TRANSDEF’s Comments to the
Transportation Authority of Marin
Regional Transportation Plan Discussion, 10-27-11
You have the authority to set a
very new direction for transportation in this county.
But you would never know it by reading the staff
report. Judging by the report, this agenda item
appears to be just another routine item.
The whole point of this agenda item last month had been to ask you what weight to give to each of the RTP candidate priority criteria. But that focus has been buried. It isn't at all clear what you are expected to do with this item. If you had been properly briefed by staff, you would recognize this item as the ultimate transportation policy setting discussion.
In my view, this is yet another in a long history of presentations shaped to maintain the status quo. TAM's predecessor agency had an ugly practice of keeping decision makers in the dark, so as to have staff positions rubber-stamped.
“coordinate the development and drafting of major planning documents prepared by ABAG, MTC, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, including reviewing and commenting on major interim work products and the final draft comments prior to action by ABAG, MTC, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.”
In its last three meetings, the JPC has walked away from the responsibility to coordinate the development of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), with its associated Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), and has decided to focus instead on regional resilience and economic development. While these two subject areas certainly need the attention of the JPC, it appears that this new focus is the result of MTC not wanting the JPC involved in the RTP. Whereas the JPC was created to foster interagency cooperation, this recent move seems to be a classic turf fight--a curious one in which no one is willing to talk about it.
Given this silence and denial, TRANSDEF’s President David Schonbrunn stepped in and spoke about MTC’s decision on committed projects (See Massive Counter-Attack, next blog entry), calling upon the JPC to assert the interests of the region, which were abandoned by MTC, which would rather play politics with transportation dollars. He was gaveled down at precisely 3 minutes by JPC Chair Tom Bates, cutting off the last paragraph of his prepared remarks. See Read More for the complete comments. Read More...
The problem with this is that local solutions do not work when aggregated together at the regional scale. Local transportation plans assume that their residents will travel largely by automobile. However, when these residents leave their respective counties, it has not been possible to furnish adequate regional infrastructure. The extremely high cost of widening existing highways, along with the lack of physical space to do so without even more expensive condemnation of existing residences and businesses, has resulted in massive congestion throughout the region. Read More...
Upon noticing that the Clean Air Plan would result in excessive particulate matter in the air, TRANSDEF’s President David Schonbrunn spoke to the Board of Directors and suggested that a mitigation be adopted to reduce the source of growing particulate pollution: motor vehicles. Read More...
Large numbers of presumably unemployed carpenters showed up to flex their political muscles, with a banner eerily calling out CIA. Only this time, CIA meant Carpenters in Action. They were calling for jobs, and clearly weren’t much concerned that the project was enormously bloated in cost, and already eliminated any benefits for the impoverished community it was to pass through. The carpenters seemed unaware that most of the jobs resulting from the project would be elsewhere, where the people mover system will be built. The use of precast concrete is going to reduce the construction jobs dramatically.
After many impassioned speeches calling for MTC to preserve the Bay Area’s underfunded transit system and not waste money on the OAC, the committee voted to approve the funding. While there was a significant group of Commissioners who saw the problems with approving the money, they were in the minority.
MTC, through this and many previous votes, demonstrated more clearly than ever before that the agency truly does not give a crap about outcomes. The fact that the OAC would waste a half-billion dollars was not a consideration. MTC has always been about cutting political deals. The OAC represented someone’s deal, and MTC’s unspoken rules prohibit going back on a deal, no matter how loathsome a project has become.