News

VTA board OKs new sales tax measure

$6.5 billion measure to be added to November ballot

A long-planned sales tax measure is set to go on the November ballot now that the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors gave it the green light. The half-cent, 30-year tax is expected to raise up to $6.5 billion to fund a BART extension to San Jose, as well as a host of other transit upgrades throughout the South Bay.

Among the listed projects, the measure would provide $700 million for Caltrain grade-separation projects throughout Santa Clara County. These costly projects will become crucial in the coming years as the rail corridor is electrified and upgraded to accommodate trains from the California High Speed Rail project. The proposed measure would also fund $314 million for increased Caltrain service, station improvements and extended station platforms.

About $350 million from the measure would go toward creating two express lanes on Highway 85, one in each direction, and opening up the 46-foot median that spans the West Valley for a new transit lane. Meanwhile, county expressways would also get $750 million in upgrades designed to improve congestion and safety.

The largest single project listed in the measure is the BART extension from the Berryessa Station in San Jose to Santa Clara. The project is expected to cost $1.5 billion and will include stations at San Jose Diridon and downtown San Jose. Unlike other expenditures listed in the resolution, funding for the BART extension is capped at 25 percent of the sales tax revenue. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who is not on the VTA board, originally proposed the cap last year, calling it an important step to making sure sales tax money provides meaningful congestion relief throughout the county.

At the June 2 board meeting, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo clarified that the cap does not prevent VTA from finishing the BART extension project, and that it's his goal to make sure the transit line makes it all the way to Santa Clara.

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"I will be adamant in my advocacy that we build all four stations from Alum Rock all the way to Santa Clara, or this BART project will not be a success," Liccardo said.

Business leaders showed up in full force at the Thursday board meeting to show their support. Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, along with representatives from Apple, Lockheed Martin, Silicon Valley Bank and a myriad of other South Bay companies said they whole-heartedly supported the proposed sales tax.

Former Mountain View City Council member Margaret Abe-Koga, speaking on behalf of Synopsys, commended VTA for its extensive outreach and "collaborative style" for coming up with a comprehensive plan for spending the money, and for listening to the concerns of residents throughout the county.

"We'd like to thank you for listening to the cities in the north and west parts of the county," Abe-Koga said.

The measure also calls for $250 million to go towards bike and pedestrian improvements, including filling gaps in existing bike and pedestrian networks, and making safety improvements. Additionally, many of the planned expenditures to highways and local streets and roads explicitly state that the projects will meet Complete Streets requirements in order to maximize bike and pedestrian access. Colin Heyne, the deputy director for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, told the board that the proposed measure will provide a way to "mend" the transportation system in Santa Clara County.

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Not everyone was thrilled with the language of the resolution. David Coale, a member of Carbon Free Palo Alto, said the measure doesn't do enough to enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and the tax measure is "out of step" with the goals of cities, Santa Clara County and California.

"We can hardly afford to have a 30-year tax plan that does not address greenhouse gas reductions as front and center," Coale said.

VTA board member Johnny Khamis, who is a city council member in San Jose, voted for the resolution, but not before voicing his concerns that the project breakdown doesn't do enough to fix and maintain existing roadways. He said the board had to authorize an extra $1 million at the same meeting to replace vehicle parts on buses that are wearing out faster than expected because the roads are "dilapidated," and the existing gas tax revenue is dwindling too fast to be reliable. Despite the concerns, Khamis said he would vote in favor of the measure rather than trying to alter the language so late in the game and risk losing the near-unanimous support.

"If we start messing with the language up here, trying to make sausage, we could fall apart," he said.

The idea of a new ballot measure for transportation improvement has been discussed by county leaders for more than a year, and it generated a fair share of controversy. North County officials, including Simitian, publicly warned VTA board members that they would not support the tax measure if it primarily was used to fund a BART extension to benefit San Jose. Late last year, Mountain View, Palo Alto and a coalition of West Valley and North County cities presented VTA with their own proposal on how to spend the money.

The county currently has two transportation-linked taxes that are active. The half-cent Measure A, which benefits a wide array of transit projects, is due to end in 2036. Meanwhile the one-eighth-cent Measure B, which funds BART extensions and operations, is set to run through 2042.

