Why did Maria Ayerdi Kaplan get major perks for leaving TJPA in 2016? Why do some media outlets focus on the “major perks” that Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan received when she resigned from her post heading the organization she created, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, without asking why? This new post sheds light on the truth the local mainstream media did not want to tell.
On April 30, 2016 my friend Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan retired as the Executive Director of The Transbay Joint Powers Authority. Some media outlets, all too quick to pounce on her rather than investigate behind the scenes, only reported that she received “major perks”. In all, the local white-male-ran San Francisco media ganged up on her so bad that she needed a strong arm content maker to tell her story, and so came to Zennie62Media in 2018 for a three-month engagement. I’ve not talked to her in quite a while.
Well, I’ve held this major part of her story in for months since it was told to me by a friend who’s a major transit executive, today – and was in a good position to know at the time. It came up in conversation about other subjects, but it was blurted out quick and certain and in response to my off-hand remark about Salesforce Transit Center, when I said there should be a statue of her in front of it.
So here goes: my friend offered that the reason for those so-called “major perks” Maria got was so the Transbay Joint Powers Authority would avoid what would have been a giant and costly sexual harassment lawsuit. My friend even named some names who were at the center of her terrible treatment, but I’ll leave that out of this.
The bottom line is, as I have said before, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan should be considered as a modern economic development god for what she did to bring a dream, what’s now called Salesforce Transit Center, to reality. That we celebrate the achievements of Latinas today, and do not even think about Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, is beyond ridiculous.
Put a statue for Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan there in front of that damn building, ASAP!
For those of you who need to refresher on what Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan did, here’s the original TJPA press release from the day she left:
The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) announced today that Executive Director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan will be retiring effective April 30, 2016, from the Transbay Program after 18 years of dedication and numerous achievements. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan has served as the first and only Executive Director of the TJPA and launched the multi-billion-dollar Transbay Transit Center Program that spurred the surrounding transit-oriented mixed-use development in the area with thousands of new residential units and millions of square feet of commercial space.
Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan Developed The Strategy And Vision For Salesforce Transit Center
In her role as Executive Director, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan was responsible for developing the strategy and vision for the new Transbay Transit Center and advancing the Program and its associated development through regulatory approvals at the federal, state, regional and local levels of government. She also was instrumental in securing billions in funding for the Program’s completion from public and private sources and developing enterprise revenue streams. Additionally, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan spearheaded the stakeholder processes that generated vast support for the Transbay Program, and brought it to fruition.
“I am proud of the cutting-edge standards set under my leadership for the engineering, design, and construction of our ‘Grand Central of the West Coast,’” said Ayerdi-Kaplan. “Serving the people of the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 18 years has been a privilege and honor. Creating an international model for sustainable transit based urban development which also includes beautiful art, a 5.4-acre public roof-top park, children’s playground and community amphitheater, enclosed with an exterior awning co-designed with Sir Roger Penrose to signify the importance of math and science to the Bay Area, has been the experience of a lifetime and one that I will always cherish. I am, and will always remain, grateful that I was given the opportunity to deliver a landmark to San Francisco for generations to enjoy.”
During Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan’s tenure, she presided over the international design competition that selected the architect and vision for the Program, as well as led a diverse team of subject matter experts, including engineering, design, finance, legal, security, construction, marketing and public relations professionals. Having brought the Program within less than two years of opening, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan will now be retiring from the Transbay Program in order to pursue other exciting and challenging opportunities.
“Under Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan’s leadership, Transbay has risen from the ground and will soon become the ‘Grand Central Station of the West,’” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Maria has helped shape the future of transportation in the Bay Area, and her imprint on Transbay will be appreciated for decades to come.”
From the beginning, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan has been forward-thinking about the financial needs of the Program. As an aggressive advocate for its funding, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan closed many real estate transactions critical to the Program’s success, including land acquisitions with a value of nearly $100 million and the purchase of 26 private properties required for construction of the Program. She also successfully negotiated the transfer of nearly 20 acres of land from Caltrans at no cost to help fund the Program. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan led the negotiations for the sale of this land for a value of more than $660 million and secured the pledge of redevelopment tax increment for another approximately $1 billion in funding. Additionally, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan attained millions of dollars in grants from state and federal sources, including a $171 million Department of Transportation TIFIA loan, a $400 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, and an expected more than $600 million from a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District.
Under Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan’s leadership, the Transbay Program created more than 13,500 construction related jobs across 30 states in the United States and hundreds of other non-construction related jobs through the award of 88 professional service contracts at a value of more than $350 million dollars and 51 construction contracts over $907 million.
“I want to thank Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan for her service on behalf of our City. Her work has helped to change the face of the Transbay neighborhood and our skyline forever and will connect our City, region and state,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Beyond her impact on the construction and design, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan was successful in making the Transbay Program an inclusive one. She negotiated and executed a historic Program Labor Agreement with 28 signatory unions and awarded hundreds of millions of contracts to small, woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran- and disabled veteran-owned companies. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan also made youth outreach an integral part of the Transbay Program by mentoring students and building a robust internship Program. Additionally, she made the TJPA the first public works project in United States history to specifically extend an invitation to the LGBT business community to participate in a competitive bidding process.
“There are very few women in the construction and real estate development industry, and I thank Maria for her tireless work to make the Transbay Project a reality,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, a member of the TJPA Board of Directors. “She is a remarkable woman, and I extend my gratitude to her for her dedication to public service and our City.”
Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan’s accomplishments on the Transbay Program have been recognized by many organizations. Among her honors are being named a Top 25 Newsmaker of 2015 by Engineering News Record, as well as receiving the Applied Technology Council and Structural Engineering Institute Award for Extraordinary Innovation in Seismic Protection of Buildings in 2015, the Women’s Construction Owners and Executives Influential Woman in Business Award in 2015, and the San Francisco Business Times’ 2014 Real Estate Deal Maker of the Year Award for negotiating the sale of TJPA property for the construction of the Salesforce Tower for $192 million, at the time the highest price paid per square foot of land in San Francisco history.
“My work over the past 18 years to deliver an entirely new urban center for San Francisco with measurable economic value to the region has been a remarkable period in my life,” said Ayerdi-Kaplan. “It gives me great joy to know that a woman and a Latina made history by delivering the new jewel of downtown San Francisco. I thank everyone that helped me along the way and was part of delivering not only a transit center but also a new mixed-use urban heart for the Bay Area which will stand as a source of civic pride for travelers and visitors in this century and beyond.”
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