February 15, 2011

Feb 15 2011

Measure M Program Update

  • The renewed Measure M program, referred to as Measure M2, is a sales tax measure passed by Orange County voters in November of 2006 and continued the existing sales tax for transportation improvements started with the original Measure M.

  • The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) approved a five-year M2 Early Action Plan, covering years 2007-2012, to advance implementation of several key M2 projects including the freeway mitigation program to gain environmental credits to allow the major transportation projects (13 freeway projects) to move forward with one environmental mitigation clearance.

  • Since 2007, an OCTA Environmental Oversight Committee has been meeting with the goal of making recommendations to the OCTA Board related to the Mitigation Program. A master agreement between OCTA and state and federal resource agencies was approved in January 2010. This agreement offers environmental benefits such as habitat protection, connectivity, and resource preservation in exchange for project approvals for the 13 freeway projects.

  • OCTA requested submittals of property for potential acquisition to satisfy the environmental requirements. Over 100 properties were submitted and a priority list finalized by January 2010.

  • The AERA property was in the original submittals to be considered for acquisition but was dropped from consideration in the first round due to an inadequate “willing seller” letter provided by the property owner. The property included all 3,000 acres and is ranked very high due to biological and habitat resources.

  • The first round of acquisition funding (there are also funds available for restoration but that is a lower priority) is $27.5 million and the second round of funding is approx. $25 million. Although the original plan was to wait several years before a second round was offered, OCTA has consolidated the two rounds and a second call for nominations for candidate acquisition properties was issued by OCTA and the City of Brea submitted the AERA property on January 14, 2011. The idea of consolidating the two rounds is to take advantage of a number of willing sellers and market conditions favor acquisition at this time. This will also front load the environmental clearance at one time. 

  • AERA submitted an e-mail to OCTA on February 9, 2011 indicating they have no objection to continuing discussions regarding potential acquisition stating that many complex issues need to be resolved prior to any potential transaction being possible.

  • Currently the new submittals are being evaluated for biological and habitat value.  The original evaluation of the AERA property ranked it in the top grouping (Group 1 of 4 groups). The most recent submittal reduced the request to include only the Orange County property which is about 300 acres, but includes the wildlife corridor.

  • Following the evaluation, expected to be completed in March 2011, the top candidates will be asked for a letter to allow for the appraisal of the property.