Resilient by Design Reception
May 23, San Francisco
I kicked off the festivities with a few remarks at the closing reception for the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Resilient by Design project. The various adaptation plans were displayed in the atrium of the Bay Area Metro Center for the past month. We now face the formidable challenge of converting all the energy and good ideas from this planning process into actual projects that can protect our region for the significant rise in sea levels forecast by climate scientists.
eBART Ribbon Cutting
May 25, Antioch
I joined MTC Commissioner Glover as one of a dozen speakers – success has many fathers and mothers – at the ribbon cutting for the eBART diesel multiple unit (DMU) service that will connect the City of Antioch to the BART system in Pittsburg. Commissioner Pierce also was present and recognized for her role in getting the project over the finish line. Toll bridge funds paid for about half the cost of the $525 million project.
ABAG General Assembly
May 31, San Francisco
We hosted the annual ABAG General Assembly here at the Metro Center. The business meeting included approval of ABAG’s FY 2018-19 budget and an unusually robust discussion of some changes to the ABAG By-Laws. The policy part of the day featured a presentation and discussion of a book written by two Brookings Institution scholars – Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak – entitled The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism. Copies of the book are at your places today.
The big Bay Area news from the June statewide primary election was the passage of Regional Measure 3 by a margin of 55-45%. Semi-official voting results by county can be found here.
TRB Executive Committee
June 13-14, Wood’s Hole
I traveled to Cape Cod for the summer meeting of the Board of Directors for the Transportation Research Board. The major topic of our policy discussion was the future of Connected, Automated, Shared and Electric (CASE) vehicles. As we are discussing here at home in the context of our Horizon planning project, one of the key questions about CASE vehicles is whether all, none, or some number of the four words in that acronym will come to accurately describe the next generation of motor vehicles.
State Budget Approved
June 14, Sacramento
Rebecca Long has prepared an excellent summary of the recently approved State Budget for FY 2018-19.
June 19, Sacramento
Strategic Growth Council staff have released their recommendations for the 4th round of funding under the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. Bay Area projects are slated to receive $52 million, which is right on our 20% share of the state’s population. We have been spoiled in prior cycles by receiving far in excess of our population share, so the running tally of AHSC funds that we have received now stands at 30% of total funds since the program’s inception.
MTC/ABAG Legislative Workshop
June 20, Sacramento
In keeping with our growing practice of joint activities, MTC commissioners joined their ABAG counterparts at the annual legislative workshop that ABAG has been hosting for many years in Sacramento. Several members of our Bay Area state legislative delegation participated in the event, which was followed by some socializing at a local watering hole. Thanks to President Rabbitt and Chair Mackenzie for running the show so smoothly.
June 21, San Francisco
The quarterly meeting of the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee (TBPOC) featured discussion of a construction close-out scenario that will likely determine whether the $9 billion toll bridge seismic retrofit program will conclude over or under budget. The committee approved a negotiated settlement of the claims and counter-claims between Caltrans and American Bridge/Flour (the contractor for the self-anchored suspension span) by authorizing an additional payment to the contractor of $25 million, which was roughly halfway between the opening positions of the two parties. The committee also discussed resolution of several other outstanding budget questions, some dating back to the handover of toll funds from the state to BATA in 2005. After all the puts and takes, the bottom line is a revised forecast that the seismic program could end all major construction activities later this year under the budgets established by AB 144 in 2005 and AB 1175 in 2010.
SB1 Repeal Qualifies
June 25, Sacramento
As expected, the misguided measure to repeal the higher gas taxes and vehicle fees contained in last year’s landmark Senate Bill 1 (Beall) has qualified for the November 2018 statewide ballot. We will be presenting a staff recommendation to oppose the repeal at the July meetings of both MTC and ABAG.
I enclose for your summer reading pleasure an in-depth comparison of BATA and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) in New York published by the Moody’s bond rating agency. I found this white paper particularly interesting since TBTA is one of the most powerful financial legacies of Robert Moses, the controversial master builder of much of modern New York City. If you really want to dig into the legacy of Moses, I recommend Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, which might just be the best book on politics I’ve ever read.
Over the last century, 79 million people obtained lawful permanent resident status in the United States. This month’s Map of the Month visualizes all of them based on their prior country of residence. The brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. at the given time. Please note: 1 dot = 10,000 people.