Executive Order on Project Delivery
August 15, Washington DC
President Trump has issued a second major executive order in an attempt to speed up the delivery of federally funded infrastructure projects. Since many of the hurdles to improved project delivery would require statutory change, it is unclear what effect this executive action will have. In any event, here is a link to the new order.
LEED Gold for Beale Street
August 17, San Francisco
I’m pleased to report that our renovation of 375 Beale Street has been awarded LEED Gold status. In a related note, San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King recently called the project “a surprisingly inviting remake of an industrial block.” Congratulations to the whole BAHA team for these latest plaudits about the Bay Area Metro Center.
Eddy & Taylor Groundbreaking
August 22, San Francisco
I joined Mayor Ed Lee and Commissioner Kim (who arrived on a Ford GoBike) at the groundbreaking for an affordable housing project in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood that was one of the first investments by MTC’s Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) fund. Thanks to our early commitment of funds, the project also received a large grant from the state’s cap & trade program as well.
Cap & Trade Auction
August 22, Sacramento
Speaking of cap & trade, the latest quarterly auction generated $640 million in proceeds for the state’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Fund. Every allowance, both current and future vintage, was sold out. This robust result was being closely watched throughout the state, since this was the first auction since the Legislature cleared a bill that extended the cap & trade program through 2030. Many observers had chalked up the program’s somewhat anemic auction results in recent quarters to the legal uncertainty about cap & trade’s future. Remember that 60% of the cap & trade revenue is dedicated by continuing appropriation to transportation and housing programs that reduce GHG emissions.
BACEI Board Meeting
August 24, San Francisco
ABAG President Pierce, Commissioner Haggerty and I attended a Board of Advisors meeting for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. The luncheon guest was Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, who spoke about the need to expand the partnership between the Bay Area’s research institutions and the private sector.
SMART Grand Opening
August 25, Santa Rosa
I joined a cast of a dozen speakers and hundreds of community residents in Santa Rosa to celebrate the commencement of revenue service on the Bay Area’s newest passenger railroad: Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART). I’d like especially to congratulate Chair Jake Mackenzie who was one of the founding fathers of this new service, and my counterpart Farhad Mansourian, who joined the project during some of its darkest days and saw it through to completion of the initial operating segment from the Sonoma County airport to downtown San Rafael. An extension to the ferry terminal at Larkspur will soon be underway, and there was a vocal contingent from Cloverdale reminding all the speakers at the event that they await rail service someday too.
September 8, Berkeley
I presented a lecture on the Future Interstate Study at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley. I have been named a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the 2017-18 academic year, which means I will be fortunate enough to spend a little more time with the future leaders of our urban planning profession and warn them to avoid all of my many mistakes.
Future Interstate Study
September 12-13, Austin TX
I attended another field hearing of the TRB steering committee for the Future Interstate Study commissioned by Congress in the last surface transportation bill known as the FAST Act. Unfortunately, several scheduled panelists were unable to appear before our committee due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Regional Measure 3 Advances
September 14, Sacramento
In a major victory for regional self-help transportation investment, the Legislature gave final approval to SB 595 (Beall), which authorizes Bay Area voters to consider a toll increase of up to $3 per vehicle on the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges. At the maximum toll rate, the measure would generate approximately $4.5 billion in new revenue for a series of statutorily defined road and transit improvements in the bridge corridors. Thanks to all the commissioners and other stakeholders who pitched in for the past few months to get the bill over the finish line. The bill now awaits action by Governor Brown.
League of Cities Annual Meeting
September 15, Sacramento
I joined Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Air Resources Board member Dan Sperling on a panel with the title: “Will Driverless Vehicles Create a Better Future?” As I stated at the conference, the honest answer to that question is we don’t know yet.
State Housing Package Approved
September 15, Sacramento
Capping one of its most productive sessions in recent memory, the Legislature gave final approval to a multi-bill package constituting a "down payment" on the state's housing crisis. The three principal measures are a modest but permanent affordable housing revenue source (SB 2 authored by former Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins), a $4 billion general obligation bond measure (SB 3 authored by Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chair Jim Beall), and a reform bill to streamline local housing approvals (SB 35 authored by former MTC commissioner, Senator Scott Wiener).
Caltrain Business Plan
September 20, Redwood City
Commissioner Bruins and I joined numerous regional transportation officials at an all-day workshop to discuss the future of the Peninsula Commute Service that has been carrying rail passengers up and down the San Francisco Peninsula since Abraham Lincoln was president. After 150 years, perhaps a fresh look is in order.
September 18-20, Denver
Commissioners Giacopini, Pierce and Spering joined Alix Bockelman and Ken Kirkey at this annual conclave of planning professionals interested in more transit-oriented and sustainable development.
About this Report
You may have noticed that the letterhead on this report looks different: it lists both MTC and ABAG. Starting this month, I will present the same written report of agency activities to both boards.
As depicted in this map, since the turn of the century, the U.S. has undergone a redistribution of population from rural and rust belt counties to urban counties; particularly those along the Northern and Southern Atlantic Seaboard, the Pacific Coast and parts of the Southwest region. 41 percent or 1,295 counties had population declines from 2000 – 2016, with 15 counties experiencing declines of more than 25,000 people or 2.4 percent of the total population. Over the same period, total population for the nation grew by 42 million, 8 percent of which has migrated from declining rural and rust belt counties to growing urban counties along the East and West Coast, and in the Southwest, resulting in a 23 percent increase in population occurring in 60 percent of U.S. counties. The data indicates that the majority of this growth is occurring in just 12 percent of counties, including the Bay Area which has experienced a 2.4 percent increase in population.