Bay Planning Coalition turns 30 | May 10, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 10, 2013

Bay Planning Coalition turns 30

Scores of speakers and several hundred civic, city and regional leaders gathered last week at the 2013 Decision Makers conference, hosted by the Bay Planning Coalition. This "alliance of distinct parties for joint action," as BPC's president Scott Warner called it, focuses on Bay Area ports -- marine, air, rail and road -- the businesses and facilities through which goods and people, the engine of our local economy and prosperity, move in, move on, move through and move out of our region.

The assembly at Scott's Seafood pavilion at Oakland's Jack London Square, involved mostly stakeholders and experts from around the Bay Area who are working to ensure that this region remains at the forefront of goods movement and transportation innovation. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-13th) praised the "impactful work" that the coalition has done throughout the region over the last 30 years to promote efficient and sustainable infrastructure development.

The diversity of participants in last Friday's conference proved how extensively our regional economy is driven by trade through healthy transportation activities, including the heavy truck traffic on I-580 as it makes its way to and from the Port of Oakland, and the high volume of rail traffic passing through the Valley on Union Pacific tracks.

John Coleman, executive director of the Bay Planning Coalition, pointed out that we are seeing real signs that the economy in this area is beginning to improve. With the manufacturing of goods, whether in the electronics, computer, information technology and alternative energy sectors involving the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia laboratories, the Tri-Valley's largest employers, our success and sustainable economic growth is increasingly dependent on interlocking activities by businesses and services in the Bay Area.

The coalition, whose sponsors and members are mainly from energy and engineering companies in Oakland, San Francisco and on the Peninsula, considers as its responsibility the fueling of the area's economic engine and jobs. Those at the conference weren't disappointed as top economists, engineers, scientists, regulators, private investors, manufacturers of goods, the movers of these goods and a number of political insiders joined Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Eric Swalwell and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan as the Bay Planning Coalition celebrated three decades of accomplishments in reducing costs, delays and uncertainties for Bay development projects.

Federal and state laws and plans call for the continued development of the Bay Area while protecting its natural resources. These laws require timely procedures for the many public agencies to review and act on permit applications. We know that permitting delays have added costs in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley as agencies impose new restrictions and regulatory delays. The Bay Planning Coalition deserves praise for its efforts to increase productivity. Except for Swalwell, who talked about the Tri-Valley's growing political influence in Bay Area affairs much to the surprise of many at the coalition's conference, there were no cities or businesses from this area at the meeting. We hope that will change in future Bay Planning Coalition assemblies and workshops when more representatives from the Tri-Valley can attest to the work under way here with regard to transportation, water and environmental technologies that we have to offer.