Local Assemblyman Seeks to Retool Fresno Transportation Board
A Fresno legislator wants to expand the board that controls a large slice of county transportation funding.
Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, says the Fresno County Transportation Authority board needs to add four new members representing specific groups.
One of the main tasks of FCTA is to manage Measure C, the Fresno County transportation sales tax that expires in 2027.
“The lived experiences of underserved communities in the County of Fresno are often times overlooked and it is imperative that community input, diverse backgrounds, and diverse ideas are reflected on the board of the Fresno County Transportation Authority,” Arambula wrote as part of the bill, AB 558.
One goal, the bill says is to “transform restorative environmental justice and climate policy.”
The bill has its skeptics.
“Right off the bat, it looks like the goal of ‘packing’ the county transportation authority with people who may or may or not be friendly to local business might turn out to be a bad idea,” Clint Olivier, CEO of Central Valley BizFed said.
County voters rejected a 30-year Measure C renewal last year, following opposition from several social and environmental justice groups. While the extension of the half-cent sales tax received 58% of the vote, it needed two-thirds to pass. Measure C supporters say they will ask voters again, although details are still being worked out.
Watch: GV Wire’s Bill McEwen Discusses Arambula Bill With KMPH
This would be the third government agency that Arambula wants to reform. Bills have already been signed into law that added members to the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board, and created a independent commission for Fresno County redistricting.
The bill is a “gut and amend” piece of legislation. Arambula introduced AB 558 on Feb. 8 with a one-paragraph placeholder statement about the state budget. He then completely changed the language and reintroduced the legislation on March 23.
The bill is assigned to the Assembly local government committee. It does not yet have a scheduled hearing.
Bill Would Add Labor, Youth and Other Members
The nine-member FCTA board currently consists of:
- Two county supervisors (one from the urban districts, and one from the rural districts);
- Two Fresno city members (the mayor and one councilmember);
- One Clovis City Council member;
- Two city councilmembers from the remaining 13 cities in Fresno County (one from west of Highway 99, and one east);
- Two public at-large members (one jointly selected by the respective city councils from Clovis and Fresno; and one selected by the supervisors from a rural area of the county.
Arambula’s AB 558 would add four new members:
- A labor representative, appointed by the Fresno City Council;
- A youth member appointed by the governor;
- A member from “a disadvantaged, unincorporated area of the county (who) is involved in community and civic advocacy” appointed by the supervisors;
- A member representing education, appointed by the Fresno County Board of Education.
Here are the current members of the FCTA board (and what group each represents):
- Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes, chairman (Fresno County Supervisors, rural district)
- Clovis Mayor Lynn Ashbeck (City of Clovis)
- Parlier Mayor Alma Beltran (Fresno County city east of Highway 99)
- Firebaugh Mayor Felipe Perez (Fresno County city west of Highway 99)
- Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau (Fresno County Supervisors, urban district)
- Paul Sihota (public member, rural area)
- Sarah Harris (public member, Fresno/Clovis urban area)
- Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer (City of Fresno)
- Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias (City of Fresno)
Since this story published, FCTA updated its website to indicate there are no vacancies on the board
The rules on FCTA board selection were established in the 2006 Measure C renewal by voters.
Arambula’s bill also mandates that any FCTA project must pay general prevailing wages and adhere to environmental codes.
Similar Boards Don’t Have Public Members
Transportation authorities for other counties of similar size to Fresno do not have the same type of membership makeup.
The Sacramento Transportation Authority — established by a 1988 county measure — has 16 members, all from elected bodies in the county. There are no public members or any position that represents a specific constituency.
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (Bay Area) consists of 11 members, all from other elected bodies from the county Board of Supervisors or cities within the county.
Locally, the Madera County Transportation Commission Board has six members drawn from the city of Madera and county Board of Supervisors.
The Tulare County Transportation Authority is run through the regional Tulare County Association of Governments. Its board is made up of a collection of publicly elected members throughout the county.