Blog

Forward Motion, November 2021

Orange County Business Council Appoints Jeffrey Ball as its New President and CEO

Orange County Business Council (OCBC) announced the appointment of Jeffrey Ball as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective Jan. 1, 2022.

An accomplished executive and financial industry leader with experience in both the private and public sector, Ball currently serves as President and CEO at Friendly Hills Bank in Whittier. In that role, he utilized his entrepreneurial abilities to lead the bank through its initial founding, state and federal bank charter status, Initial Public Offering, development of new products and services, and continual revenue growth.

Ball, a longtime Huntington Beach resident, will now leverage this experience to guide OCBC’s future growth and elevate its position as one of the region’s most influential voices and trusted advocates for the business community. Ball replaces Lucy Dunn, who announced her retirement in July and departs on Dec. 31 after 16 years of leading the organization.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have this opportunity to lead OCBC and follow in the footsteps of the impactful contributions made by Lucy Dunn,” Ball said. “She has built and widened the Council’s leadership position as the voice of Orange County’s businesses in the region and California on many critical issues. I look forward to continuing that leadership as we address the many opportunities and challenges of the next decade.”

Dunn praised the selection of Ball, describing him as a passionate service-minded leader who has a strong belief in OCBC’s pro-business mission.

“I am thrilled that Jeff has decided to devote the next chapter of his career to lead OCBC and advance Orange County’s economic development and prosperity,” Dunn said. “I am very proud and honored to pass the torch to Jeff. He will undoubtedly take OCBC and our nation’s sixth largest county to new heights.”

A five-member OCBC Search Committee, headed up by two past board chairs, recommended Ball following extensive interviews with a diverse cross section of candidates during the three-month search. The full OCBC Board of Directors unanimously approved Ball’s appointment as the new President and CEO on Thursday. Irvine-based McDermott + Bull helped facilitate the executive search.

“Finding an executive who can step into the OCBC CEO role and build on Lucy’s track record of accomplishments and effective leadership was a difficult assignment,” said Jena Jensen, chairwoman of the OCBC Board of Directors. “But in the end, the search committee’s diligence and commitment to find the best possible candidate paid off. I am excited and energized to welcome Jeff to OCBC. I am confident he will continue the tradition of strategic vision and impact OCBC is known for regionally and statewide.”

Throughout his career, Ball has advanced community development initiatives and successfully advocated for improvements to policies on a state and national level through active engagement with all sides of the political spectrum.

“I have been fortunate to work with great professionals serving a variety of businesses throughout my career, while advocating for their importance to the communities that they serve,” Ball said. “I look forward to continuing that legacy with OCBC and its staff as we embrace change and build for the future in Orange County and throughout the state.”

Ball currently serves on the Board of Directors for Friendly Hills Bank, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, the Western Bankers Association and technology-focused company Data Center, Inc. He is also a member by appointment of the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission of the California State Bar and the Government Relations Administrative Committee for the American Bankers Association, both of which he previously chaired. Ball is also a Past Chair of the California Bankers Association.

In Orange County, Ball served on the OCBC board between 2003 and 2006 and is a current and active member of the OCBC Economic Forecast Committee alongside Dunn. Ball also founded Kinetic Academy, a K-8 charter school located in Huntington Beach, where he currently serves as Vice Chair. He also previously served as a board member for Junior Achievement of Orange County.


Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Stephen J. Polechronis

Senior Vice President
AECOM

Mr. Polechronis is a transportation industry executive and project manager with over 34 years of experience in the industry. His extensive transit project management experience includes development, design, and construction of light rail, heavy rail subway, and commuter rail projects. He is currently serving as the program manager for the Caltrain Downtown Extension for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority in San Francisco. Before joining AECOM, he served as a deputy executive officer with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as a project manager with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He has broad experience in communicating through public information meetings and various media outlets.