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VTA board OKs new sales tax measure

$6.5 billion measure to be added to November ballot

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Jun 3, 2016, 1:49 pm

A long-planned sales tax measure is set to go on the November ballot now that the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors gave it the green light. The half-cent, 30-year tax is expected to raise up to $6.5 billion to fund a BART extension to San Jose, as well as a host of other transit upgrades throughout the South Bay.

Among the listed projects, the measure would provide $700 million for Caltrain grade-separation projects throughout Santa Clara County. These costly projects will become crucial in the coming years as the rail corridor is electrified and upgraded to accommodate trains from the California High Speed Rail project. The proposed measure would also fund $314 million for increased Caltrain service, station improvements and extended station platforms.

About $350 million from the measure would go toward creating two express lanes on Highway 85, one in each direction, and opening up the 46-foot median that spans the West Valley for a new transit lane. Meanwhile, county expressways would also get $750 million in upgrades designed to improve congestion and safety.

The largest single project listed in the measure is the BART extension from the Berryessa Station in San Jose to Santa Clara. The project is expected to cost $1.5 billion and will include stations at San Jose Diridon and downtown San Jose. Unlike other expenditures listed in the resolution, funding for the BART extension is capped at 25 percent of the sales tax revenue. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who is not on the VTA board, originally proposed the cap last year, calling it an important step to making sure sales tax money provides meaningful congestion relief throughout the county.

At the June 2 board meeting, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo clarified that the cap does not prevent VTA from finishing the BART extension project, and that it's his goal to make sure the transit line makes it all the way to Santa Clara.

"I will be adamant in my advocacy that we build all four stations from Alum Rock all the way to Santa Clara, or this BART project will not be a success," Liccardo said.

Business leaders showed up in full force at the Thursday board meeting to show their support. Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, along with representatives from Apple, Lockheed Martin, Silicon Valley Bank and a myriad of other South Bay companies said they whole-heartedly supported the proposed sales tax.

Former Mountain View City Council member Margaret Abe-Koga, speaking on behalf of Synopsys, commended VTA for its extensive outreach and "collaborative style" for coming up with a comprehensive plan for spending the money, and for listening to the concerns of residents throughout the county.

"We'd like to thank you for listening to the cities in the north and west parts of the county," Abe-Koga said.

The measure also calls for $250 million to go towards bike and pedestrian improvements, including filling gaps in existing bike and pedestrian networks, and making safety improvements. Additionally, many of the planned expenditures to highways and local streets and roads explicitly state that the projects will meet Complete Streets requirements in order to maximize bike and pedestrian access. Colin Heyne, the deputy director for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, told the board that the proposed measure will provide a way to "mend" the transportation system in Santa Clara County.

Not everyone was thrilled with the language of the resolution. David Coale, a member of Carbon Free Palo Alto, said the measure doesn't do enough to enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and the tax measure is "out of step" with the goals of cities, Santa Clara County and California.

"We can hardly afford to have a 30-year tax plan that does not address greenhouse gas reductions as front and center," Coale said.

VTA board member Johnny Khamis, who is a city council member in San Jose, voted for the resolution, but not before voicing his concerns that the project breakdown doesn't do enough to fix and maintain existing roadways. He said the board had to authorize an extra $1 million at the same meeting to replace vehicle parts on buses that are wearing out faster than expected because the roads are "dilapidated," and the existing gas tax revenue is dwindling too fast to be reliable. Despite the concerns, Khamis said he would vote in favor of the measure rather than trying to alter the language so late in the game and risk losing the near-unanimous support.

"If we start messing with the language up here, trying to make sausage, we could fall apart," he said.

The idea of a new ballot measure for transportation improvement has been discussed by county leaders for more than a year, and it generated a fair share of controversy. North County officials, including Simitian, publicly warned VTA board members that they would not support the tax measure if it primarily was used to fund a BART extension to benefit San Jose. Late last year, Mountain View, Palo Alto and a coalition of West Valley and North County cities presented VTA with their own proposal on how to spend the money.

The county currently has two transportation-linked taxes that are active. The half-cent Measure A, which benefits a wide array of transit projects, is due to end in 2036. Meanwhile the one-eighth-cent Measure B, which funds BART extensions and operations, is set to run through 2042.

