VTA board OKs new sales tax measure | June 10, 2016 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - June 10, 2016

VTA board OKs new sales tax measure

$6.5 billion measure for highway, transit projects to go before voters in November

by Mark Noack and Kevin Forestieri

A long-planned sales tax measure is set to go on the November ballot now that the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors gave it the green light. 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.

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Email Mark Noack at [email protected] and Kevin Forestieri at [email protected]


Posted by Vote NO on VTA tax
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 12, 2016 at 11:54 am

Local city councils might support a measure that will or might provide some frivkle down benefit for city residents. But giving more money to the VTA gives the green kight to stupid projects already proposed like zEl Camino BRT. And every dollar wasted on the VTA bureaucracy and its cohorts in the private sector is a dollar NOT AVAILABLE for smart transportation or other investments. Most big corporations in Silicon Valley may also support the measure partly because they will not pay much through an increase in the sales tax. Vote No.

Posted by Donald Trump
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm

I don't take the bus, so please vote NO! We need fast trak lanes everywhere instead. Why should I share the road with the poor????

Remember, a NO vote is a vote for Donald Trump!

Posted by 3rd continuing tax?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 4:41 pm

I don't understand why they need another tax. I mean, what results have been seen with the current 2 taxes we're now paying? They need to cut costs, not keep asking us for more and more, and more money.

Posted by Steve Ly
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2016 at 10:07 am

"The county currently has two transportation-linked taxes that are active. "

It's actually three. There is also a permanent 1/2 cent sales tax, passed in 1976, that goes to VTA, who wants to cut bus service in their "Plan 90." Web Link

Posted by 3 current VTA taxes???
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

And they have the gall to come begging for more?!?! Hell no! We're done feeding stray cats. They will NEVER learn to act with financial responsibility if we just throw money at them any time they ask.

Posted by Steve Ly
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2016 at 11:38 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?

Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 13, 2016 at 3:59 pm



1000x No.

Show you can responsibly manage the funding you are currently allocated AND provide at least as high quality service as similarly funded agencies and I'll consider it.

Until then.......no.

Posted by False
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Only the republicans are opposed to this, so all of the intelligent voters will support the tax.

Why does the "right" constantly want to destroy our country? It's getting to the point that an investigation into a potential foreign power manipulating the ignorant and greedy republicans is warranted.

Posted by True
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 7:20 am

Sorry, I've spoken with enough democrat friends who are of like mind that enough is enough. We've seen a complete lack of accountability and responsibility with too many agencies. This is no longer a right vs left, republican vs democrat, rather a partisan issue that all need to be aware of and fully understand implications of.

Spread the news, discuss the details and full implications and Vote No.

Posted by Now I am voting Yes
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2016 at 9:01 am

Based on the reasoning that "True" articulated, I am now voting Yes. Anytime a hard right republican claims to have Democrat friends, you know that their argument is weak.

Small investments now yield big returns later. Republicans don't understand this; they never will.

Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Darin is a registered user.

It looks like I am not an "intelligent voter" then. Darn.

VTA is proposing to impair transportation along ECR with the BRT: dedicating 2 entire lanes to occasional light-rail-style buses, sticking the stops for the light-rail-style buses in the middle of the street away from the local bus stops, impairing traffic flow in the rightmost lanes with "bulb out" stops that force the local buses to stop in the traffic lane, etc.

VTA is proposing to reduce feeder line service that would support transit use along ECR. And local communities already find it necessary to provide their own local shuttles, because VTA service is inadequate.

Why should we support this kind of failure with yet another tax?

Posted by retired Republican
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 1:30 pm

darn - maybe I'm in Neverland. I thought I made small investments in rental property and stocks and mutual funds (and that darn expensive condo and single-family home). And I though I retired early, before 60, partially because of that (and my parents small Republican investing).

ya never know

Public Investing is fine - just be sure it is wise investing.

