Bay Area counties to vote on vehicle fee increase

| 8/30/2010

Multiple November ballots in California will include questions about increasing vehicle fees to aid transportation funding in counties.

Supporters of the ballot measures say a new funding source is necessary to help address worsening city and county road conditions. The lack of state aid and fewer tax dollars available have resulted in worsening road conditions.

Opponents say that, with a struggling economy, now is not the time to hit up residents for more money.

In San Francisco County, voters will decide whether to add $10 to the annual vehicle registration fee for congestion mitigation, street and road repairs, improve transit and pedestrian and biking routes. It is estimated to raise $5 million annually.

Voters in many Bay Area counties are considering similar ballot measures. Ballots in Napa and Solano counties will not include the fee hike question.

Alameda County voters will also cast ballots on the $10 fee, which would raise about $11 million each year for work that would include fixing potholes and addressing traffic gridlock.

The bulk of the county’s revenue – 60 percent – would be earmarked for roads. Another 25 percent would be used for congestion relief work, such as express buses, transit, and park and ride lots or rail station improvements. Another 10 percent would help make technology improvements at traffic signals. The rest of the money would be spent on projects that include crosswalks, sidewalks and lighting.

Other counties will have a question on $10 vehicle registration fee increases, including Contra Costa County. The fee is estimated to raise about 8.5 million per year. Slightly more than 70 percent of the revenue would be used on roads.

In Marin County, a more evenly distributed breakdown is being sought for an anticipated $2 million. Roads would get 40 percent of the fees while transit would get 35 percent, and another 25 percent to address projects related to climate change and pollution.

Ballots in San Mateo County will include the $10 fee question. Projected to raise about $7 million a year, the revenue would be split between cities and the county. Allowable uses of the funds for cities are roadwork and transit.

Sonoma County voters will decide whether to approve the fee in order to get another $5 million annually for transportation. The biggest benefactor of the increase would be local bus systems – 60 percent of revenue. Another 23 percent would be funneled to roads.

Also, Santa Clara voters can cast ballots on the fee increase. About 80 percent of the estimated $14 million generated would be used for roads. Another 15 percent would be designated for other transportation-related projects.

For more of Land Line’s November 2010 elections coverage, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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