State Senator Mark DeSaulnier today touted SB 1149, which, among other things, creates a directly elected Bay Area Regional Commission to replace ABAG/MTC that operates under a joint powers agreement that appoints 25 board members. In effect the move from a decentralized unaccountable agency to a centralized body with elected politicians could produce its own pluses and minuses.
If passed, SB 1149 would give the new Commission increased authority over regional planning. The new Commission would provide a regional policymaking process for transportation, housing, air quality, sustainable community strategies, economic development to ensure that regional policies are developed within a consistent framework. No news yet on how representatives will be elected or who gets to draw voting district lines, which will identify who has the real power.
“The Bay Area needs a directly-elected regional governance agency to have accountable, transparent, and responsible decision making,” said Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). “We need regional planning that is efficient, effective, and that looks into the future. This commission would start with developing a reorganization plan intended to reduce costs of overhead and integrate planning requirements into a comprehensive regional plan.”
According to Desaulnier’s news release,
The Bay Area is a growing region of 7.5 million people. Currently, the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) coordinates the regional planning efforts of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and MTC. However, the JPC has no real authority to oversee the myriad agencies of regional governance. SB 1149 would correct this by eliminating the JPC and establishing the Commission in its place.
The JPC is currently governed by 25 appointees who are elected to other local government offices including mayors, city council members, and boards of supervisors. The Commission would instead be governed by 15 directly elected commissioners. Each commissioner would be directly accountable to their district of roughly 500,000 residents.
“The San Francisco Bay Area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation. It is the most diverse and innovative place on earth,” said DeSaulnier. “Regional planning in our area needs to reflect that diversity and innovation.”