Response to Arguments Against Measure B | Invest & Innovate | Steve Levy | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

By Steve Levy

Response to Arguments Against Measure B

Uploaded: Oct 19, 2016

Santa Clara County Measure B proposes to spend $6.3 billion over 30 years for transportation improvements financed by a 1/2 cent increase in the sales tax.

The comments on my blog and on the Weekly endorsement blog were almost entirely negative. There were several themes.

--environmental and transit groups oppose the measure

--VTA runs a bad system and folks did not like the El Camino BRT proposal.

--many did not support the BART extension to San Jose and Santa Clara

--some felt that this was a San Jose centric project and north county was not getting much

--some did not trust VTA and thought this would end up a bait and switch

--and some just don't like tax increases

With regard to the first allegation most environmental, transit and low income advocacy groups actively support Measure B including the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters, the Santa Clara League of Women Voters, Working Partnerships (a low and middle income advocacy group) who cosigned an op ed in the Merc, the South Bay Labor Council, Friends of Caltrain and SPUR

With regard to VTA operations, the BRT proposal and the BART extension I am slightly skeptical but the positives way outweigh the negatives.

--$700 for north county CalTrain grade separation,

--$500 million for services to low income and disabled residents,

--$1,2 billion that flows to cities to repair and maintain streets

--$1.5 billion to improve safety on county roads by fixing potholes and making interchanges safer

--$250 million for bike and pedestrian work, $300 million for Caltrain improvement

I am not willing to give that up to "send a message" and wait two or more years for the solid parts of the proposal.

If you look at the projects except for the BART extension this is clearly not a San Jose centric project. San Jose has over 50% of the county population and is not getting a more than proportional share of the funds.

Two thirds of the money supports drivers, low income residents, bikers and pedestrians neighbors and riders of Caltrain.

While I am not enthusiastic about how VTA has run operations in the past (they are trying to become more efficient) I listened to the board meeting approving this measure and found the board to be thoughtful and progressive. San Jose has 6 seats on an 18 member board, less than there proportionate share of the county population.

For those serious about addressing transportation challenges, you do this best by supporting Measure B and paying attention to the implementation.