MTC reconsiders plan to move to San Francisco

August 17, 2011 6:51:12 PM PDT
There was a startling reversal Wednesday in Oakland, where a public transportation agency decided to reconsider a plan to move its headquarters to San Francisco.

"This process itself was a clear violation of the spirit of the Brown Act," Berkeley resident Doug Buckwald said.

Responding to criticism they may have violated open meeting laws, the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted to reconsider their controversial move from Oakland to San Francisco.

"I think it's wrong that we don't take more time to try to continue to help Oakland," MTC board member Scott Haggerty said.

Last month in a closed session, the board voted to purchase an old post office in San Francisco and convert it into a multi-agency hub that would house the MTC and three other regional agencies.

Besides open meeting concerns, critics say using $180 million in bridge toll money to buy and rehabilitate the 70-year-old building is also against the law.

According to the MTC, that money would be recouped by leasing out office space.

"Do the agencies have legal authority to enter the for profit speculative real estate business?" Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan asked.

Oakland city and community leaders also contend the San Francisco location has poor transit access for a MTC workforce that primarily lives in the East Bay.

The Oakland advocates want the MTC to reconsider an alternative site at 1100 Broadway.

"Let's be clear, this is not primarily about Oakland versus San Francisco, the Oakland finalist site is on BART and is more cost-effective," Kaplan said.

"Unfortunately the city of Oakland has chosen to be hyper-aggressive and make some really reckless allegations," San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said.

The MTC will now reconsider both sites. It's a process that could take up to 60 days.

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