November 7, 2016
To: Mayors, City Council Members, Supervisors, and City Managers and County Administrators
From: Dave Cortese, MTC Chair and Julie Pierce, ABAG President
Re: Update on Plan Bay Area 2040 and ABAG/MTC Staff Consolidation
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are working together more closely than ever to chart a path toward a more sustainable future. And more than ever, we need the partnership of the region's 101 cities and nine counties to make our emerging vision a reality. With that in mind, we are taking this opportunity to brief local officials on the status of the Preferred Scenario for Plan Bay Area 2040, a long-range framework to guide housing development and transportation investments across the region over the next 25 years. MTC and ABAG are moving on a schedule to adopt the Plan Bay Area Preferred Scenario this month, at a joint meeting on November 17.
But first we would like to step back and put these recent developments in context. In the late spring of 2016, three major regional agencies moved to a new regional headquarters building in the SoMa area of San Francisco: ABAG, MTC and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission will join us in 2017. The move was triggered in no small part by state Senate Bill 375, a mandate to come together to drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area and across the state. So important is this mandate that we worked it into our address: Our new home in the Bay Area Metro Center is located at 375 Beale Street, in San Francisco's Rincon Hill neighborhood.
By co-locating our offices and public meeting spaces, our three regional agencies have made a bold statement that we intend to work closely together to address not just climate change, and the associated threats of sea level rise, but also other pressing issues of the day, including soaring housing costs, inadequate housing production at all levels, encroachment on open space, aging transit systems, freeway congestion, and more.
And now ABAG and MTC are taking our commitment to regional collaboration to the next level by merging our two staffs. The wheels were set in motion in May of this year, when our respective governing boards both approved a staff consolidation in concept. While MTC and ABAG's planning staffs are collaborating on the development of Plan Bay Area 2040, the actual merger of our staffs is a game changer — it will further break down barriers, foster the sharing of technical knowledge, encourage innovation and better focus the resources of both agencies to address the region's greatest challenges. It is a win-win for the future of the Bay Area.
To that end, we are wasting no time in implementing this staff consolidation. A human resources consultant is on board to iron out issues relating to pay scales, job titles, benefits and the like, while a financial consultant is working to provide the analysis and alternative frameworks to ensure financial health for both agencies' finances through the staff consolidation. A legal review has also been undertaken to ensure there are no legal impediments to the planned staff consolidation.
Even as the staffs of the two partner agencies merge, their governing bodies will retain their independence and respective statutory responsibilities for the time being. ABAG will still serve as the region's Council of Governments (COG), while MTC will continue to serve as the region's Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). ABAG's Executive Board and its committees will still convene their regular meetings, as will MTC's Commission and its standing committees.
Our goal is to execute a contract for services in early 2017 to be followed shortly after by the staff consolidation. The contract for services will be the document that provides for adequate staffing and support for all of ABAG's statutory duties and responsibilities as the Bay Area's Council of Governments. Under the leadership of Executive Director Steve Heminger, the combined MTC/ABAG staff will be positioned to craft a solid long-range plan in which transportation investments, housing production and regional land use policies will be synced more closely than ever before.
Released in late August as a draft, the Preferred Scenario coming before the ABAG and MTC governing bodies for action this month constitutes a key building block of Plan Bay Area 2040. This final Preferred Scenario has benefited from input from local jurisdictions via planning director workshops in all nine counties, and over 20 one-on-one meetings. Staff also coordinated with the region's congestion management agencies and transit operators regarding the strategies for investing an anticipated $310 billion in anticipated transportation revenues over the 25-year life of the plan.
Based on this input, we made a number of significant adjustments to the Preferred Scenario. You can find a synopsis of the changes in the packet for the November 4 Joint Committee meeting of MTC's Planning Committee and ABAG's Administrative Committee here. This memo also details how this Preferred Scenario performs in terms of such measures as equity, climate protection, open space preservation, middle-wage job creation, congestion reduction and housing affordability.
The MTC Commission and ABAG Executive Board will consider adoption of the Preferred Scenario on Thursday, November 17, starting at 7 p.m. in our joint Board Room, at the Bay Area Metro Center, 375 Beale Street, San Francisco. If you can't join us, we invite you to watch the meeting in real-time or at your leisure at mtc.ca.gov/whats-happening/meetings. We also welcome your comments — just send an email to either or both of us at the addresses shown below.
Original Letter signed by