Transportation tops the list of problems in Santa Clara County. A few weeks ago, a proposal was made for a $3.76 billion transportation sales tax to address some of these problems. This sales tax would run from 2006 (when the current measure expires) until 2026. It must be finalized by August 8th to get on the November 2000 ballot.
Unfortunately, as a new report co-released by the Bay Area Transportation & Land Use Coalition makes clear, the draft list of projects does not meet many critical community needs. Pedestrian safety, one of the biggest public health problems (33 deaths were recorded in the county in 1998), is slated for 1/4 of one percent, less than soundwalls or landscape restoration and graffiti removal. There is no funding for transit-oriented development, and none for additional night and weekend bus service, which is critical for children, the elderly and low-income families, and for reducing local congestion.
There is plenty of time left-six years-to craft and pass a better plan, before the current sales tax will expire. The Coalition, of which UE is a leading member, is calling on Santa Clara County Supervisors to implement a planning process that would place a measure on the ballot in 2002 or 2004. This extra time would provide:
Critical new information — There is no indication that the proposed plan will actually be the most effective way to relieve traffic congestion-analysis by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission suggests it will not.
Community input — A tax of this size should not be pushed through in a matter of weeks with virtually no public meetings.
Equity — Projects should be included that meet the needs of all county residents.