Comments

sounds fair
Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:01 pm
sounds fair, Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:01 pm
7 people like this

Sounds good, let's fund some local transit and infrastructure improvements. Grade separation will help save lives, the 85 highway will help with traffic, and the BART extension will help people move around the bay more easily without cars.

Sounds like a good plan.

Now let's open up the floor to some comments from people clutching their cash tightly to their chests, hoping everyone else in the bay will magically just go away…


3rd active tax proposed
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:05 pm
3rd active tax proposed, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:05 pm
28 people like this

I personally will be voting no, and not because of financial reasons.


bjd
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm
bjd, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm
8 people like this

"The largest single project listed in the measure, a proposed BART extension from the forthcoming Berryessa Station to the San Jose Diridon Station would receive no more than $1.5 billion."

The plan is to bring BART from Berryessa to the Santa Clara Caltrain station, overlapping Caltrain service between Diridon and Santa Clara.


Doug Pearson
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm
Doug Pearson, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm
3 people like this

I'm with @sounds fair. Grade separation is a particular interest because, as @sounds fair says, it will help save lives. Unfortunately, it's also expensive and the proposed $700 million will not pay the full cost of all the needed projects, so cities and other government agencies will have to kick in additional funds.

I just hope Mountain View connects Castro Street and Moffett Boulevard via a subway under the railroad and Central Expressway, instead of their proposed alternative of closing the connection and routing traffic over the Shoreline overpass.


Spending freely?
Cuesta Park
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:42 pm
Spending freely?, Cuesta Park
on Jun 3, 2016 at 3:42 pm
21 people like this

So is there a guarantee of where the money will go, or is it all up to the VTA to decide once it hits their coffers. Seems the current 2 taxes haven't done a thing, and I wonder if the money was diverted elsewhere.


BRT - NO
Cuernavaca
on Jun 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm
BRT - NO, Cuernavaca
on Jun 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm
31 people like this

Unless I see an unambiguous commitment to drop BRT and other El Camino silliness, I will vote no.

Once that message is delivered, VTA can come back again in 6-12 months with a different proposal.


george
Rex Manor
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:08 pm
george, Rex Manor
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:08 pm
21 people like this

No No NO...NO MORE TAXES FOR ANYTHING....

Old goat that hates progress ??

NO,,, just a tax payer that is sick of giving dollar after dollar for these projects that triple in cost, that take years to do and never give any return.

Do it with the money you have..


Excellent
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:39 pm
Excellent, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:39 pm
6 people like this

We pay so little in transit infrastructure spending that it's good that this tax is moving forward. It's only a few greedy and short sighted individuals that oppose this investment.


Ungrateful
Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:44 pm
Ungrateful, Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:44 pm
6 people like this

"sick of giving dollar after dollar for these projects that triple in cost, that take years to do and never give any return"

Have you ever actually BUILT anything substantial before? Cost overruns and schedule slips are prevalent everywhere, even more so for huge, complicated projects that require dealing with tons of local governments.

And "never give any return"? Wow, what an ungrateful attitude.

As you take advantage of the roads, walkways, safe drinking water, police, etc. etc. that tax dollars and underpaid humans have built, maybe take a moment and feel a modicum of gratitude for those who came before you, who were not selfish enough to stop multi-year efforts at improving our area.

I actually love this area enough to invest time and money towards improving it.


Joe Simitian blocks BART?
Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 6:29 pm
Joe Simitian blocks BART?, Old Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2016 at 6:29 pm
11 people like this

Lets see
6500 Million new taxes

-1500 Million BART from Berryessa Station to San Jose Diridon Station
- 750 Million county expressway improvements
- 700 Million grade separation for Caltrain
- 350 Million add two express lanes on Highway 85 (wider, new lanes?)
______________
3200 Million chump change not mentioned what boondoggle that is for?



PA Resident
another community
on Jun 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm
PA Resident, another community
on Jun 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm
28 people like this

I'm not against taxing for public transit infrastructure, but taxing north Santa Clara County for something that benefits south Santa Clara County while taking away service from the North, makes no sense.


@PA Resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2016 at 1:07 am
@PA Resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2016 at 1:07 am
6 people like this

Welcome to a democratic republic. I am taxed for fire service that I have never used. We have troops all over the world that are being paid for out of my tax dollars. It's called living in a civilization where we pool our money and resources to do great projects that benefit us all. Try to see the big picture and realize that we in the N County have easy, soft lives compared to many tens of thousands of in other less-affluent areas.