Posted by They get 3 taxes we pay them already
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm

I think 3 currently running taxes for VTA is enough. We can't have endless taxing every time VTA says they need to do something. Besides, what exactly HAVE they done while enjoying the $ from those 3 current taxes? They seem like an awfully wasteful bureaucracy IMO, but they sure aren't afraid to come begging for money, again and again and again...and now for the 4th time, AGAIN. I say enough enough.

VTA out of my wallet!

Posted by KB
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:49 pm

For those saying that any Democrat will vote for and any Republican against this measure (a straw man if I've ever seen one), please explain to me how increasing *sales taxes* a thing which disproportionately affects the poor and economically disenfranchised, in an area with an already sky high cost of living and already high sales taxes, is supposed to help the poor?

I'll wait.

Posted by @KB
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:14 pm

KB, you raise a good point on how increasing sales taxes may burden the poor. I question your use of the word "disproportionately" though. Let's say a "poor" family spends $1,000 on taxable goods per month (that's on the high side). How much would they be impacted?

The tax is 1/2 of 1 per cent. %0.5 of $1,000 is $5.00. Is five bucks more really going to be so problematic?

The pro-wealthy, anti-poor "conservatives" are far more concerned with this sales tax on the wealthy. One of these "well off" individuals is tired of their two year old car, so dump it and buy a brand new 80k luxury vehicle. 0.5% of 80k is $400! Right wingers hate this. That is why it is a valid statement to link Republicans with unwillingness to raise taxes to invest in our community.

Righties like toll roads. Billionaires are charged the same amount as the poorest in our country. Expect to see more of those to appease them. :(and

Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

This is not democrats v republicans. It is fiscal responsibility v endless waste. What do we have to show for the previous tax increases?

Posted by KB
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:51 pm

I do not disagree that on average, a 'left wing' person is liable to be more 'pro-tax' and a 'right wing' person is more likely to be 'anti tax'. That is certainly the trend. However, I would argue that sales taxes are often the tool wielded by those right leaning people making a concession toward increasing tax revenue. Sales taxes would not be the tool of choice for a left winger.

Further,I would say that sales taxes *do* disproportionately hit the poor, because the goods and services that are subject to sales taxes are more often essentials, and thus things that everyone, or nearly everyone needs and uses at similar rates. The total amount of sales-taxable goods purchased by a given person do not scale linearly with their income. These items, being 'essential', thus make up a larger percentage of low income earners' yearly wages than they do of the wages of someone making much more.

Posted by Totally Liberal
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Totally opposed to this tax.

Posted by Liberal who opposes the tax
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Briefly, I have been following the VTA mess for years. Here are some facts to ponder.

1. What was the last benefit that the north county received from the VTA taxes
A: the 101/85 interchange in Mountain View.

2. What got the vast majority of the sales taxes that VTA has received since 2000?

3. When will any other project receive any money promised so far in the previous sales taxes?
A: 2025 (or later)

4. What project will get the vast majority of the money in this sales tax?

5. Which part of the county will benefit from BART?
A: San Jose

6. Why should anyone in north county vote for the sales tax on 2016 ballot?
A: ?

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Absolutely shocked that the corrupt BTA is trying to take more $$ out of the public's pocket to feather their own nest. They've been trying to drum up support for this for over a year, with misleading "surveys" and the propaganda "stand up for transportation" wraps on their buses to hide low ridership. Time to send them a message that the public is sick of this c..p.

If the masses in San Jose are enough to push this boondoggle through, it's time for the North County towns to form their own county. What benefit do we get from being lumped-in with the s... hole that is San Jose anyway?

Posted by Intelligent Sense
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 1:17 am

Most residents in MV are supportive of VTA and its initiatives. Only a vocal few spouting nonsense are in opposition.

Most of us realize that we can't just keep adding lanes to roadways to support more automobile traffic. VTA has planned some great projects that will focus on moving people and not just cars.

Notice that there is not one single reasonable alternative option proposed by this misinformed minority opinion. Just a lot of unsubstantiated rhetoric and insults.

