Why I oppose the Bay Area $3 bridge toll hike

Op-Ed by DeSaulnier : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Weekend traffic on the Western span of the Bay Bridge at Sunset photo by zrants

The region urgently needs new investment in transportation. But Regional Measure 3 is not the answer.

Regional Measure 3, the $3 bridge toll hike on the June ballot that would raise money for transportation improvements, is a highly flawed initiative born out of dysfunctional policy-making. Voters should reject it.

There is no question that the San Francisco Bay Area urgently needs new investment in transportation. The fact that many voters are willing to pay substantially higher tolls reflects their frustration with traffic congestion. Workers are facing too many hours stuck in traffic, stressful commutes in crammed BART cars, lost family time and reduced productivity.

As I and others have argued, if the Bay Area fails to address the challenges of traffic and affordable housing, we will lose our competitive edge. However, Regional Measure 3 is not the answer…

The Bay Bridge, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters acquisition and renovation, and the Transbay Terminal are projects that have involved billions in cost-overruns and undermined confidence in governments’ ability to plan and prioritize.

Now is the time to stop this cycle of waste and frustration and to engage in serious and coordinated planning, because the Bay Area needs and deserves better. Without greater transparency and accountability, Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Regional Measure 3 would result in, at best, moderate improvements in the short run, but no meaningful solution in the long term…

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, serves on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and previously served as chair of the California Senate and Assembly transportation committees... (more)

VOTE NO ON RM3. This controversial bill has been cobbled together by a regional group of transportation politicians with no successful track record that has lost the public trust due to cost overruns on wasteful projects like the Transbay Terminal and MTC headquarters.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  The laundry list of projects was created to offer something to everyone, but no guaranteed deliverables, and the bill contains a poison pill that will allow unchecked inflationary rate hikes in the future without voter approvals.

VOTE NO ON RM3.  If passed this bill will add considerably to the cost of living in the Bay Area and will guarantee inflationary rate hikes on all goods that are delivered by trucks that cross the bridges.

VOTE NO ON RM3. This bill, in conjunction with gas tax hikes, will make commuting into the city impossible for many employees, who will choose jobs in the suburbs closer to their new homes.

VOTE NO ON RM3. As DeSaulnier points out, Regional Measure 3 is a flawed bill that provides:

  • No framework for performance measures or oversight to gauge progress
  • No vision for how residents and commuters will benefit.
  • No analysis to show how congestion on major corridors would be reduced, or when the improvements may kick in.
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The Board of Equalization got the last laugh on a gas tax increase

By Jon Coupal : ocregister – excerpt

In a normal universe, the rejection of a gas tax increase by a state agency would be based primarily on policy grounds. But in a strange mix of wonkish tax policy, political turf fighting and revenge, California drivers will be spared — temporarily — from a 4 cent per gallon tax increase on gasoline.

On Feb. 27, the Board of Equalization was expected to approve a routine request by the governor’s Department of Finance to raise the tax. But it did not. As a result, the state treasury will miss out on a little more than $600 million (much to the relief of California drivers, however).

Because California already has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, citizens may not care one bit about why the Board of Equalization rejected the tax increase. But understanding how this happened is an object lesson in the strangeness that is California.

It begins with the “gas tax swap.”…

The Legislature then saw these issues as an opportunity to pounce and deprive the Board of Equalization of the bulk of its authority, shifting much of its responsibilities to a new bureaucracy-driven California Department of Tax and Fee Administration that has no direct political accountability…

And although the members who spoke against the increase cast their positions as looking out for California taxpayers, no one who has observed the Board of Equalization over several years missed the real message being delivered to the Legislature. The board’s decision leaves the fuel excise tax at 29 cents per gallon, instead of 33 cents, for another year unless the legislature finds a clever way to bypass the process… (more)

Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

Gas tax repeal sponsored by Assemblyman Travis Allen fails to qualify, but another effort could reach the ballot

By Casey Tolan : mercurynews – excerpt

A ballot measure to repeal California’s controversial new gas tax sponsored by Assemblyman and Republican governor candidate Travis Allen failed to submit signatures by its deadline this week. But voters could still have a chance to have their say on the law in November, as a separate ballot measure to repeal it continues to gather signatures.

