CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 03/08/2013

CSAC Mourns the Loss of Former California Transportation Commission Executive Director Bimla Rhinehart

CSAC learned of the passing of Bimla Rhinehart, former Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC), on Tuesday, March 5th. CSAC staff and the many county staff that have worked with Bimla extend our most sincere condolences to her family. She was a tremendous asset to the transportation community in California and we will miss her leadership, commitment to public service, and her welcoming and warm spirit greatly. The following is a copy of the CTC’s statement on her passing:

SACRAMENTO — The California Transportation Commission (Commission) adjourned its March 5, 2013 meeting in memory of former Executive Director Bimla G. Rhinehart who passed away early that morning.

“The Commissioners and staff extend our most heartfelt condolences to Ms. Rhinehart’s family. Bimla’s memory will forever remain deep in our hearts,” said the Commission’s current Executive Director Andre Boutros. 

Bimla Rhinehart was appointed as the Executive Director of the Commission in 2009. She retired from State service in February 2013. In a February 15 letter by the former Commission Chair announcing Bimla’s retirement, Joseph Tavaglione wrote “Under Bimla’s leadership as the Executive Director, the Commission has successfully supported the delivery of critical projects and programs throughout the state. The relationships she has developed with our stakeholders and partners helped foster our collective success. Her many years at Caltrans provided her with a broad expertise in transportation issues which in turn enabled her to excel as our Executive Director. Our gratitude and appreciation for her efforts cannot be overstated.” 

Prior to her appointment as the Commission’s Executive Director, Bimla spent nearly twenty three years with the California Department of Transportation, serving in various leadership roles, including the Division Chief of Right of Way and Land Surveys, the Acting Division Chief of Budgets, and the Deputy Director for External Affairs. Bimla earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Accounting from California State University, Chico. She was an active board member of the California Transportation Foundation, a leading charitable transportation organization in California. Bimla was also an active member of the Sacramento Chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar, an international organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the transportation industry, where she was recognized as the Women of the Year in 2010. Bimla has been a role model and a mentor for transportation professionals throughout California.

It seemed particularly symbolic that the Bay Bridge, a project that Bimla played a key role as a member of the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, formally initiated its spectacular light project yesterday as well. Colleagues from the transportation sector remembered Bimla as a quiet giant that could bring all sides together to move a project forward. 

A memorial service is being scheduled to honor Bimla and her tremendous transportation contributions and a memorial scholarship fund will be established in her honor. Details will be provided as soon as available.
 

Land Use

SB 33 (Wolk) – Support
As Amended on March 6, 2012

SB 33, by Senator Lois Wolk, would amend state law governing Infrastructure Financing Districts (IFDs) to provide an improved mechanism to deliver much-needed infrastructure projects and create jobs in California. SB 33 would, among other things, eliminate the two-thirds vote requirement to establish an IFD, remove the two-thirds vote requirement to issue IFD-associated bonds, extend the life of IFDs from thirty to forty years, expand the eligible projects to include transit priority projects consistent with a Sustainable Communities Strategy, and would allow IFDs to locate in former redevelopment areas.

IFDs allow the reallocation of existing tax revenues to improve a designated area and specifically allows local governments to use their property tax increment to pay for public works projects. Current law, which requires a two-thirds voter approval to create an IFD, unnecessarily discourages local governments from using this creative option to fund much needed infrastructure projects. SB 33 still requires approval of every affected taxing jurisdiction including the City Council or Board of Supervisors to approve a plan for the IFD thus making it a public process that allows for community input into the program. 

Given the fact that there has been a significant underinvestment in transportation infrastructure across the state over the past few decades and that the major sources of transportation funding are no longer sufficient to maintain our current system, let alone modernize it, SB 33 offers an much-needed solution to allow local governments more flexibility to make transportation investments in their communities.

SB 33 is set for hearing before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on March 13. 

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