will protect people and the natural and built environment from rising sea levels (executive summary). Rather than specifying individual projects, the platform lays out regional strategies that focus on overcoming barriers and identifying factors for successful adaptation outcomes throughout the region.

Plan Bay Area 2050 – Plan Bay Area charts the course for the Bay Area’s future and identifies a path to make the region more equitable for all residents and more resilient in the face of unexpected challenges. The plan is developed by two regional agencies, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Federal regulations require MTC to produce a Regional Transportation Plan, while state law requires ABAG and MTC to jointly develop the Bay Area’s Sustainable Communities Strategy. To meet these requirements, MTC and ABAG address both in a single document — Plan Bay Area. The latest 2021 version of the Plan Bay Area (executive summary) is made up of 35 strategies across four key elements: housing, the economy, transportation, and the environment. Plan Bay Area 2050+ is the next long-range plan currently in development.

Estuary Blueprint – The Estuary Blueprint maps out the regional actions and tasks needed to achieve a healthy, resilient San Francisco Estuary. The Estuary sits at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Since the early 1990s, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership has worked with diverse partners to protect and restore this invaluable asset and natural ecoystem. The blueprint identifies 25 actions needed for increased climate resilience, improved water quality, healthier habitats, and thriving human communities (one-page summary). The 2022 Estuary Blueprint is the latest iteration of the region’s 1993 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for San Francisco Bay and the Delta (a non-regulatory plan required under the federal National Estuary Program and US EPA), which has since undergone several updates.

All three regional plans were considered in developing this 2023: