BART Board approves resolution opposing MTC's work from home mandate

10.22.20

BART Board approves resolution opposing MTC's work from home mandate

The BART Board approved the resolution to oppose the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's (MTC) mandate of at least 60 percent of employees telecommuting for large Bay Area employers on its October 22nd meeting. 

The Board voted 8-1 to approve the resolution. Director Liz Ames was the sole "no" vote.

The resolution's language is as follows:

In the Matter of Opposition to

Plan Bay Area (PBA) 2050 Strategy EN7: "Institute Telecommuting Mandates for Major OfficeBased Employers"

WHEREAS, The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), as the federallydesignated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the nine-county Bay Area (the Region), is required to develop in conjunction with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) a regional plan every four years in order to satisfy federal and state planning requirements; and

WHEREAS, MTC and ABAG are currently undertaking the process to develop and adopt the 2021 update to the plan, entitled Plan Bay Area 2050; and

WHEREAS, MTC is required by state law to include in this regional plan achievable strategies and investments to meet the Region's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target (as defined by the California Air Resources Board) of 19% per-capita by 2035 relative to 2005 levels; and

WHEREAS, the Bay Area transit operators strongly believe that MTC (and the region) should continue to strive towards achieving our share of the state's GHG emission reduction targets; and

WHEREAS, on September 23, 2020 the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted to adopt MTC Resolution No.4437 and ABAG Resolution No.16-20 Plan Bay Area (PBA) 2050: Final Blueprint; and

WHEREAS, the Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint includes Strategy EN7: Institute Telecommuting Mandates for Major Office-Based Employers, which proposes to mandate that large employers have at least 60 percent of their employees telecommute on any given workday; and

WHEREAS, The Final Blueprint indicates that the inclusion of Strategy EN7 is necessary to achieve the required GHG emission targets, and Strategy EN7 includes as a primary objective the reduction of GHG emissions; and

WHEREAS, Strategy EN7 does not differentiate between the types of trips the strategy aims to reduce as a result of its proposed telecommute mandate, resulting in the suppression of both trips that contribute to regional GHG emissions, such as drive-alone, and trips that would be taken by zero-emission or low-emission modes, such as walking, cycling, and transit; and

WHEREAS, a possible geographic consequence of Strategy EN7 would be to encourage population shifts away from Priority Development Areas; and

WHEREAS, though the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Shelter-in-Place orders necessitated that employers and employees quickly transition to telecommuting where possible, the economic, environmental, equity, social, and health impacts of large amounts of telecommuting have yet to be fully understood; and

WHEREAS, the pandemic has revealed the economic and racial disparities in this country, and many low-income households and people of color do not have the facilities to enable them to conveniently work from home; and

WHEREAS, the Region's cities, counties and employment centers rely on the vibrancy and sales tax revenue from office workers, including small businesses; and

WHEREAS, sustainable reduction in GHG emissions in the Region requires fidelity to Plan Bay Area's goals to direct growth in population and employment to areas served by fast, frequent, and reliable transit; and

WHEREAS, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District's (BART) work to increase housing and employment near BART has recently been acknowledged as effective at reducing GHG emissions by multiple Affordable Housing and Strategic Growth grants from the State of California; and

WHEREAS, the shift to telecommuting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic response has resulted in significant ridership declines and budget shortfalls at all transit operators in the Region, necessitating the reduction of service frequency, capacity, hours, and coverage; and

WHEREAS, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) relies heavily on farebox revenue to fund its operations; and

WHEREAS, on October 13, 2020, members of the Bay Area delegation of the California Legislature published a letter expressing concerns about the MTC Potential Work from Home Mandate.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District that it hereby opposes the inclusion of Strategy EN7: Institute Telecommuting Mandates for Major Office-Based Employers, as currently described, in the ultimate adoption of Plan Bay Area 2050; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District reiterates its support for the Plan Bay Area 2050 Guiding Principles to ensure a more affordable, connected, diverse, healthy, and vibrant Bay Area, and the need to meet the Region's GHG emission reduction targets; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District encourages MTC to pursue strategies that achieve the 19% GHG emission reduction target that is directly supported by increasing transit ridership.