In addition to his project work, Mr. Polechronis has held a number of executive positions with AECOM, including his recent assignment as Regional Business Line Leader for West Transportation, South. Mr. Polechronis’s previous assignments with AECOM include responsibility for development of the Latin American transportation initiative, director of West program management, and West Coast regional manager of business development. He has held positions with both P&L and business development responsibility.

Mr. Polechronis is active in the Woman’s Transportation Seminar, American Public Transportation Authority, Construction Management Association of America, and the Central City Association of Los Angeles.

 


Installation of New Bus Lanes in DTLA Begins This Month

In partnership with the City of Los Angeles, Metro is pleased to announce the upcoming installation of bus priority lanes on southbound Grand Avenue, between Hope Place and Pico Boulevard, and northbound Olive Street between 2nd Street and Pico.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) will conduct striping removals and re-stripe the rightmost travel lanes, replace existing signage with new bus lane signage, and install pavement markings for new bus priority lanes.

Due to this work, the far-right travel lane will be closed as needed and any disruption to traffic is expected to be minimal, as each spot closure is expected to last about an hour. Virtually all curbside street parking and loading zones will remain available.

Installation work will occur on Olive on Saturday, November 6 from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. The work on Grand Av will occur on Saturday, November 13th from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. If remaining work is needed, it will occur on Saturday, November 20, from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This project is one of the many recommendations resulting from the Bus Speed Engineering Working Group, authorized by the Metro Board of Directors and the LA City Council in July 2019. It is a collaborative effort between Metro and LADOT to identify, design, fund and implement transit supportive infrastructure to speed up transit service as part of the NextGen Bus Plan.

For more information on the Grand Av and Olive St Bus Priority Lanes Project, please visit the project website at metro.net/grand-av-olive-st, call our project hotline at 213.922.4869, or e-mail us at dtlaimprovements@metro.net.


SCAG’s Draft 2022 Public Participation Plan Opens for Public Comment

SCAG invites the public to review and comment on our new Draft 2022 Public Participation Plan. SCAG’s planning work serves a large and diverse region, and we rely on public participation as an essential component of our planning process. Strategies and best practices for public engagement, as well as the ways people consume information, have shifted dramatically in the past few years. The update to the Public Participation Plan allows SCAG to better reflect those changes as well as ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.

The 2022 update incorporates changes in communications impacted by two major influences that have shaped not only the SCAG region but the nation. The impacts of COVID-19 have created major shifts in the use of technology and people’s preferences for participation including a change from in-person meetings to virtual formats. The Special Committee on Equity and Social Justice helped guide SCAG’s Racial Equity Early Action Plan (EAP) which offers several goals and strategies to ensure SCAG’s communications are looked at through an equity framework whenever possible. The draft plan also includes, and adapts to, what we heard from you via a survey on SCAG’s outreach efforts and public participation processes.

SCAG is releasing the Draft 2022 Public Participation Plan for a 45-day public review and comment period. The draft will be available for comments from Tuesday, Nov. 16 until Friday, Dec. 31 at 5 p.m.


OCBC Honors Government Agencies Cutting Red Tape in 11th Annual “Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet” Awards

Orange County Business Council (OCBC) presented its prestigious “Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet” awards to cities and agencies throughout Orange County whose efforts eliminate barriers to economic growth and foster private sector jobs creation.

Now in its eleventh year, OCBC’s groundbreaking awards program received a record-breaking 44 nominations for the following six award categories: Business Retention and Expansion, Building & Land Reuse and Community Development, Incorporating Innovative Technology, Sustainable and Green Development, Public-Private Partnership, and Leadership in Public Service. Winners were selected by a committee of seven leaders in business and local government. OCBC applauds each applicant for its dedication to Orange County’s growth and prosperity and congratulates all public agencies striving to streamline bureaucracy and support business as the region continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view details on all the nominees, click here.

