Let’s Declare January MTC Awareness Month!

from nine-county-coalition – excerpt

The Bay Area’s MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) looks really good on paper. It has an attractive website rich with information, it has the support of potent organizations such as SPUR and the Bay Area Council, and since its hostile takeover of ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) MTC holds the transportation and development purse strings.

However, look closer and the stress lines start coming into focus: persistent gridlock traffic, a transit/biking-for-all policy that seems to have no roots in reality, vanishing parking spaces, gentrification, obliteration of neighborhood character, questionable imposition of region-wide taxes, density appropriate only for neighborhoods boasting more dogs than kids. To be fair, the MTC can always point to state legislation enabling its actions. But legislation provides the skeleton plan, and the MTC gives the plan copious flesh. Also, while we can vote a legislator out of office if we do not like his/her plans, we are stuck with whatever MTC bureaucrats devise.

Where you detect challenges look for opportunities

The MTC has felt to Bay Area residents familiar with it as an entity set in stone, partly because of its nature as a bureaucracy, and partly because the federal government says we must have a Metropolitan Planning Organization (whether we like it or not). However, this New Year brings to those not happy with the MTC a couple of opportunities. Thus, let’s declare January 2019 MTC Awareness Month.

* Steve Heminger, MTC’s Executive Director is retiring on February 28, 2019, and MTC is looking for his replacement. Heminger is the principal architect of MTC’s growth, influence, and consolidation of power. As such, he receives emphatic accolades and criticisms… (more)

If you want to understand how the uses regional agencies such as MTC, comprised of unelected appointees to: control communities, reduce local power, increase taxes fines and fees, and force unwanted changes on society, without public knowledge or consent, you should read this article.

If you want to challenge the appointment process, you should read this article.

If you want to challenge how your taxes are being used against you, you should read this article.

If you think you can escape the crooked development phenomenon by moving awary from it, you have not paid attention to the history of the world, the news, or the prevalent re-occurring theme in most crime novels and films. The first things criminals do with a windfall of cash is invest in property, force occupants out, and wash the cash in construction projects. Fiction follows reality. You can’t escape the greed behind property development. All you can do is change the narrative and inform the public.

Plan Bay Area 2040 Open House This Week in San Francisco

satprnews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) invite the public to an open house in San Francisco (Bay Area Metro Center, Yerba Buena Conference Room, 375 Beale Street) on Wednesday, May 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to learn about an update to the region’s long-range transportation and housing roadmap known as Plan Bay Area 2040. This meeting in San Francisco is one in a series to be held in all nine Bay Area counties between May 4 and May 22. For more information about upcoming meeting times, dates and locations in all nine counties, please visit the Plan Bay Area website: www.PlanBayArea.org(more)

Transportation power has regional land-use group in a bag

By dailyrepublic – excerpt

VALLEJO — A regional coalition of nine counties and 101 cities is trying to keep a heartbeat while being squeezed by a more powerful regional commission.

Ezra Rapport, executive director of the Association of Bay Area Governments, presented an overview of what the organization hopes to accomplish by merging with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

But the Metropolitan Transportation Commission does not have to accept anything that the Association of Bay Area Governments offers, and could essentially sign the association’s death warrant by cutting off a $3.7 million grant that represents about a third of the group’s grant funding.

“That is what’s been referred to as the hostile takeover,” Rapport told a gathering of seven representatives of Solano County and some of its cities Wednesday night at Vallejo City Hall.

Rapport anticipates a proposal in which the Association of Bay Area Governments’ land-use planners would be shifted under Metropolitan Transportation Commission administrative control. Negotiations would then begin to redefine how the commission – or at least the new land-use planning element – is constructed.

Rapport, whose own job would be at risk with the merger, sees 2018 as the deadline for the new governing format to be completed. That coincides with the commission board election.

But the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has an 18-member board composed of elected officials appointed to the panel, has been reluctant to make any changes to its structure. Rapport is trying to convince the leadership that the proposal does not change the commission, only the land-use planning structure so the cities would continue to have a voice.

The Association of Bay Area Governments, with a 38-member board composed of elected officials appointed to the panel, will take up the proposal at its May 19 meeting. The regional transportation commission meets May 25.

A key figure in the outcome, as far as Solano County is concerned, is Supervisor Jim Spering. He sits on the transportation commission board but has not been supportive of the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission was created by the state Legislature in 1970 to oversee regional transportation planning and coordination for the nine-county Bay Area region.

