May 12, 2005
(For Board:  May 13, 2005)

REPORT OF THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE/COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

 

Honorable Board of Directors
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway
and Transportation District

Honorable Members:

A special meeting of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, May 12, 2005, at 9:35 a.m., Chair Boro presiding.

Committee Members Present (7):  Chair Boro; Vice Chair Martini; Directors Dufty, Kerns, McGoldrick and Reilly; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (2):   Directors Harrison and Sandoval
Other Members Present (8):  Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Hernández, Moylan, Pahre, Shahum and Stroeh

Committee of the Whole Members Present (15): Directors Brown, Cochran, Dufty, Eddie, Hernández, Kerns, Martini, McGoldrick, Moylan, Pahre, Reilly, Shahum and Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; President Middlebrook
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (4): Directors Ammiano, Murray and Sandoval; First Vice President Harrison

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; Auditor-Controller Joseph M. Wire; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney Madeline Chun; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Deputy General Manager/Ferry Division James P. Swindler; Deputy General Manager/Administration and Development Teri W. Mantony; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Budget and Program Analysis Manager Jennifer Mennucci; Assistant Clerk of the Board Karen B. Engbretson

Visitors Present: Anthony R. Withington, President, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local No. 1575; Deb Hubsmith, Marin County Bicycle Coalition; Ashley Hathaway, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition; Noble A. (Rocky) Birdsey, Marin County Bicycle Coalition; Mateo Burtch, Bicyclist/San Francisco Resident
1.         Administer Oath of Office to John J. Moylan

Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino administered the Oath of Office to John J. Moylan, appointed to the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District by Mayor Gavin Newsom, representing the City and County of San Francisco.

            Director Moylan addressed the Board and expressed his appreciation for the honor of serving on the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors.

2.         Approve Position of Opposition to Assembly Bill 748 Which Would Eliminate the District’s Authority to Establish Bicycle and Pedestrian Tolls

In a memorandum to Committee, General Manager Celia Kupersmith reported on a proposed item of California State Legislation, Assembly Bill 748 (AB 748).  The report stated that AB 748 proposes to limit the District’s toll setting authority by prohibiting the District from establishing bicycle and pedestrian tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge.  AB 748 was originally introduced in February 2005 by Assembly Member Lois Wolk (D-Vacaville) as a bill regarding wireless communications, and then was amended on April 11, 2005, to delete all previous language regarding the original subject matter.  The report stated that as currently drafted, AB 748 proposes a statutory ban on tolls for the passage of a pedestrian or bicycle over any toll bridge in California that allow pedestrian and bicycle access, including the Golden Gate Bridge.  The bill is co-authored by Assembly Members Mark Leno and Joe Nation.

The report also stated that AB 748 was sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition and is supported by the San Francisco, Marin, and Sonoma bicycle coalitions.  The report provided an update on the bill’s progress through the California Legislature, noting that on May 3, 2005, the Assembly Committee on Transportation passed the bill and then forwarded it on to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations for a hearing on May 18, 2005.  In addition, the report noted that AB 748 includes an urgency clause, which means the bill would become effective immediately upon enactment.  A copy of the report, including the summary and text of AB 748, as well as a copy of a resolution adopted by the City and County of San Francisco relative to the matter, is available in the Office of the District Secretary.

At the meeting, Celia Kupersmith summarized the staff report and described the proposed legislation, AB 748.

Discussion ensued, including the following:

  • Director Kerns inquired as to how many other bridges in the Bay Area currently allow bicycle and pedestrian access.  In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that other than the Golden Gate Bridge, the only other Bay Area bridges that allow such access are the state-owned Antioch, Zampa (Carquinez) and Dumbarton bridges.
  • Directors Kerns, Martini, Eddie, Cochran expressed opposition to AB 748, stating their dissatisfaction with the intent of the legislation to reduce the ability of the District Board of Directors to make local decisions regarding its financial condition, including the setting of toll and transit fare rates.
  • Directors Shahum, Dufty and McGoldrick expressed support for AB 748, noting that the focus of the legislation was to reflect opposition to the implementation of a bicycle and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • In response to an inquiry from Director Martini as to whether the State of California has appropriate jurisdiction over the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, Attorney Chun replied that since the California State Legislature created the legislation that enabled the District to come into existence, and also articulated in that legislation what the powers and authority of the District would be, the Legislature can also consider legislation that would restrict the powers of the District as set forth in AB 748.
  • Director Shahum urged the Committee to consider at this meeting the issue of whether or not to charge a bicycle and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge, due to the overwhelming amount of interest in the issue.  In response, Chair Boro stated that it would be more appropriate to discuss the bicycle and pedestrian toll at a meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee, since the matter of AB 748, not the matter of a bicycle and pedestrian toll, was the topic of consideration before the Governmental Affairs and Public Information (GAPI) Committee.  Director Shahum requested that the matter of a bicycle and pedestrian toll be agendized as soon as possible at a future meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee.  She also urged the Board to remove the matter of a bicycle and pedestrian toll from consideration in the Strategic Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability.
  • In response to an inquiry from Director McGoldrick regarding past actions by the California State Legislature that directly affected District policy, Ms. Kupersmith provided two examples of such instances, including the enactment of legislation in the 1970s that enabled the District to provide bus and ferry transit services, and an advisory measure adopted by the Legislature in 2002 to allow the free passage of registered clean air vehicles on the Golden Gate Bridge during commute hours.
  • In response to inquiries by Director McGoldrick regarding the District’s eligibility for state grant funding and whether such eligibility allows the State of California to mandate a certain level of activity related to grant-funded projects, Ms. Kupersmith offered the example of the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project as one such project.  She noted that the District received an unprecedented grant allocation in the amount of $50 million from the State of California Department of Transportation for Phase II of the Seismic Retrofit Project and that more funding is being sought for Phase III.
  • Director Dufty noted that since the District relies on federal and state grant assistance, it cannot be considered an independent entity.  He stated that the intent of AB 748 was to send a clear message to the District not to consider a bicycle and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge.  He further suggested that the GAPI Committee postpone its decision on AB 748 until after a discussion and possible action on the bicycle and pedestrian toll by the Finance-Auditing Committee, scheduled to convene immediately following the conclusion of this special meeting of the GAPI Committee. 
  • Director Stroeh, Chair of the Finance-Auditing Committee, expressed his concerns that it is premature for the Finance-Auditing Committee to make an informed decision on the bicycle and pedestrian toll at this time.