If we listened to people like that, we wouldn't have highways, trains, automobiles or a space program. Sorry gentle people, but the earth is not flat, human influenced climate change is real and vaccinations actually save lives!!!!

Posted by Vote NO on VTA tax
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

Readers are no longer fooled by anonymous posts by VTA employees and contractors - such as the VTA employee who got up at the city council meeting last year to tout the VTA but got caught. The only reason the VTA has not stormed ahead with bus-only lanes on El Camino and other stupid projects is that the VTA wants to first get a tax increase passed. I will give you an alternative. The county Board of Supervisors should put a transportation measure on the ballot under which it would handle the money - not the VTA.

Posted by bad analysis
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2016 at 9:37 am

One reason to oppose this tax is due to shenanigans pertaining to the proposed bus-only lanes on El Camino Real. Although the proposal does not pass the sniff test, VTA's moving forward nonetheless.

I found this analysis on a similar project in Albuquerque. The moral of the story is that FTA doesn't seem to do a good job screening projects.
Web Link

It's a good reason to vote NO on this VTA tax. Three is enough.

Posted by Why I support transit
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm

We need to keep building out transit infrastructure to support our rapidly growing region. To do this, it needs to be paid for. The tiny amount of sales tax requested goes a long way. The arguments against VTA's plans are specious at best.

The problem of the anti-Bus coalition's solution of DO NOTHING is that it would result in a far worsening of congestion for everybody. As more and more high density developments (commercial, residential and retail) are built along El Camino and in areas this STATE HIGHWAY feeds into, the automobile traffic will continue to escalate. By dedicating a lane to public transit, it provides a fast way to move PEOPLE and not just machines. Think of it like the wondrous CalTrain program (where more than 70% of the cost is taxpayer subsidized!). Perhaps instead of running the train, we should pave it over and put another highway? And where it parallels closely to Central Expressway, expand those lanes?

The reason why we do not, is there is value in building up a network of transit options. Even CalTrain made the decision to put a "BRT" system (called "Baby Bullet")in place, because the regular "local" and even "limited stop" trains were considered too slow by the riders.

It's good that most of the Santa Clara cities remain unopposed and a majority of the board of supervisors are supportive. With all the new shopping, dining, employment and residential opportunities opening up on El Camino, a fast bus is going to be very much appreciated!

Posted by Hugh Janus
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2016 at 2:59 pm

A liberal never saw a tax they didn't like. Most of this money will go to raises and pensions and that's about it.

Liberalism really is a terrible mental illness.

Posted by Why the VTA tax doesn't support transit
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm

VTA is a bloated bureaucracy that even the Rider's Union agrees is terribly inefficient and wasteful. Don't trust VTA to make good decisions with this money when their budgets and service offerings have been so woefully wasteful in the past. Also, others criticize the measure as not being in support of transit. See Web Link The truth is that VTA encourages auto use in many ways. Homeless nutjobs onboard the buses harassing passengers. VTA has it. Delay for 5 years what could be a reasonable project to convert the 522 route to the new buses it has today, already running? VTA did it. Bloat up planning to insist that there will only be ridership on the 522 route if very expensive stations are built? VTA is doing it. The article quoted above describes what is a very similar to VTA's for the lane dedication on ECR. Give it a read. Web Link They twist their models to lie about current service and then project changes that won't occur. The 522 route is already faster than 22. The full expensive BRT projects just discourage some auto use on ECR, but that doesn't explain why VTA can say so very many people will switch from 22 to 522 when they could already have done that. VTA is not deserving of more funding. BART from San Jose to Santa Clara is pouring money needlessly down a rathole. BART from East San Jose to downtown is nearly the same. It just changes the point of beginging the last mile of travel to different areas of San Jose, not a measurable improvement in usability for Bart at all. It just sounds good. It's a boondoggle.

Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Darin is a registered user.

@Why I support transit

You'll notice that Caltrain's baby bullet service didn't cripple the local/limited service, or any of the other transportation options along the corridor. And transfers between trains (baby bullet and/or limited) are easy, because they share the same stations and their schedules are coordinated. If only VTA and the BRT planners could learn from that example.

