Gas tax repeal campaign focuses on Bay Area commuters, families

The campaign to overturn California’s newly enacted gas tax will hit three Bay Area cities next week, as organizers search for volunteers to post lawn signs, write opinion pieces and spread the taxpayer revolt on social media.

With less than four months to go before the November election, the crusade won’t be easy. Proposition 6, the tax repeal measure, takes aim at a $5 billion-a-year funding stream to fix California’s crumbling roads and boost its mass transit systems.

Environmentalists, transportation officials, construction unions and Gov. Jerry Brown are all fighting to protect those funds, and they have raised $14 million — far more than the $5 million haul of the “Yes on 6” campaign.

But none of that has deterred Prop. 6’s core supporters or its campaign chairman, conservative talk radio host Carl DeMaio…

“This tax affects everybody, but it hits the working poor the hardest,” DeMaio said….(more)

Every price hike on everything effects the working poor and the middle class whose wages have not kept up with the spiraling inflation rates that are hitting California hardest. There are already plans to replace the tax should it be repealed. The idea that the money collected to fix the roads and bridges should not be re-directed into other projects. Some of those ideas are explored here: How-to-replace-the-gas-tax-law-if-its-repealed/   “…a new initiative to REPLACE SB1. That next bill will designate that all current State excise taxes on fuels at the pumps, State sales tax on fuels at the pumps, and new car sales taxes, MUST all go to infrastructure, with NONE going to the general fund…”

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California speeding toward fight over driving limits in age of climate change and electric cars

By Joshua Emerson Smith : sandiegouniontribune – excerpt

Top air-quality regulators at the state Capitol may be on a collision course with local power players when it comes to how frequently Californians should drive their cars in the state’s internationally lauded fight against climate change.

Many regional lawmakers and other officials have started pushing back on the notion that commuters need to limit their daily driving — which overwhelmingly consists of people cruising to work alone in their cars and trucks…

As the California Air Resources Board tightens its standards for greenhouse-gas emissions from regional transportation sectors, many local authorities have started arguing that adoption of electric vehicles will make it unnecessary to reign in so-called vehicle miles traveled, or VMT.

“I think it’s a very bad metric to hang our hat on,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who also serves on the region’s premier transportation and planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG…

“We know that more needs to be done to make transportation more reliable and to reduce vehicle miles traveled across the state,” Mary Nichols, long-time chair of the air board, told members of the California Transportation Commission at a first-ever joint meeting in June…

“If everyone … had a zero-emission vehicle, give me the breakdown of how that would not help us meet our greenhouse-gas goals?” Commissioner Paul Van Konynenburg said at the gathering, seemingly somewhat perplexed…

While the air board is tasked with cleaning up pollution from vehicles, the commission is responsible for doling out nearly all of the transportation dollars in the state that aren’t locally controlled

The state celebrated last week when it announced that it had already satisfied its 2020 target years ahead of schedule, thanks largely to low-carbon fuel standards, renewable-energy requirements on electric utilities and a wet winter nearly two years ago that generated lots of low-carbon hydropower.

The news seemed to bolster the idea that efforts to fight climate change may not require people to radically shift their driving habits…

“You do transit or roads. You can’t do both,” she added. “It’s going to be a fight for the soul of our transportation future.”… (more)

Lots of arguments here for voters to have their say in the matter. The Gas Tax Repeal will give us a better picture of how the state wants to go. As we have recently learned there are states doing a better job of generating clean cheap energy. That does not seem to be the goal in California. The goal here is to tax and spend. The more the better. We need to look at the best way to produce clean cheap energy not how to incentivize behavior. As we found out with cap and trade, incentivizing is expensive and does not always work.

 

 

How to Replace the Gas Tax Law if its Repealed

By Ronald Stein : foxandhoundsdaily – excerpt

Prices in California were already among the highest in the country with State excise taxes at the pump, and State sales tax at the pump, being among the highest in the country. With Californians also bearing the costs associated with compliance with various State environmental regulation laws, Californian’s are paying as much as $1 more per gallon than most folks in the country as all those costs trickle down to the consumer and are hidden within the posted price of fuel at the pump.

