MOORLACH UPDATE — HOV vs. HOT — October 28, 2013

Converting the carpool lanes into toll or managed lanes may be in your future. The OC Register was kind enough to edit down and print my editorial submission today in the first piece below. The headline writer may have misunderstood the subject, as the title should be inverted to read something like “Problem with toll roads (HOT) on carpool lanes (HOV).”

The Orange County Breeze provides a press release for the October 29 (tomorrow) public hearing by the impacted corridor cities. If the topic of HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) versus HOT (high-occupancy toll) is of importance to you, then here is an opportunity to get involved.

And the third piece is in the OC Register and provides an update on activities in the 45th Congressional District.

Problem with carpool lanes on toll Roads

Nickle and dimed: should drivers expect to pay $1.40 a mile for up to 50 miles?

By JOHN MOORLACH / For the Register

I’m observing a new trend emerging in the area of ground transportation in California. This trend is summed up in two words: “managed lanes.”

A managed lane has synonyms like toll lane, high-occupancy toll lane and express lane, and its strategy is also referred to as congestion pricing (to manage demand). To see Orange County’s future, just go to the 110 Harbor Freeway and observe the former high occupancy vehicle carpool lanes. They are now called the Metro ExpressLanes, as a collaborative between Caltrans and Metro (the Los Angeles County equivalent of the Orange County Transportation Authority).

If you wish to use the HOT lanes, just have the appropriate transponder on your dashboard or windshield and it will be charged for the toll as the vehicle passes under the sensing device. The toll amount is based on the charge that will keep traffic at a minimum level of 45 miles per hour, thus making the trip more expedient. The current cost to use the lanes is between $.25 and $1.40 per mile, depending on traffic conditions.

If you can afford to pay for HOT lanes and appreciate skirting those stuck in traffic, then you’re going to love this new trend. In fact, it’s coming to a freeway near you! Caltrans is salivating at the chance to convert the West County Connectors on the San Diego Freeway (I-405) into managed lanes. And, they believe they are doing drivers a big favor. The problem is that taxpayers are paying for the Connectors by way of their sales taxes when making taxable purchases.

The voters in Orange County approved Measure M2 in the fall of 2006, which continued the county’s self-help status (taxing itself to make transportation improvements). This means that a portion of the sales tax that you pay goes to the OCTA to build roads and highways. OCTA has used these dollars to improve the El Toro “Y” and the Santa Ana (I-5) and Garden Grove freeways, to name a few. It is currently making improvements to the 57 and 91 freeways. But this measure gave no authority to build toll lanes of any manner.

Sacramento wants to take all of the industrious work that has been done and unilaterally modify it by imposing managed lanes on the county’s existing and improved infrastructure.

Sacramento wants the county to widen the I-405 so it can install managed lanes. What is the OCTA’s response? The Board majority wants to build the managed lanes first in order to lay claim to the toll revenues. OCTA sees the tolls as a substitute taxing mechanism that will continue long after Measure M2 has expired. Consequently, your Measure M2 tax will fund the bridge modifications to add the two new managed (toll) lanes.

I believe that the future holds different transportation taxing techniques, especially with the preponderance of smartphones. Satellite technology can tell what lane a car is driving in, so the owner of that car can be billed for the miles driven times the premium for the lanes selected. The future also has cars driving themselves. These vehicles could one day have their own lane, making the most of the lane capacity by shortening the distance between cars and synchronizing their travel speeds.

Sadly, the real future is that every existing and future carpool lane in Orange County will be converted to managed lanes. This is the vision that Caltrans and the Federal Highways Administration have for Orange County.

Again, if you’re fine with this approach, then shout out a big cheer. But, if you can’t afford to pay $1.40 per mile for the 50 mile stretch on the San Diego Freeway from Camp Pendleton to Seal Beach Boulevard, then it’s time to speak up.

The corridor cities – Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach and Westminster – are hosting a public meeting on this subject on October 29th at the City of Westminster Community Services Building at 6:30 p.m. You are welcome to attend; please join us.

Trends usually happen as a result of market forces. But some are imposed on us by governmental agencies. Regretfully, the hard work done by OCTA over the course of several decades to improve the county’s freeways through your sales tax dollars is being usurped by Caltrans. And it is being done with the fatalistic acquiescence of the majority of the OCTA Board.

John Moorlach is a Republican member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Town Hall on proposal I-405 toll lanes on Tuesday, Oct. 29

Posted By courtesy

The following information was released by George Urch, an Orange County Democratic strategist.

The 405 Freeway Cities Coalition in Orange County will hold a town hall forum on Tuesday, Oct. 29, to collect public input on a proposal by the Orange County Transportation Authority to add toll lanes to the I-405 Freeway.

The forum will offer an opportunity for the general public to voice its opinion on the proposal.

On hand will be a panel made up of City Council member from each of the six member cities of the Coalition: Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Westminster.

Also expected are Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, State Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, and (perhaps) State Assemblyman Travis Allen.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Services Building, 8300 Westminster Blvd. in Westminster (south of the SR-22 Freeway between Beach Blvd. and Newland St.).

The OCTA Board of Directors is scheduled to vote at their Nov. 8 meeting on the toll lane proposal.

