By Richard Colman
Dictatorship has come to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dictatorship comes in the form of a Bureaucratic State, a state in which regional governmental agencies — all run by unelected, unaccountable officials — rule arrogantly over taxpayers.
The two most powerful dictators are the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). No MTC or ABAG director has ever been directly elected by voters.
There are other dictatorial bureaucracies: The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the California Department of Housing and Community Developments (HCD), and the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (SFBRA). The directors of these bureaucracies are not elected directly by voters.
All of the above-mentioned California dictatorial bureaucracies decide land-use, transportation and preservation policies.
On July 18, 2013, MTC and ABAG voted to create Plan Bay Area, a scheme to construct high-rise, high-density housing in many Bay Area Communities.
On September 30, 2014, MTC and BAAQMD imposed a Commuter Benefits Program. Under the program, firms with 50 or more full-time employees must pay for the commuting expenses of those employees who utilize public transportation. Each affected firm must hire a Commuter Benefits Coordinator to keep track of all expenses related to employees’ use of public transportation.
HCD requires each Bay Area city to develop Housing Elements. A Housing Element requires a city to construct hundreds of new homes even if the city has no room for new housing. Any city that refuses to comply with Housing Element requirements loses State of California funds for purposes of road repair.
The city of Orinda, California, a high-income town about 15 miles east of San Francisco, has already approved five Housing Elements. Each Housing Element must set aside a hundreds of new housing units for “low-income” or “very low-income” individuals.
One Orinda resident has argued that Housing Elements will turn Orinda into a “urban jungle.” Orinda is completely filled up and has no room for additional housing.
No Orinda resident has ever had the opportunity to vote on a Housing Element. When, in January 2015, an Orinda city-council member, moved, at a city-council meeting, to have Orindans vote on the city’s Fifth Housing Element, no other city-council member would second the motion, killing it.
In June 2016, the SFBRA put a property-tax measure, Measure AA, on a regional Bay Area ballot. The measure passed. Each property owner must pay $12 a year for efforts to preserve San Francisco Bay. After Measure AA passed, SFBRA decided that any work done on bay preservation must use to Project Labor Agreements (PLA). PLA’s demand the use of high-paid union labor. Workers receiving PLA wages are paid in excess of market rates.
There is a precedent for unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats running uncontrollably over taxpayers. From the 1930’s to the 1960’s, New York City had Robert Moses, New York City’s Parks Commissioner determine, on his own authority, where roads, bridges, tunnels, and highways would be built. Moses, who also held 11 other titles, was one of New York City’s most powerful figures.
One can read about Moses in “The Power Broker,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1974 book by Robert Caro.
The dictatorial legacy of Moses is being repeated in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Richard Colman is founder and President of Concord-based Biomed, Inc. This article was originally published on California Political News and Views.