Introducing: Horizon

By Chirag Rabari
Foggy City Redux by Wilson Lam
Credit: Wilson Lam

Some of the biggest challenges faced by regional planners over long time horizons are risk, and uncertainty. New technologies, unexpected natural or man-made disasters, economic booms and busts, and political volatility can all lay waste to the most diligent and careful planning efforts.

As the nine county San Francisco Bay Area’s transportation and land use planning agencies, respectively, MTC and ABAG are jointly responsible for developing the region’s long-range Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS). Our most recent RTP/SCS, Plan Bay Area 2040, discusses how the region will grow over the next two decades and identifies transportation and land use strategies to enable a more sustainable, equitable and economically vibrant future.

The RTP/SCS has its limitations though. While a long list of statutory requirements ensure the plan is doing what it is intended by law to do, these requirements can also constrain the types of issues that can be explored, modeled and ultimately acted upon. This makes it difficult to incorporate outside-the-box – yet essential – thinking about emerging issues into the RTP/SCS’s policy and project framework.

Enter Horizon, an exciting new effort from MTC and ABAG that will allow the public, planners and policymakers to wrestle with challenging questions about the external forces that could shape the Bay Area through 2050. Horizon will explore a range of pressing issues and attempt to put the region on sounder footing as it prepares for, and tries to shape, a trajectory that is both equitable and resilient to potential headwinds.

In the below video, Horizon Project Manager David Vautin provides an overview of the initiative as MTC Planning and ABAG Administration Committee members provide feedback and ask questions (please note, in this presentation the initiative was still going by it's former title, Futures). 

Horizon will run between February 2018 and June 2019. Primary components of the initiative will include planning, project evaluation and policy analyses as well as extensive, innovative public outreach and stakeholder engagement. 

The policy analyses will be released at events across the nine-county region over the next 18 months and are scheduled to cover the following topics:

  • Autonomous vehicles & future mobility: June 2018
  • Travel demand management & climate mitigation: September 2018
  • Regional growth strategies: December 2018
  • Future of jobs: March 2019
  • Regional governance: June 2019
  • Design & better buildings: September 2019

In addition, Horizon will incorporate ongoing regional work efforts related to housing from CASA – The Committee to House the Bay Area and resilience initiatives on sea level rise, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Horizon will inform the next regional transportation and land use plan, but will not replace it. This separate but closely related effort will kick off in mid-2019.

Key Documents

Memo and PowerPoint Presentation: Horizon Overview (under it's former title, Futures)

Project Page: Horizon

For more information on this effort, please contact the Horizon project manager, David Vautin, at

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