And no, I am not part of the anti-bus coalition. I'm just someone who is opposed to poorly conceived expensive projects that will degrade transportation for everyone (including bus users).

Posted by Fact Check
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2016 at 6:12 pm

"You'll notice that Caltrain's baby bullet service didn't cripple the local/limited service, or any of the other transportation options along the corridor."

Actually, this is incorrect. After launching the Baby Bullet service and seeing local train ridership drop, they reduced local and increased Baby Bullet. That especially impacted San Antonio.

So, if you like CalTrain's Baby Bullet, then you ought to like BRT. I wonder if there is a more subtle reason certain people are unhappy about improving bus service between San Jose and PA?

Posted by Good problem to have
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2016 at 6:25 pm

The success of the baby bullet is generally a good thing. Perhaps they could find a way to provide rapid service between San Antonio and Castro (and similarly Cal Ave and University) and remove all other service. Every train would run faster, and these lesser-trafficked stations would have a mostly improved service (assuming a free transfer of course)

Posted by Bort
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:11 pm

@Hugh Janus

Hugh Janus indeed.

FFS, I'm as liberal as they come and this tax is an awful idea. Nice try.

Posted by HalukO
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 22, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Before approving another regressive tax for tthe already high sales tax here in Mountain View, Iit would be nice to know what makes up the current sales tax, when each expires if at all, and where do the funds go for what purpose. Can The Voice explore and report on that, please.

Posted by Where the money goes
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

HalukO, the overwhelming amount of the taxes we pay to VTA are paying for BART to SJ. In fact, the recently-approved Measure B was dedicated for that purpose. Measure A, approved in 2000, can be used to pay for "Funding operating and maintenance costs for increased bus, rail and paratransit services" but instead we get "Network 90," where all the non-El Camino bus service in North County gets cut.

Posted by ProSensibleTransit
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 8:55 am

No. Absolutely not. Don't give VTA another penny unless and until it can prove itself to be a competent agency.

Since a large portion of MV residents and Voice readers work in the private sector, they'll certainly identify with this argument: In the private sector, you're paid for the contribution you make to your employer and stakeholders, receiving increases in that compensation only when you've demonstrated you're willing and capable of sustaining and building on your positive contributions. That's the private sector. VTA appears to believe that not only does commensurate funding/compensation not apply to it, but the agency essentially thumbs its nose at that principle.

To borrow an oft-cited phrase from GHW Bush (the one U.S. ex-president with that surname who actually also had brains): No new taxes!

Posted by JMr
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:13 am

@Where the money goes: I am guessing this to be the VTA planted response. It basically deflects the purpose of the original question by @Haluko. And uses vague and undefined terms like "overwhelming" and highlights BART, thinking, I believe, that people are OK with funding BART.

Posted by I didn't say I like it
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:26 am

JMr, I'll be perfectly clear, I'm voting NO.

VTA is asking the voters for a fourth sales tax increase yet they refuse to “value engineer” their expensive projects. There is no reason that the BART extension needs to duplicate existing bus and train service between the San Jose and Santa Clara stations. And the proposed El Camino Bus Rapid Transit could be constructed at lower cost by eliminating the dedicated center lanes and converting the curbside lanes to HOV use during peak hours.

Money saved from cutting the “gold plating” from big capital projects could be spent on supporting the bus system, including saving routes 35 and 88 in Palo Alto. Until VTA learns to use its existing resources more efficiently, vote NO on more taxes.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2016 at 4:51 pm

The VTA is wasting taxpayer dollars and squandering goodwill by bringing this sales tax measure to the ballot.

Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 25, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Fund some more VTA work like....

After a scathing audit found the Valley Transportation Authority's paratransit provider may have charged as much as $7 million a year for services it could not document...

Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 25, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Fund some more VTA work like....

After a scathing audit found the Valley Transportation Authority's paratransit provider may have charged as much as $7 million a year for services it could not document...

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