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Ezra Rapport, the Executive Director of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), has issued an official response to the attempt by the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MTC) to takeover all of ABAG's current planning functions, by withholding funding that ABAG needs to continue its operations. This blatant attempt to extort a public joint powers authority by an unelected state agency is unprecedented.
The entire response is attached below.
For more information and commentary on this subject please go to "The Metropolitan Transportation Commission Tries to Force ABAG to Give Up Control of Planning," "Displacement Policy at Risk in Power Struggle Between ABAG & MTC," "Secrecy Rules in Regional Planning Power Struggle Between MTC & ABAG," and "Power Play Over Control of Bay Area's Regional Governance."
ABAG Response to MTC Proposal to Transfer Regional Land Use Planning Staff and Associated FY 2015-16 Planning Budget
This white paper analyzes MTC's proposal to transfer regional land use planning and research staff from ABAG to MTC.
The proposal represents a major shift in regional land use planning and could result in ABAG's insolvency with significant consequences to cities and counties and ABAG's employees. MTC's proposal is driven by either a) an attempt to gain efficiencies in the planning process; or b) a desire on the part of MTC to enter into the field of land use planning in addition to its role as a transportation agency.
If the issue is about efficiencies, ABAG joins MTC in searching for new ways to improve the process and utilize fewer taxpayer dollars. Efficiencies in regional planning have not been explored in detail since the advent of SB 375 in 2008. If the issue is about MTC taking on a new land use role, ABAG and MTC should immediately begin discussions about the merger of the two agencies. With merger, the best work of both agencies can maintain continuity and ABAG can remain solvent as a Council of Governments.
This would reflect the way other regions are organized, and would require the retention of a consultant team to advise and support a merger process.
In either case, MTC's proposal should not be fast tracked. The discussion of issues should be thoughtful and every effort made to incur the least harm. On the other hand, ABAG is not seeking to delay the analysis and paralyze the process. Specific milestones should be created to hear back from the organizational consultant.
At this juncture, ABAG proposes four actions:
(1) Restore ABAG's budget for FY 2015-2016;
(2) Retain a third party consultant to evaluate existing conditions and develop proposals;
(3) Establish a subcommittee from ABAG and MTC boards to prepare an Action Plan; and
(4) Schedule regular progress reports to the joint MTC Planning Committee/ABAG Administrative Committee.