Synopsis from 2/21/2020 BATWG Meeting

Faster Bay Area (FBA) the so-called Megatax. In late January SB278 (Senator Jim Beall, D-15th, Silicon Valley) was advanced out of the Senate in its original format (a three-page directive to perform coordinated regional transportation planning) as a placeholder bill. It was received by the Assembly, went through first read, and is being held at the desk. Assembly committee hearings not yet scheduled.

After missing their promised targets for “populating” (adding content to) of SB278 in mid-December, Mid-January, and Mid-February, the FBA sponsors continue to work with their pre-selected stakeholders to produce a “consensus bill”.

As of 2/21/20 SB278 remained in a “gut-and-amend” status, meaning that it still had no new content.

(resume reading here)

At the February 20thmeeting of the Association of Bay Area Governments Executive Committee, FBA spokesperson Stuart Cohen stated that they were continuing to develop FBA details. He stated that the 1% sales tax was chosen because it was the only revenue source that could produce the desired level of funding and that revisions were now being worked on to exempt lower-income residents from having to pay the increased tax. Mr. Cohen added that the proposal would include a 50% reduction in all Bay Area transit fares and that approximately half the needed $130 billion would be provided by businesses: $35 billion through ordinary sales taxes and another $30 billion through various incentives designed to get more of their employees into trains, buses, car/vanpools, bikes, walking, and boats. Mr. Cohen concluded by noting that the details would be released shortly but gave no specific date.

At MTC, there is talk of combining the $1.3 billion FBA transportation bill and a $1 billion housing measure to create a single massive new bill designed to cover both transportation and housing.

Regional Measure 3 (RM3).RM3 was approved by the Bay Area voters in 2018. If sustained by the Courts it would increase tolls on the State-owned Bay Area bridges by $1 three times (total of $3 plus inflation by 2025). The measure was legally challenged by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association because the toll increase was defined in the measure as a “fee” (intended for the benefit of the payers and requiring only a 50%+1 vote) instead of as an added “tax” (requiring a two thirds vote). The Superior Court judge’s decision to let the language used by MTC and BATA (the Defendants) stand is currently before the California Court of Appeals. The increased tolls are being collected, but held in trust until is a final legal decision is made.

San Francisco Update: San Francisco’s political decision-makers unaccountably continue to sit on a long-promised $6.9 million allocation needed to complete the conceptual design of extending Caltrain into the still empty Sales Force train terminal.

Today’s view of the BIG EMPTY
Today’s view of the BIG EMPTY

South Bay BART Extension: The multi-billion dollar BART extension is proceeding in two phases. The first phase extends from the existing Warm Springs terminal to the Berryessa Station. The second phase will extend mostly in tunnel from Berryessa through San Jose to a new terminal in Santa Clara. Phase I is currently behind schedule, over budget, and beset with technical difficulties. Conflicts between the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) – the designer and builder of the extension and BART, the future operator of the system in charge of pre-revenue testing and final approval, are adding to the delays. Phase II is still in the design phase. To reduce construction disruption along two short sections of Santa Clara Avenue it was decided to place the entire five-mile San Jose subway 10 stories below street grade in a subway tube the size of a five-story building. Attempts to determine the added cost of this large and late-coming change, and whether or not cost was considered in the decision, were ignored by the SCVTA. 

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