ABAG's Power Purchasing Pool is surging ahead with its program to purchase natural gas in bulk for cities, counties, and special districts in the Bay Area.
To date, nearly 80 entities have requested billing data from PG&E - the first step to reducing next year's gas bill. Meanwhile, ABAG is working on the bid process with the goal of delivering natural gas to participating members at a discounted price in the first quarter of 1996. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are going out in November, the bid results will be received in December, and ABAG will award the contract to the lowest bidder in January.
Despite high-level overtures of support, PG&E community representatives have been actively working to undermine the ABAG power pool at the local level. Numerous members report that PG&E representatives have been working to dissuade their participation by implying that the power pool is illegal, by disputing the savings estimates, by claiming that better prices can be obtained elsewhere, or by making false assumptions regarding the legal obligations of participants. In addition, several members report that all references to electricity-buying were removed from power pool resolutions at the insistence of PG&E. As one city manager in Marin County said, "It's time for PG&E to devote less time trying to prevent local government savings, and more time becoming cost-effective and competitive."
Regardless of the obstacles, ABAG is committed to helping members achieve savings in their natural gas purchases.
When the lowest bid to supply gas is determined, ABAG will distribute to each interested jurisdiction a proposal comparing PG&E rates with ABAG power pool rates. And yes, for those who have been told otherwise, the proposal will compare ABAG rates to the "new, lower rates" proposed by PG&E.
After receiving the price comparison, all prospective participants may accept or reject the ABAG proposal. Those members who see a savings through the ABAG power pool and choose to participate will only be asked to commit to the program for one year.
Meanwhile, ABAG continues to monitor the pending deregulation of electricity and to advocate for an option which will allow aggregate purchases by local governments at the earliest possible date.
Participation in the power pool for natural gas and the future pool for electricity will be mutually exclusive; members need not join one to be eligible for the other.
For more information on joining the power pool, please call Patty Spangler at 510/464-7933 or e-mail PatriciaS@abag.ca.gov.
Two exciting and innovative subregional planning projects are nearing completion in Sonoma County and in the East Bay's Tri-Valley.
Sponsored and funded by ABAG and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, these subregional planning projects are voluntary pilot programs dedicated to achieving consensus among neighboring jurisdictions on vital planning, development and conservation issues.
Five topical issues have been addressed in planning strategies prepared for both subregions:
The Tri-Valley Planning Committee, which includes the mayors of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon, and Supervisors from Alameda and Contra Costa counties, met weekly throughout the summer and has approved a draft Tri-Valley Subregional Planning Strategy. The Tri-Valley Strategy was reviewed at four public workshops in mid-October and is scheduled for final adoption in November.
The Sonoma County Mayors and Councilmembers Association, with a representative from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, served as the governing board for the Sonoma Subregional Planning Project. Planning directors from the nine incorporated cities and the county (with support from ABAG staff and a private consultant) also met regularly over the summer and have prepared a Draft Subregional Issues and Policy Document for Sonoma County.
A subset of the governing board provided crucial policy directives during the month of October. This working group was asked to review the draft document and indicate support or concerns for reconsideration. A facilitator was to guide the working group in developing consensus on the outstanding issues. The final document was slated for presentation to the Board of Supervisors on November 9.
The Tri-Valley project was driven by discussion among elected officials, whereas the Sonoma project relied more extensively on the initial involvement and expertise of planning directors. Both the process and the products of these subregional planning projects will be reviewed for use as models for other Bay Area subregions.
The challenge of subregional planning is to devise a process that respects both the individual and shared characteristics of a subregion, while effectively addressing the local impact of regional issues such as traffic congestion, air quality, needed housing, and jobs.
The outstanding component is, of course, implementation. How can a voluntary, cooperative plan be activated without mandates? The greatest incentive to subregional agreement is likely to be one that is aimed at avoiding mandates being handed down from the state.
These questions will be addressed in Projections '96 and answered at a December economic conference entitled, Focus on Future Growth. The three hour conference is the biennial presentation of the latest economic and demographic forecast prepared by ABAG.
The Projections conference will forecast population increases, job gains in specific industries, household growth, household incomes, and the numbers of employed residents - by city and by county - in five year increments through the year 2015. Base closures, corporate restructuring and local growth initiatives will also be addressed.
The Projections '96 conference will take place on Wednesday, December 6, 1995 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter, at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland (across from the Lake Merritt BART station).