Allen’s campaign was unable to collect signatures due to a series of legal battles with Attorney General Xavier Becerra last year over the wording of the ballot measure, Allen said in an interview Friday afternoon…

separate ballot measure campaign to repeal the gas tax — sponsored by Allen’s Republican rival for the governor’s office, businessman John Cox, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — is still collecting signatures and has a May 21 filing deadline. That petition has gathered 400,000 signatures of the necessary 585,407, the campaign said in a statement Friday.

Allen said he would support that campaign, and that all funds raised by his ballot measure campaign — $87,188, as of the latest filing in September — would go to the Howard Jarvis campaign and to legal costs. His campaign will send all of his donors a form to sign to support the other anti-gas tax ballot initiative. “The movement to stop Jerry Brown’s massive tax increase is larger than any one person or any one group,” Allen said…

poll conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies last month found that 52 percent of likely voters in California backed the repeal… (more)

 

2 Efforts to Repeal the New California State Gas Tax that our State Legislature passed last year are gathering signatures

They both repeal the Gas Tax but this one includes a requirement for voter approval of future gas and car taxes.

NEW GAS TAX NOW HERE:
Download Your Petition to End the New Gas & Car Tax

https://www.givevotersavoice.com/

Initiative Language

INITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECTLY TO THE VOTERS

SECTION 1. STATEMENT OF FINDINGS AND PURPOSES (a) California’s taxes on gasoline and car ownership are among the highest in the nation. (b) These taxes have been raised without the consent of the people. (c) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Constitution to require voter approval of the recent increase in the gas and car tax enacted by Chapter 5 of the Statutes of 2017 and any future increases in the gas and car tax.

SECTION 2. VOTER APPROVAL FOR INCREASES IN GAS AND CAR TAX
Section 3 .5 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution is added to read:

Sec. 3.5(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Legislature shall not impose, increase or extend any tax, as defined in section 3, on the sale, storage, use or consumption of motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of a resident of California to operate on the public highways a vehicle, or trailer coach, unless and until that proposed tax is submitted to the electorate and approved by a majority vote. (b) This section does not apply to taxes on motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of operating a vehicle or trailer coach at the rates that were in effect on January 1, 201 7. Any increase in the rate of such taxes imposed after January 1, 2017 shall cease to be imposed unless and until approved by the electorate as required by this section.

SB 1 was passed by a slim margin in Sacramento. Almost immediately after passage the opponents was working to repeal it. If you want to see this on the ballot, you may download and follow instructions on how to send in your signature.

Technically I believe that local governments are in charge of determining how their share of the gas taxes are spent, so, one could lobby the local government to spend it on road repair if one chose to do so, but, there are no guarantees any potholes will be fixed with the tax money, or any bridges and roads will be repaired.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS INITIATIVE:
1830. (17-0033A1) Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated for those Purposes. Requires any Measure to Enact Certain Vehicle Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Submitted to and Approved by the Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 11/20/17 | Circulation Deadline: 05/21/18 | Signatures Required: 585,407 – (25% of Signatures Reached 12/15/2017 (PDF)

Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures

Initiatives referenda cleared for circulation

 

SF set to become first US city to price all metered parking based on demand

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

Surge pricing could be coming to every parking meter in San Francisco in 2018 under a plan being considered by the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Under the proposal, each of the city’s 30,200 meters would be subject to hourly rates that vary depending on demand. The charges would fluctuate block by block and by time of day. For example, a neighborhood with a lot of restaurants might see higher meter rates during evenings than during other times of the day.

MTA officials say the approach is intended to increase the availability of coveted city parking spaces, particularly in areas where demand is high. People unwilling to pay the higher rates might seek parking farther away, remain for a shorter period of time, or leave their car at home… (more)

Next time you get the chance to vote for a change at the SFMTA regardless of how lame it sounds vote for that change. Especially if SFMTA and the Mayor oppose the initiative. Otherwise you will get more of the same lousy transit system and traffic and parking controls. And don’t support any more sales tax or other increase in their funds until they return the streets and bus stops that they are stealing from us.

