Drifting Toward a Cliff

As shown in this California Air Resources Board (CARB) chart below, California’s actions designed to conform to SB375’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirement have been less than stellar. True there has been some lowering of the ultra-high levels that were occurring between 2000 and 2008, but this improvement resulted mostly from federal and State mandates imposed on automobile and truck manufacturers to improve engine efficiency. 

But to get to where California needs to get will require much more than just that. In terms of reduced automobile and truck use, virtually no progress has been made and the Bay Area is no exception to this. As can be seen, in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets the pace of reducing car use and making other GHG-reducing changes must pick up significantly. So why have efforts to clear the roadways and reduce GHG emissions so far been so lethargic? 

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FBA Painting Castles in the Sky?

Castle in the clouds

On October 4th, Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) issued a statement setting forth three pre-requisites to gaining public support for the Faster Bay Area (FBA) $100 billion transportation megatax. NoMegaTax.org is a fast-growing coalition of Bay Area elected and appointed officials, environmentalists, transit advocates, tax payer groups and civic organizations. The following nomegatax.org letter was recently sent to 430 Bay Area officials. It effectively outlines the concerns that if not fully addressed soon, will generate overwhelming opposition to the proposed FBA plan, its enabling legislation and any ensuant tax-raising ballot measures.

NoMegaTax.org

Dear Councilmember,

We are environmentalists and transit and taxpayer advocates who have joined together in response to the Faster Bay Area proposal for a $100 Billion sales tax for transportation. We wanted to offer for your consideration our nuanced thoughts on the opportunities posed by this proposal:

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Muni Task Force Work…Ongoing

Over the last few months, Mayor Breed’s Muni Task Force has been engaged in identifying and finding solutions to Muni problems. On November 22, 2019 BATWG sent initial comments to Controller Ben Rosenfield, whose office is administrating task force work. Based upon the Task Force’s now released draft report, here are a few observations, some of which were alluded to in the previous letter. 

Late last year the Transportation Alliance of San Francisco (TAOSF) in association with other groups issued a 1424 word report, the product of six months of careful deliberation by a highly-experienced group of transportation experts. The report, which contains 20 recommended ways of improving San Francisco’s transportation condition, was sent to dozens of City officials in late 2018. No responses were received. Below are four excerpted recommendations which appear to be of particular relevance to the Task Force’s work. 

From the SFMTA GOVERNANCE AND ORGANIZATION Section of the TAOSF Report:

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Bay Area at a Crossroads

It’s no secret that because of disconnected transit systems and ever-increasing traffic backups, the Bay Area is becoming more and more constricted…..and that helps no one. This increasingly obvious regional problem has recently been reaffirmed by a panel of business interests proposing to raise and spend $100 billion to create a “Faster Bay Area”. While they’ve correctly identified the long neglected problems in need of attention, the FBA group has yet to set forth a fair and equitable way of raising the necessary capital. Moreover the group continues to struggle with the problem of how to implement a bonafide regional program without its being sabotaged by local and special interests intent upon obtaining new funding for their parochial and special interest projects.

The Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is clearly expecting to gain control over this vast amount of new transportation funding, which would come on top of its recent takeover of ABAG and continuing attempts to assume control over the region’s housing crisis. Is MTC up to the job? During the last four and one half decades, despite acquiring and spending well over $100 billion, MTC has had little if any effect on either strengthening Bay Area transit or reducing Bay Area traffic. So the answer has to be a clear NO.

There are several reasons for this. Continue reading

NO on AB 1487 Coalition Letter to Governor Newsom

NO on AB 1487 COALITION
c/o Law Offices of Jason A. Bezis
3661-B Mosswood Drive Lafayette, CA 94549-3509
(925) 708-7073     Bezis4Law@gmail.com

September 25, 2019

The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor of California
1303 10th Street, Suite 11 73
Sacramento, CA 95814
[VIA https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/ and U.S. MAIL]

Re: Recommendation to Veto AB 1487 with Message to Legislature to First Enact Reforms of MTC

Dear Governor Newsom:

This office represents a coalition of organizations, including the Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG), which urge you to veto AB 1487 with a message to the Legislature to investigate the struc­ture, activities and effectiveness of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and to enact necessary reforms of MTC first. MTC is ill-suited to govern a “Housing Finance Authority.”

AB1487 would give significant new power and taxing authority to a “Transportation Commission” that is not qualified to handle housing. Every four years, the eighteen voting MTC commissioners are “selected for their special familiarity with the problems and issues in the field of transportation.” Government Code §66504. The new four-year term began in February 2019. The selection process did not include ‘housing.’

The MTC commissioner selection process is opaque and undemocratic. Our coalition found legal irregularities in seven of the Bay Area’s nine counties in the 2018-19 selection process. ln many cases, commissioners were appointed with literally nothing in writing: no application, no statement of qualifi­cations, not even an e-mail requesting appointment. The Brown Act violations are too numerous to dis­cuss herein. MTC sent letters to many jurisdictions that explicitly asked them to re-appoint the incum­bent. In one case, a 32-year incumbent was re-appointed to another four-year term during a six-minute “special meeting” held in the backroom of an Italian restaurant four days before the November election.

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