One of the best things about my job is being able to work with a diverse coalition of organizations toward common purpose. We may come at an issue from different perspectives--from a climate change lens, a concern for public health or a desire to see an equitable distribution of society's resources--yet in the end if we can come together toward a common policy change goal, it ends up making the world of difference in whether a policy is changed or not.
And it brightens my day!
I was recently privileged to be part of such a process of coming together. This past May, the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) passed the One Bay Area Grant program (OBAG). The OBAG provides almost $800 million to counties for various categories of transportation funding projects over four years. Included in this amount is the regional funding for Safe Routes to School, and making sure these dollars are spent by the Congestion Management Agencies in the Bay Area counties in the best way possible is now one of the next priorities for our Bay area regional network.
As a condition for receiving OBAG money, local jurisdictions are required to pass Complete Streets and housing policies. Getting those requirements in place was a huge success Bay Area advocates should be proud of. But it recently came to our attention that some of the funds can be moved around by counties in such a way that not every local jurisdiction that benefits from OBAG directly receives the money, and thus may skirt the active transportation and housing requirements.
Once we identified this possible maneuver, we immediately came together with six other organizations to develop a joint letter to MTC. In the letter we urged them to clarify that local jurisdictions must comply with all OBAG requirements if they are benefiting from the funding.
Joining us in the effort are the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, Greenbelt Alliance, Public Advocates, Transform and Urban Habitat. Amazing organizations!
It was incredibly encouraging to see us all come together on this issue, and I hope we are successful in moving MTC, and also in sticking together to advocate for further advances in health and transportation in the Bay Area.
More details on this potential loophole are included within the letter.