Gold Coast Transit District bylaws presented

By George Miller

At the 1/28/14 Oxnard City Council meeting, the bylaws for the new Gold Coast Transit District were presented.

Gold Coast Bus

Martin Erickson presented a review of bylaws of this new organization, formerly Gold Coast Transit, formerly SCAT (Southern California Agency for Transit). Councilman MacDonald, who has been deeply involved in this one as the Oxnard representative, serving with Ventura Mayor John Sharkey, knows what is going on and approves of it.

SB664 was initiated by assemblyman Das Williams, to create the District, effective July 1, 2014. TAC approved the bylaws at the TAC November meeting. The bill provides that the jurisdiction of the district would initially include the Cities of Oxnard, Ventura, Port Hueneme, and Ojai and the unincorporated areas of the County of Ventura. The bill would authorize other cities in the County of Ventura to subsequently join the district.

This was driven primarily by the AB 32, (John A. Perez- Insurance taxes: income taxes: credits: community development financial institution investments) and SB 375, (Steinberg- Transportation planning: travel demand models: sustainable communities strategy) (summary by advocates). So it would be fair to say that current “Global Warming” reaction strategy and Agenda 21 are the drivers.  Mitigation of traffic is also an objective. “Transit-Oriented Development” (TOD) is one of its precepts. The bylaws said it is consistent with the Oxnard 2030 General Plan.

Gold Coast StationThe bylaws encompass intent, district governing, GM and Counsel responsibility/duties, meetings, voting and committees, compensation, budgets, ordinances/resolutions, appeals, ethics and amendments. It was noted in the bylaws that state law Part 18 (commencing with Section 107000) of Division 10 of the Public Utilities Code governs this.

If localities approve this, it would in turn be presented to GCT Board for Spring approval and targeted for the District Board to adopt these bylaws by July, 2014.

In response to questions about what portion of the District budget is funded by actual fares paid, Gold Coast CAFR Summary 2013purportedly about 20%, with other funding coming from various government state and federal (25%) subsidies. If it goes as planned  it will breakeven. That would mean that the state is the largest funding source. The actual 2013 Y/E Financial report looks somewhat worse (chart- above)

The new district was presented as being better able to compete for federal monies.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ramirez stated health was one of the goals of this and that all transportation, not just buses and Gold Coast, is subsidized, pointing out enormous expenditures for auto/truck infrastructure. What she didn’t point out is that motorists directly fund that with 72 cents per gallon in gas taxes, plus car taxes, registration fees, “gas guzzler” taxes, sales taxes, etc.  It appears that at least some of that is now being diverted from its intended purposes.  It is a public policy decision to not recover all bus and train costs via fares, in an attempt to incentivize ridership and a transition from dependence on automobiles. Fewer vehicle miles would reduce particulate and chemical pollution, especially since more stringent diesel fuel/operation laws have been implemented at very great expense.

A reading of the bylaws left questions about the chain of command of accountability back to The People. A “Board” is mentioned, which directs the activities of the organization, but nowhere does it state the makeup of that board, who they are accountable to and how they are appointed or elected. However a look at predecessor agency boards indicated that all board members were  local elected officials. A GCT document found said that was the rule.

A $20MM federal grant is enabling construction of the new Oxnard transportation center on Auto Center Drive. The 185 employees are mostly drivers. Ridership was said to be up 8% in the last six months. It is a goal to win customers who have cars and normally drive, as well as the transportation-disadvantaged. We were told that  the District will not place a financial burden on cities, however it will significantly impact taxpayers..

In answer to a question as to whether the District would be accountable to municipalities and whether it would be less so than the Agency was, Councilman McDonald indicated that he believed it would be as accountable. Mayor Pro-tem Ramirez’s question on whether board votes would be weighted was yes, by population, not rider miles.

We were unable to locate a budget at publication time, but here’s one from the old Gold Cast Transit to provide a general idea of its structure, if not a current one. Also, here’s the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year ended 6/30/13.

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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