Bay Area transportation is in a royal mess, due in large part to the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s failed policies.
With the upcoming appointment of a new MTC executive director there is now an opportunity to improve things. As things stand MTC is little more than an echo chamber for powerful interests. It is not receptive to new ideas and its endless series of “public outreach” meetings are geared more to selling than listening. Perhaps this is in part because every four years the MTC Board members are selected through a weak and secretive process that is again in progress at this time.
Here is how some of the MTC Board members are currently being selected and it appears that this may be just the tip of the iceberg. The State legislation that established MTC in 1970 (Government Code sec. 66503 b) provides that Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties each appoint one member to the MTC Board. Section 66503 (b) goes on to say: “The city selection committee of these counties shall furnish to the board of supervisors the names of three nominees and the board of supervisors shall appoint one of the nominees to represent the county.” In other words at least three candidates are to be considered by each of the four Boards of Supervisors before a selection is made. However the selection committees in at least Solano, Marin and Napa Counties violated the code by submitting the name of only a single candidate to their respective Boards; namely the individuals recommended by the MTC staff. In Solano County the City Selection Committee met privately in the back of a restaurant with virtually no notification to anyone.
The process by which MTC Board members are selected has clearly gotten out of hand and in some cases has resulted in important State safeguards being ignored. There are several violations. First, the county selection committees should not be meeting privately without proper Brown Act notification as Solano County’s “City Selection Committee” did. Second, they and their respective Boards of Supervisors should not have abandoned the three-candidate mandate of Section 66503 (b). Third, MTC should not be meddling in local affairs by forwarding recommendations that undermine or perhaps abrogate duly authorized local and County selection procedures. And lastly it appears that MTC’s recommendations as to the future makeup of its own Board were also arrived at in private, again in violation of the Brown Act.
BATWG demands complete transparency in the MTC commissioner selection process. We believe that it is incumbent on each candidate to the MTC Board to be considered and selected in properly-noticed public forums and that each be called upon to explain how he or she intends to transform MTC into the bonafide regional planning agency that was anticipated when it was established almost a half a century ago.
This article was featured in Newsletter Issue 9. Click here to go back to the newsletter.