News

Your tax dollars hard at work ... somewhere else

Majority of county-wide sales tax dollars funneled to East Bay BART extension

It's no secret that traffic in Santa Clara County is bad and getting worse, as an influx of new residents and new jobs strains roadways throughout the Bay Area.

As county officials test the waters on a 2016 sales tax measure to alleviate some of these traffic woes, one county supervisor points out that past county-wide tax measures have done little to help the residents in North County and West Valley cities, who don't benefit much when sales tax dollars are routed to fund BART improvements.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian collected data from the county and the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to find out how revenue from the past two 30-year transportation measures -- the 2000 Measure A half-cent sales tax and the 2008 Measure B eighth-cent sales tax -- has been spent throughout the county. Nearly 80 percent of those funds, or $3.65 billion, has gone straight into extending BART to San Jose through the East Bay.

"For 15 years now, BART to San Jose has been dragging away 80 percent of the funds, and I think we're seeing the consequences of that as the economy heats up," Simitian said.

Traffic getting worse

Traffic comes to a crawl during commute hours on most of the major thoroughfares along the Peninsula. Reports from Caltrans identified the evening southbound commute along Highway 85 as one of the worst in the area, receiving an "F" rating this year for traffic density from Central Expressway to Fremont Avenue in Sunnyvale. Other southbound alternatives clog up quickly in the late afternoon. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., drivers can expect huge delays from University Avenue in Palo Alto to the Rengstorff Avenue exit, with average speeds peaking at a disappointing 29 miles per hour.

The northbound commute is also packed along most stretches of Highway 101, from San Jose through Palo Alto during the morning hours, exacerbated by recent lane closures in Palo Alto for construction of the San Francisquito Creek bridge replacement project. In Mountain View, average speeds are as low as 13 miles per hour from Ellis Street to Rengstorff Avenue from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Even the "High Occupancy Vehicle" carpool lanes are at or approaching a poor level of service along major Bay Area highways, diminishing the incentive to carpool, according to the Caltrans report.

The problems are expected to get worse. Estimates from the state anticipate county-wide population growth of 353,000 over the next 20 years, and hundreds of thousands new jobs. Commute trips are expected to go up by 51 percent, but as it stands, Santa Clara County will only increase the capacity of its roadways by about 5 to 6 percent, according to a 2009 VTA study.

Measure A passed with just over 70 percent of the vote, and was intended to connect BART to Milpitas, San Jose and Santa Clara. But the tax measure also included language for providing light rail throughout the county, expansion and electrification of Caltrain, and increased rail and bus service. As of this year, $3.3 billion of the $4.2 billion collected since 2000 has been spent on BART.

Measure B was explicitly designed to help fund the BART extension, with the assurance that VTA would receive matching funds from the state and federal government for construction costs. The measure passed by only a fraction of a percent at 66.78 percent of the vote.

Benefits aren't shared

While transportation and traffic is indeed a regional issue, Simitian said there are pretty limited benefits of the BART extension to cities like Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos, and West Valley cities including Saratoga and Cupertino.

"I tend to take a broader view on these transportation issues," Simitian said. "That being said, if we're going to ask taxpayers to impose yet another tax on themselves, we should expect them to ask how this is going to relieve congestion."

Last month, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group published a poll showing how receptive county voters would be to a new sales tax measure for transportation improvements on the 2016 ballot. The ballot language proposed was similar to the Measure A sales tax and includes finishing the BART extension, traffic relief for the county's eight expressways, improved Caltrain service, and bike and pedestrian safety near schools.

The poll found that the measure would pass with a slim margin. Of the 750 likely voters polled, 68 percent said they would vote for a half-cent measure, whereas 71 percent said they would vote for a quarter-cent measure.

Data from the county shows that North County and West Valley residents have been reliable supporters of transportation measures in the past, pitching in nearly a quarter of the total votes in favor of Measure A and Measure B and providing 16.4 percent of the tax revenue. Simitian argued there ought to be a greater level of equity for the county districts that only get fringe benefits from the BART extension.

Gearing up for traffic upgrades

Mountain View could see a number of transportation improvements in the coming years, provided VTA can secure regional or state funds, including Caltrain grade separation projects and creek trail improvements.

Throughout the month of August, cities all over the county will be submitting proposals to VTA to improve traffic as part of the agency's Valley Transportation Plan, a long-range plan with to-be-determined funding. Mountain View's public works department staff could not provide the Voice with a list of new and updated projects for this year.

