MTC Issues Statement on Regional Headquarters Purchase

Response to State Audit Report

Aug 28, 2012, 13:42 ET from Metropolitan Transportation Commission

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 28, 2012  /PRNewswire/ -- The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today issued the following statement following the release of the California State Auditor's report on the October 2011 purchase of an office building at 390 Main Street in San Francisco as a headquarters facility to provide more integrated and efficient regional planning for the Bay Area:

MTC underwent a thorough, deliberative and transparent public process culminating in the purchase of a new office building located at 390 Main Street in San Francisco in October 2011.  MTC purchased this building as a long-term home to co-locate MTC, the Bay Area Toll Authority and other related regional agencies.  At the request of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, this decision was reviewed by the State Auditor and the results of that audit were released today, August 28, 2012.

"We are pleased that the state auditor confirmed that this action was within our legal authority," said Adrienne Tissier, Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and San Mateo County Supervisor.   "We retained outside legal counsel and followed their advice scrupulously throughout the entire process." 

Commission Vice Chair Amy Worth, representing the cities of Contra Costa, added, "We appreciate the audit recognized that the Commission listened to the public and took meaningful steps to respond to comments," noting, "The Commission withdrew from the initial purchase agreement and took a 60-day 'cooling off period' to re-evaluate all aspects of this decision before we decided to proceed."

Details of the state audit include:

  • The State Auditor's legal counsel concluded that a court "would likely find (BATA's) decision to contribute toll bridge revenues to purchase 390 Main Street was within its legal authority."  This finding is consistent with outside legal advice MTC and BATA sought and received throughout the two-year process of acquiring new office space;
  • The State Auditor confirmed that MTC and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District had valid reasons to move from their current locations.  The Air District's current headquarters at 939 Ellis Street in San Francisco is cramped, antiquated, has poor public access and the building is not up to current codes for seismic safety, fire suppression or ADA accessibility and requires millions of dollars of deferred maintenance.  As for MTC, the State Auditor found that "[t]he transportation commission's challenge with its current space was that it did not provide room for additional growth."
  • MTC was found by the State Auditor to have been responsive to the public throughout the process;
  • The State Auditor confirmed that MTC has financial controls in place to help ensure proper decisions regarding the expenditure of toll revenues; and
  • The State Auditor confirmed that MTC used valid criteria during our property search, and that the agencies' revenue and expense projections related to the building space were reasonable and conservative.

The State Auditor also concluded that additional financial information regarding the purchase should have been made available to the Commission at the time of the purchase action.   As noted in our letter of response to the State Auditor published in the final audit report, we do not fully agree with the methodology of the financial analysis included in the report.  But we do agree that all relevant financial information should be made available to the Commission and to the public.  Both the Commission and the public are regularly updated with all information regarding the move to 390 Main Street, and these regular updates will continue.

Reflecting on the past few years of effort to bring the Bay Area's major regional agencies together under one roof, Chair Tissier added, "After a year's worth of debate, legal opinions and audits, it is time to move on.  The Commission looks forward to turning our full attention to addressing the pressing issues that face Bay Area residents such as economic growth, traffic congestion, air pollution, and improving housing choices for all people who call the Bay Area their home. We look forward to working together with our regional agency partners and state legislators on this shared agenda."

A copy of MTC's letter of response to the State Auditor may be found on the MTC website at MTC is the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area's transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency.

SOURCE Metropolitan Transportation Commission