VTA CON
Cuernavaca
on Jun 4, 2016 at 1:26 am
VTA CON, Cuernavaca
on Jun 4, 2016 at 1:26 am
10 people like this

It appears the VTA Board of Politicians took no project off the table in rubber-stamping the bureaucrats' proposal to collect more sales tax to squander. Bart to China. Bus-only lanes on ECR. Higher pay and benefits. Special interest contracts. The measure is doomed.


PA Resident
another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 10:01 am
PA Resident, another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 10:01 am
7 people like this

To @ PA Resident

In reply to me you state that you have never used the fire department. However, I believe that if your home caught fire, you would be very grateful that the fire department was nearby and could come to your aid quickly and efficiently.

While looking at VTA, I don't look on public transport as something just for poor people who can't afford a car. I look on an efficient public transportation network as a means to commute without a car and keep traffic moving. I think this is something that is desperately needed in the north of the County, but VTA only thinks of poor people who can sit on a bus that snakes around the neighborhoods before getting to where nobody wants to go. If they buck up their ideas and start investing in good alternatives to personal vehicles with better routes for Caltrain passengers on first and last mile options and getting kids to schools, we might actually start using the service up here in the "affluent" north of the county.


Haluko
Waverly Park
on Jun 4, 2016 at 10:40 am
Haluko, Waverly Park
on Jun 4, 2016 at 10:40 am
3 people like this

I think it is misguided to oppose this tax because it is primarily for BART extension to San Jose. I do hope , however, that BART will eventually come to Mountain View.


VTA CON
Cuernavaca
on Jun 5, 2016 at 1:26 pm
VTA CON, Cuernavaca
on Jun 5, 2016 at 1:26 pm
7 people like this

The VTA will bring Bart to Mtn View when you give 'em another 20 billion dollars and they pay half of it to the owners of THE SIMPSONS.


Steve Ly
another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 8:33 am
Steve Ly, another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 8:33 am
17 people like this

Vote NO. Over the last several elections, voters in Santa Clara County have passed multiple tax and fee increases including VTA’s 2000 Measure A ½-cent and 2008 measure B ¼-cent sales taxes, Santa Clara County’s Measure A 1/8 cent sales tax, the state prop 30 ¼ cent sales tax and the 2010 Measure B Vehicle Registration Fee of $10. Additionally, we’re on the hook to pay back numerous state bond issues including high speed rail, last year’s Proposition 1 water bond and the infrastructure bonds of 2006.

All of this nickel and diming has contributed into making the Bay Area a horribly expensive place to live; especially for people of modest means, who must pay the greatest percentage of their income in these regressive taxes and fees. Each increase by itself does not amount to much, say a quarter cent, but the cumulative effect is to add to the unaffordability of the region.

Before increasing taxes YET AGAIN, waste needs to be removed from transportation projects. For example, VTA needs to eliminate waste and "gold plating" of the BART extension's cost by reducing the scope to eliminate duplicate facilities. Specifically, we need to eliminate the redundant and wasteful section between the San Jose and Santa Clara Caltrain stations. The BART segment from these stations would duplicate both the existing Caltrain line and VTA's 22 and 522 buses to a station that has approximately 1000 riders each weekday.

Why don’t the wealthy high-rollers in the “Leadership Group” suggest taxing their rich companies and leave the little guy alone for a change?


What happened to the last 2 taxes?
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2016 at 9:16 am
What happened to the last 2 taxes?, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2016 at 9:16 am
23 people like this

The voters already approved 2 taxes for transit and VTA is currently enjoying the benefits of both of those. Do you think they'll ever stop taxing if we never say no? Do you feel you got good value from the last 2 taxes?

No, they should make due with the current taxes, adjust your administrative budget and move forward.

Enough with the VTA taxes every single election!


Common sense
another community
on Jun 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm
Common sense, another community
on Jun 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm
5 people like this

I see Solano County had a bit of sanity:
Web Link


Name hidden
Rengstorff Park

on Sep 25, 2017 at 5:20 am
Name hidden, Rengstorff Park

on Sep 25, 2017 at 5:20 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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