The Marin Post

The Voice of the Community

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Livable California and CVP send BART cease and desist letter for Brown Act violation

Senate Bill 50 (Wiener, San Francisco) is the most sweeping anti-local control legislation in California’s history. It represents the result of years of well-financed efforts by major banking, real estate development and corporate interests, and opportunistic Sacramento politicians pushing to remove local control of zoning and planning. The true purposes of SB 50 are disguised by a carefully crafted marketing campaign, which claims that unlimited growth will result in housing affordability.

This legislation is opposed by major grassroots community organizations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other major cities, who correctly recognize it as a path to displacement of existing residents and local-serving, small businesses.

Susan Kirsch, president of Livable California, notes that “While the wealthy benefit, the rest of us will discover housing gets more expensive as taxes and fees to fund regional agencies with unelected leadership drain discretionary income.”

This legislation should be of concern to all San Francisco Bay Area residents. Accordingly, the Marin Post has continued to publish in-depth analysis highlighting the implications of SB 50, and guidance about how to take action to ensure that community voices are heard.

The rollout of this proposed legislation has included a rapid push by Sacramento legislators to secure the endorsement of major public agencies such as San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). As a result, SB 50 has been advanced and endorsed with little discussion or public input, and in some cases in clear violation of California’s Open Meetings laws.

On Friday, April 12, 2019, attorney Jason Bezis, representing Livable California, Inc. and Community Venture Partners, Inc., filed a cease and desist demand letter with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors to “cure or correct Brown Act Violations” at the BART Board’s March 14, 2019 special meeting to endorse Senate Bill 50.

In the letter, dated April 12, 2019, the complainants allege that the BART Board took part in substantial violations of central provisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act and Article I, Section 3 of the California Constitution, which jeopardize the finality of actions taken by the BART Board on March 14, 2019, including but not limited to the Board’s endorsement of Senate Bill 50. Their letter demands cure or correction of these past violations and that the BART Board cease and desist from such future violations.

At its special meeting of March 14, 2019, the BART Board took action to support Senate Bill 50. The action taken (their “decision”) was not in compliance with the Brown Act and Article I, Section 3, because BART failed to provide adequate notice to the public, and there was no finding of fact by the BART Board to support their decision to call for a special meeting, or that urgent action was necessary on a matter unforeseen at the time the regular meeting agenda was posted.

To read the letter in its entirety, CLICK HERE

Livable California, Inc., a San Francisco-based California nonprofit corporation, is a statewide coalition of elected officials and community leaders who work together to educate, network and advocate for community interests around land use, zoning, transportation, and housing issues. Its mission is: (1) to empower communities to take action to support local community planning and decision making with the goal of an equitable and sustainable future for California; and (2) to grow and sustain communities that meet the needs of individuals and families, governed by locally elected City Councils and Boards of Supervisors, in collaboration with regional agencies, and free from undue influence of big business and Sacramento.

Community Venture Partners, Inc. is a Bay Area-based California nonprofit organization that facilitates and assists community-based projects, programs and initiatives that demonstrate the highest principles of economic, social and environmental sustainability. CVP is committed to the need for a transparent, "bottom up" public process that incorporates under-served community voices into government decision-making. The projects, events, programs and services offered by Community Venture Partners address a variety of community, local and regional issues related to city, county and regional planning, community involvement, affordable housing, sustainable development, and social and environmental impacts of development. CVP takes every opportunity to promote community voices on these issues.