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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Special District

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District
Measure I - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


157,590 votes yes (53.6%)

136,438 votes no (46.4%)

100% of precincts reporting (683/683).

303,131 ballots counted.

To continue relieving traffic congestion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions (having carried 1.5-million passengers by providing quality transportation alternatives to Highway 101), connecting stations with pathways, expanding rail service to Healdsburg/Cloverdale as grants become available, shall an extension of the existing Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District 1/4-cent voter approved sales tax, at the same rate, generating approximately $40,000,000 annually for an additional 30 years, subject to audits and citizens' oversight, that the State cannot take away, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

BRIAN E. WASHINGTON, Marin County Counsel and BRUCE D. GOLDSTEIN, Sonoma County Counsel

Measure I asks voters whether the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (“SMART”) should extend its existing ¼-cent sales tax for an additional period of 30 years through March 31, 2059. Measure I was placed on the ballot by unanimous vote of the SMART Board of Directors.

SMART is a rail district created by the Legislature in 2003 to evaluate, plan, and implement passenger rail service from Cloverdale in Sonoma County to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal in Marin County. The geographic area of SMART includes all of Sonoma and Marin Counties.

Voters approved the existing ¼-cent sales tax in November 2008. Over the past 10 years, the tax has funded the construction and commencement of operation of a commuter rail transit system that extends from Larkspur in Marin County to Airport Boulevard in Sonoma County. The current tax will expire in 2029. If approved, Measure I would extend the tax (with no increase in rate) for an additional 30 years, providing approximately $40,000,000 annually. The tax would continue to be collected as it is now, in the same manner as state-imposed sales tax.

Measure I would also update the existing Expenditure Plan, which governs how the funds raised by the tax can be spent. Since Measure I continues a special purpose tax, monies collected will be placed in a special fund and may only be spent only for the purposes set forth in the Expenditure Plan, which is incorporated into the full text of the measure. These purposes include: providing for the ongoing operation, maintenance, and financing of the current system; refinancing existing debt service; enhancing and prioritizing safety, education, and community outreach programs; and funding capital projects that will provide for and increase the existing level of service, operation, and future expansion of both the passenger and freight rail train system and ancillary bicycle/ pedestrian pathways in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Measure I would continue the accountability safeguards in the existing tax which include annual audits by an independent accountant and independent oversight by a Citizens Oversight Committee established by the Board of Directors.

Measure I would also authorize SMART to reissue or restructure its existing revenue bonds, pursuant to Public Utilities Code section 105220, to expedite the commencement of the expanded passenger train service, bicycle/pedestrian pathway, and related transit improvements.

The tax proposed by Measure I will become effective only if approved by a two-thirds majority of those voting on the measure.

A “yes” vote on Measure I will authorize SMART to extend the existing tax through March 31, 2059.

A “no” vote on Measure I will prohibit SMART from extending the tax, and the existing tax would continue in effect until March 31, 2029.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

In 2008, Marin and Sonoma Counties voters had the foresight to create SMART. You voted for a modern train system to bridge county lines and connect to the ferry in Larkspur.

You wanted a green transportation system, a way to travel without sitting in traffic - taking cars off Highway 101.

SMART has delivered on that promise - despite serious obstacles.

When the recession hit in 2009, the bond market crashed, slashing more than $100 million in projected revenue.

Despite this setback, SMART still got a world class transportation system ·up and running by winning $328 million in regional, state and federal matching funds.

So far, SMART has carried over 1.6 million passengers, including over 5,900 passengers who require wheelchair access and 159,000 bicyclists.

In December, SMART opened the Larkspur station to connect to the ferry. In January, SMART revamped the commuter schedule to run trains every 32 minutes. Now, SMART is at a crossroads. Measure I is critical to SMART’s future.

Measure I would extend SMART’s ¼ of one cent sales tax with NO TAX INCREASE.

Measure I would ensure SMART’s financial stability and allow restructuring of construction debt. This would save $12.2 million annually, fully funding operations from Larkspur to Windsor - and with state and federal help on to Healdsburg and Cloverdale - for the next 30 years.

Vote YES on Measure I to:

  • Help reduce congestion on Highway 101 and local roads
  • Support SMART service to additional cities
  • Increase the frequency of SMART trains
  • Build more bicycle and walking paths connecting SMART stations
  • Fund safety enhancements along the rail line
  • Add additional parking to SMART stations

We finally have a modern train system for Marin and Sonoma Counties. Let’s keep it rolling.