This year’s award winners are:

Business Retention and Expansion Program Award, which recognizes development projects that are purpose-built or adaptively reused to create jobs and housing.

County of Orange: Orange County One-Stop Center Mobile Unit
The Mobile One-Stop Center, a reinvention of the brick-and-mortar version, has provided more than 300 clients with business, employment and workforce development services since debuting in February 2021. Learn more.

Building & Land Reuse and Community Revitalization Program Award, which applauds economic development initiatives that grow and retain businesses within communities.

City of Stanton: Project Homekey
Through Project Homekey, and in collaboration with Jamboree Housing and the County of Orange, the City of Stanton committed $5 million to acquire and rehabilitate two motel properties into 132 permanent supportive housing units for homeless individuals. Learn more. 

(Honorable Mention) City of Santa Ana & Community Development Partners: Casa Querencia
Casa Querencia is a 56-unit permanent supportive housing community for chronically homeless individuals in Santa Ana featuring a partnership with Mercy House for supportive services to residents and on-site case management by OC Health Care Agency. Learn more.

Incorporating Innovative Technology Program Award, which highlights creative use of technology and modernization of infrastructure.
South Orange County Community College District: Fully Online Bidding, Contracting and Public Procurement Organization
The District’s online transition of its public procurement activities, including the district-wide implementation of the Jaggaer Contracts Management System (CMS) and the PlanetBids system, has processed 2,686 contracts valued at over $327 million and increased contractor outreach by 300%. Learn more.

(Honorable Mention) City of Newport Beach: Online Data Dashboards
The City of Newport Beach’s online Dashboards are an interactive mapping and data app that enables residents to view all City-related activities, including construction projects, recent police/fire response calls, flight paths and noise, and short-term lodging rentals, in real-time. Learn more.

Sustainable and Green Development Program Award, which acknowledges the important connection between economic and environmental sustainability.

Irvine Ranch Water District: Water Banking Program
Irvine Ranch Water District’s (IRWD) water banking projects in Kern County gives IRWD the rights to portions of State Water Project stores by capturing water that would otherwise be lost to the ocean in wet years. The stored water can be recovered during dry years to meet 15% of IRWD customers’ needs. Learn more. 

(Honorable Mention) Transportation Corridor Agencies: Conservation Grazing Pilot Program
The first program of its kind in Orange County, Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) uses grazing livestock to manage the 23.2-acre Live Oak Plaza Conservation Area northeast of the 241 Toll Road, which maintains biodiversity, supports the habitat of threatened native species and mitigates fire risk. Learn more.

Public Private Partnership Award, which showcases outstanding initiatives developed with collaboration between the public and private sectors.
The City of Placentia sought to enhance fire and emergency medical services (EMS) services through a partnership with Lynch EMS, who provide ambulances and staff to the City for $1 million a year, $3 million less annually than they previously paid. This public-private partnership resulted in 19% more daily calls than the previous service provider, an 85% reduction in aid required from neighboring cities, and faster response times. Learn more.

Leadership in Public Service Award, commends leaders who are stepping up to support the private sector and working diligently to help their communities thrive.

City of Anaheim: Community Care Response Team AND
City of Anaheim and Orange County Conservation Corps: Mission Task Request – CalOES
OCBC recognized the City of Anaheim with this year’s Leadership in Public Service Award for the City’s exemplary work on two programs’ combined impacts in assisting vulnerable community members during a time of crisis.

Anaheim Community Care Response Team (CCRT) is part of the City’s ongoing efforts to address homelessness by expanding and enhancing outreach. CCRT answers all non-emergency homeless calls and provides mental health and transitional services and resources. On average, 27% of all contacted homeless individuals accept shelter. Thus far, 726 individuals have entered shelter or housing and 32 are in permanent housing. Learn more.

Orange County Conservation Corps (OCCC), a nonprofit providing community support, the City of Anaheim and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), provided critical assistance to the community during the pandemic. OCCC Corpsmembers and staff dedicated more than 180,000 hours aiding residents, helped distribute over 25 million pounds of food and completed about 6,000 COVID tests daily.