In November 2017, as a result of the SB1 gas tax that was passed by our legislature, but never approved by the voters, California’s base excise tax on gasoline went up 12 cents, increasing the total to 30 cents a gallon. Also, the diesel excise tax rose 20 cents, increasing it to 36 cents a gallon, with even more upward adjustments for inflation starting in 2020. The legislative bill SB1 for transportation Infrastructure funding has been projected to raise $52 billion over the next 10 years for infrastructure projects, and the recently passed Proposition 69 now protects the SB1 taxes just for infrastructure.

With the expected successful repeal of the SB1 gas tax in November, the real carrot will be next – a new initiative to REPLACE SB1. That next bill will designate that all current State excise taxes on fuels at the pumps, State sales tax on fuels at the pumps, and new car sales taxes, MUST all go to infrastructure, with NONE going to the general fund… (more)

Silicon Valley bus drivers sleep in parking lots. They may have to make way for development

By Wendy Lee : sfchronicle – excerpt

Recreational vehicles line a parking lot at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Cerone bus yard in San Jose. The transit agency lets some employees with long commutes sleep overnight in the lot.

On weekdays, bus driver Adan Miranda hauls people across Silicon Valley. But his own roughly 100-mile commute home to a Sacramento suburb nearly killed him, so 15 years ago he decided to start sleeping in a San Jose parking lot four nights a week.

It’s a choice that’s becoming more common for people who want to work in the Bay Area but can’t afford a place to live. What’s unusual about Miranda’s situation is that his parking space is provided by his employer, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. For 20 years, the agency has doled out permits to sleep on its property to employees who have homes 50 miles away or farther.

Now the quirky perk may be coming to an end. Its elimination places an ironic underscore on the region’s housing crisis: The bus drivers’ temporary bedsits may have to make way for permanent development… (more)

 

Why we oppose Regional Measure Three (RM3)

rm3-300

It would take too long to explain all the reasons why we oppose this inflationary bridge toll so we will quote some of the opposition sites. Current tolls are confusing already, and explain the differing figures on the end results of RM3. It depends on when you drive and how big are. See them here. Trucks are already paying $15-$35 to cross the Bay Bridge depending on axle size. This sort of explains our high costs of living in San Francisco.

Let’s start by saying the geniuses in Silicon Valley who are bankrolling RM3, do not have the public interest in mind as they expand their empires, and passage of RM3 would greatly benefit them. Even though Silicon Valley has no bridges, the bridge toll funds would be used to establish toll roads and HOT lanes where there are no bridges, so everyone would pay. This has not been lost on some of the elected officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara County who have campaigned against RM3.

Nine-County-Coalition on RM3 Campaign:

The Regional Measure 3 campaign — whose backers include Facebook, Salesforce, Google and a number of other businesses — had its informal kickoff the other day, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced her support during a “fireside chat” hosted by the tech-boosting Silicon Valley Leadership Group… So far, the campaign has amassed a $2 million war chest, including $350,000 from Facebook, $250,000 from Kaiser Permanente Health Care, $125,000 from Dignity Health Care and $125,000 from Salesforce. – passage of RM3 would greatly benefit Silicon Valley…

We cannot help but wonder why such big “power players” are willing to spend so much time and treasure on ensuring the passage of RM3 — as they did with Measure AA — if indeed “there has been no organized opposition.”

Maybe it is because they know other legislators besides Mark deSaulnier and Catharine Baker are questioning the efficacy and transparency of RM3.  This from another Matier & Ross article,

Even with the sweeteners, there was opposition from Contra Costa County, with state Assembly members Jim Frazier, D-Brentwood, Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, all voting “no.”  Frazier, who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee, said that while there was a need for transportation improvements, “adding another tax on commuters is not the answer.” He likened an $8 toll to “highway robbery.”

