In an economically dynamic region like the Bay Area the ability to get around is paramount. Yet in recent years the movement of people and goods in this region has been slowing down. The highway backups have been getting worse and the hours of delay longer. Urban traffic congestion has been getting ever more constrictive.
In the past 25 years there have been many opportunities to deal effectively with regional gridlock. These opportunities have been largely ignored. Instead, billions of dollars of scarce transportation resources have been lavished on backward-looking highway expansions and ill-conceived parochial and pet projects, mostly of small consequence.
Regional Measure 3 (RM3) will be on the June 5, 2018 ballot. For the following reasons BATWG rejects RM3 as being just more of the same.
o RM3 contains no unifying plan for addressing the region’s main transportation problems; namely, the excessive freeway backups and urban traffic constraints, and the poorly integrated and otherwise defective regional network of public transit lines.
o Instead of a well thought out regional plan for returning a healthier balance to Bay Area transportation, RM3 is comprised of a slapped-together $4.45 billion dollar hodgepodge of 35 disjointed individual projects. A handful of these are worthwhile; however the package as a whole falls far short. In fact RM3 promises to bring nothing but more backups and more congestion.
o Another problem is caused by the common practice of MTC, the large transportation agencies and local jurisdictions of diverting funds from voter-approved projects to other uses. Despite BATWG’s efforts, the question of how a voter can be certain that what he or she votes for will actually be designed and built remains unanswered.
o And finally, there is the matter of RM3’s constitutionality. In order to qualify RM3 for a 50% “do pass” vote, the $3 or more in additional bridge tolls to be raised by the measure have been defined as “fees”. However under the California Constitution fees are clearly intended to produce benefits for the fee payers. Since most of the voters who would be receiving the $billions in new highway and transit projects if RM3 passes would not be fee payers, RM3 comes nowhere close to meeting that standard. RM3 is therefore about new taxes, not new fees. And tax measures require a 66.7% vote, not a 50% vote. This puts RM3 in direct conflict with the California Constitution.
For these reasons BATWG believes that RM3 should be voted down in order to set the stage for a new plan that finally comes to grips with the Region’s most pressing transportation problems.
For more information about why BATWG opposes RM3 visit the SF Chronicle.