FPPC opens investigation of MTC

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced that it has opened an investigation into TRANSDEF‘s allegations that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and BATA, its alter ego, illegally expended public resources to promote passage of Regional Measure 3 (RM3). While similar alleged conduct by AC Transit will also be investigated, no other parties were named by FPPC. See Marin IJ press coverage. The same article appeared on the East Bay Times site. Further details on the TRANSDEF complaint are available here: MTC Caught Red-Handed in Regional Measure 3 Campaign Violations.

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TRANSDEF’s first thoughts on the Megameasure

TRANSDEF had a complicated reaction to the announcement of the proposed Megameasure. (All quotes referred to are contained in that post.) Service considerations We like the focus on world-class transit, but don’t trust that the sponsors of the measure mean the same thing we do. They have no prior history of supporting the cost-effective transit we support. To our knowledge, they have only supported the expensive brands of transit: BART and high-speed rail. Because the fundamental transportation problem of the Bay Area is too many cars on the roads, a solution viable for the long term must facilitate car-free living. That means…

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A Primer on the Megameasure

Rumors have been circulating for months that the Bay Area Council (BAC), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) and SPUR were quietly floating a proposal for a $50 – 100 billion dollar revenue measure, known colloquially as the Megameasure. The groups finally went public in early June, with extensive press coverage: Mega-measure: $100 billion traffic-busting tax plan for the Bay Area taking shape A multi-billion-dollar ‘mega measure’ to fix Bay Area traffic for good heading your way The groups held their first public briefing on their proposal at the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s workshop: Notable Highlights: At 2:26–But now, we…

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MTC Caught Red-Handed in Regional Measure 3 Campaign Violations

TRANSDEF today filed a Complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and BATA, its alter ego, illegally expended public resources to promote passage of Regional Measure 3 (RM3). In addition, the Complaint alleges that MTC/BATA illegally coordinated with the Yes on RM3 campaign, engaged in impermissible express advocacy, and then failed to report these efforts as campaign expenditures. Exactly one year ago today, voters gave a 55% approval to RM3, a bridge toll increase expected to raise $4.5 billion. While the first of three increases has already gone into effect, the funds…

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New articles on Seattle

Politico has published a great account Has Seattle Found the Solution to Driving Alone to Work? Seattle voters made the decision to put their money into transit, on a big scale. It has paid off handsomely. Bay Area voters were cajoled instead to throw more money at highways. That will not turn out well. Streetsblog digs into solutions to the housing crisis with Seattle and Minneapolis: A Tale of Two Upzones.  As these articles make clear, Northern California is not a center for innovation in the fields of transportation and housing.

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Amazing changes in San Diego

San Diego used to be the most reactionary of the State’s large transportation agencies. No longer! It’s amazing what losing a few environmental lawsuits can do. Now, the San Diego Association of Governments, SANDAG, is leading the State in responding to the climate change crisis. SANDAG’s new Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, made headlines when he announced that San Diego Can’t Hit State Climate Goals Without Major Transportation Changes. While TRANSDEF has been saying that for decades, it’s different when it comes from an agency head. State reports indicate that greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles are increasing, despite efforts to reduce them. This…

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High-Speed Rail releases Project Update

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) just released its 2019 Project Update Report. This $20 billion plan would provide HSR service between Bakersfield and Merced. That’s $15 billion more than the $5 billion that have already been spent. These numbers goes so far beyond the world of ordinary transportation projects as to verge on self-parody or an extremely elaborate hoax. TRANSDEF does not consider the Project Update Report to be a credible transportation plan. No rail professional in Europe or Asia would ever present a proposal so over the top. Here are TRANSDEF’s observations after a quick read of the…

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The personal dimension of climate change activism

Over the years, I’ve often compared the emotional difficulties of being a climate activist with the challenges faced by hospice workers: we are surrounded by death. Huge numbers of species are dying in the present, and far more will go extinct as temperatures continue to rise. It’s truly crazy-making to advocate for a strong governmental response to the seemingly obvious threat of climate change, yet receive only blank stares from the elected and appointed officials who have the authority to initiate action. It seems that most people just can’t imagine a world different from their current pleasant existence. Unfortunately for…

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I just went carless

By Steve Heimoff When I told my old friend, David Schonbrunn, I was going carless, he asked if I would tell my story for TRANSDEF. So here it is. I’m 72 years old. I came of age during an era when having a car was practically a matter of patriotism. Of course you need a car! This is America! Every American has to have a car. How else can you get around? My father bought a new car every three years. As soon as I was able to afford one, I bought a car. too. Not having a car was—well,…

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