July/August 1995, No. 17
Service Matters is a publication of the Association of Bay Area Governments, the planning and services agency for the San Francisco Bay Area's 9 counties and 100 cities.
Each month when the utility bill arrives in the mail we are all reminded of the stinging price of electricity.
But did you know that Californians pay almost 50% more than other consumers of electricity nationwide? And according to a 1993 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricity rates in the San Francisco Bay Area were the second highest in the nation!
To combat this multi-million dollar drain on limited municipal revenues, ABAG is pursuing the formation of a "power pool" (or collective electricity purchasing program) to capitalize on the buying power of all the cities and counties throughout the Bay Area.
"Local governments spend millions of dollars each year on electricity," said Eugene Leong. "ABAG's goal is to coordinate electricity purchases and negotiate lower rates for our members. It will be like getting an enormous discount for buying in bulk."
ABAG estimates that Bay Area local governments may spend up to $100 million annually on electricity (up to $1000 per employee each year!)
The initial power pool concept is aimed at electricity purchased directly for use by cities and counties. However, the tremendous savings available through collective purchasing may eventually be made available to citizen consumers as well.
ABAG is studying an emerging concept called "muni-lite" through which cities and counties may be able to provide low-cost electricity to their residents at a substantial savings. This program could also serve as a revenue source for the local jurisdictions.
ABAG is looking to organize ABAG members into "buying blocks" that will be attractive to sellers of electricity, while creating significant savings for participants.
ABAG is also exploring the possibility of applying the power pool idea to natural gas purchases.
Leong announced the proposal for the Bay Area power pool at a June 22 conference. ABAG has hosted one organizational meeting to discuss the legal and technical requirements with city and county representatives - but it is not too late to take advantage of the savings available by power pooling.
Start saving now!
More than 20 government access channels on cable television are now airing gavel-to-gavel coverage of ABAG's executive board meetings. Thanks to vice-mayor Dick Spees, Oakland's KTOP-TV will videotape the bi-monthly meetings, and duplicates of the tapes will be distributed to throughout the region.
ABAG's "television debut" was May 18. You can catch the next broadcast following the board's meeting on July 20; check local listings for the exact date and time.
For elected officials and citizens around the Bay who find it difficult to attend board meetings, this new exposure on cable television will make it convenient to stay informed in the comfort of your own home.
According to preliminary figures being generated by ABAG, tens of thousands of houses will be absolutely uninhabitable following an earthquake on the Hayward fault. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people will be forced from their homes and many of them will require public shelter.
While these numbers are being finalized for official publication this fall, ABAG would like to showcase programs which have been designed to reduce housing losses and/or to curtail or accommodate shelter demands following a major earthquake.
Programs will be judged based on their focus on: areas of high shaking potential, high structural vulnerability, and/or low income populations. Contest winners will be recognized at ABAG's Fall 1995 General Assembly.
The American Planning Association's (APA) 1995 Distinguished Leadership Award (for the northern section of the California Chapter) was given to Stana Hearne, recognizing her more than 20 years of enthusiastic service in helping design environmental, recreational and land use plans for the Bay Area.
A dedicated member of The Bay Trail Project's steering committee and Board of Directors (overseeing its non-profit corporation), Hearne's commitments of time and energy have been vital to the successful completion of a ten-mile segment of the trail between Richmond and Emeryville. Hearne also represents the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area on ABAG's Regional Planning Committee. She is known for her thousands of hours of service and her unique ability to build consensus among interest groups, local governments and state agencies that frequently have disparate points of view.
All other APA awards for California's northern section went to the following ABAG members:
City of San Jose - Comprehensive Plan of Unusually High
Colma BART Station Specific Plan - Program, Process
or Ordinance of Unusually High Merit
(Honorable Mention to Sonoma County for its 1994 Aggregate
Resources Management Plan)
City of Rohnert Park Tower Apartments - Specific Planning
Project of Unusually High Merit (Burbank Housing Development
City of Berkeley Downtown Design Guidelines - Planning
Dealing with a Specific Aspect of the Planning Process
(Honorable Mention to ABAG/BAAQMD for the document, "Improving Air Quality Through Local Plans and Programs"
Statewide award winners will be announced in October.
ABAG is happy to welcome Patty Spangler as the new Assistant to the executive director. With 12 years experience at the local, state and federal levels, Spangler brings a wealth of knowledge and a purposeful attitude to her new duties.
Most recently a management consultant to Alameda and Santa Clara counties, Spangler has also worked for the Alameda County Office of Policy and Program Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Council of State Governments.
With expertise in environment, transportation, land use, and energy, Spangler's skills also include organizational development and management analysis. "My focus is on fostering government innovations," Spangler said. "I'd like to help local governments improve productivity and reduce costs."