Previously submitted project proposals by the city include a $71 million project to construct a grade separation that would sink Rengstorff Avenue underneath the Caltrain tracks, and a $600,000 project to reconfigure the intersection at Miramonte Avenue and Park Drive.

Creek trail projects proposed by the city include a $15 million extension of the Stevens Creek Trail to Mountain View High School, as well as smaller improvements and extensions to both Permanente Creek and Stevens Creek trails.

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Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Interesting that this article fails to mention anything about the miserable traffic on eastbound Shoreline in the morning. The combination of people headed for 101 as well as people going to the various campuses east of 101 really makes a mess as it collides with the horrible traffic light arrangement at the 101NB off-ramp and Pear Ave. Frequent big events at the Computer History Museum make it all even worse.


14 people like this
Posted by word police
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm

How about exacerbated. The only thing exasperated around here are the readers.


20 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Mountain View and Palo Alto should work together on transportation, traffic, shuttles and bike issues. Neither are islands and San Antonio is not the Berlin Wall.


18 people like this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm

How about this idea: Tax all non-retail businesses for each employee required to commute to work rather than work remotely.

With sophisticated virtual office tools like Sococco available these days, I'll bet very few tech employees actually need to be physically present at their employer's campus every single day.

The tech employer requirements to be physically present is the root cause of commuter congestion around here.


14 people like this
Posted by Traffic and Road Maint
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Mr. Simitian has a valid point. It gets worse though. In this latest proposed increment of ANOTHER 1/2% of sales tax levied county-wide, the spending is also weighted AGAINST the North County who contribute disproportionately in sales tax per resident. Also, North County business hire a lot of south county workers, and yet the money is still not spent to give these south county residents a reliable commute to their jobs in the north county.

So to help sell the bump of ANOTHER 1/2 % to the already 1.5% of sales tax that goes to VTA in Santa Clara county, the VTA proposal talks about using some for ROAD MAINTENANCE, which is already slated to return somewhat from STATE CUTS in the huge budget deficit. Generously, they propose letting the North County spend a tiny fraction of the revenue they contribute from the bump 1/2% on local transit projects, if their roads are smooth enough.

I say, the only way to okay that 1/2% is if the ENTIRE funding coming from North county sales goes to the North county, and the ENTIRE funding coming from West County sales goes to West county cities. This still doesn't address the discrimination from the current taxes, but it avoids making the situation WORSE. It really calls things out to realize that they are offering LESS THAN 10% of the revenue back to the places that provided it. Great, thank them very much for their wonderful consideration.


33 people like this
Posted by More depressing news
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Number one on the tax raisers’ agenda is Senate Bill 1 (Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose) that would impose a 12 cents a gallon gas tax increase, which will be added to what are already the highest gas prices in the nation. And they want to add to this a hike in the vehicle license fee (car tax) of 50% and an 80% increase in the cost to register a vehicle.

Much of the money taxpayers have provided through gas taxes and fees has been spent by the Legislature for other purposes.

This year’s state budget increased spending by $7.5 billion, yet they ignored spending on roads. Now, they are reaching for your wallet demanding more money if they are going to fix the pot holes.


8 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 13, 2015 at 9:11 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Double Sigh.
You can see what can be done to make the VTA LIVE UP TO THE NAME by having the County and municipal employees look at how the RTD Light Rail was forced to live up to the promises THAT Board of Directors made.

Use of railroad right of ways has worked for light Rail. Even adding elevated trackage and downtown Denver stops has worked. You have an opportunity to see A WORKING LIGHT RAIL SYSTEM and compare that to the nearly empty VTA trains I have seen.

Adding a terminal with TRACKAGE NORTH OF ELLIS ON THE EAST SIDE OF 101 could benefit the various campuses north of Moffett Field ( I'd probably insist on elevated trackage ).

The same arguments can be used to finish off the BART SYSTEM I PAID FOR SINCE THE 1970s


25 people like this
Posted by VTA Toilet
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Giving money to the VTA is like flushing it down the toilet. The VtA is a thick, overpaid bureaucracy interested in itself. The arrogant plan to take away lanes on El Camino to be used by new. maybe empty VTA BUSES ONLY to force people "out of their cars" is a prime example. What does career politician Simitian say about that? NOTHING.


