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    Supporting Bay Marriage

    rebecOur LGBT community in the Bay Area can help achieve goals and programs that more strongly unite the different parts of our region—supporting “Bay Marriage.” The Bay region shares needs ranging from air quality to protecting our bay waters to the regional affordable housing crisis—in which displacement from San Francisco and jobs-housing imbalance in Silicon Valley are causing skyrocketing costs and displacement in the East Bay and beyond. Our region is intertwined, from our economy to our transportation infrastructure. Therefore, by being better connected regionally, we can help improve quality of life for everyone.

    While people of all sexual orientations will benefit from a more cohesive region, LGBT leaders can help show the way, as many of us are accustomed to having cross-bay regional relationships including in activism, socially and through work. We are at a crossroads in which inadequate regional connections will undermine the quality of life for all of us. LGBT leaders can pave the road for an adequate regional connection including, for example, in two specific areas: transportation and housing.

    On transportation, we know that BART is at capacity, often full, and struggling to maintain and expand its infrastructure. Our freeways are congested, and yet, we need to support vibrancy and a growing population without the harms of hundreds of thousands of more vehicles. Regional solutions will include building on some successes, such as the Transbay bus service and the newly-expanding late-night buses to cover BART routes when BART is closed (see http://www.actransit.org/allnighter/). We should be working to expand carpooling, including region-wide carpool matching services, and making sure new job sites are put in locations that make transportation easy. Our bridge must be repaired and transportation funds used in a wise and thoughtful way, including making sure vital infrastructure isn’t leaking and at risk, and that regional transportation planning is coherent and coordinated, such as common transit passes.

    On housing, we have a crisis centered in San Francisco that is causing economic hardship throughout our region. It is time to seek regional solutions, including requiring cities or counties that do not provide adequate housing for the workforce to pay into a fund to help support jurisdictions that provide more housing. Affordable housing is becoming a region-wide crisis, requiring more comprehensive solutions, to ensure that everyone, including the work force that keeps our region functioning, can afford to find housing here.

    The Bay Area is blessed with great weather and a creative and diverse population. With good planning, we should be able to provide housing and job access that benefits our communities, and avoid cities taking actions that harm one another. Instead, we should take actions that are based on a goal of mutual benefit. In short, Bay Marriage.

    Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide councilmember. She was re-elected in 2012 and serves cu rrently as Vice Mayor. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Vice Mayor Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a Master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.