USDOT Press Release:

US Department of Transportation Announces Action Plan to Accelerate Investments in our Ports, Waterways and Freight Networks

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Plan is latest step in ongoing Biden-Harris Administration efforts to address global supply chain challenges 

WASHINGTON – As part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to address disruptions to the global supply chain, and on the heels of the passage of the President’s Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a Port Action Plan. This plan is a set of concrete steps to accelerate investment in our ports, waterways, and freight networks. These goals and timelines will mobilize federal agencies and lay the foundation for successful implementation of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. This action plan will increase federal flexibilities for port grants; accelerate port infrastructure grant awards; announce new construction projects for coastal navigation, inland waterways, and land ports of entry; and launch the first round of expanded port infrastructure grants funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Ports represent a critical link in the United States economy and economic competitiveness. An investment in ports and waterways will result in direct benefits for the American people by relieving supply chain congestion, creating good-paying jobs and strengthening long-term supply chain resiliency. The BID invests $17 billion into modernizing infrastructure at ports and waterways, making it the largest federal investment in ports in US history.

The action plan can be viewed here.

More information on the Administration’s actions to address the supply chain can be viewed here.

###


VCTC Introduces VCbuspass, a Regional Transit Pass for Ventura County

Bus riders in Ventura County are now able to use a single, touch-free system to pay for fares on any of the county’s regional buses, making it easier to use public transit to travel to work and appointments, to run essential errands and to simply get around.

The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) has launched VCbuspass, a contactless fare collection system that allows passengers to pay for fares on any of eight Ventura County regional bus systems.

With VCbuspass, riders can buy bus passes online and use them directly from their mobile devices or use a reloadable smartcard when boarding buses. In addition to purchasing passes online, riders may visit one of the many transit pass ticket counters located across the county and load products onto their cards or mobile phone accounts using cash. Beginning this November, riders can go into any CVS drugstore to load value onto their account, with more stores to follow.

In December 2020, VCTC awarded a contract to Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. for the new regional countywide system. The VCbuspass system is powered by Cubic’s Umo Mobility app.  The Umo Mobility app is available for both Android and Apple devices.

To begin using the system and to purchase a pass, passengers can download the Umo Mobility app, go to goventura.org/vcbuspass or visit a transit pass ticket location. An account is not required to use the system; however, riders are encouraged to register to receive alerts and take advantage of other customer features. Riders who choose not to use VCbuspass can still use cash to pay fares when boarding.

The VCbuspass system is installed on over 160 vehicles across eight transit operator fleets, including Camarillo Area Transit, Gold Coast Transit District, Moorpark City Transit, Ojai Trolley, Simi Valley Transit, Thousand Oaks Transit, Valley Express Bus, and VCTC Intercity transit service. Passengers may buy 31-day passes or add “stored value” that lets riders pay as they go.

“The VCbuspass system gives transit riders all across the county, from Ventura to Simi Valley, greater convenience to buy passes online, and improved safety with faster, contactless boarding at the farebox,” said VCTC Commissioner and Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Bryan MacDonald. 

More information about VCbuspass, including Frequently Asked Questions and sales locations, can be found on the VCTC website at goventura.org/vcbuspass. 

“With the VCbuspass, VCTC’s regional fare media is moving into the 21st century, building upon our goal of improving mobility for Ventura County residents. By leveraging the latest technology, we are able to provide a more convenient and seamless transit experience across the county,” said VCTC Public Transit Director Martin Erickson.


Train riders may be able to enjoy stress-free, environmentally-friendly travel by train between L.A. and the Coachella Valley. Shopping along El Paseo? Yes, please!  

RCTC Seeks Federal Funding for Next Phase of Daily Passenger Train Service between Coachella Valley, L.A.

