Oct. 3--FREMONT -- With traffic congestion and transportation such hot button issues for so many residents, Fremont officials have decided to form a commission to help people move more freely and easily.
The city's new mobility commission is the culmination of an effort started nearly two and a half years ago by Mayor Lily Mei. At that time, the Fremont City Council established a mobility task force, instead of a full commission.
After 11 meetings over 16 months from October 2017 to January 2019, the task force and a city-hired consultant, with input from residents via community surveys and meetings, created a five-year mobility action plan.
The task force recommended the creation of a mobility commission, with its key charge to put in place the action plan -- which the City Council approved in March.
The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to form the commission.
Nine members will make up the commission, all of whom should have "expertise and leadership interested related to various travel modes," city staff reports said. Ideally, the members will include two people who walk, two who bicycle, two who use transit, such as BART or bus lines, two who drive, and one who has "mobility impairment."
In addition to creating the commission, the action plan recommends the city continue efforts already underway to improve mobility, "such as traffic signal modernization, safe routes to schools, AC Transit modernization, pedestrian and bicycle master plans," and the city's Vision Zero traffic safety program.
The commission also will oversee the city's efforts to advocate for additional local funding from regional sources to expand some of those programs, and to "pursue regional land use policy changes designed to ease regional traffic congestion through Fremont."
It also said the city should work to encourage increased travel by carpooling, transit, walking and bicycling, and decrease "drive alone commuting" from 73 percent to 50 percent by 2040.
Fremont transportation officials have largely blamed commute gridlock in the city on what they call a "funnel" of traffic that runs through the city as workers travel to and from job centers in the South Bay and on the Peninsula from the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa County.
Fremont staff said in 2017 starting a mobility commission could cost the city about $200,000 annually because of the need to hire a city employee to facilitate the meetings and other required staff time, as well as stipends for commissioners.
However, city staff reports now say the Mobility Commission won't add to the city's expenses, as it will replace the city's current bicycle and pedestrian technical advisory committee. Staff support for the Mobility Commission will be "incorporated into the existing operating budget for the public works department."
The commission will meet quarterly, but subgroups may hold extra "working group meetings" to focus on specific transportation topics like bicycling or public transit. The commission will likely also meet annually with the City Council to review accomplishments and craft a work plan for the next year.
Commissioners will be expected to serve four-year terms and can serve a maximum of two terms. Initially, some of the commissioners will have staggered two-year terms to help maintain continuity and institutional knowledge on the commission.
People interested in becoming a commissioner can apply with the city clerk, and the mayor will select appointees, who would need to be approved by the council.
Selection of commissioners is expected to take place late this year, and the first meeting of the new commission could be in early 2020, city reports said.
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