By Jeb Bing
Miley talks up taxes, regulations and still gets loud applauseUploaded: Oct 11, 2013
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley told members of the Rotary Club of Pleasanton last week that they may have to pay more taxes later next year and may have to develop state-approved commuter plans for their employees. Even so, he still got a generous round of applause from the Rotarians who invited him to speak.
Hearing grumbling from his audience, Miley, whose 4th Supervisory district has included Pleasanton since 2010, says he doesn't look for controversy, but it has a way of finding him.
Particularly upsetting to business owners and managers at the Hap's Restaurant luncheon meeting was the commuter plan. It's the result of the state Senate's passage of SB1339 last year which is only now being pressed. A statewide mandate, it requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide commute "benefits," meaning that they may have to give up their cars and ride public transit if it's available. And with Wheels buses, ACE trains and BART serving Pleasanton, this could be ground zero for implementing the plan.
Miley did his best to distance himself from the legislation, which he said he didn't like. But next year he will take over the chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board, which is the agency that must enforce the new law. BAAQMD serves nine adjoining counties and makes sure cities enforce climate action plans which California cities, including Pleasanton, have had to place on their books.
As yet, not much is known about what companies and their employees must do with regard to the commuter plan, but that's being spelled out this fall in a series of workshops held around the Bay. All of the workshops, by the way, are during the day when many of the business managers the law affects might have scheduling problems to attend.
With about 1.5 million Bay Area workers employed by government agencies, private businesses and nonprofits with more than 50 employees, the commuter plan mandate hopes to "significantly" reduce driving-related air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It will be Miley's job to make sure it works.
As for taxes, Miley said he will work with other county supervisors and agencies to place Measure B1 back on the ballot next November. The measure, which was defeated last year by a fraction of the two-thirds vote of approval it needed, will add another half-cent to a transportation sales tax we're now paying. The full penny tax, according to Miley, could raise $8 billion for transportation projects over the 25-30 year period.
It was the 2012 measure's "in perpetuity" rule that caused some to vote against it, including Mayor Jerry Thorne, who was one of the only mayors in the county to vote against the proposal because of the in perpetuity language. Miley told the Rotarians that he hopes the in perpetuity language is stripped from the new measure before it goes back to voters.
On a brighter side, Miley said he is part of the Joint Powers Agreement agency that is negotiating to keep the Oakland Warriors, Oakland Athletics and Oakland Raiders in Oakland. The teams' leases expire on the Coliseum and Arena starting at the end of this year for the A's, next year for the Raiders and in 2015 for the Warriors.
Miley doubts that the Warriors will be able to move to a new arena in San Francisco by 2017, as planned, and that by keeping the welcome mat out, the team just might change its plans and stay in Oakland. Moving to San Jose, as the A's management wants the team to do, makes no sense in Miley's mind and he'll keep working to find funds for a ball park in Oakland. The Raiders want to stay in Oakland, but that team, too, needs its own stadium. Oakland is now the only city where a major league baseball and NFL football team share the same playing field.