Opinion/Editorials

Opinion/Editorials

I concur with and commend Assemblyman Marc Levine in his legislative effort to review, modernize and democratize the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Originally created as an ideal of legislative leadership in the 1970s, the MTC is overdue for an analytical review and update.

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Opinion/Editorials

In a recent column I reported on my trip to Oakland to attend the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s monthly meeting. The column was critical of MTC’s push to expand its portfolio far from its mandate to address Bay Area traffic and transit deficiencies.

I received a polite email from MTC’s executive director, Steve Heminger, taking issue with points raised in the column. His effort at dialogue is appreciated.

I criticized the MTC’s method of appointing directors, saying that five outside agencies had voting seats on the agency’s Board of Directors. Heminger corrected me, saying that only the Association of Bay Area Governments and Bay Conservation and Development Commission have voting seats. The other three, Caltrans and the federal transportation and housing departments, have non-voting commission seats.

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Opinion/Editorials

The promise behind formation of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission was logical — providing a Bay Area-wide view of local transportation and improvements.

Many of today’s commuters cross two or three counties on their daily treks, and looking at possible solutions from a regional standpoint rather than a county-by-county viewpoint makes a lot of sense.

Since it was formed by the state Legislature in 1970, MTC has significantly grown in political power, becoming the primary conduit of state and federal funds for road projects. For some, its top-down approach over local control is a sign of detachment from the people it is supposed to serve.

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Opinion/Editorials

Earlier last week, I ventured across the bay to Oakland and attended the Metropolitan Transportation Commission monthly board meeting.

My first observation is that there was almost no discussion of transportation or mobility issues. The session was all about housing.

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Opinion/Editorials

California is in the midst of a historic drought. We have had only one wet winter in the last eight years. The consequences of the drought are tremendous as communities thirst for drinking water, farm lands lay fallow, and industries make drastic changes in how they do business.

The potential for El Niño rains may bring us short term relief, but may also create a false sense of water security. Simply stated: We cannot rely on El Niño to solve California’s water problems.

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Opinion/Editorials

On Friday, we updated legislation by local senators after Gov. Jerry Brown finished signing and vetoing bills passed in 2015. Today we do the same with bills by Assembly members Bill Dodd, D-Napa, Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, and Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg.

Dodd's bills include:

AB 279: Extends the state-local tax information sharing program to allow counties to enter into reciprocal agreements to share information with the Franchise Tax Board. Signed.

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Opinion/Editorials

Bay Area commuters know there is something seriously wrong with regional transportation planning. These commuters spend almost 80 hours per year delayed in traffic -- twice the national average. It's some of the worst in the nation. The Urban Mobility Scorecard Annual Report this year listed San Francisco-Oakland and San Jose as the third and fifth most congested cities in America.

Currently, construction and maintenance of Bay Area roads and highways are under the purview of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, otherwise known as MTC in the alphabet soup of Bay Area government. MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the Bay Area.

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Opinion/Editorials

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed two important measures that will help move California’s world-class state park system and its steward, the Department of Parks and Recreation, forward in the 21st century.

As longtime park advocates and conservation partners who grew up camping in such iconic parks as Mount Tamalpais and Anza-Borrego, we are happy to see this tangible sign of progress.

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Opinion/Editorials

In Washington, they’re known as super PACs. Here in California, they go by the more mundane independent expenditure committee.

Whatever you want to call them, these outfits are in the same business: influencing the outcome of elections. To that end, they raise and spend enormous amounts of money, sometimes more than the office-seekers themselves.

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Opinion/Editorials

The Legislature will be looking at a bill introduced by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-10th Dist.) which would abolish the powerful Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission as well as its kindred agency, the Bay Area Toll Authority, and replace them with directly elected boards.

To begin with, 16 of MTC’s 21 members are already elected officials appointed by other elected representatives so the distinction is basically moot.

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