Or maybe it is because they know there is opposition from small players like smaller businesses that need to truck goods across California’s state-owned bridges, or lower-income folks whose realities of life prevent them from taking public transit to and from their workplaces, or people who see through a poorly managed RM3 plan.  These smaller unorganized players are the quiet threat to the big and powerful… (more)

There was no money spent to defeat the last transit sales tax in San Francisco either and that one lost. San Francisco residents are so fed up with the SFMTA they convinced the Board of Supervisors to do something to take back control over the agency that ignore the public, miss-manages projects and excels only in backslapping, self-aggrandizement, and pissing off the public. The message to starve the beast worked to stop the sales tax and there was no publicity. This time there are a lot more vocal opposition covered by the media. We shall see who is listening soon.

RELATED:
Regional Measure 3: Empty Promises
Occupymtc.org
Savesfmuni

New RM3 Flyer for printing and distribution or posting on your website.  Contributed by a Nine-County Coalition participant.  Download.

The other side of the toll hike story

By Dave Price : padailypost – excerpt

Night-Bridge

Bay bridge at sunset photo by zrants

There are two sides to every story, and there’s another side to the story about the proposed 60% toll hike on seven of the bridges that cross the Bay.

What’s come out in the press so far is that the increase will pay for “three-dozen much-needed regional public transportation and roadway improvement” projects, as the Chronicle put it in a news story. The italics are mine.

That’s the spin: Give us more of your money for these much-needed projects and we’ll reduce traffic.

But it never seems to happen. We have one of these transportation measures on the ballot every year or two, and the traffic keeps getting worse. The money is shifted to mass-transit projects like BART while little or no capacity is added to the freeways. Mass transit doesn’t work for most people (less than 1% of residents use Caltrain regularly) and carpooling and carpool lanes have been a flop.

As a result, it gets longer and longer to get from one point to another. And the people who use those congested highways to get to work are asked to shell out more, not the fat cats like the tech companies.

Highways get short-changed

In the case of the toll hike, called Regional Measure 3 on the June ballot, just 22% of the $4.5 billion raised will be devoted to highway improvements, with most of that going to the East Bay. In the mid-Peninsula, a mere $50 million will be earmarked for highways — money to fund a fraction of the cost to rebuild the Highway 101-92 interchange in San Mateo.

Oh, I forgot to mention that there is $300 million on the spending list to give us toll lanes on our freeways, where a lane that could be devoted to free-flowing traffic will be restricted to carpoolers or those willing to pay a toll that will be electronically collected using Fastrak type devices. Toll lanes make people pay twice for their roads.
If you put toll lanes into the category of highway improvements, then the percentage of the toll hike going to highways increases to 28.6%. But I don’t see toll lanes as an improvement…

It just doesn’t stop. And they’ll keep putting these increases on the ballot as long as voters keep saying “yes.” It’s time to say “no.”.. (more)

Lot’s of reasons to oppose RM3. One of them is the big money being thrown at it.

Big business funds campaign to convince voters to raise tolls

Lot’s of reasons to oppose RM3. One of them is the big money being thrown at it.
Why don’t the tech titans who are paying millions of dollars to pass RM3 and other pro-developer pro-growth bills just pay for the projects they support instead of turning it into political currency? Vote NO on RM3. Keep controls in the hands of the taxpaying public.

Brown Assails Gas Tax Repeal As Republican ‘Loser’ Stunt

By California News Wire Services : patch – excerpt

Gov. Jerry Brown frames the gas tax as a “test of American strength,” but repealers say, “we’re taking back our money.”

LOS ANGELES, CA — Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a sharp defense of his new gas tax Friday at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, saying efforts to repeal the legislation by a group of Republican leaders was nothing short of a test of America’s ability to maintain a central place on the world stage.

“The test of American strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress. And we’re not going to let that happen,” Brown said during a Mobility 21 conference attended by several hundred state and local transportation officials.

SB1 raised gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and 20 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, along with hiking vehicle registration fees. The new taxes are expected to raise $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit projects in the state…

“The cost of living is already on the increase in California and families are struggling to survive. This is unacceptable,” said repeal organizer and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio in April. “Gov. Jerry Brown and his special interests … need to prepare themselves. We’re coming and we’re taking back our money.”… (more)

The losers collected over a million signatures, so expect this repeal on the November ballot. Stay tuned for more reversals on the governor’s favorite projects.

