News

Price tapped for National League of Cities committee

Palo Alto councilwoman to help shape organization's transportation policies

Weeks after winning a coveted spot on the county's leading transportation agency, City Councilwoman Gail Price snagged another appointment when she was tapped to serve on a National League of Cities committee charged with vetting transit policy.

Price, a former planner, will serve on the League's Transportation Infrastructure and Services Steering Committee, the city announced Monday. The committee is responsible for developing the national organization's positions on a wide array of transportation topics, including highways, public transit and railroads.

"I look forward to working on critical policy issues involving all aspects of transportation," Price said in a statement. "Improving critical infrastructure and services is key to the current and future economic vitality and livability of all of our communities."

Price is no stranger to the topics of infrastructure and transportation, which have featured prominently on the council's agenda ever since her election in 2009. The city has been at the forefront of Peninsula's opposition to California's proposed high-speed-rail project and is now aggressively implementing an ambitious bicycle master plan, which includes more than a dozen bike projects. Palo Alto officials are also in the midst of a multi-year effort to close infrastructure backlog of nearly $200 million, an effort that will likely include a 2014 ballot measure.

Price's appointment to the national committee comes about a month after she was chosen to serve on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, giving the city rare representation on the influential regional board that is typically dominated by San Jose officials. The VTA is charged with providing various countywide transit services, transportation planning and grant funds for projects in local jurisdictions.

The National League of Cities, a nationwide lobbying group for municipalities, includes elected officials from about 19,000 cities, towns and villages. Other members of the committee include elected officials from from Charlotte, N.C., Milwaukee, Wisc., and Oak Park Heights, Minn.

Comments

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm

It's way past time that Ms. Price make her views about transportation better known that they are currently. Going off to regional, or statewide, committee meetings--claiming to be the voice of Palo Alto, without posting the minutes of the meetings she attends, and revealing how she intends to vote on future elections, leaves all Palo Altans vulnerable to people who might be easily characterized as elitist, or beyond radical--people whose views could very easily be antithetical to the majority of Palo Alto voters, and residents.

For example--VTA is reported in today's Post as continuing to plan for removing lanes from El Camino. What is Ms. Price's view on this? Does she plan to vote for her vision of the future, or the majority of those who live here?

It might be interesting to find out how much behind-the-scenes lobbying went on that secured her position on this committee--particularly since Ms. Price has no paper trail in the area of regional/statewide transportation planning.

As the heroine in many a horror film says at some point: "Be afraid .. be very afraid."


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I voted for council members to solve our local problems - traffic, over development, fixing the infrastructure.

My only recollection of Council Member Price's major votes have been:

1) For allowing a rezoning of the Lytton Gateway project for a much higher density office building (4 stories instead of 2 stories), and allowing it be severely under parked.

2) Voting against putting on the ballot a measure to reform the Fire fighters arbitration system for compensation & benefits; despite her opposition, the measure was put on the ballot and was passed by the voters.

3) Voting for rezoning the Maybell for higher density, which was latter overturned by a referendum put on the ballot by the voters.

Council member Price has been a strong proponent of the "New Urbanism" design philosophy, which many in our city have criticized (Miki's market, JCC, etc).

Will Council Member Price be seeking guidance from the rest of the city council or voters when she takes a position on these regional/national organizations? or will she be representing her own out of touch views?

And are we the taxpayers funding her expeditions to the meetings these organizations hold?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Joe and common sense: Please write to Councilwoman Price and ask her to answer your questions.

VTA board meeting archives are at:
Web Link

Bus lanes on El Camino is just another example of VTA blackmailing cities to act against their own interests in order to get grant money.

Kevin Connolly, VTA's transportation planning manager, said the agency is competing for a state grant to fund a large portion of the $240 million project (which would inevitably expand to at least twice that). To qualify for the $75 million grant, at least half of the project must include dedicated bus lanes.

This is reminiscent of the CA Ave grant, which required that the street be narrowed in order to get grant money.

Mountain View and Los Altos have nixed the idea of bus lanes. Former Los Altos Councilman Ron Packard likened the idea to the "fantastic" Light Rail projections that never materialized.

Connolly claimed that travel time between Santa Clara to Mountain View would be reduced by only one minute with dedicated bus lanes in the middle of the street.

When pressed, he admitted that losing one lane would reduce the capacity of El Camino by 950 cars/hour!

He said outright that VTA is counting on those cars -- frustrated by traffic jams -- would take a different route, e.g., Foothill or Central, which are already at capacity.

We already have an example of what happens when lanes are narrowed: Arastradero Road. Frustrated drivers have nowhere to go except residential streets.


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