By Marie Blankley
Measure B was passed in 2016 on the promise that it would provide an estimated $1.2 billion for the improvement of local streets and roads in all of the 15 cities of Santa Clara County. Elected officials from all cities in our county encouraged voters to support Measure B because without its tax revenue, city streets would go from bad to worse.
Gilroy receives $1.8 million annually from Measure B, and although that’s only slightly more than half of what’s needed each year to prevent our streets from deteriorating further, imagine where we’d be without it.
That’s what everyone was imagining at the Nov. 12 monthly Policy Advisory Committee meeting of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. I listened, along with my fellow committee members representing all 15 cities, as VTA staff presented their 2016 Measure B Ten-Year Outlook from 2022 to 2032 showing absolutely nothing for Local Streets and Roads in favor of BART Phase II. Mind you, in addition to the $1.2 billion Measure B earmarked for Local Streets and Roads, an estimated $1.5 billion was disclosed as earmarked for BART Phase II, not to exceed 25 percent of total Measure B revenues.
However, nothing in the language of Measure B suggests that BART be funded first at the expense of city streets and roads. VTA staff repeatedly stated that this was merely an information item, asserting that we need only acknowledge receipt of the report for illustrative and discussion purposes so that the dialogue on this subject may begin.
And this is how it starts, folks, and why it’s so important to be represented from the beginning when such “illustrative information” is suggested and progresses. VTA collects all of Measure B revenue and then disburses it to cities. BART Phase II is a far better showcase of VTA’s prominence, behooving all of us, particularly Gilroy and Morgan Hill where the same public transportation services often don’t reach, to make sure that money goes not only to BART but to our local streets and roads as promised to the voters.
Supervisor Wasserman, a member of this committee, and Supervisor Simitian who attended, both expressed their opposition to VTA’s illustrative 10-year outlook. A motion was made and seconded to refuse the report. VTA staff argued that no such motion could be made as this wasn’t an action item. We passed it anyway, making sure that our voices and unanimous opposition to the actual information in this “Informational” agenda item was not only heard but also reflected in the minutes.
The 2016 Measure B FY 22 and FY 23 budget approval is scheduled for May 2021.
Gilroy City Councilmember and Mayor-elect Marie Blankley serves on the VTA Policy Advisory Committee and is an alternate member of VTA’s Board of Directors.