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Three Transportation Ballot Measures Could Be Headed to Bay Area Voters Next Year

The California Legislature approved bills to allow voters to decide on hiking sales taxes and tolls for regional transportation. Gov. Jerry Brown already signed a bill to allow San Mateo County voters to hike sales taxes for transportation.
September 19, 2017, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Sheila Fitzgerald

Two bills on Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) desk to sign or veto by Oct. 15 would allow Bay Area voters to raise tolls and sales taxes for multi-county transportation purposes.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, sponsor of the bill, each $1 of toll increase generates about $125 million annually.

"The projects include everything from improved bridge approaches and increased ferry service across the bay to bringing BART to Silicon Valley," report Matier & Ross for the San Francisco Chronicle. "The wish list even includes money to start building an underground tunnel for [Caltrain] to come directly into downtown San Francisco."

Gov. Brown has already signed AB 1613 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), "thus enabling the San Mateo County Transit District [SamTrans] to seek a half-cent sales tax hike officials anticipate placing on the November 2018 ballot," reports Samantha Weigel for The Daily Journal. As with all sales tax measure that go for specific purposes, it would be subject to a two-thirds supermajority threshold for passage.

All three possible local ballot measures would appear after November 1, when SB 1's fuel taxes and registration fees take effect, hiking gas and diesel excise taxes by 12 cents and 20 cents per gallon, respectively, suggesting that the board members of the respectives agencies would have to consider "balancing voter fatigue with ballot timing," remarks Weigel.

Less than a year ago, Bay Area voters passed many local and regional ballot measures amounting to billions of dollars for transportation projects, including:

  • Measure RR, $3.5 Billion BART Bond
  • Measure C1, $600 Million AC Transit parcel tax extension
  • Measure K,  $1.6 Billion San Mateo County half-cent general sales tax extension that includes transit funding
  • Measure B,  $6.5 Billion Santa Clara County half-cent transportation sales tax measure

More good news for electric vehicles in California

Another transportation bill appearing on Brown's desk does not entail transportation funding nor ballot measures, but concerns those who drive electric vehicles (EVs), reports KQED News. 

AB 544 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) would continue the Clean Air Vehicle decal program after Jan. 1, 2019 "to allow zero and near-zero emission vehicles to continue to qualify for carpool lane stickers in the Golden State." [Planetizen, July 10, 2017.] A budget bill to replenish the exhausted EV rebate program also awaits Brown's signature.

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Published on Monday, September 18, 2017 in The Daily Journal
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