Association of Bay Area Governments
Representing City and County Governments of the San Francisco Bay Area

July 22, 2002

The Honorable Tom Torlakson
California State Senate
P.O. Box 94248-0001
Sacramento, CA 94248-0001

Dear Senator Torlakson:

I have received your letter on the proposed developments in SB 1243. The ABAG Executive Board. Legislation and Governmental Organization Committee and I are disappointed by your failure to acknowledge or respond to the critical issues and concerns previously voiced by ABAG and its members. After four meetings between ABAG and MTC policymakers there was no significant change in the legislation or MTC's position.

At your request, my ABAG colleagues and I participated in the meetings with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in anticipation of meaningful and productive dialogue on the subject of SB 1243 and the benefits of a merger of the two agencies. While we, too, are pleased that there was consensus on support for the Smart Growth Strategy/RegionaI Livability Footprint Project and its significance to the region, we, as well as MTC, had already made on-going commitments to this project over the past two years. Your recognition of our work is gratifying. However, we remain perplexed by your failure to acknowledge the issues and concerns raised by ABAG and our membership relative to SB 1243.

The San Francisco Bay Area continues to he one of the few regions in the country that operates with a bifurcated transportation and laud use planning structure. ABAG through its many efforts over the years has attempted to address this issue both formally through the legislative process and informally through negotiations with MTC. The recently concluded joint meetings between ABAG and MTC policymakers reaffirm MTC's lack of interest in merger or consolidation.

While we applaud your interest in reaching a solution to the myriad of problems you address in your letter dated July 19th, the day following our Executive Board meeting which we had expected you to attend, we respectfully suggest that SB 1243 remains a misguided and wrong approach.

Transferring ABAG's statutorily designated planning functions. ie. regional housing needs process and Inter-Regional Partnership responsibilities to MTC, a single-purpose transportation agency, despite a name change, takes us a step back. Today, local officials throughout the nine county San Francisco Bay Area recognize ABAG as their multi-purpose planning organization, an organization they respect and support through membership dues, participation and proactive leadership. To truly address the problems of the region in any meaningful way, we must integrate transportation planning with other comprehensive planning issues -and maintain the widespread support and very broad involvement of city and county officials.

The challenges that we face in the Bay Area that will define our future are not single-purpose one dimensional ones. Without a vision for the future backed up with a comprehensive regional plan, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. For these reasons and others expressed to you over the past several months. we must state emphatically that we are disappointed in SB 1243 and believe that it will do more to create friction among jurisdictions and false hope among our citizenry than attain your laudable goals of creating a comprehensive land use planning/transportation agency and better quality of life.

ABAG remains opposed to SB 1243. On July 18th, upon the recommendation of the Legislation and Governmental Organization Committee, the Executive Board reaffirmed its opposition to SB 1243 unless amended to include the conditions approved by ABAG Resolution 07-02 adopted May 16, 2002 (attached).

Gwen Regalia
ABAG President
Mayor ProTem, City of Walnut Creek

Cc: ABAG Membership