23 people like this
Posted by NO MORE $ for VTA!!
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 14, 2015 at 6:58 am

They have taxed and taken and done NOTHING but make ridiculous proposals.
They talk about projects like creek restoration but in reality this money
will be used to further efforts to REMOVE THE TREES on El Camino in Mtn Viewu
while they plan on the removing an entire lane of ECR in both directions, making it a bus only lane.
*This is the VTA's grand plan Their biggest goal in MV is to make MV a concrete only speed through lane for 6-8 people on a bus.

No more bond or new tax money for VTA!!!!


55 people like this
Posted by TaxationWithoutRepresentation
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

As the headline states, "Your tax dollars hard at work ... somewhere else". I encourage ALL North County residents to think about this when considering whether or not to vote for yet another tax increase for ourselves. VTA has shown time and again that they do not value the north county residents. Imho, it is about time that the county be split into to two - north and south county - for purposes of representation on things like the VTA voting board, for example.

How things stand right now there is not ONE VTA board member is from Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino, and only one alternate board member from Los Altos and ONE board member from Sunnyvale.

San Jose has FIVE board members and one alternate board member, Santa Clara COUNTY has TWO board members (including the vice chair) PLUS one alternate board member, Los Altos Hills has ONE board member, Milpitas has ONE board member. Gilroy has one board member (Chair), Campbell has ONE board member.

Web Link

Why is it that Palo Alto, Mountain View & Cupertino have ZERO members on the board? Who is representing those cities' interests as the VTA is plotting to levy another tax hike upon us?


8 people like this
Posted by K
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2015 at 8:57 am

For public transportation to work you need higher population density. Also if you build more housing closer to where people work, they will not have to commute that far. Patching the problem with new taxes is a fool's errand. More housing is the solution, not more transportation.


12 people like this
Posted by Vote NO tax/bonds for VTA
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 14, 2015 at 11:40 am

This agency needs to come to the voters showing how many mid-level administrators they will be cutting and other internal budget reductions regarding it's operating expenses before they come beggnig for money YET AGAIN!

Also, Until this ridiculous ECR lane grab and tree removal project gets removed from it's agenda, they get nothing from Mountain View other than the council members the bought(Showalter and Rosenberg)


3 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 14, 2015 at 8:55 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The RTD B of D had to essentially FIRE several board of Directors before RTD " Got the message " that the taxpayers wanted to see some action before several Counties would allow more " people moving " taxes. I cannot fault the RTD link to Boulder and Longmont; that handshake deal was made before Mr. Buffet changed the rules on his " toy train layout ".


7 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 15, 2015 at 1:39 pm

USA is a registered user.

This is a standard trick from politicians who want to raise taxes. They know that the taxpayers will push back on yet more taxes, so they tie the tax increase to some popular issue such as education, environment, parks, or roads. The money raised then goes into the general fund an is spent of whatever the politicians want.

Taxpayers are getting wise to this, so the politicians now create a special account to hold the new tax money so that it can only be used for the stated purpose. The funding that was to be used from the general fund then decreases and is used for other spending projects.

Remember how the lottery was sold to the public as a tax source for education? LOL. The money from the general fund dropped to leave the total spend on education in a downward spiral. Overall California education funding is almost the worst in the country now while we spend money on big union contracts for BART or whatever is the hot topic for CA politicians these days.


3 people like this
Posted by Mtn View
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 16, 2015 at 9:13 am

It's no secret Shoreline scores an F in accessibility. The back up here is no different than Willow Road and all areas which "employ" people.

Doing something about traffic concerns is good, addressing the issues is good. - we need to understand our concerns are being addressed. Plan around the traffic, if you expect it then leave earlier.


20 people like this
Posted by steve ly
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm

I strongly oppose another sales tax increase. The proponents are hoping to sucker those of modest means into raising their taxes once again, despite the fact that voters have already done so multiple times. 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 half-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, a revised “build alternative” needs to be added to the study that eliminates the duplicative and wasteful section between the San Jose and Santa Clara Caltrain stations. The BART segment from the San Jose to Santa Clara Caltrain stations would duplicate both the existing Caltrain line and VTA’s 22 and 522 buses to a station that has only 900 riders. This is extremely wasteful and sends the wrong message to voters who will be asked to approve more sales tax increases in 2016. This is extremely insulting considering recent voter approval of all the taxes/fees listed above.

Why don’t the wealthy high-rollers in Carl Guardino's “Leadership Group” suggest taxing their rich companies that create the congestion, and leave the little guy alone for a change?