RCTC is hoping everyone will climb aboard to voice support for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Project. The public’s support is needed for the next phase of development for the proposed twice-daily passenger rail service between the Coachella Valley and Los Angeles Union Station.

Residents, business groups, tourism destinations, rail enthusiasts, transit advocates, and other stakeholders in all corners of southern California can visit rctc.org/support to add their names to a growing list of supporters for this service.

Collecting the support from residents across southern California will strengthen RCTC’s application for federal grant funding through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program. Grant applications are due November 29.

The proposed service follows a 144-mile route with stops in four counties – Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside – and the potential for up to six stations east of Colton with the service endpoint in either Indio or Coachella. RCTC expects to finalize its Service Development Plan and “program level” Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report in spring 2022. The next required step is the “project level” EIS/EIR, a $60 million investment that the federal grant would help fund.

“Securing this funding will allow us to advance to the next step in delivering this transformative rail service through southern California, benefiting not only the Coachella Valley, but also passengers in the counties of Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino,” said RCTC Chair Jan Harnik, who also serves as the Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Palm Desert. “This is a game-changing economic opportunity with environmental benefits for all of our communities, including our most disadvantaged communities, along the route,” Harnik said.

If funding for the project-level EIS/EIR is secured, RCTC and Caltrans would be able to:

  • Conduct preliminary engineering along the 76-mile eastern section of track to the 30% design level; and
  • Pursue project-level environmental approvals for up to six stations, a new third main track, and associated grade crossings and signal improvements on the eastern section of the corridor.

For more information, go to rctc.org/cvrail and don’t miss the project video.


 

S&P Global Ratings Upgrades San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency Senior-Lien Toll Revenue Bonds to A and Junior-Lien Toll Revenue Bonds to A-

In yet another indication of the financial strength of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, aka The Toll Roads of Orange County, S&P Global Ratings has upgraded the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency’s (SJHTCA) senior-lien and junior-lien bonds to A and A- respectively, with outlook stable. The SJHTCA operates the 73 Toll Road.

“The rating reflects our opinion of the SJHTCA’s strong enterprise risk and financial risk profiles,” stated S&P Global Ratings in the RatingsDirect report dated Nov. 3, 2021.

The 73 Toll Road’s robust and ongoing recovery from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated effects were acknowledged by S&P. The Toll Roads system overall has seen recovery and the negative financial impacts have diminished.

In a statement, SJHTCA Chair and Mission Viejo Mayor Trish Kelley said: 

“S&P Global’s decision to upgrade the bonds is a reflection of how hard the Board of Directors and staff have worked to ensure that The Toll Roads retain a strong financial position and that the Agency is positioned to provide excellent service and be sustainable into the future. 

“The decision is also an indicator of Orange County’s economy coming out of the worst of the pandemic and that The Toll Roads are an asset, providing congestion relief for the region.”

In a statement, SJHTCA Vice Chair and Newport Beach City Councilmember Will O’Neill said: 

“S&P Global’s rating upgrade reflects the Agency’s financial strength and prudent fiscal planning that provide the stability needed to weather economic downturns and unforeseen events, such the pandemic, while also advancing important improvements to the73 Toll Road. 

“Every day, more people choose to drive The Toll Roads because of the predictable time savings and free-flow traffic conditions.”

All bonds issued by the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are rated investment grade. The bonds were issued to fund construction of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads. The Agencies have taken significant steps to manage debt by leveraging lower interest rates and considering plans for early paydown as the bonds become callable.

The SJHTCA and Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA), which comprise TCA, are two joint powers authorities created to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s 51-mile toll road network – the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for more than 20 years and the tolls collected are used to repay the debt incurred to construct the system and fund on-going operations and improvements.

The Toll Roads system, which represents 20% of Orange County’s highways, is the largest toll road network in California.

Leave a comment

Comments containing profanity, vulgarity or threats may be deleted or edited.

*