Almanac

News - April 24, 2013

Menlo Park: Adina Levin moves to transportation post

by Sandy Brundage

Menlo Park has a chronic shortage of volunteers for its city commissions, and after the council meeting on April 16, one commission's loss was another's gain.

Adina Levin, formerly of the Environmental Quality Commission, swapped that position for a seat on the Transportation Commission, with the council's unanimous support.

"I wish there were more Adinas," Councilwoman Cat Carlton said.

Ms. Levin told the Almanac that she wanted to make the switch because even during her tenure on the environmental commission, one of the main issues she was concerned about was how transportation impacted greenhouse gas emissions.

"There is a broad range of related policy topics — parking, the relationship between speed and safety, forecasting methods, street classifications," she said. "I am interested in this broader range of issues, and (the) Transportation Commission is a good fit."

One particular item of interest is how Menlo Park estimates the traffic impact of new projects. According to Ms. Levin, the city only looks at vehicle trips to and from the project, and vehicle capacity. Other jurisdictions, such as San Mateo, analyze the relationship between expected traffic from a development, the surrounding land use, transit, bike and pedestrian facilities, and other factors.

"Currently in Menlo Park, to the best of my understanding, it is impossible to do studies like this because the general plan does not permit it," she said, and explained that Menlo Park is about to embark on a general plan review, giving it the opportunity to review and potentially update its policies.

The council also appointed a new director to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) and the Bay Area Regional Water Supply Financing Authority. Although former council member Kelly Fergusson asked to retain the positions, the council opted to appoint Councilwoman Kirsten Keith instead; her term will begin July 1.

A letter from BAWSCA indicated that the majority of the participating cities select an elected member of their governing body as a representative, and that the same person typically holds seats on both the agency and financing authority boards.

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