Last week, a crowd of more than fifty came out to hear from the City of Oakland, BART, and AC Transit about transportation revenue measures each are considering for the November 2016 ballot. We were pleased to co-host this informative event along with Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, TransForm, and Bike East Bay.
Oakland Infrastructure Bond
First up, Matt Nichols, Mayor Schaaf’s advisor for transportation and infrastructure. Matt told us that the city is proposing a $600 million bond, with the majority of the funding– $400 million — proposed to fund streets, sidewalks, and pedestrian/bicycle/traffic safety. Matt said Oakland ranks 89th worst out of 109 Bay Area cities’ pavement condition. And every year, the city pays out more than $2 million in claims as a result of people being injured due to the poor state of our streets (e.g. trip and falls). Matt also summarized findings from a recent telephone poll –the pollsters (at Clifford Moss and EMC research) concluded that there appears to be strong support for a bond. More discussion of draft ballot measure language will occur at City Council committee meetings starting next month, with the goal of adopting final language in July.
AC Transit Parcel Tax
Next up, Beverly Greene, Director of Community Relations and Legislative Affairs told us that AC Transit is considering renewing the current parcel tax, Measure VV. A bit of history, AC Transit has been funding some of its operations and maintenance through a parcel tax since 2002. This source of revenue provides needed stability in a context where federal and state operating resources are dwindling. The current Measure VV was approved in 2008 for a ten-year term. There’s two years left before it sunsets, but this November 2016 may be a good year to renew it because the voter turn-out will be much greater given its a presidential election year. If AC Transit pursues the parcel tax this November, it would simply extend what the current Measure VV is funding for another ten years.
Finally, BART Director Rebecca Saltzman described BART’s plan to place a $3.5 billion bond on the ballot this November. The bond is the first time BART is going to the voters with a major system renewal plan after voters funded the original construction of BART more than four decades ago. Ninety percent of the funds would go to repair and replace critical safety infrastructure. Rebecca explained that many parts of the BART system are still the originals from more than four decades ago. To bring home the point of what four decades-old infrastructure looks like, Rebecca showed two railspikes – one from 1968 and one brand new. The one from 1968 was only recently replaced during track renewal work. As a reminder, Rebecca’s strong advocacy for prioritizing State of Good Repair investments over expansion is one of many reasons why we are endorsing her and Lateefah Simon for BART Board 2016.
We are excited about the potential for each of these measures to bring much needed investment into Oakland’s transportation network. We’ll be tracking these measures and offering additional analysis and calls to action as more details come into focus.