About halfway through the year, County Council member Hans Riemer (D-At large) has said he is next setting his sights on transportation systems.
As part of new Council President George Leventhal’s committee assignments, Riemer got switched from Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) to Planning, Housing and Economic Development.
But, from an economic development conference in San Francisco, Riemer talked about his new policy initiative. Although he said he is still working on specific legislation to bring forward, he wants to change the way the county looks at transportation demand management.
“(It means) working with businesses and residents to use alternative means of transportation, whether walking or biking or bus or carpool or Metro or shuttles – looking at our traffic problems and trying to tackle them in a very 2.0 way rather than just saying the solution is just to build more roads. We just don’t really have the money or space to build more roads. It’s not a sustainable solution. We’ve got to use our road system more efficiently,” Riemer said.
TDM refers to the set of policy initiatives and strategies the county uses to provide alternatives to single-vehicle transport, and Riemer wants to take a comprehensive look at it. He said he also plans to work with Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), head of the T&E committee, but he has more to do first.
“You’re hearing it here first,” he said.
Riemer also said he is enjoying his work on the PHED committee since he has worked for a long time on economic development issues. He supported the majority on one of the more contentious issues this budget season – the energy tax. The council decided 5-4 to maintain the current rates rather than reducing them, which inspired Council Vice President Nancy Floreen to ultimately vote against the operating budget as a whole.
Riemer said there is more to economic development in the county than the energy tax and the “cost of doing business” in the county. The county has already started to look more toward attracting industries like cybersecurity to the area.
“I think the fundamentals are very strong, but what we have to do in my opinion is just really kind of focus more on what’s at the cutting edge in terms of sectors of the economy and how to position ourselves so we’re always one step ahead,” he said.
Although the energy tax sparked a split in the council, Riemer said the dynamic this term has been much calmer than in previous years. And Leventhal keeps the procedure on track, a stickler for the “rules of engagement” in a discussion.
“And I have no problem with that,” Riemer said.
He also gets to enjoy chairing his own committee, the Ad Hoc Committee on Liquor Control. Convened earlier this year, the committee is getting close to deciding how much of the Department of Liquor Control to privatize. It will most likely privatize special orders while keeping the rest under government control.
The committee has also looked at the new inventory system the county uses, Oracle, and other concerns about DLC employees. Riemer said it is more fun to chair and decide the committee’s direction.
“You get to really drive the agenda. You know what the plan is, and you’re working to get the input from your colleagues. But fundamentally you’re the one kind of shaping the issues and honing in the resources, whether it’s studies or responses from departments. You’re really able to focus on a goal,” Riemer said.