One of her first assignments is the powerpool project, helping ABAG members reap savings from collective purchases of electricity.
Spangler earned a bachelor's degree from Willamette University and a master's degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
If you represent a city or county that is trying to save money, one of the most exciting categories to emerge on the Internet is the ABAG Contracts Exchange.
Accessible through abagOnline, the Contracts Exchange is a site for local governments to post Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and other announcements.
The ABAG Contracts Exchange may be accessed by first finding the homepage for abagOnline. This may be accomplished in four different ways:
After reaching the homepage, locate the "San Francisco Bay Area" category and click on "Contracts."
Upon reaching this site, the user may scan or retrieve postings for:
The ABAG Contracts Exchange, which is being upgraded daily, will soon include a separate informational listing for certified minority and women-owned businesses - stay tuned!
abagOnline was proud to welcome the City of Petaluma, and the City and County of San Francisco as the first jurisdictions to post RFPs online. The City of San Ramon joined the Contracts Exchange at the end of June.
RFP postings may be submitted to ABAG by mailing in a disk or directly by e-mail - it's easy. Call ABAG for assistance and get online!
Detailed full-color maps are now available online depicting earthquake shaking hazards around the bay. From the abagOnline homepage, click on "earthquake maps." You will be able to:
The Goal: 70 Bay Area jurisdictions with an active presence on the Internet through abagOnline by March 1996.
The Method: small training classes with one-on-one assistance, complete technical support, and follow-up telephone help.
Since April, ABAG has been teaching cities, counties, special districts and other government agencies how to join the Internet.
For $50 and three hours of "classtime," ABAG will help establish your homepage, train two members of your staff, and alleviate your civic fears of getting sucked into cyberspace.
Ken Campo, Finance Director for the City of Vallejo, was effusive in his praise for ABAG's Internet training class. "This is the best $50 our city has spent in a very long time," Campo said.
"The time is now for government to get online," said Terry Bursztynsky, ABAG's project manager for abagOnline. "We want to help every jurisdiction in the Bay Area get involved, because those which don't will be left behind technologically and will miss opportunities to save money."
Already, agencies have reported significant savings in procurement since posting RFPs on the Internet. Others note a dramatic increase in citizen participation after calling for public comment online.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority calculates that, since 1992, they have saved 7% on over $2 billion worth of contracts due to the increased competition achieved by online exposure. Orange County placed one RFP on the LA bulletin board and received 50% more bids than usual!
Electronic RFP information is just one of the many benefits of joining the Internet. It offers a new medium through which cities and counties can serve the public: by providing job listings, advertising public events, posting zoning information and providing permit assistance, promoting recycling activities, and offering educational materials for children.
Public information may be retrieved without waiting in lines, tying up phones, locating the proper government employee to answer the question, photocopying documents or even licking a stamp.
ABAG has already trained representatives from fourteen cities, three counties, and three special districts. An additional six classes are being scheduled for July. Each class will accommodate no more than three agencies in order to provide extremely individualized attention.
With limited preparation, your jurisdiction will have a homepage on the Internet by the end of the class, and your staff will be trained to augment it in the future.
July 11. 2 p.m. San Francisco Bay Trail Semi-Annual Board Meeting. Wildlife Refuge, Newark.
July 13. 9:30 a.m. San Francisco Estuary Project: South Bay Geographic Subcommittee. Wildlife Refuge, Fremont.
July 14. 10 a.m. Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness and Housing. ABAG Room 106B.
July 18. 8 a.m. Eight Hour OSHA Refresher Course. MetroCenter Auditorium.
July 19. 9:30 a.m. San Francisco Estuary Project: Delta Geographic Subcommittee. Jean Harvie Community Center, Walnut Grove.
July 20. 3:30 p.m. Legislation and Governmental Organization Committee. ABAG Room 106B.
July 20. 5 p.m. ABAG Finance Corporation. ABAG Room 102A.
July 20. 5:15 p.m. Finance and Personnel Committee. ABAG Room 102A.
July 20. 7:30 p.m. Executive Board. MetroCenter Auditorium.
July 27. 8 a.m. Hazardous Waste Generators Course. MetroCenter Auditorium.
July 28. 8 a.m. Hazardous Materials Facility Inspection Course. MetroCenter Auditorium.
August 7-9. 8 a.m. Twenty Four Hour OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations Training Classes. MetroCenter Auditorium. (August 7-11 Forty Hour Class; August 10-11 Sixteen Hour Class)
Supervisor Tom Torlakson, President
Councilmember Charlotte Powers, Vice President
Supervisor Mary Griffin, Immediate Past President
Eugene Y. Leong, Secretary/Treasurer and Executive Director
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