The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), am Oakland-based regional tax-supported agency which has been criticized for purchasing a new headquarters facility in San Francisco, said today that state authorities have given it the OK to make to buy the building and move.
The California State auditor's report on the October 2011 purchase of an office building at 390 Main Street in San Francisco as a headquarters facility to provide more integrated and efficient regional planning for the Bay Area:
Adrienne Tissier, chairwoman of the MTC and a San Mateo County supervisor, said her agency underwent "a thorough, deliberative and transparent" public process culminating in the purchase of a new office building located at 390 Main St. in San Francisco in October 2011.
She said the MTC purchased this building as a long-term home to co-locate MTC, the Bay Area Transit (Toll) Authority and other related regional agencies. At the request of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, this decision was reviewed by the state auditor and the results of that audit were released today.
"We are pleased that the state auditor confirmed that this action was within our legal authority," Tissier said. "We retained outside legal counsel and followed their advice scrupulously throughout the entire process."
Commission Vice chairwoman Amy Worth, representing the cities of Contra Costa, added, "We appreciate the audit recognized that the commission listened to the public and took meaningful steps to respond to comments."
Following criticism of the planned purchase and relocation, particularly from Oakland, the MTC withdrew from its initial purchase agreement and took a 60-day "cooling off period" to re-evaluate all aspects of this decision before deciding to proceed.
The State auditor's legal counsel concluded that a court "would likely find the Bay Area Transit Authority's decision to contribute toll bridge revenues to purchase 390 Main St. was within its legal authority." This finding was consistent with outside legal advice MTC and BATA sought and received throughout the two-year process of acquiring new office space;
In addition, the state auditor agreed that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has valid reasons to also move its facilities into the 390 Main St. building from its current location at 939 Ellis St. in San Francisco, which the auditor described as cramped, antiquated, with poor public access and not up to current codes for seismic safety, fire suppression or ADA accessibility.
As for MTC, the state auditor found that the transportation commission's challenge with its current space is that it does not provide room for additional growth.
Reflecting on the past few years of effort to bring the Bay Area's major regional agencies together under one roof, Tissier said"
"After a year's worth of debate, legal opinions and audits, it is time to move on. The commission looks forward to turning our full attention to addressing the pressing issues that face Bay Area residents such as economic growth, traffic congestion, air pollution, and improving housing choices for all people who call the Bay Area their home. We look forward to working together with our regional agency partners and state legislators on this shared agenda."