DeSaulnier proposes making ABAG a commission with elected board members

State Senator Mark DeSaulnier today touted SB 1149, which, among other things, creates a directly elected Bay Area Regional Commission to replace ABAG/MTC that operates under a joint powers agreement that appoints 25 board members. In effect the move from a decentralized unaccountable agency to a centralized body with elected politicians could produce its own pluses and minuses.

If passed, SB 1149 would give the new Commission increased authority over regional planning. The new Commission would provide a regional policymaking process for transportation, housing, air quality, sustainable community strategies, economic development to ensure that regional policies are developed within a consistent framework. No news yet on how representatives will be elected or who gets to draw voting district lines, which will identify who has the real power.

“The Bay Area needs a directly-elected regional governance agency to have accountable, transparent, and responsible decision making,” said Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). “We need regional planning that is efficient, effective, and that looks into the future. This commission would start with developing a reorganization plan intended to reduce costs of overhead and integrate planning requirements into a comprehensive regional plan.”

According to Desaulnier’s news release,

The Bay Area is a growing region of 7.5 million people. Currently, the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) coordinates the regional planning efforts of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and MTC. However, the JPC has no real authority to oversee the myriad agencies of regional governance. SB 1149 would correct this by eliminating the JPC and establishing the Commission in its place.

The JPC is currently governed by 25 appointees who are elected to other local government offices including mayors, city council members, and boards of supervisors. The Commission would instead be governed by 15 directly elected commissioners. Each commissioner would be directly accountable to their district of roughly 500,000 residents.

“The San Francisco Bay Area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation. It is the most diverse and innovative place on earth,” said DeSaulnier. “Regional planning in our area needs to reflect that diversity and innovation.”

Comments

  1. says

    DeSaulnier Regional Governance Accountability Measure Approved
    Senate Transportation & Housing Committee passes SB 1149 to create Bay Area Regional Commission

    Today, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee with a 9-0 unanimous and bipartisan vote approved Senate Bill 1149 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) to reform the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional governance system. This bill would create the Bay Area Regional Commission to coordinate regional planning and policy decisions dealing with transportation, housing, air quality, sustainable community strategies, economic development, and other regional issues. SB 1149 represents the first reform in regional governance since the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) was created in 1970.

    “The Bay Area needs a directly-elected regional governance agency to have accountable, transparent, and responsible decision making,” said DeSaulnier. “We need regional planning that is efficient, effective, and that looks into the future. This commission would start with developing a reorganization plan intended to reduce costs of overhead and integrate planning requirements into a comprehensive regional plan.”

    The Bay Area is a growing region of 7.5 million people. Currently, the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) coordinates the regional planning efforts of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and MTC. However, the JPC has no real authority to oversee the myriad agencies of regional governance. SB 1149 would correct this by eliminating the JPC and establishing the Commission in its place. The Commission would have increased authority and would provide a regional policymaking process to ensure that regional policies are developed within a consistent framework.

    The JPC is currently governed by 25 appointees who are elected to other local government offices including mayors, city council members, and boards of supervisors. The Commission would instead be governed by 15 directly elected commissioners. Each commissioner would be directly accountable to their district of roughly 500,000 residents.

    “The San Francisco Bay Area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation. It is the most diverse and innovative place on earth,” said DeSaulnier. “Regional planning in our area needs to reflect that diversity and innovation.”

  2. says

    So what’s wrong with regional governance? Nothing – unless you value the republican form of government and individual freedom, and detest autocracy in all its forms. Regional governance evolved as a way to get around the obstacles presented by multiple local governments, all of which may have a stake in the region, but often disagree on what the region needs.

    Regional governments and their initiatives, are driven by government, not by the people. Government, by its very nature, seeks to increase its power and overcome any obstacle in its path. Local governments, like individual neighbors, often disagree on how best to resolve a common problem. Consequently, governments, especially the executive branch, tend to look for ways to get around the obstacle of disagreement. One successful method is regional governance, which diminishes the power of local governments by conferring increasing levels of authority on the executive branch, which implements its authority through appointed bureaucrats.

    In very short order, it is the unelected bureaucrats who wield the power; elected officials become little more than a rubber stamp whose approval provides “official” respectability to the bureaucracy.

    A classic example of just how this works is available in a report titled: “Regional Governance Districts” produced by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The purpose of the report includes, “… to assist the state in responding to globalization. …” The report makes this clarification:
    Governance is distinct from government – while government is the traditional organization of public authority used to provide necessary services, governance is the provision of those services. While the word has been used to refer to service provision by traditional government, it has come to be used to refer more specifically to service provision through a non-traditional approach, such as by a contractor or through a public-private partnership.

