News

Valley Transportation Authority board approves new sales-tax measure

Long-planned measure to be added to November ballot; expected to raise up to $6.5 billion

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board of directors on Thursday gave the green light for a long-planned sales-tax measure to go on the November ballot. The half-cent, 30-year tax is expected to raise up to $6.5 billion to fund a BART extension to San Jose, as well as a host of other transit upgrades throughout the South Bay.

Among the listed projects, the measure would provide $700 million for Caltrain grade separation projects throughout Santa Clara County. These costly projects will become crucial in the coming years as the rail corridor is electrified and upgraded to accommodate the California High Speed Rail project. The proposed measure would also fund $314 million for increased Caltrain service, station improvements and extended station platforms.

About $350 million from the measure would go toward creating two express lanes on Highway 85, one in each direction. Meanwhile, county expressways would also get $750 million in upgrades designed to improve congestion and safety.

The largest single project listed in the measure, a proposed BART extension from the forthcoming Berryessa Station to the San Jose Diridon Station would receive no more than $1.5 billion.

The idea of a new ballot measure for transportation improvement has been discussed by county leaders for more than a year, and it generated a fair share of controversy. North County officials, including Supervisor Joe Simitian, publicly warned VTA board members that they would not support the tax measure if it primarily was used to fund a BART extension to benefit San Jose.

Late last year, Palo Alto, Mountain VIew and a coalition of West Valley and North County cities presented VTA with their own proposal on how to spend the money.

The county currently has two transportation-linked taxes that are active. The half-cent Measure A, which benefits an array of transit projects, is due to expire in 2036. Meanwhile the one-eighth-cent Measure B, which funds BART extensions and operations, is set to run through 2042.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Unless there is some positive move to use the revenue for grade separation along Caltrain on the Peninsula, there is no sense in taxing North Santa Clara County for VTA improvements to South Santa Clara County, particularly as they are whittling away VTA service in Palo Alto to Gunn HS, among others.


18 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2016 at 12:38 am

2 no votes from our household. Tired of paying taxes that exclusively go to the black hole BART to San Jose extension for the east bay benefit and this proposal is layered on top of existing tax increases that we'll still be paying for decades.

"The county currently has two transportation-linked taxes that are active. The half-cent Measure A, which benefits an array of transit projects, is due to expire in 2036. Meanwhile the one-eighth-cent Measure B, which funds BART extensions and operations, is set to run through 2042."

enough!


5 people like this
Posted by In-it-Together
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2016 at 7:08 am

Why should I pay to support transportation for other people? I don't use the bus or BART and don't need them. I drive a Tesla that I bought myself, and I got a rebate from government money that came from.... oh, well never mind.


35 people like this
Posted by The VTA Con is On
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2016 at 9:02 am

The only reason the VTA has not begun taking lanes on El Camino for its buses only is that the VTA wants to get this additional revenue stream by voters. Corporate "leaders" are fine with a regressive higher sales tax and figure some of the money might trickle down to a helpful project here or there. Figure special interests seeking a portion of the billions will bankroll the campaign. And the thin San Jose newspaper will also be used to con voters.


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2016 at 9:11 am

Wasn't there an article here a couple of months ago about Palo Alto pressuring VTA to put more money into Caltrain and other public transit for the peninsula. What happened to that effort?


7 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm

The project list was changed to address the concerns from Palo Alto and other north county cities. The fact is, though, that San Jose dominates the county in terms of population and most likely in terms of sales tax. It is proper for them to get most of the money, but they shouldn't get it all.


13 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Headline should read, "VTA approves yet another BART tax measure, Palo Alto hoping for pennies from heaven"


14 people like this
Posted by Steve Ly
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 6, 2016 at 8:35 am

Vote NO. Over the last several elections, voters in Santa Clara County have passed multiple tax and fee increases including VTA’s 2000 Measure A ½-cent and 2008 measure B ¼-cent sales taxes, Santa Clara County’s Measure A 1/8 cent sales tax, the state prop 30 ¼ cent sales tax and the 2010 Measure B Vehicle Registration Fee of $10. Additionally, we’re on the hook to pay back numerous state bond issues including high speed rail, last year’s Proposition 1 water bond and the infrastructure bonds of 2006.

All of this nickel and diming has contributed into making the Bay Area a horribly expensive place to live; especially for people of modest means, who must pay the greatest percentage of their income in these regressive taxes and fees. Each increase by itself does not amount to much, say a quarter cent, but the cumulative effect is to add to the unaffordability of the region.

Before increasing taxes YET AGAIN, waste needs to be removed from transportation projects. For example, VTA needs to eliminate waste and "gold plating" of the BART extension's cost by reducing the scope to eliminate duplicate facilities. Specifically, we need to eliminate the redundant and wasteful section between the San Jose and Santa Clara Caltrain stations. The BART segment from these stations would duplicate both the existing Caltrain line and VTA's 22 and 522 buses to a station that has approximately 1000 riders each weekday.

Why don’t the wealthy high-rollers in the “Leadership Group” suggest taxing their rich companies and leave the little guy alone for a change?


11 people like this
Posted by remember the 1976 tax
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 8:39 am

Dan wrote "The county currently has two transportation-linked taxes that are active. The half-cent Measure A, which benefits an array of transit projects, is due to expire in 2036. Meanwhile the one-eighth-cent Measure B, which funds BART extensions and operations, is set to run through 2042."

You forgot about the permanent 1976 1/2 sales tax and the recently-passed Vehicle Registration fee. We already pay enough but the money is not spent wisely.


12 people like this
Posted by no more taxes
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Would you trust VTA to spend the money well? I watch the VTA light rail go by our office empty every day on Java Dr because it doesn;t connect people form where they are to where they are going.
VTA is a poorly managed boondoggle. Our sales taxes at 8.75% are outrageous already. No more funding of agencies run by incapable bureaucrats with no accountability.


6 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2016 at 3:01 pm

I see Solano County had a bit of sanity:
Web Link


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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