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By Tim Hunt

Can governments cooperate in the NorCal mega-region?

Uploaded: Sep 1, 2016

Several blogs ago, I poked fun at a condo development in Davis that was being marketed as within commute distance of the Bay Area.
It has been true for too many years that public safety officers—particularly firefighters who work 24-hour shifts—live two hours or more from their job sites because their schedules limit the daily commutes
Now the Bay Area Council, a key group representing large employers, is suggesting that planners need to greatly increase the scope of the region to include 21 counties instead of the traditional nine. The report recognizes that the housing crisis has altered the traditional commute patterns and new levels of cooperation are required to give people choices.
Driven by excellent job growth, the Bay Area counties added 726,000 residents in the last 15 years, but that is topped by the Sacramento and upper San Joaquin Valley areas with growth of 765,000 and seven of 10 of those new residents commute into the Bay Area.
Some employers have moved major facilities into the outlying regions—both Hewlett Packard and Intel have major facilities east of Sacramento. But most tech companies have been reluctant to leave the core Silicon Valley other than to locate in the urban San Francisco environment.
Improved long distance trains that link directly with other transit options such as BART, shuttles or buses could make life better for the long distance drivers.
The regional government agencies have begun meeting and the report is correct when it comments that county lines have been blurred. What’s not blurred is the traffic congestion on key gateway freeways such as I-580 over the Altamont Pass; I-680 south over the Sunol grade and I-80 and I-780 coming from Solano and Yolo counties.
Other than increased rail access, there are no additional gateways planned to the core Bay Area so the challenge becomes two-fold: more housing in the core counties and improving existing and efficient public transportation.

The news last month that Orchard Supply Hardware is opening a store in Pleasanton demonstrates the aggressive expansion the company has undertaken since it was acquired by big box retailer Lowe’s.
Orchard stores have been in Livermore and Dublin for decades as well as a south San Ramon location. That store, which was tucked into the back of a shopping center, moved to Crow Canyon Commons, right on busy Crow Canyon Road.
The Pleasanton store will move into the space vacated by Sports Chalet, which closed all of its stores. That’s in the Owens Drive center anchored by Wal-Mart and Kohl’s.

A hearty congratulations and well-done to the veteran’s groups and their supporters in Pleasanton. They had agreed to raise $301,000 as their share of the memorial that is under construction in the city’s Pioneer “Cemetery.
They not only hit their goal, but exceeded it with $315,000 pledged to date. It’s great to see the group make that commitment and then hit it. Thanks to the fundraising team as well as the donors.
The memorial will be dedicated in November in time for Veteran's Day.