Muni riders losing bus stops: There is a plan to remove more bus stops on the L Taraval line that will be discussed at the next SFMTA Board Meeting. Why have the buses stop? Let’s just let them roll by and wave at them. The SFMTA doesn’t work for people. They work for contractors and that translates into a lot of construction and road repair instead of customer service.  SFMTA never saw a capital improvement grant they didn’t like. I guess it’s more fun to work with contractors than to transport riders.

Killing businesses one ticket at a time:  How the small businesses will survive with this attitude toward the public and the difficulty delivery vehicles are having parking to unload is anybody’s guess. I”m sure we’ll hear from the merchants soon. Tell the Board of Supervisors know how you feel about these ideas and how you plan to deal with higher parking prices if they are approved. Demand an opportunity to vote for a Charter Amendment that reduces SFMTA’s authority.

RELATED:
SF PARKING: City considers transforming parking spots into Uber and Lyft loading zones :

Did anyone ask to have parking spaces to by transformed into loading zones? That is what you get when you trust a city agency such as SFMTA to manage public property. They remove your right to use the public space they manage. Is this what you had in mind when you supported public transit and allowed the SFMTA to manage the streets? Did you envision the loss of the streets for your use?

You can vote here on your preference for where you want to see loading zones. “No where, forget the whole idea” is the most popular option: https://sf.curbed.com/2017/11/28/16711142/uber-lyft-loading-zones-geofencing

 

Many California voters don’t like state gas tax increase, poll finds

By Dan Walters : sfchronicle – excpert

California’s top politicians and interest groups celebrated a few months ago when the Legislature passed a package of taxes and fees to pay for long-neglected improvements to the state’s transportation systems.

The heart of the $5-plus billion per year revenue package is a 12-cent-a-gallon hike in gasoline taxes that took effect this month, just as other factors, including a spike in global oil prices, hit pump prices that were already among the nation’s highest.

When they filled up their tanks this month, California motorists typically paid 40 to 50 cents per gallon more than they had been paying a month earlier.

As the tax increase went into effect, the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences were conducting one their periodic public opinion polls.

The results were potentially devastating for the political, business and labor union groups that had pushed successfully for the transportation package after decades of delay. Most of California’s registered voters would opt to eliminate the gas taxes and fees, the polling found…

If repeal succeeds, the state’s highways, streets and transit systems will continue to deteriorate, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s successor and legislators will have to deal with it.

One option might be to divert more revenue from the sale of carbon emission credits under the state’s cap-and-trade program to transportation, and less, or perhaps none, to Brown’s pet bullet train project…(more)

What the author fails to mention is that there are now two gas tax repeal bills moving forward and that one of them includes a NO MORE TAXES without voter approval element. What is also missing is any mention of the 20 cents per gallon tax on diesel that will have a devastating effect on the price of goods transported by trucks, especially the price of food. The last thing California needs is another inflationary tax that increases the cost of food.

Two Gas Tax Repeal Efforts Compete To Make California’s 2018 Ballot

By Chris Nichols : capradio – excerpt

Californians frustrated over the state’s recent gas tax hike could have two options to eliminate it next year.

Separate campaigns are working to qualify repeal initiatives for the November 2018 ballot.

One is backed by Orange County state Asm. Travis Allen, a Republican candidate for governor. It would simply get rid of the increase.

The other is supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association and John Cox, also a Republican candidate for governor. It would eliminate this year’s gas tax increase and require voter approval on all future proposals to raise the gas tax.

This year’s increase went into effect on Nov. 1 following approvals by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown in April.

It includes an initial 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase; a diesel tax hike; and a new “transportation improvement fee” ranging from $25 to $175 per year, depending on the value of one’s vehicle. It’s expected to raise billions for backlogged state highway and bridge repairs.

