UPDATE: Woo hoo! The MTC voted for this proposal (9 yes – 3 no – 1 abstention). Next it goes to the Assembly.
Wow. For a long time transit advocates have complained about the geographical inequity of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and other metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) around the country. While Oakland and San Jose have no representation on MTC, cities as small as Rohnert Park do! That’s because most of the Commission seats are divvied up by counties, with the smaller counties having one representative and the larger counties having two representatives. (Alameda County is currently represented by Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.)
This could all change tomorrow. As Denis Cuff reports, the MTC is considering adding two commissioners to its 19 member board. These commissioners would represent Oakland and San Jose and be appointed by the mayors of the two cities. This makes an immense amount of sense, not only because Alameda and Santa Clara are the two largest counties in the region, but also because it’s ridiculous that two of the largest Bay Area cities have no representation on the Commission.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had about the absurdity and unfairness of Oakland not having a representative on the MTC. I even asked Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood abut this at Netroots Nation. If you’ve ever talked to me about transit, chances are you’re sick of hearing me talk about this issue.
It’s impossible to know, but I think the MTC discussions about the Oakland Airport Connector would have been very different with an Oakland representative on the Commission. Beyond the OAC, Oakland has important transportation needs, like equitable funding of AC Transit and funding for the Broadway Shuttle. Plus, we have a Port and airport that demand careful attention and planning.
I can hardly believe I’m writing this but I agree 100% with Scott Haggerty, who wrote a persuasive memo on this issue that’s worth reading if you’re unconvinced.
Of course, not everyone agrees that adding these two seats is a good idea. I don’t know where the other commissioners stand, but Cuff reports that the two Contra Costa County commissioners, Federal Glover and Amy Worth, oppose the proposal.
The vote is tomorrow, Wednesday, January 26th. The meeting starts at 9:30am at 101 Eighth Street in downtown Oakland (across the street from Lake Merritt BART). This is the first item on the agenda so if you’d like to speak, you should be able to do so quickly and then leave.
This proposal won’t fix everything that is wrong with the MTC, but it will be a big step in the right direction. Let’s hope that Oakland will soon have the representation it deserves on the MTC!