Two big-money Santa Clara County tax measures intended to address the county's transportation and housing needs have been approved by voters. Both required a two-thirds vote to win.
Measure A, the $950 million affordable housing bond measure, received 67.35 percent approval with all 1,063 precincts reporting as of Wednesday afternoon.
Measure A will provide funding to acquire or improve an estimated 5,000 affordable-housing units and give assistance to 1,000 first-time home buyers, according to the county. During the campaign, proponents called it groundbreaking for its inclusion of low- and moderate-income individuals and families who might not qualify for aid under other housing programs. Up to $150 million of the total funding may be used to provide housing for moderate-income families and individuals, with not more than $50 million for first-time home buyers.
Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt, one of the signers on the ballot argument in favor of the measure, was pleased with the vote.
"To get over two-thirds of county voters supporting the largest measure ever to help drastically reduce homelessness is really an outstanding statement for the values our county holds," he said on Tuesday night.
Transportation tax Measure B won by a larger margin. It has garnered 70.96 percent of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon with all precincts reporting. It will impose a half-cent sales tax to fund an estimated $6.5 billion in transit upgrades through the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which will administer the monies countywide. About $1.5 billion would be dedicated to a BART extension to San Jose; about $900 million would be spent by Caltrain for the "grade separation" of roads from the railway; $1.2 billion would go to expressway, bicycle and pedestrian improvements and local street upgrades.
The Palo Alto City Council supported the tax measure despite early concerns that funding should not all go to the south county, which has usually received the lion's share of transportation bond funds, most notably for BART. But this time around the north county is expected to receive a chunk of the funding through the "local streets and roads" portion by which local cities use the money for their own transportation needs.
The city would also benefit from the Caltrain grade separations, a long-wished-for project that would improve safety.
Carl Guardino, CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which helped spearhead the measure, was pleased with the results.
"A win of this magnitude truly reflects the vision of voters in Silicon Valley that we don't whine about our traffic problems as much as we find winning solutions to tackle those problems," he said.