For the last 16 years, Jon Rubin has served as the Mayor’s appointee on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning and funding body, originally appointed by Frank Jordan in 1995. Last week, Rubin was forced to resign and turn over the seat to Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose four-year term begins May 1.
While it’s true the Mayor was looking to strike a compromise because the Board of Supervisors was deadlocked over its appointment between Wiener and Supervisor David Campos, as reported by the Chronicle, sources told Streetsblog that a behind-the-scenes effort has been underway for some time to get Rubin replaced. Some advocates and City Hall insiders who didn’t want to be identified said they were disappointed with Rubin’s record on the commission, and felt he hasn’t been aggressive enough on San Francisco’s behalf.
Rubin, the president and CEO of the Peninsula Coalition, did not respond to requests from Streetsblog for an interview.
In a letter [pdf] to the MTC dated April 13, Mayor Ed Lee said he was appointing Wiener for “his special familiarity with the problems and issues in the field of transportation.” Wiener currently sits on the plans and programs committee of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, and is a regular Muni rider. As we’ve written, he holds great promise on sustainable transportation issues, and hired transit advocate Gillian Gillett as one of his staffers.
Wiener told Streetsblog that he wants to make sure San Francisco “is getting the funding and priority we deserve for transit projects that don’t just benefit the city, but the entire region, whether it’s Transbay, or Caltrain, which we depend on.”
Wiener said funding for Muni will also be a priority. He said he was looking forward to working with Campos “to strengthen San Francisco’s voice on the MTC, not just for our own funding needs, but as such a transit hub in the region, and making sure we’re a full and active participant.”
The District 8 supervisor has been critical of an effort to give Alameda and Santa Clara counties more representation on the commission. A bill currently pending in the Assembly, AB 57, would give each of those counties one more seat, potentially diminishing San Francisco’s influence, along with the seven other Bay Area counties.
Wiener sponsored a resolution [pdf] passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year opposing the legislation, and pointing out that a similar effort was defeated in 2004.
“San Francisco acknowledges that San Jose and Oakland are critical hubs in the Bay Area economic web, as both of these cities have international airports and combined are home to more than 50 percent of all transit commuters in the Bay Area,” the resolution stated. “This argument ignores the fact that San Francisco is the destination for upwards of 500,000 commuters on weekdays, nearly half of the population of San Jose and nearly the population of Oakland; and by ignoring this fact, this expansion proposal denies San Francisco equal representation via an opportunity to also gain a seat on the MTC.”
Campos will serve as the Board of Supervisors representative on the MTC replacing former Supervisor Chris Daly. His nomination is expected to sail through the Rules Committee next week, and then go to the full board for approval the following week in time for the next MTC meeting April 27.
Advocates were very pleased with both appointments.
“We applaud the Mayor’s appointments to key local and regional transportation leadership positions this week,” says Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “First, with his appointment of Joél Ramos to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors and now with the support of both Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Mayor Lee is setting San Francisco up to become an even better place to ride a bicycle, walk, and take public transit. This is positive news for San Franciscans who want more great options to move around the city and the Bay Area.”