7 people like this
Posted by Sales Tax
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

It's false to state that this county must fund its own roads. The legislature is in special session talks to increase gas tax, which will provide a lot more to local and state roads than the VTA's sham plan would ever have done. This idea for another 1/2 cent sales tax for the VTA gold platers is obscene. May it fail miserably.


12 people like this
Posted by NOT 1 DIME FOR vta
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:18 am

No no no.
If anything on the ballot is tied to vta getting funds, I will immediately vote no.
Politicians, detach your important stuff from vta. We'll shut it down otherwise.


29 people like this
Posted by Conditions
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 17, 2015 at 10:17 am

I've always voted for transportation funding. But without a firm commitment from VTA to drop BRT proposals for El Camino, I will not authorize another cent.

After that, I'll want to see that north county gets its proportional share of funding. I read that Palo Alto just wrote a letter with its "demands" (3 grade crossings, etc). Will Mountain View take the opportunity to do this too?


23 people like this
Posted by @Conditions
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 17, 2015 at 11:11 am

I can COMPLETELY relate. I think i voted for every single VTA funding initiative over the years, but BRT has changed everything.
It has made me look closer at the organization and it is clear VTA is over-funded and the money they do have is wasted on things like paying way too many administrators and buying city council members votes for their ill-conceived plans.


6 people like this
Posted by Intelligent Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm

I think the VTA did a fine job in presenting the proposal with all of it's variants. The community meetings were a great idea!

Many are very frustrated with the increasing traffic, so it is perfectly understandable when people get upset. From everything I read, the impacts are a drop in the bucket compared to the traffic caused by new home and business development projects. Without a good shared transportation solution, it's all going to go to a standstill, which is good for nobody.

Most neighbors I've spoken to are supportive of the dedicated bus lane concept, so I expect this will be a welcome addition to our transportation options.


7 people like this
Posted by Lucas Ramirez
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

@Conditions - all of the VTA "member agencies" (every city in Santa Clara County, the County itself, and VTA itself) will be submitting a list of projects. The deadline to do so is August 31st.

There is a public Palo Alto city council study session about this process tonight, and a similar session in Sunnyvale tomorrow night. Other cities have had or will have similar public sessions. Since the Mountain View council is in recess until September, there will not be a similar meeting here until after the project submission deadline. However, the City is also submitting a list of projects. These include, among several others, the Rengstorff Ave/Central Expy/Caltrain corridor grade separation, major improvements at the downtown Transit Center, and a regional transit study focusing on SR 85 and 237.

Next month, VTA will adopt a set of criteria that will be used to evaluate which projects will funded by the proposed 2016 ballot measure. What ultimately will be funded by the ballot measure won't be known until next year, but, if there are specific projects you support, it's never too early to start advocating.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by No more
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I don't trust VTA with any of my money for anything anymore.
I find them vile and reprehensible in every way, worried only about their fat paychecks and having a clean hand to extend out begging for more of our money, while they fritter it away.
I guess they need money this time to remove all the trees in MV along ECr.
Yes, that is in their plan.


17 people like this
Posted by MAS
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills are represented by a single seat on the VTA. When the VTA redistricted, that grouping lost out based on population. As did the grouping that represents Sunnyvale.

Let the Board know, not just your rep, if you object to how funds are being spent and let your neighbors know as well.

There is still time to change how these dollars will be spent which is what Supervisor Simitian is trying to accomplish.


9 people like this
Posted by Still Waiting
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

We're waiting for the plan that show us how many millions they will SAVE by reducing their internal WASTE instead of BEGGING us for money EVERY ELECTION!!!
They do not need more money, then need less managers and administrators.
They do not need more money. They DO NOT need more money.


7 people like this
Posted by VTA Planning
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Very very few residents of Mountain View support this idea of taking a lane away from ECR to do BRT. This guy who posts above and says otherwise clearly has no Mountain View neighbors that support the plan. He's from somewhere outside of the city. If he had said something like half his neighbors support it, then he might just live in a peculiar spot note representative of the city as a whole.

How poorly VTA plans. They should not be asking for more sales tax dollars and another BART extension when the current one hasn't opened yet. To extend from Berryessa would be ridiculously expensive via subway. It shows how poor VTA's services are that they worry that the connection to BART will be inadequate. More bad planning. So they run a shuttle from the new Bart station down Capitol to reach the 22/522 route. It's a 3 mile run. Very cheap compared to all the 10's of billions that an underground subway would cost. THEY ARE SPINDTHRIFTS.


