The Contra Costa Times editorial of July 18 “Car tax idea is out of the box: Put it back!” expressed shock and outrage about “… the creative audacity of Bay Area leaders proposing a per-mile tax on driving, maybe as early as next year, using — wait for it — a GPS-like tracker!”
But what is even more outrageous is the story of how the proposal was slipped into the scoping documents at the last minute. Here’s how MTC sneaked the Vehicle Miles traveled Tax (VMT) into the One Bay Area Plan without any public discussion or hearings on the topic.
The One Bay Area Plan (www.onebayarea.org) is a 25 year plan designed to comply with SB375 Draconion requirements to reduce California Green House Gass (GHG) emissions. In order to accomplish this feat, civil liberties will be surreptitiously weakened while future lifestyle choices will be increasingly limited to “stack and pack housing” on top of retail space near mass transit hubs.
The organizations pushing this agenda are so-called “social equity” groups, specifically Transform CA and Urban Habitat. Under the Sustainable Communities Strategy, governments are required to support the three Es, Economy, Environment, and Equity. There are many non-profit organizations, including Transform and Urban Habitat, who work hand and glove with MTC, and organizations like 4CLE in Contra Costa, to insure the “175% income redistribution”. These stakeholder groups are the pushing for equity and MTC is only too happy to comply since it builds their base of entrenched interests.
So here is what is really happening. The One Bay Area Plan requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and part of that process requires public input for its scoping process, the first step before drafting the report.
MTC held public “visioning sessions” from June 20, 2012 through June 27, 2012 to get guided public “input” culled from a carefully crafted and slanted process designed to reach only one conclusion. MTC took comments from the public regarding input to the One Bay Area EIR scoping strategy. At the time, the public was presented with a set of options to consider.
The Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax (VMT) was never mentioned as part of those discussions.
That set of options can be found here on pages 32 and 33. In fact, on slide 32, Alternative 5 simply discusses transit level service and HOV lanes.
After all public comments were received, MTC added the issue of the VMT. On July 13, after public comments were closed, MTC briefed the Board regarding alternative 5 which now included a discussion of VMT on slide 12.
What happened between the time of public input and the time of presentation to the Board for a vote was that certain favored stakeholder groups, specifically Transform, Public Advocates, and Urban Habitat, submitted this proposal (see page 15 *) that includes:
1. Upzoning would be expanded to more areas in the Bay. This would mean even more requirements for high density housing in cities that do not have their ìfair shareî of low income people.
2. Development fees would be eliminated for affordable housing developments, while subsidies would be used for favored activities.
3. Communities of Concern (read low income and communities of color) would receive funds from these windfall profits that the region would receive
4. Road pricing (TOLLS) would be implemented to reduce driving, although the proposed VMT tax will EXEMPT ALL LOW-INCOME DRIVERS!
The VMT is designed to give favored status to certain groups. These groups represent organizations that want to transfer wealth through the heavy hand of regional government interfering in the housing, transportation and land use market place.
After all public comments were received the MTC and ABAG added the issue of the VMT! On July 19, MTC and ABAG held a special meeting to vote on moving the EIR scoping to the next level (see page 15).
The letter was dated July 9, but public input was not closed until July 11 and did not include mention of a petition that over 1,000 people signed to delay the scoping by 6-12 months.
Between the visioning meetings and the special hearing, MTC inserted the VMT tax option without any public discussion on that particular issue. Basically, they passed the issue by hiding it inside of the overall One Bay Area Plan EIR scoping vote after the fact.
All the money garnered from the VMT will go directly to MTC and their crony socialists to redistribute more and more wealth to the taking class. It sets towns and cities up for lawsuits to enforce the requirements that all areas must have a ìfairî distribution of all income levels.
If you don’t think that One Bay Area Plan will have any impact on your life and wealth, think again. One Bay Area contains eight key “policy levers” that are designed to manipulate your behavior. They will herd you in to high density housing near mass transit. They hope to tax or toll you out of your car. MTC also has Policy Toolbox with incentives and disincentive to enforce compliance. It should be called the “Toolbox of Tyranny“.
Clearly MTC and ABAG are unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats who are out of control and controlled by special interest agendas. It is critical that voters get educated on the One Bay Area Plan and educate their local city officials to object to the One Bay Area Plan.
To get more involved in this process, see www.bayarealiberty.org and join our free email list.