Ballot Measure would raise Bay Area bridge tolls $3

By Alexis Smith : KGO – excerpt

No matter how you get to work, you’ve no doubt seen the impacts of the bay area’s thriving economy. Packed trains, congested highways, late ferries and aging transit systems are the norm, but voters are being asked to pass regional measure three to fix them…

“We want to smooth out the system – make it more efficient, we’re not planning to build new freeways here, but we’re going to smooth out the express lane system at the same time try to move more people onto mass transportation,” said Wunderman.

If passed, there would be some road improvements, but, most of the money would be spent on improving the Bay Area’s existing mass transit infrastructure…

“This is the first transportation tax I’ve opposed in oh – the 28 years I’ve held elected office,” said Walnut Creek Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. He says he’s voting “no” on Regional Measure 3. Mostly because those who foot the bill will see the least from its passage….

DeSaulnier was once on the M-T-C board and he says its record of spending money well isn’t good. Starting with the decision to move its headquarters from Oakland to San Francisco.

Congressman DeSaulnier added, “They spent $250 million for a building they didn’t need – and they were $5 billion over budget on the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge.”…

“We have an incredible quality of life here – we have an incredible economy here – but we have challenges as a result of our success and we need to invest in solving those things and this is one way the region can come together,” said Wunderman…. (more)

VOTE NO ON REGIONAL MEASURE 3  Who are the WE with the quality of life here? Certainly not the displaced people who were forced to move to commute to “make room” for people. Their lifestyle sucks now and they are the least likely to afford the additional tolls even though it falls on their heads.

MTC SPREADS THE PAIN TO EVERYONE. Funds from the tolls will be used for toll roads and HOT lanes in Silicon Valley and everywhere else. No one will be spared. The $9.oo bridge toll is the tip of the iceberg.

RM3 REMOVES VOTER CONTROL OVER FUTURE BRIDGE TOLLS. If RM3 passes the voters will never be bothered with the need to vote on another bridge toll. The measure includes built-in increases based on inflation, that bill will ensure by forcing everyone to pay higher prices for all deliveries, including food.

RELATED:
Occupymtc.org
Nine-county-coalition
Oppose RM3

June Measure Calls for Bay Area Bridge Toll Hikes

By Jodie Hernandez : nbcnews – excerpt (includes video)

Night-Bridge

Crossing the old span of the Bay Bridge into San Francisco photo by zrants

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/June-Measure-Calls-For-Bay-Area-Bridge-Toll-Hikes-481987161.html

Some quotes:
1. “We are asking people to dig a little bit deeper to pay for projects that won’t come from any other source.” Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council. (Most people do not believe it is possible to pay for all the promised improvements using bridge tolls alone. We have evidence to the contrary.)

2. “expanding the express lane network.” (this is where it hits everyone who doesn’t cross a bridge, including the peninsula residents, many of who are opposing RM3.)

3. Two big problems… It won’t work and it isn’t fair. Transit Advocate, David Schonbrunn.

4. Only 18% of the money in the toll measure directly effects bridge corridors. David Schonbrunn. www.occupymtc.org

Reviving SF’s taxi industry: The city is looking at solutions

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s taxi industry, bludgeoned in recent years by Uber and Lyft, needs to catch up with the changing times to survive.

That’s the assessment of a pair of consultants whose report, released Wednesday, recommends that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the city’s taxi industry, work with cab companies to improve their service and reduce the number of taxis on the streets to match reduced demand but increase the number of cabs capable of carrying persons with disabilities.

What it doesn’t recommend, despite the wishes of taxi drivers, is what the city and the agency are not allowed to do: Regulate the transportation network companies, specifically Uber and Lyft, that have nearly decimated the taxi industry since their drivers arrived in San Francisco over the past decade.

That oversight falls to the state Public Utilities Commission, not the city…

“the MTA is really looking to get the right regulations in place so that the taxi industry can compete,” Toran said.

To accomplish that, the report recommends taxi companies become more customer-friendly by offering mobile-phone apps…

Those companies should also be released from current restraints that prohibit them from offering special or discounted rates …

To help boost interest in operating taxi vans to carry wheelchairs, an often time-consuming effort, the report recommends that drivers be offered up to $300 a month to help buy a van and the same amount per month to cover maintenance and operating costs… (more)