Little-known candidate raises big bucks

Maciariello trying to replace Campbell, who won’t seek re-election.

MARTIN WISCKOL

A couple months ago, I introduced you to Laguna Hills investor Pat Maciariello, who’s embarking on his first political candidacy with a bid to replace retiring Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine.

I portrayed Maciariello as a long shot to contend with state Sen. Mimi Walters and county Supervisor John ‍Moorlach, who’s not yet officially in the race but says he plans to run. Maciariello is probably still a long shot, but you wouldn’t know it from the campaign finance reports filed this month.

Through the end of September, the 38-year-old had amassed an account balance of $427,500. As he indicated in my earlier column, he’s apparently willing to spend his own money freely – he’s loaned his campaign $200,000 – but he’s also proving to have a business network eager to support him: $238,000 worth so far.

Contributors include Paul Makarechian, CEO of Makar Properties, who gave the combined maximum contribution of $5,200 for both the primary and general election, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who gave $1,000. Other donors include a host a lawyers, investors, financial analysts, CEOs and real estate interests.

Walters doesn’t seem to be quivering just yet.

“Running when you’ve never run for office before, especially for Congress, is a challenge,” said Walters, a campaign veteran of successful bids for the state Senate, Assembly and Laguna Niguel City Council.

Walters raised $444,500 – no loans – and has a balance of $394,800. Political action committees, mostly business interests, accounted for $101,000 of her intake. Maciariello received no PAC money. Walters’ lengthy list of endorsers include 18 sitting House members.

All of the candidates are Republicans at this point.

PLEDGE HOLDOUT

Unlike Maciariello, retired Marine Col. Greg Raths isn’t turning any heads with his financial report: $22,000 raised and $68,600 in loans. But he is the only candidate in the race who hasn’t signed Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge not to vote for any tax increase.

“I do not want to be beholden to any special-interest group for anything,” said Raths, who has been attending virtually every service club and council meeting he can fit in to his full-time grass-roots effort. “I have been a military officer of the highest integrity and honor, and I don’t feel I need to temper those qualities by signing pledges. I have worked very close to the residents of the 45th District, and I have not seen any significant push for me to sign this specific pledge.”

But showing the acumen of a seasoned politician, Raths also left himself room to change his mind.

“With that said, I will look deeper into this pledge issue and get back to you concerning my final decision,” he said.

AND ‍MOORLACH?

You may recall that ‍Moorlach put his plans to enter the race on hold over the summer when he learned his daughter, son-in-law and only grandchild would be moving from San Diego to Milwaukee for a job opportunity. ‍Moorlach said he wanted to spend weekends with them while he could, rather than campaigning.

The kids made the move at the beginning of October and ‍Moorlach met with his kitchen cabinet to talk about his candidacy on Wednesday morning. He said he’s getting ready to make an announcement, and says he believes he is the best-known candidate.

“I wouldn’t go in if I didn’t think I’d win,” he said. “I know I’m behind in fundraising and I’ll be putting a lot of pressure on my fundraisers to do a lot by the end of December.”

Moorlach said he “wouldn’t have a problem” signing the Norquist pledge.

Republicans have a 17 percentage-point advantage in the district’s voter registration.

CONTACT THE WRITER: 714-796-6753 or mwisckol

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

October 26

1998

The lead article by Lynn Sherman, with contributions from Andrea Figler, Lynn Stevens Hume, and Michael Marois, of The Bond Buyer covered the Federal Court reverse-repurchase agreement ruling in “Court Ruling Sets Back Effort To Recoup Orange County Loss” (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Conditions of Children — October 24, 2013). Ironically, the fact that Orange County filed for bankruptcy protection primarily due to the use of leverage, availed through the utilization of reverse-repurchase agreements, I’m not sure any municipality directly utilizes reverse-repurchase agreements in its cash management portfolio. Here are selected segments:

The county’s legal team could decide as early as next week whether to appeal the decision, according to Orange County treasurer John W. Moorlach.

“I think the judge is not correct,” Moorlach said. “The code was broken. It seems to me that there is room here for the county to appeal.”

“The judge’s ruling is extraordinarily helpful in clarifying that reverse-repurchase agreements under California law are legal, even if they were unwise or speculative,” said George T. Simon, partner in the Chicago office of Foley & Larder, the firm defending Fuji.

Market participants had feared a ruling in favor of the county would have had a chilling affect (sic) on the use of reverse-repurchase agreements, a common financing tool for municipalities.

Although the county still has cases pending against more than a dozen other securities firms, legal observers had said before the judge’s ruling that an adverse decision would hurt the county’s standing in those cases.

And while the county licks its wounds from Thursday’s ruling and mulls its options going forward, it does have a number of victories under its belt.

“The good news is that we have had a lot of settlements before this,” Moorlach said.

Indeed, to date, Orange County has won approximately $740 million in settlements from other brokers, banks, and underwriters involved in the county’s investments under former Treasurer Robert L. Citron, including Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill [Lynch & Co.].

October 28

2003

The lead editorial in the OC Register was titled “Union should open health-plan books.” Not until I was sworn in at the end of 2006, three years later, did the Board finally succeed in its negotiating efforts to obtain the ability to audit the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ insurance trust (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register

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