ELECTION 2014: California locales to decide on transportation questions

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/21/2014

Voters in multiple Northern California counties will decide Nov. 4 on questions to benefit roads and transit.

Alameda County voters will be asked once again whether to double the transportation sales tax.

In 2012, voters throughout the county failed to approve a nearly identical effort to double the sales tax from one-half cent to one full cent. Measure B1 came up about 720 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass tax questions.

This year’s version, Measure BB, would raise $7.8 billion for projects that include pothole repair and freeway and transit improvements. Specifically, $677 million would be used to improve major freeways and highways; $2.3 billion would be applied to city and county roads; and $2.8 billion would be routed to the Bay Area Rapid Transit, buses, ferries and commuter trains.

The tax increase would sunset in 30 years. The 2012 version made the tax increase permanent.

Across the bay in San Francisco, two transportation questions are on the city ballot.

Proposition A will ask voters about a $500 million transportation infrastructure bond backed by property taxes to benefit transit.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said that improvements are necessary to accommodate the city’s population that is projected to top one million by 2040 – up from the current 837,000 count. In addition, he said that property taxes will not increase because other debt is set to retire.

A two-thirds majority vote is needed to pass.

The second question would establish a citywide policy for parking meters and traffic laws. If approved, parking meter fees would be prohibited on Sundays and holidays. Charging fees between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. would also be forbidden. Also, parking garage, meter or ticket rates would remain unchanged for at least five years.

Proposition L also specifies that city police “should equally enforce traffic laws for all users of San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks.”

In nearby Stanislaus County, ballots in the city of Turlock will include a question about whether to raise the sales tax by one-half percent over seven years to solely benefit roads. Measure B must get a two-thirds majority for passage.

If approved, the tax increase would raise about $39.2 million to repair about 330 lane miles of roads before it sunsets in 2021.

For more 2014 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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