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Assembly Appointee to the California Transportation Commission Has Clean Air Experience

3:04 PM PST on February 5, 2020

Dr. Joseph Lyou, newest appointee to the California Transportation Commission

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has appointed a new commissioner to the California Transportation Commission: Dr. Joseph Lyou, president and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air, and former governor's appointee to the South Coast Air Quality Management Board.

This is good news for groups that have been pushing for more diverse representation on the CTC, which decides transportation funding priorities for the state. Lyou's organization, the Coalition for Clean Air, is an active advocacy group that frequently weighs in on state policy decisions, reminding state agencies of the impact their decisions have on air quality, and health, throughout California. The Coalition has pushed for programs to electrify transportation, clean up freight transport, advance clean energy, and make sure that state cap-and-trade funds go to communities that most need it.

“Joseph Lyou’s appointment reflects my conviction that we cannot improve transportation without bearing in mind that all Californians deserve clean air," said Speaker Rendon in an email to Streetsblog. "Transportation has air quality consequences around the state, with those living close to freeways and cargo corridors facing high rates of childhood asthma. I know Dr. Lyou will help address these issues on the Commission.”

For his part, Lyou says he is excited to join the CTC. "I really look forward to see how much I can help with transportation and climate issues while on the board," he told Streetsblog.

Other organizations that have supported bringing a wider range of viewpoints to the CTC are also pleased. "We're extremely encouraged with Speaker Rendon's appointment of Commissioner Lyou to the California Transportation Commission," said Esther Rivera of California Walks. "Cal Walks, along with many partners, has been working to ensure the CTC includes commissioners who understand the impacts of transportation on health, equity, and environmental justice. We look forward to the perspective Commissioner Lyou will bring to CTC meetings and the transportation space. We are hopeful the Administration will  continue to appoint commissioners who expand the knowledge and expertise of the Commission in order to address our state's transportation needs."

Jared Sanchez, Senior Policy Advocate for the California Bicycle Coalition, commended Rendon's appointment as a "bold action." Lyou will bring much-needed perspective to the Commission, he said, as well as a wealth of knowledge and a history in environmental issues -- and their connection to transportation and its public health impacts. "The CTC . . . allocates billions every year and has done little to consider the harm it causes," he told Streetsblog. "It's encouraging to finally see our elected leaders paying attention to the CTC and thinking beyond what it has always represented: a myopic structure of vested interests looking to benefit itself by expanding ties to the real estate, goods movement, construction, agriculture, fossil fuel, and technological sectors, no matter the public health or other social costs."

The Commission has also undergone other recent shifts in leadership, on top of Commissioner Tamika Butler's recent resignation. The Commissioners elected developer and large ag business manager Paul Van Konynenburg as Chair, and transit and mobility advocate Hilary Norton as Vice Chair.

Mitch Weiss, former Chief Deputy Director, has been appointed Executive Director, replacing Susan Branson, who retired at the end of the year. Weiss led the considerable staff work that went into creating and implementing guidelines for the various programs under S.B. 1, the recent gas tax increase that brought new revenue to the state.

With Lyou's appointment, one seat remains open on the commission, to be filled by Governor Newsom. Developer Lucy Dunn's term also expires this month, and she could be reappointed, or not, depending on the Governor's wishes.

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