Introduction: MTC Director, Steve Heminger would like to take over ABAG's regional land use planning function. This is a very bad idea that BATWG (Bay Area Transportation Working Group) strongly opposes.
Mr. Heminger believes that his proposal would give him more control over regional planning and lead to the more efficient use of resources. In an effort to sell his idea Director Heminger made a 2-hour presentation to his commission at its regular September 23, 2015 meeting. His presentation featured a number of alleged problems that he said could have been avoided had he been in charge. The take-over proposal is scheduled to be considered and acted upon by MTC at its regular October 28th meeting.
Mr. Heminger's proposal is that ABAG's land use planners be transferred to MTC to carry on their work under his supervision and control. If the two agencies were working side by side as co-equal partners, such an amalgamation of functions could conceivably lead to some efficiencies. But unfortunately the two agencies do not work as equals. On the contrary, as ABAG's funding source MTC habitually uses its position of influence to disadvantage ABAG in the competition for regional planning funding. This disparity was dramatically underscored by Mr. Heminger himself on September 23rd when he acknowledged that because of MTC-imposed budget constraints on ABAG, ABAG's planners are paid substantially less than MTC's own planners.
On 9/23 many ABAG and former ABAG employees as well as representatives of LABOR, various Bay Area towns and cities, civic and environmental groups and others spoke out in opposition to Mr. Heminger's takeover proposal. As was emphasized by many speakers, placing ABAG's central planning function under MTC control would, would severely weaken ABAG and perhaps lead to its demise. Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday went on to suggest that if the planning functions of the two agencies were combined into one group the combined team should be under the aegis of ABAG, the Region's planning agency, rather than under MTC (the Region's planning-adverse transportation funding agency). Read the full report.