It does not have any authority over land-use planning, which is constitutionally directed to the cities and counties – the volunteer members of the Association of Bay Area Governments that pay a total of $2 million in annual dues.

Those members want a voice, but do not have as much political leverage as the state-funded Metropolitan Transportation Commission. They could choose to drop out completely, and take their dues with them.

Rapport said efforts to get the governor’s office or a legislator involved have been unsuccessful.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has traditionally provided the Association of Bay Area Governments with a grant, but recently adopted a resolution that would end that funding, creating the need to merge the organizations or see the Association of Bay Area Governments dissolve.

The Association of Bay Area Governments was formed in 1961 and has membership that represents more than 7 million residents. It does not have a direct revenue source. Instead, it depends on membership dues and grants.

Rapport said a merger of the two regional organizations could be a benefit to residents because it would bring huge issues such as water, affordable housing, earthquake insurance, climate change and energy under a single planning roof.

Even if the two groups can come to some kind of compromise, there are other issues to overcome. One of those is that the Association of Bay Area Governments is a union workplace, while the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is not… (more)


Bay Area needs powerful regional government, study says

By Andrew McGall : contracostatimes – excerpt

The Bay Area generates one of the brightest sparks in the nation’s recovering economy, but feeding its vitality means residents will have to give up some local control, dig deeper into their wallets, and make room for tens of thousands of new neighbors, according to study released Friday.

Keeping on prosperity’s path requires a regional government with power to overcome local obstacles, money from new taxes and tolls, and opening the doors to housing closed by local growth controls and state environmental red tape, according to “A Roadmap for Economic Resilience,” an in-depth study done by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Without action, the Bay Area’s highways choked with commuters, its fragmented transit systems, and anti-growth attitudes will choke the boom times, the report says.

The Bay Area may have 101 cities, “but it is one economy with more than 7 million people,” says Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman… (more)

Special Deal Would Benefit Influential Oakland Developer

By eastbayextress – excerpt

The Oakland planning department quietly proposed zoning changes that would greatly benefit a politically connected developer in the heart of First Friday.

The proposed zoning changes would make it easier for Signature Development to build a large mixed-use project across the street from the company’s Hive development in Uptown.

The Oakland Planning and Building Department recently attempted to quietly push through changes to the city’s zoning code that would greatly benefit a politically connected developer who has acquired a big chunk of real estate in Uptown Oakland, right in the heart of First Friday, the Express has learned. Planning staffers buried the proposed zoning amendment in a six hundred-plus page document amid other proposed changes that they described as routine and neutral efforts meant only to “clean up” Oakland’s planning code. But the zoning change, which underwent no public scrutiny before the planning department recently proposed it, would greatly increase the value of property recently purchased by Signature Development Group, a major Oakland real estate company run by Michael Ghielmetti, and would make it easier to build a large development project between 24th and 25th streets near Broadway.

“There seems to be a blatant disregard for the community,” said Hiroko Kurihara, founder and director of the nonprofit 25th Street Collective, in an interview. “The zoning changes that were proposed at the last minute … left even members of the planning commission scratching their heads.”… (more)

The technique is described really well by someone who researched the methods used by SFMTA to illegally alter the parking policies while claiming they were not making any substantive changes. See details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/

Libertarian Foundation Uses CEQA to Litigate ‘Plan Bay Area’

Libertarian Foundation Uses CEQA to Litigate ‘Plan Bay Area’

by Irvin Dawid : planetizen – excerpt

The group, Bay Area Citizens, worried about loss of property values and quality of life, will be represented by the libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation, which will use CEQA as the basis of the lawsuit against regional agencies MTC and ABAG.

In what might be perceived as an ironic application of the landmark 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), written in part to reign-in the Golden State’s sprawling growth in that era, a libertarian foundation is using the law as the basis for a lawsuit challenging the July 18 approval of the regional growth plan known as Plan Bay Area by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (PDF).

The plan steers growth toward “Priority Development Areas“, determined by local jurisdictions, that are accessible to transit and services as opposed to promoting more exurban development, and away from “Priority Conservation Areas“.

Bay Area Citizens sees the plan as promoting dense growth that “restricts people’s ability to make their own choices”, according to its co-founder, Peter Singleton… (more)

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