Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 11, 2012

GUEST OPINION

Measure B is good for Pleasanton

by Cheryl Cook-Kallio

On January 26, 2012, The Alameda County Transportation Commission approved a Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) that responds to critical transportation needs in the 21st century. Every City Council and member of the Board of Supervisors in Alameda County supports putting this measure on the November ballot. Our City Council voted 3-2 in support, thus far the only two council members in the entire county to vote no. It was a short-sighted vote. Items it will fund in East County include I-580/I-680 interchange improvements, Bernal Bridge construction and the BART extension to Livermore. There will be improvements to major commute corridors like El Charro Road, which is essential to the development of the Pleasanton Eastside Specific Plan. Every transportation priority of this council depends on those funds, especially State Route 84 through Pigeon Pass, the extension of which will help eliminate cut-through traffic in Pleasanton.

In addition the plan ensures continued transportation funding that improves mobility and access to transit. Specifically it will increase funding to Pleasanton for maintenance and upgrades to local streets, specialized programs for seniors and people with disabilities, and bike and pedestrian trails that improve safety. It provides funds for existing programs such as LAVTA Wheels, ACE train and BART.

This vote will continue the funding from this measure in perpetuity, a troublesome concept in the abstract. In reality we will always need funds to improve transportation. The question is one of accountability. ACTC is a Joint Powers Authority that plans, funds and delivers transportation programs. Each stakeholder in the county has a representative on the commission. ACTC is committed to accountability and transparency. There are annual audits and the Independent Watchdog Committee, (IWC). There are strict project deadlines and performance and accountability measures included in every contract with fund recipients. Importantly, there is geographic equity. The sales tax revenues will benefit every city and transit operators in the county. Finally, the voters will have a check on this funding. Every 20 years the Transportation Expenditure Plan will go through extensive planning and review through the public process culminating in a plan approved by voters at the polls. This Transportation Expenditure Plan will be on this November ballot. If approved this funding measure will extend and augment the existing half-cent sales tax to one cent. It is critical that we support this effort.

ACTC's track record is impressive. Voters approved the first Measure B in 1986 and extended it in November of 2000. All of the major projects approved by the voters in that measure are either underway or complete, 10 years ahead of schedule.

In a time when we can't count on state or federal dollars, we depend on these funds for local and regional traffic improvements, many of which extend beyond city boundaries and are essential to Pleasanton. It is imperative that Pleasanton supports the Transportation Expenditure Plan in November to make our transportation plans a reality.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio is currently in her second term as a Pleasanton City Councilmember. She teaches government and economics and also coaches the We the People Competition Civics team at Irvington High School. She was co-chair of the Hacienda TOD and Housing Element Task Forces, and serves as an alternate on the Alameda County Transportation Commission. Cheryl Cook-Kallio is a candidate for Mayor in the upcoming municipal election on Nov. 6.

Comments

Posted by curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm

The author here misses the point. We are tired of being taxed with no accountablility. If all of these projects are so great then what's wrong with having a sunset clause every ten years and then requiring the voters to reaffirm continuing the tax. This sounds like the usual democrat/union tax and spend with no accountablilty to the voters!! Or better yet, just a cheap way to get publicity!!


Posted by Kangaroo, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Lol, oh California.


Posted by local, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 8:09 am

Cheryl has never seen a tax hike she did not like. I am not sure who voted against this in our Council but am glad they did so. This tax in perpetuity is a real bad idea. Once approved, you have NO control over the projects. This is like voting an elected official for life in office. They no longer care about the public since they do not have to be elected. With this perpetuity clause, there is no more accountability on how they spend the money.

Like all the transportation taxes, they claim to solve a ton of problems. After approved, they say they need more money to actually do any of the specific projects and you will have to pay another tax if you actually want your project completed. I assume this funding will continue to fund the Wheels Express buses which are costing the taxpayers an arm and a leg because of the tremendous subsidy. Then we have the high speed rail to nowhere. That bond money will be taking away the money we need for real transportation issues.

We already have one of the highest sales taxes in the state. We need to stop voting for additional taxes and make our elected officials accountable. The money for these projects would also be here if we did not have the high increase of pension costs, all brought to us by the elected officials. The same elected officials who are asking for more money from us.. Stop supporting the tax hikes and stop supporting the elected officials, like Cheryl, who believe an extra tax is the answer to everything.


Posted by annoymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Wow! I think the above missed the point of the opinion piece. Pleasanton wants less traffic, they want infrastructured built but they don't want to have to pay for it? The vote was to put it on the ballot. You can individually vote no if you want.

How are our roads going to get fixed it we don't fund it? Is there anyone out there who just walks? Oh wow this tax is for pedestrian and bike trails too! I guess the roads magically fix themselves.

There is accountability. There is a citizens watch group.

You are already paying the half cent. . .we need the connectors, we need our city streets repaired. . .or we can make them all private and assess ourselves. . .that would cost less, NOT!


Posted by annonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Oh and the projects go before the voters every 20 years? Did you read the entire piece???


Posted by curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Great, a citizen's watch dog committee--that's reassuring especially after how it was used by the school district after the bond was passed!!


Posted by annonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

This agency delievered. All precious projects are done or in process ten years early. Be informed!

Web Link


Posted by curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm

I am informed. . .its a 20 year tax committment!!


Posted by local, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm

What do you mean we don't want to pay for it? We are already paying for it but the elected officials are taking our tax money and not spending it wisely. Every dollar going to the extra pension cost is money that is taken away from education and traffic infrastructure.

An "oversight committee", appointed by the politicians is not enough accountability. As mentioned above, this will be not different that the bond oversight committee of the school district that was promised and did not materialize. If there are supplemental taxes like this, there should be a time limit on the tax. At the end of the tax, if there is more to do and they have used the funds wisely, people can vote for an extension. Let the voters decide (the ones paying the tax) if it should be extended. Don't burden all future generations with this tax.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Which project(s) are 10 years ahead of schedule?

Isn't the Alameda County Transportation Commission a duplication of the MTC? Why pay the salaries of multiple commissions that do absolutely the same function?

I do not see where the transportation is being eased at the city, county, or regional level. In fact a number of projects to mitigate traffic congestion are instead causing more congestion.

And counter to what one reader wrote, we do pay plenty in transportation taxes. Its just that the state government is spending this money elsewhere. Probably on salaries of commissioners.


Posted by local, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Besides all the salaries being paid for the alphabet soup of transportation agencies in the area, some of our elected officials, and especially the county supervisors, receive a stipend for each meeting they go to at each of these agencies, in addition to their pay. That is why we have all these agencies; there is more money for the elected officials.

We need to combine many of these transportation agencies to reduce overhead. However, do not expect that to happen when the elected officials make extra money by having more agencies.


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