23 people like this
Posted by Grass Roots
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:40 pm

They (VTA) really have burned their bridge in this town wrt votes. Their own fault.


12 people like this
Posted by Mom/Wife/Godess
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 17, 2015 at 4:17 pm

I'm also withholding any votes for VTA's benefit due to the BRT issue. We chose to be represented by people opposed to it, but they lied to us.
I'm not sure when I'll vote for another VTA funding tax/bond, if ever again. Hopefully there is a house cleaning that can refocus their broken vision.


3 people like this
Posted by Dave Whittum
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Great discussion -

As info, public input on VTA matters is welcome at VTA. You can share it with VTABoardofDirectors _at_ vta.org with a cc to board.secretary _at_ vta.org, and cc me directly if you don't mind whittum _at_ gmail.com

As info, Sunnyvale City Council will have a study session at 6pm on Tuesday 8/18/15 at 456 W. Olive Ave. in Sunnyvale discussing "Transportation Initiatives, Proposed Ballot Measures, and Upcoming Update to the Transportation Impact Fee and Project Prioritization". Later in the evening we will discuss the Peery Park Specific Plan; Peery Park is the office/industrial area just east of 237, south of 101, north of Central Expressway.

Mountain View and Sunnyvale have many common interests. One project in VTP2040 of common interest to Sunnyvale and Mountain View is the Bernardo Bike Undercrossing, on which a feasibility study was completed over ten years ago.

Regarding El Camino Real BRT, the next meeting of the VTA's ECR BRT Policy Advisory Board will be Aug 26 at 3pm, Conference Room B-104, 3331 N. 1st St. San Jose CA. The public is welcome to attend and to speak. Each city on ECR is represented on the PAB.

The next VTA Policy Advisory Committee (a different body from the ECR BRT PAB) meeting will be Thursday September 10 at 4pm, same location. Each city and town is represented on the PAC.

The next VTA Board meeting will be Thursday September 3, at 5:30PM at 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose.

Thank you for engaging on behalf of the community.

Sincerely yours,

Dave

--
Member, VTA Board of Directors
Councilmember, City of Sunnyvale,
456 West Olive Avenue, PO Box 3707, Sunnyvale, CA 94088-3707
c:650-704-1028


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:58 pm

A really good use of VTA money would be to make the light rail crossing at Central Expressway go underground. Likewise for lines after the Moffet Field station. Lots of underpasses are being made for BART so the construction experience to do this is present and would benefit Mtn. View.


5 people like this
Posted by They already have the money
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:57 am

Yes, as soon as they reduce their internal waste they should have lots of money for the projects they are tasked with. No need for any more money from us, especially when they want to remove all the trees on ECR and take a lane away 24/7. It's best that irresponsible hands not be in charge of too much money when thoughts like that come from them.

It amazes me that they'll likely have the gall to come begging, hand extended once again this election. With sad puppy dog eyes they'll tell us how they just "need a few more dollars to be awesome this time, really, this time will be different...promise, this time will be different. Can we have some more money now?"

VOTE NO!


3 people like this
Posted by rainbow38
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

VTA chose mixed use lanes for San Jose so reducing lanes on El Camino in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mtn. View and Palo Alto shouldn't be an option.


3 people like this
Posted by Biker
a resident of North Bayshore
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:31 pm

I'm not surprised that VTA was not fully funded to solve this area's transportation problem. Many residents vote down every bond initiative and vote against anyone they think might raise their tax rates.

California is funny like that. I think once the uneducated are pushed out of this area, it will be much easier to invest in infrastructure projects to create a great place to live.

In the meantime, buckle up! It's gonna be s bumpy ride!!


7 people like this
Posted by Prejudice
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm

The problem with Santa Clara County and transit initiatives is not a lack of voter support. Far from it. The problem is a lack of accountability! We throw buckets of money at VTA as it is. Do we get results for the funds? Not hardly.

Spending on Bart to San Jose only helps San Jose. San Jose could simply build more housing to reduce the commute traffic into the city, but it goes the other way. It imagines a future where commuting into the city will continue to grow, despite the environmental cost and the lack of housing in the other cities that they see as their bedroom communities.

In fact, you can argue that the north county's "transportation problem' is entirely caused by VTA and San Jose through political maneuvering that has denied equal representation to 25% of the county contributing more than 25% of the sales tax revenue to VTA. How can it possibly be constitutional for cities like Palo Alto to have a vote on the VTA board only 1/3 of the time. Huh? Whoever heard of that in the constitution? Representation every third year. Yep, that's the system. And it begets problems.

