Good news & bad news: Damon Slough & MTC

20 Oct

Blogging’s been a bit light here lately because I’ve been super busy and I was in Chicago last week for a much-needed vacation. I’ve been working on a long blog post (or possibly series of blog posts) about the County’s Measure B transportation reauthorization plan, but you’ll have to wait until next week for that. In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple of updates on issues I’ve blogged about – Damon Slough and the MTC headquarters relocation.

I’ll start with the bad (though unsurprising) news. The MTC voted last Wednesday to purchase 390 Main Street in San Francisco for their headquarters. Here’s a report from Joyce Roy:

At [Wednesday's] meeting, the same six commissioners voted against the purchase and eight in favor. Not a rousing endorsement, but enough, so they will be closing tomorrow or Friday. The price came down from $107 million to $93 million What a bargain, for a white elephant no other buyer wanted!

Rebecca Kaplan, who is really on top of this, showed me a letter dated July 15, 2011 from CBRE, the commercial real estate agency. It claimed that unless a decision was made at the July 27th meeting, the “property will be immediately taken to the open market for sale in a competitive bid process.” It stated the price would then likely be 15% – 25% over the $107 million price. They were only off by $14 million!

A few in the public spoke after the decision. Will Travis, Executive Director of BCDC, stated they would be willing to move in after their lease expires in 2013. He said, “people shape buildings as much as buildings shape people.” When I spoke, I said I agree that buildings shape people, and how would people be shaped working in a dungeon-like space? I also said the good news is that this decision could help expedite the re-structuring of regional agencies so we finally would have an MPO. (Scott Haggerty energetically shook his head.)

Explanation: Most regions have a MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) to distribute federal transportation funds. But we have a split with one body, MTC handing out the dough for transportation, and another, ABAG, concerned with land use. An MPO would connect transportation and land use.

It’s disappointing that MTC went through with this purchase, but I agree with Joyce that what could come of the oversight from Senate Transportation Chair Mark DeSaulnier is very exciting.

But that’s not the good news.

Remember that a couple of weeks ago I urged you to vote for one of Save the Bay’s Bay Trash Hot Spots, Damon Slough? For weeks, Oakland’s Damon Slough had been trailing another one of the hot spots, but with your help, Damon Slough received the most votes!

UPDATE: Here’s the final vote tally, via Save the Bay’s blog:

Damon Slough, Oakland 290
Pulgas Creek, San Carlos 233
Guadalupe River, San Jose 189
Mission Creek, San Francisco 171
Baxter Creek, Richmond 113

That means that Save the Bay will organize volunteer clean ups at Damon Slough throughout 2012. That’s a good thing because this is what Karen Smulevitz wrote in response to my blog post about Damon Slough:

Damon Slough is in my backyard. My Adopt-a-Spot is Arroyo Viejo Creek in Arroyo Viejo Park, the same creek that runs by the zoo. As it travels down through Oakland, it meets up with Lions Creek, and the joined waters flow into Damon Marsh and Slough before entering the Estuary; trash builds up and constricts the flow, and the plastics and cigarette butts and styrofoam pollute the nesting areas of marsh birds and goes on to be ingested by ocean fish and becoming part of our food chain. The plastic is in our body tissues in minute amounts and in the Pacific in huge floating masses of trash.

So, yeah, voting for Damon Slough is a no-brainer. It needs all the help it can get. It was added to Oakland sites for this year’s Creek to Bay Day, and the total poundage of the city’s retrieved trash almost doubled from last year. And the trash collects all year round, and can be seen by visitors going to the airport, however briefly.

Thanks to everyone who voted! I hope you’ll consider taking the next step and volunteering with Save the Bay when they host the clean ups next year – I’ll be sure to write about those opportunities here.

Previous posts on MTC’s relocation:

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One Response to “Good news & bad news: Damon Slough & MTC”

  1. veronicabeaty October 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    How disappointing. The irony of not being able to reach a transportation commission efficiently on public transit is just astounding.

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