The cost of attending the conference is $75 for ABAG members and $100 for non-members. Registration is requested by November 30.
The Projections report, with regional totals, separate chapters for each of the nine Bay Area counties, as well as city-specific information, is $120 for members ($150 for non-members). It will be available at the conference. After Dec. 6, the report may be ordered by calling 510/464-7900.
For more information regarding the conference, please call Jean Pederson at 510/464-7978 or e-mail JeanP@abag.ca.gov.
Nearly 600 local elected officials in ABAG member cities and counties are being asked to individually respond to proposed constitutional amendments from the California Constitution Revision Commission (CCRC).
A survey, distributed in mid-October, lists all elements of the Commission's preliminary recommendations and provides space to agree, disagree or add comments.
"We want every local elected official to know what changes are being proposed and to have the opportunity to respond," said Legislation and Governmental Organization Committee chairman Paul Kloecker, Councilmember from Gilroy. "We will compile the results and submit them to the Commission. In this way, all opinions will be communicated, including those that may not reflect the majority view."
A summary of the Commission's recommendations will be presented by Fred Silva, CCRC Executive Director, at ABAG's General Assembly on Nov. 9.
abagOnline, the electronic network for local government information, recently unveiled a private discussion group for county administrators and city managers.
The new electronic government network, called abagNet, will allow city managers and county administrators to participate in a professional electronic bulletin board - reserved for their use by password access.
"abagNet is like an ongoing conference or workshop that allows each participant to decide when to attend, how often to monitor, and how actively he or she will participate," said Terry Bursztynsky, Director of Online Services.
abagNet will soon be expanded to include additional bulletin boards in the following categories:
Cities and counties will be asked to designate the appropriate employees to be given access to each of the abagNet bulletin boards. These networks will also be password-activated by designated employees in order to maintain a the system as a professional information exchange network. abagNet will allow users to post information, share documents, pose questions to the group, review data, or respond to inquiries.
abagNet networks will enable government managers and administrators to take advantage of the wealth of experience and knowledge in the nine counties and 100 cities around the Bay, without making dozens of phone calls, synchronizing schedules and organizing meetings.
For more information about abagNet, contact Brian Kirking, Project Manager for abagOnline, at 510/464-7996 or e-mail BrianK@abag.ca.gov.
ABAG is pleased to offer an affordable employee-paid life insurance program to member jurisdictions.
ITT Hartford Insurance will provide up to $250,000 in voluntary coverage for city and county employees with low premiums. No medical evidence of insurability will be required. Spousal and child coverage will also be available through this program, as well as a "Living Life" provision. The program also provides a waiver of premiums upon disability, and allows "portable coverage" upon employee termination.
This employee-paid insurance program is offered in addition to the existing program which guarantees discount rates for employer-paid life insurance.
For more information, please call Joseph Chan, Finance Director, at 510/464-7944 or e-mail JosephC@abag.ca.gov.
ABAG PLAN's mobile police training unit has completed its first year with great success.
In operation since October of 1994, the mobile unit has visited 21 cities and has trained more than 1000 police officers. PLAN, the Pooled Liability Assurance Network, owns and manages the training unit on behalf of its 30 member cities.
The mobile police training unit is a custom-built tractor-trailer rig which houses four computerized driving simulators with wrap-around video screens, and a firearms training system (FATS) that uses laser-activated weapons and emergency scenarios projected on a video screen. Both the driving simulators and the firearms system allow police officers to engage themselves in highly dangerous situations with the opportunity to test (and re-test) their responses _ without endangering themselves and others, and without risking public property.
"The mobile unit has proved to be a popular and successful component of our members' loss prevention training," said PLAN vice president Albert Fierro. "Practicing how to de-escalate potentially violent situations and how to avoid automobile collisions can save cities millions of dollars_ and, more importantly, the lives of officers and the public."
The mobile unit, the first in the nation, is dedicated to reducing member losses through high-tech emergency simulations. The drivers' training and the weapons training both teach officers to anticipate a wide range of emergency scenarios and to manage their reactions. Training has not been limited to police officers, however. PLAN has also trained 171 non-police city employees and 54 firefighters on the driving simulators.
It's been a successful first year!
Contact Albert Fierro, PLAN Vice President, at 510/464-7969 or e-mail AlbertF@abag.ca.gov.
