An effort by Silicon Valley businesses to place a tax measure for transportation projects on the November ballot skidded to a halt Wednesday when the group decided to wait until 2016.
Citing a "dismal turnout" in the June 3 primary election, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group decided not to pursue a quarter-cent addition to the Santa Clara County sales tax, a measure that would have brought in an estimated $3.5 billion for various transportation projects. About $1.5 billion would have been spent on an extension of BART to San Jose. The rest would be split between highway fixes and other transportation projects, including Caltrain improvements.
The proposal proved a tough sell in Palo Alto, where officials requested more funding for Caltrain, even if this means raising the increase to a three-eighths of a cent. Last week, the City Council approved a letter calling for the additional one-eighth cent to go to Caltrain to support projects such as grade separations.
Palo Alto's letter followed a presentation in late May by Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, who cited an April poll showing 73 percent support in the county for a transportation measure.
Now, the issue is moot. In an online post, Guardino wrote that the group is now looking to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot.
"Based on the dismal voter turnout in the June 3 primary election, bringing out a record low number of voters, we now expect a very low turnout this November," Guardino wrote. "Low turnouts do not bode well for transportation funding measures, so the Leadership Group Board has made the painful decision to wait made more painful by the fact that our employees and families are waiting in traffic jams that need to be addressed."
Guardino noted that the 2016 election was its original goal before it started considering this year's election. The original goal, he noted, is "once again our goal."