 

Public Comment

The following members of the public expressed their opposition to a bicycle and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge and urged the Committee to take a neutral position on AB 748:

  • Deb Hubsmith, Marin County Bicycle Coalition;
  • Ashley Hathaway, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition;
  • Noble A. (Rocky) Birdsey, Marin County Bicycle Coalition; and,
  • Mateo Birch, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

 

The following member of the public expressed his opposition to AB 748, noting that it is inappropriate for the State of California to restrict the District’s ability to make local decisions about its revenue sources:

  • Anthony R. Withington, Chair of the California Legislative Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union

 

Actions Taken by the Committee

a)         Following discussion by the Committee and public comment, Directors MARTINI/KERNS moved and seconded to forward the following recommendation to the Board of Directors for its consideration:

The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve a position of opposition to Assembly Bill 748 which would eliminate the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District’s (District’s) authority to establish bicycle and pedestrian tolls; with the understanding that the District has taken this position based on the District’s opposition to any effort by the State Legislation to reduce the ability of this local Board to make local decisions regarding its financial condition including the setting of toll and transit fare rates.

A vote was not taken, as a substitute motion was moved and seconded, as stated belo

b)         First Substitute Motion

Following further discussion by the Committee, Directors DUFTY/McGOLDRICK moved and seconded the following substitute motion:

The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee recommends that the Board of Directors postpone action on taking a position relative to AB 748 by recessing the special meeting of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee/Committee of the Whole (GAPI Committee), then convening a meeting of the Finance-Auditing Committee/Committee of the Whole in order to discuss the issue of including within the District’s Strategic Financial Plan the concept of establishing a bicycle and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge, then reconvening the GAPI Committee in order to take action on taking a position relative to AB 748.

AYES (4):       Directors Dufty, Hernández, McGoldrick and Shahum
NOES (11):     Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Kerns, Martini, Moylan, Pahre, Reilly, Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; President Middlebrook

Failed

c)         Second Substitute Motion

Directors McGOLDRICK/SHAHUM moved and seconded the following second substitute motion:

The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee recommends that the Board of Directors take no position and remain neutral concerning Assembly Bill (AB) 748 relative to the District’s authority to establish bicycle and pedestrian tolls.

AYES (5):       Directors Dufty, Hernández, McGoldrick, Reilly and Shahum
NOES (10):     Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Kerns, Martini, Moylan, Pahre and Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; President Middlebrook

Failed

d)         Original Motion

Following the above-listed votes on the two substitute motions, the Committee concurred by motion made and seconded by Directors MARTINI/KERNS to forward the following recommendation to the Board of Directors for its consideration:

RECOMMENDATION

The Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve a position of opposition to Assembly Bill 748 which would eliminate the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District’s (District’s) authority to establish bicycle and pedestrian tolls; with the understanding that the District has taken this position based on the District’s opposition to any effort by the State Legislation to reduce the ability of this local Board to make local decisions regarding its financial condition including the setting of toll and transit fare rates.

Action by the Board – Resolution

NON-CONSENT CALENDAR

AYES (11):     Directors Brown, Cochran, Eddie, Hernández, Kerns, Martini, Moylan, Pahre, Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; President Middlebrook
NOES (4):       Directors Dufty, McGoldrick, Reilly and Shahum

[The above recommendation was forwarded to the Board of Directors meeting of May 13, 2005 for action.]

3.         Public Comment

Public comment was received relative to Agenda Item No. 2, above.

4.         Adjournment

All business having been concluded, the meeting was declared adjourned at 10:25 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,         

 

                                                                                                Albert J. Boro, Chair
                                                                                                Governmental Affairs and
                                                                                                    Public Information Committee

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