CA: Marin Lawmaker Wants End to MTC, Regional Transportation Planning Agency

By MARK PRADO : masstransitmag – excerpt

Sept. 24–Marin Assemblyman Marc Levine has introduced a bill to eliminate a powerful regional commission, saying it’s not accountable to the public and has been largely ineffective in improving traffic.

Levine, D-San Rafael, this week introduced legislation that would do away with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and its sister agency, the Bay Area Toll Authority. The commission is the Bay Area’s transportation planning agency, while the authority oversees seven state-run bridges.

In their place a new Bay Area Transportation Commission would be created. Unlike the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — created by the state Legislature in 1970 — whose members are appointed, the new commission would be elected, under Levine’s bill.

Levine said the change would benefit commuters in Marin and around the Bay Area. “Our traffic is some of the worst in the nation. We need a transportation commission that will put their energies into eliminating traffic gridlock,” Levine said in a statement. “The new Bay Area Transportation Commission will be responsive and accountable to our communities’ needs rather than operate as an appointed board. … This commission will provide the transparency and accountability that Bay Area commuters need and deserve.”… (more)

Let Marin Assemblyman Marc Levine know how you feel. And let your representatives in Sacramento know as well. Phil Ting seems to be of like mind of this matter.

Should the regional transportation agency be elected?

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

A new twist in the power struggle over Bay Area planning

48hillsabagcommuteflows

This fancy ABAG graphic shows the commute flows into and out of the nine Bay Area counties.

The power struggle between the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments got a lot more complicated over the past week.

Since MTC voted in late June to fund ABAG’s planning staff for only the first half of fiscal year 2015-16—an action followed by revelations that the regional transportation planning agency wants to take over ABAG’s land-use planning functions before their joint December move into fancy new digs in San Francisco—the two entities seemed destined to consolidate by the end of the year. Only the Sierra Club had registered its opposition to a merger.

But with ABAG’s Executive Board meeting on September 17 and MTC convening on September 23, several other influential parties, including SPUR, the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area, SF Planning Director John Rahaim, and ABAG Executive Director Ezra Rapport, have come out against hasty action, if not against consolidation, while the SF Labor Council has warned MTC not to take over ABAG’s planners, period.

Meanwhile, the state Legislature could be dramatically changing the entire regional planning picture. A bill by Assemblymembers Phil Ting and Marc Levine, ABX1-24, would turn MTC into an elected board, forcing the organization to accept a level of democracy that has never remotely existed in the past.

The bill would re-name MTC the Bay Area Transportation Commission and replace the body’s current 21 appointed members with commissioners elected by districts of about 750,000 residents. Each district would elect one commissioner, except a district with a toll bridge, which would elect two. A citizens’ redistricting commission would draw the district boundaries, and the campaigns for commissioners would be publicly financed. Elections would be held in 2016, with new commissioners taking office on January 1, 2017.

“It’s time to take a hard look at reforming this agency,” Ting told us. “We need to make it more accountable to the voters, the state, and the region.”… (more)

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