In the wake of the recent legislation [Senate Bill 437 (Lewis)] which prohibits government from subjecting employers to trip reduction requirements, the ball has bounced back to California's corporate leaders to demonstrate their commitment to reducing traffic and cleaning the air.
The business community lobbied forcefully to end trip reduction requirements by arguing that not only were such programs ineffective, but businesses will act voluntarily to reduce the number of daily automobile trips without air district mandates. One very effective trip reduction measure is telecommuting. Bay Area businesses can embrace telecommuting as a means of reducing commute traffic, as well as a business-enhancement tool.
Studies show that telecommuting can increase worker productivity an average of 16% to 20%. Telecommuting also improves employee retention by serving as a flexible work option offered by progressive employers. Unlike other trip reduction measures that require economic incentives to attract employee participation, many workers want to telecommute for personal reasons. Telecommuting also provides businesses with greater access to a skilled labor pool by allowing organizations to recruit workers from an expanded geographical area.
What is telecommuting? Telecommuting simply means a program which allows employees to work away from the office one or more days per week or month. Effective telecommuting can take many forms. Some telecommuters may take advantage of the latest computer, fax, e-mail and Internet technologies, while others may need as little as a phone, a pen and a pad of paper.
The Bay Area Telecommuting Assistance Project offers free telecommuting information to Bay Area businesses and free assistance to companies with 100 or more employees. The Telecommuting Assistance Project provides all materials needed to start a telecommuting program: a model telecommuting policy, a sample employer/employee agreement, answers to commonly asked questions, details on specialized support services, and documentation on productivity increases. The materials also address typical business concerns such as tax requirements, workers' compensation, equipment and insurance.
Employer assistance includes management presentations, help in selecting telecommuters, training telecommuters and supervisors, evaluating the pilot program and providing a summary report of evaluation results. Free workshops will also be conducted on effective management of telecommuters. The research has already been done, and the implementation materials are ready to go. Take advantage of the free information from the Bay Area Telecommuting Assistance Project.
Prepared by Natalie Fay, Manager of the Bay Area Telecommuting Assistance Project. For more information, call 510/464-7911 or e-mail NatalieF@abag.ca.gov.
If so, the San Francisco Bay Trail Project invites you to enter the second annual Creative Designs for Conservation Contest. The purpose of this contest is to recognize planners, designers, and public agencies whose projects creatively balance public recreational interests with wildlife concerns.
Contest entries must fall into one of three categories: built projects, planned projects or policy studies. All entries will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Last year's contest winners were: the San Rafael Shoreline Park, Ravenswood Preserve in East Palo Alto, and San Jose's Riparian Corridor Study.
Application packages, including an application form (available from the Bay Trail Project), a project narrative, and slides are due Friday, December 15, 1995.
Contest winners will be announced in January.
For more information, please call Jill Keimach at 510/464-7935 or e-mail JillK@abag.ca.gov.
Receive a 10% discount off the monthly rate of $24.95 when you open five or more dial-up Internet accounts.
A presentation by Urban Designer and Town Planner Michael Freedman.
Training for Building Contractors and Building Inspectors
The cost of this training course is $100 ($80 for members) - including lunch.
Early registration is encouraged. Deadline is five days prior to each class.
Call the ABAG Inc. Training Institute at 510/464-7964 for more information.
November 9. 8:30 a.m.
Fall 1995 GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco.
November 13. 1:30 p.m.
abagOnline Advisory Committee. MetroCenter Auditorium.
November 14. 3 p.m.
Bay Trail Steering Committee. Coyote Point Museum, San Mateo.
November 15. 10 a.m.
ABAG PLAN Loss Prevention Committee. ABAG conference room.
November 15. 1 p.m.
Regional Planning Committee. Guest speaker: Urban Designer Michael Freedman. MetroCenter Auditorium.
November 18. 7:45 a.m.
Workshop: Earthquake Retrofit for Wood-Frame Homes. MetroCenter Auditorium.
November 30. 10 a.m.
Earthquakes and Transportation Recovery Planning Committee. MetroCenter Auditorium.
December 5. 10 a.m.
ABAG PLAN Actuarial /Underwriting Committee. Saratoga City Hall.
December 6. 9 a.m.
PROJECTIONS '96 Economic Conference: Focus on Future Growth. MetroCenter Auditorium.
December 12. 3 p.m.
San Francisco Bay Trail Steering Committee. Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, Hayward.
Cathryn A. Hilliard, Public Affairs Director
Michelle Fadelli, Editor