Regional Government is Evolving in 2018: Housing & Transportation Fixes Proposed

Louise Rothman-Riemer, LWV Oakland President, moderates panel of housing and transportation experts

Hopeful optimism about Regional Government in the 9 county Bay Area diffused through 2018 Bay Area League Day hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area at Laney College on Feb. 3. The theme “Winds of Change” was on target, as speakers addressed how local public entities are pursuing their individual mandates, but also trying to cooperate with each other in novel ways on “dire” problems like housing and traffic. Welcoming remarks by LWVBA President Madeline Kronenberg, new Laney College President Tammeil Gilkerson and LWVO President Louise Rothman-Riemer opened the conference.

Some memorable quotes from the meeting:
* “Habitat for Hypocrisy”–Marin County and some bay area cities do not build any or their fair share of housing for low and moderate income people, so, for example, about 70,000 people commute into Marin County every day
“160,000 commute from the Central Valley” into the cities along the bay.
•  Bay Metro Center is the name for the newly merged staff of ABAG & MTC; the two agencies continue to debate how the two very different boards of directors for the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission can merge.
Commercial development pays for its self [in taxes]; housing does not-
-a structural problem

Bay Area League has posted videos of individual speakers and panels and excellent background info on the League’s view of regional government from the 1970’s onward; bios of speakers and more here . also recorded the program here.

Need to integrate regional housing and transportation planning & funding: LWVBA Regional Governance Director Kathleen Cha: Regional Planning Director of SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) introduced the morning panel: Egon Terplan, keynote speaker State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-10th) and ABAG (Associated Bay Area Governments) immediate Past President Julie Pierce. All stressed the need to implement and finance regional integration on housing and transportation, as well as climate mitigation and particularly adaptation, with updated strategies – e.g., ongoing collection of massive amounts of data for immensely complicated projects and developing new partnerships and promoting integration of previously distant entities. Especially encouraging was Pierce’s update on the ongoing merger of MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) and ABAG, a potential game-changer for more effective Regional Government.

Encouraging those most affected by shortage of low and moderate cost housing and of adequate public transportation to vote–it can be done: The afternoon program, moderated by LWVO President Louise Rothman-Riemer, featured a panel giving Regional Government “weather reports”: Allison Brooks, Executive Director of the Bay Area Regional Collaborative, Ken Kirkey, MTC Planning Director, Leslye Corsiglia, Co-Executive Director of CASA (Committee to House the Bay Area), Matt Regan, Senior Vice President of Public Policy on the Bay Area Council, Egon Terplan of SPUR, Pedro Galvao, Regional Planning and Policy Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA. Rothman-Riemer stimulated discussion with her call to register more people of color to vote and to become engaged in the issues raised by the panel.

A surprise guest of an appearance by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf energized the audience with her realistic but encouraging remarks on how Regional Government could boost affordable housing and mass transport for favorable “Winds of Change.”


Ruby MacDonald

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