Interestingly you have cities like Mountain View, Gilroy and Sunnyvale whose populations are growing at a faster rate than San Jose. Soon it will hopefully implode, this cheap trick where representation is denied to many citizens depending on where we are in the 3-way representation vote cycle.

The 20 something worker who posted the prejudicial comment about a lack of education really should study some history. This is one of the highest educated counties in the state.


3 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Here is a idea.

BART is making its way to San Jose then to Santa Clara, which the funding is needed. Vote yes to get BART to Santa Clara. When funding is in place, start making plans to build BART from Santa Clara to Palo.

San Mateo County needs to follow suit to get BART from Millbrae to Menlo Park.

The only can you plan you meet up like the "golden spike" like the Central Pacific.

Improve and build LRT lines to BART Stations.

Plan to build a BART from Palo Alto to Los Gatos maybe beyond.

If BRT lines become a hit with users then maybe the idea of underground subways will take hole on El Camino, Stevens Creek Blvd and elsewhere. Plus a connect up to BART stations.

Time is now, not 10 years down the road where the cost will rise even more and more tax money is needed to build something that should have been built 10 years ago.


21 people like this
Posted by TaxationWithoutRepresentation
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Be careful what you wish for.

More than a few of those "uneducated who are [being] pushed out of the area" are also some of the top 5% of income earners, some of whom are leaving - at least in part - because they are feeling over-taxed and under-represented. Bad combo, and bad news for the region and CA in general if there is a real trend of high income (tax payers) relocating to other, more tax friendly, environs.

It's a delicate balance and the region seems to be at a tipping point.





16 people like this
Posted by Conditions
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 18, 2015 at 4:23 pm

@Dave Whittum

Thanks for posting.

Can you pass along the message that having public meetings at 3pm or 4pm in the afternoon is tantamount to telling the public they're not really wanted. Even 5:30 in San Jose is a huge challenge for someone coming from North County.

Of course it's a tried and true way to minimize the appearance of naysayers at a VTA public meeting...


3 people like this
Posted by Recession
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm

The VTA system of farebox recovery at a rate of just 11% and reliance on sales tax funding makes it especially vulnerable to a recession type event, such as we had 2008-2010. We are still in a recovery mode. At the same time the state saw steep income tax revenue declines and cut funding for transportation improvement projects out of necessity.

So, ironically, as Santa Clara County recovers from the recession largely through the success of two employers, Google and Apple, the growth they have made in added workforce severely strains the transportation infrastructure. That's not surprising, but it does not represent the steady state response to population growth. The steep population growth is a result strictly of inflow of people from other areas and other countries, and it happened suddenly in the aftermath of the temporary decline from the recession.

The fact that all the available transit dollars were being used to construct a Bart extension, for which the need was delayed as a result of the shit in employer location and worker influx, was also unfortunate. We might have been better served if we could divert those funds to deal with the place the transportation needs were on the increase, arguably the North County and the West County due to Google and Apple. But we couldn't do that.

However, we can draw a line at a wasteful continuation of BART to the exclusion of all else, and suspend planning for any sort of subway in downtown San Jose.


3 people like this
Posted by VTA Meeting Today
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

VTA meeting today at 3pm! Open to the public.


6 people like this
Posted by VTA manipulation example
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 26, 2015 at 11:16 am

They scheduled it at 3PM because VTA knows most people cannot get there at that time. They do not want to hear from the public, they want no controls or checks on their grand schemes.

This is how VTA works. No more money for a while for you my friends at VTA. Not for a while anyway. Fix yourself and we can revisit any requests for more and more money that you seem to ask for very frequently.


7 people like this
Posted by News
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2015 at 7:49 pm

See this press release:

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by strategic partnerships
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:51 pm

What are the ramifications off the request for a Federal Environmental Review, and who determines if one is granted?


5 people like this
Posted by They'll come begging again
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:57 am

Watch VTA come back to the cities that aligned with requests for better solutions in the north county with something like "OK, we will. We promise. We just need more money from this hear bond measure, or 1/2 cent sales tax increase, but we cannot guarantee that money will go to anything you really want.
That's when the VTA will get the message about how voters really feel about their schemes. Remember, there is nothing more that this agency wants that to take over the middle lane of ECR(Only in MV) after removing all the trees along ECR (Only in MV)


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