Complete Streets: From Policy to Practice in the San Francisco Bay Area


This paper describes how regional funding guidelines can affect local adoption of Complete Streets projects. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization for the nine-county Bay Area region in California, has developed a funding approach called the One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) for the allocation of funds for the 2012-2016 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) and Surface Transportation Program (STP) across the Bay Area. Each jurisdiction receiving funding through OBAG was required to demonstrate compliance with Complete Streets (CS) policies either by passing a resolution or by certifying that its general plan circulation element was compliant with California’s Complete Streets Act of 2008. This analysis examines the extent and manifestation of this compliance. The OBAG framework allocated significantly more funding to County Congestion Management agencies than was provided during the prior CMAQ/STP cycle (Cycle 1 CMAQ). It also gave counties increased flexibility in decision making by removing program specific silos that were present in Cycle 1 CMAQ. This increased flexibility resulted in an increase in the number of multi-modal projects funded through OBAG. OBAG’s regional funding requirements for Complete Streets compliance through policy have the potential to influence Complete Streets implementation by local agencies in the long term and to serve as a model for other state or local planning agencies seeking to increase investments in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

Publication date: 
November 15, 2014
Publication type: 
Working Paper