Challenge to MTC’s funding of parking garage

In 2016, BART was under pressure from local residents to build another parking garage at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. TRANSDEF responded with a 2017 letter, challenging the environmental review.  BART decided in 2017 to not proceed with the project. Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker then cut a deal with the Brown Administration (reportedly in exchange for her vote on the Cap and Trade bill) to give a $20 million grant to the garage project. A grant was then dutifully made by the State Transportation Agency, CalSTA, from its Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, which is funded by the GHG Cap and Trade program. TRANSDEF sent CalSTA this letter, objecting to the use of funds intended for the reduction of GHGs for the building of a parking garage. CalSTA provided a lame analysis in justification of its obviously political funding decision to provide GHG reduction funds to a parking garage.

Even though there was a “groundbreaking” in 2018 (pointedly staged just before the November election), the project remained only partially funded and unbuilt, as indicated in this article.

In 2019, MTC stepped in to provide $7 million in additional funding for the garage. With a construction contract awarded in 2022, TRANSDEF and the Alameda County Taxpayers Association responded with a demand letter, asking MTC to rescind the funding because the purported source, Regional Measure 2, did not authorize bridge tolls to be used to build parking. With BART ridership down because of the pandemic, it is unclear whether the garage will ever generate the revenue needed to pay for its operation, not to mention its capital cost.

As expressed in its letter to CalSTA, TRANSDEF believes that public subsidies for parking structures are counterproductive in the era of Climate Change. Subsidies encourage driving, which causes both congestion and GHG emissions. Market prices for parking would provide incentives for the use of alternatives to driving, such as local shuttle buses.

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