Sacramento State Associate Political Science Professor Wesley Hussey said having two competing plans could harm the overall repeal effort… (more)

California’s Gas Tax to Jump 12 Cents Wednesday; Efforts to Dismantle Hike Are in the Works

By Patrick McGreevy : latimes – excerpt

A state gas tax increase of 12 cents per gallon kicks in Wednesday, and while the immediate impact will mean less money in motorists’ wallets, the long-term political fallout could roll into next year, when the higher levies are expected to be an issue in elections across California.

But the vitriol between Democrats who supported the new taxes and Republicans who opposed them kicked up months ago, well before the first newly taxed gallon will be pumped tomorrow.

Just last week, two lawmakers who voted for the April transportation package that included the gas tax increases came under fire in radio ads financed by the Western Growers Assn., which represents farmers who say they will have to pay more to get their crops to market…

The bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will raise the state excise tax on gasoline by 12 cents, from 29.7 cents per gallon to 41.7 cents per gallon. The excise tax on diesel fuel will increase by 20 cents, from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon, and the sales tax rate on diesel will increase from 9% to 13%…

Updates from Sacramento »

Most Republican lawmakers opposed the tax increases, saying the state should instead divert billions of dollars from wasteful spending and a bullet train project they believe is not cost-effective and direct it toward transportation.

Many Republicans have already latched onto the tax increases as a hot-button issue for the 2018 elections…(more)

Didn’t the Governor promise to not raise taxes without voter approval?

Many attitudes and issues divide California citizens, but costs of food is going to effect us all. The 20 cent per gallon increase in diesel fuel taxis one of the most gentrifying taxes at a time when everyone’s biggest complaint is becoming gentrification. Rent protection doesn’t protect you from higher food prices.

RELATED:

Initiative filed to repeal California gas tax increase

: sacbee – excerpt

California’s new gas tax hike to pay for road improvements pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats could go before voters for repeal.

Travis Allen, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County, filed the proposed 2018 ballot measure to eliminate the $5.2 billion annual package to fund road improvements.

On Thursday, Allen launched a website asking for contributions of $5 to help him gather the 365,880 signatures from registered voters to place the repeal before voters. Allen can begin to gather signatures once the state attorney general issues a title and summary for his repeal…

Allen is proposing an initiative, which means the earliest the tax could be repealed is after the November 2018 election. Referendums, which allow the law in question to be halted until voters pass judgment on the repeal, cannot be used to repeal tax levies or measures that lawmakers passed with an urgency clause, such as the gas tax increase(more)

 

 

Getting between motorists and their cars has become the new third rail of California politics

By Kerry Cavanaugh : latimes – excerpt

For all the talk in California about leading the world on climate change and resisting President Trump’s anti-environment agenda, the state has a third rail of environmental policy. Touch their cars and Californians will revolt.

Any effort that limits, constrains or makes driving one’s car more expensive or inconvenient — no matter how civic-minded the proposal — is immediately controversial in California, and often a nonstarter. Getting between Californians and their cars can spell the end of a political career. Just ask former Gov. Gray Davis, who was recalled in large part because of his decision to triple the vehicle license fee.

Two separate, unrelated efforts launched last week are a reminder of just how difficult it is to make public policy when it involves peoples’ cars.

At the state level, a group calling itself “Reform California” announced that it was launching an initiative drive aimed at repealing the new gas tax and vehicle fee increases. Those increases were approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature in April after years of negotiations over how to pay for an estimated $73 billion in deferred road repairs and infrastructure maintenance. The 12-cent-per-gallon increase will take effect Nov. 1.

In Los Angeles, a group of Westside residents have begun a campaign to recall City Councilman Mike Bonin for his support of so-called road diets that have eliminated traffic lanes. Bonin has been one of the council’s most outspoken advocates for Vision Zero, the city’s plan to reduce traffic deaths by slowing traffic speeds. But two projects in his district — one in Playa del Rey and one in Mar Vista — have created a huge backlash, with residents complaining that the road diets have created clogged streets, slower traffic and longer commutes…

But as the Bonin recall campaign and the backlash to road diets in other neighborhoods demonstrate, drivers do not like this change. What does the political pressure on Bonin portend for other elected officials? Are they going to stick by their commitment to a more walkable, bikeable, sustainable city. Or back away from the third rail?…(more)

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