    Virtually every state now has some form of this new regional approach to governance, which is simply further evidence of how extensively the “administrative” form of global governance has influenced domestic policy.

    by HENRY LAMB Published: 10/28/2011

  3. One Voice di says

    SB1149 is just another usurpation of our Constitutional form of governmnet. DeSaulnier is pandering to the masses by stating that this will provide accountability and reduce waste fraud and abuse. However, we the people are not buying this load on nonsense. This bill seeks to legitimize an unconstitutional form of government which should not exist in the first place. Sean is right. Regionalism is Communism! We and many others recognize this for what it is and DeSaulnier had better back off! We are on to him. The idea that we need another layer of government is absurd. Right now these regional unelected bureacrats are trying to dictate how and where the over 7 million and in the future 9 million people will live…….. This plan is all about socially re-engineering our lives. Many of the local jurisdictions are opposing this plan. One has even removed themselves from ABAG because of it. To say that we now should legitimize this regional takeover by creating an elected body or commission is to call for a govt takeover of our local jurisdictions. I hope our local officials are paying attention. DeSaulnier is calling for a complete takeover of your authority!

  4. says

    In the context of DeSaulnier’s war with MTC and its use of bridge toll funds to build a Taj Mahal HQ see press from DeSaulnier office re MTC May 7, 2012. I’ve heard from some appointed directors from the hinterland that it was “their” money in the reseves and it needed to be spent someplace as “investment”. Ha. So all in all there’s a lot more going on with the ABAG proposal than meets the eyes.

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    Legislative Counsel Finds that MTC Broke the Law
    MTC’s purchase of the San Francisco office building is “an impermissible use of bridge toll revenues.”

    In an opinion dated May 4, 2012, the California Legislative Counsel has determined that Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) purchase of a proposed office building at 390 Main Street in San Francisco, “was not authorized by law.”

    “This legal opinion by the respected Legislative Counsel is clear and unequivocal that MTC has overstepped its authority,” said Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee (D-Concord). “I call on MTC to comply with the law and to stop any and all expenditures and actions related to this property. MTC’s illegal actions have placed hundreds of millions of public dollars at risk.”

    The Legislative Counsel of California is Diane Boyer-Vine. Her office is a nonpartisan public agency that drafts legislative proposals, prepares legal opinions, and provides other confidential legal services to the Legislature and others. Below are some direct quotes from her legal opinion:

    · The “purchase and operation of a regional governance co-location facility is not among the purposes that BATA or MTC, is authorized to engage in or promote.”

    · The “purchase would exceed the statutory authority of BATA and MTC, and would be an impermissible use of bridge toll revenues.”

    · The “purchase is substantially related to a purpose other than the administrative needs of the two agencies for office space.”

    · The purchase “could be determined by a court to exceed BATA’s authority, because the facility substantially exceeds the administrative office needs related to toll bridge project and program administration and the Legislature has not authorized the use of toll bridge revenues for the objective of creating a regional governance co-location facility.”

    · It “could be argued that the contract between BAHA and the seller of the building is void, if, … it is determined that acquisition of the building with toll bridge funds was not an authorized use of those funds …”

    · The “Legislature could enact legislation … direct[ing] BAHA to seek rescission of the contract as a void contract.”

    “I have been concerned for several months that MTC is operating without accountability and beyond the authority provided to them in law,” said DeSaulnier. “Consequently, I have authored legislation to immediately halt the current move of MTC’s headquarters until the independent State Auditor has thoroughly reviewed the project.”

    SB 1545 (DeSaulnier) would prohibit the expenditure of any additional public funds on the relocation of the MTC headquarters until after an audit is completed by the State Auditor and all issues raised in that audit (if any) are resolved. The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee unanimously approved this bill in March.

    On August 24, 2011, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously approved a request from DeSaulnier for the State Auditor to audit the proposed move of MTC’s headquarters. The audit is focused in part on whether it is appropriate for MTC to use toll payer money to fund the purchase and improvements of the office building. The audit is scheduled to be completed by June.

    Last December, BAHA voted to spend $1,000,000 for “architectural and engineering services” for the new building. Additionally, BAHA approved another $140,000 annually for “property management services.” BAHA has already spent $93 million to acquire the building. All of these decisions were made even though the audit has yet to be completed.

  5. says

    Regionalism == Communism, look it up. Government is supposed to be accountable to the people. This is why you have local city government and state government. The state is supposed to fund the federal government, per the constitution.

    We have got really far off track here people. Regional government is how you take a country into communism. Look up the methods of the Fabian Socialists. Essentially they operate in stealth, and create a socialist government and then take it over through debasing the currency and bringing ruin to the financial systems.

    Guess what? We are there now. Look up Agenda 21 and how it is creeping into our every way of life. From dams being blown up, to wild lands being “protected” through taking away private property rights, to removing cars from the road, and herding people into condensed housing centered around public transportation.

    It sounds like a nightmare reality from “Brave New World” or the Hunger Games.

  6. Common Tater says

    The wonder is that a person like MDS can come up with legislation that actually makes sense. I can only wonder how his buddies will benefit from this, but I’ll be happy to see it enacted.