Despite outcry from East Bay lawmakers, the Bay Area’s lead transportation agency has recommended moving forward with a $179 million plan to use toll money to relocate its headquarters from Oakland to San Francisco.
Critics of the plan have said the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which guides policy for region’s host of transit agencies, should not use toll money to purchase the new headquarters, at 390 Main St. in San Francisco. The relocation plan drew particular heat since the MTC’s proposed bid for the building — $105 million before renovation costs — was nearly twice as much as the $60 million that the U.S. Postal Service sold the property in 2009.
East Bay officials in particular criticized the proposal, saying the MTC should pursue new headquarters in its longtime Oakland home. Disabled activists also said the new location was too far from local transit options. In response to these criticisms, the MTC rescinded an earlier approval of the relocation plan, in favor of forming an ad-hoc committee to explore its other options.
Despite the concerns, the ad-hoc committee has recommended again that the MTC should move forward with the relocation effort to 390 Main St.. The committee detailed a number of findings supporting its decision, noting that market prices have appreciated considerably since the post office sold the building.
The committee also said that the new location is only four blocks from the Embarcadero BART station, and that a van would be available to provide shuttle service for disabled passengers.
Although the MTC plans on spending nearly $180 million to purchase and renovate the building, the agency actually projects to net $49 million over the next 30 years by renting out the property to other tenants, according to agency spokesman Randy Rentschler. The agency has said it’s essential to purchase the new building to accommodate its growing staff.
San Francisco Supervisor and MTC Commissioner Scott Wiener said the relocation plan is a good idea. “Over time, this will pay for itself,” Wiener said. “This committee conducted an extensive analysis of various options, and it was not even a close call.”
State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, an opponent of the move, said that using toll funds for the project was inappropriate.
“Commuters must travel Bay Area bridges daily to get back and forth to work,” DeSaulnier said in a letter addressed to the MTC. “They expect that their toll fees go to road repair and bridge maintenance, not for real estate speculation.”
On Wednesday, the MTC will vote once again on the relocation proposal.
$179 million: Cost to purchase and renovate 390 Main St.*
$60 million: Cost that the USPS sold the building for in 2009
$49 million: Rent revenue the MTC projects to net over the next 30 years
*Includes contingency costs