Join seniors, environmentalists, business and community leaders - vote YES on Measure I.


Congressperson, 2nd District

State Senator

Marin County Superintendent of Schools

Chairman, Citizens Oversight Committee

President, Sustainable San Rafael

Arguments AGAINST


At $2.4 billion dollars in new taxes, Measure I is too much for something that does so little. There’s no accountability.

Measure I adds a 30-year extension of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District’s (SMART) current sales tax, which doesn’t even expire for another nine years.

Measure I gives SMART a blank check with our sales tax dollars until 2059 -allowing it to spend tax revenue on things that don’t improve transportation. SMART lacks transparency and needs better budget oversight.

SMART has had no material impact on 101 traffic in Marin. BUT they’ve made Central Marin traffic much worse.


  • For each round trip on SMART, the subsidy is more than $100. So in addition to the ticket price it costs taxpayers an additional $100 per round trip for each rider.
  • More than 42% of SMART’s current sales tax revenue goes to pay interest on its debt.
  • Connections to other public transit like Larkspur ferry aren’t synced. Passengers will wait up to 90 minutes for train-ferry connections.


  • In 2008, SMART promised 70 miles of train track. Eleven years later there are only 45 miles.
  • SMART - began rail service over three years behind schedule and massively over budget.
  • SMART promised Marin voters a 70 mile continuous bike path. A fraction of the path has been built, in non-continuous segments. Current plans for Measure spending doesn’t include ANY bike path money.


  • SMART will spend $65 million for a three mile Windsor track extension that generates few additional riders.
  • SMART didn’t implement 7 of 8 of a Grand Jury report’s recommendations designed to improve the agency’s financial oversight and communication with the public.

Vote NO on Measure I and send a strong message to SMART that they can’t waste any more taxpayer money.

Mimi Willard, President

Jody Morales, Founder


Foreperson Pro-Tem, 2012-2013 Marin County Civil Grand Jury

Former President, Marin Cyclists

Replies to Arguments FOR

Vote NO!

SMART Gets Another $2.4 Billion from Measure I. Marin Gets Nothing

4 out of 5 of SMART’s scanty ridership are Sonoma residents.

What SMART promised Marin–but can’t deliver– is traffic and greenhouse gas reduction. They don’t even try to substantiate those claims.

The Inconvenient Truth

SMART trains block major Marin arteries, snarling tens of thousands of exhaust emitting cars in a massive daily traffic jam. This benefits under 1,000 commuters riding to/ through Central Marin. Many previously rode buses.

Stunningly Non-Transparent

SMART repeatedly refused to promptly provide ACCURATE, DETAILED ridership data. They don’t want you know they’re running so many near-empty diesel trains. That increases carbon emissions and wastes taxpayer dollars on subsidies averaging nine times the ticket price.

No Accountability

SMART blew off Marin County Civil Grand Jury’s recommended reforms. SMART’s Citizens Oversight Committee met only once in 2018.

Misleading Voters

  • SMART’s interest expense RISES another $47 million under Measure I. Postponing debt repayment 30 years costs us much more interest.
  • Measure I commits ZERO to addressing the broken promise of a continuous 70 mile bike/pedestrian path.
  • With only a single-track, SMART cannot provide frequent service nor fix long waits for ferry connections.

This sales tax costs on average $9,700 per Marin household.

The current sales tax doesn’t expire until 2029. It is regional infrastructure. SMART should be funded instead by the proposed November 2020 $100 Billion nine-county Faster Bay Area Transportation Sales Tax, NOT a Marin County sales tax.

VOTE NO. Visit

Councilman & Mayor, Town of Corte Madera


Project Finance Analyst

Community Organizer

Transit Consultant

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The same band of naysayers who opposed SMART in 2008 hasn’t given up. Now they’re piling numbers on top of irrelevant numbers hoping to confuse you into voting no.

Here’s what you need to know: Measure I doesn’t increase your taxes; Measure I renews and extends SMART’s existing sales tax.

By ensuring SMART’s financial stability, Measure I allows SMART to compete for new regional, state and federal construction funds to complete the line to Healdsburg and Cloverdale - and continue to qualify for $6 million a year in state money for operations.

SMART’s still in its infancy. It’s been just over two years since the trains began providing a green alternative to Highway 101. As with any transformative project, it takes time to maximize its potential.

In just over two years, SMART’s carried over 1.6 million passengers- a number that’s likely to grow. For perspective, the Larkspur Ferry carries 50% more riders per year now than it did when it began. With the Larkspur Station open - allowing passengers to connect to San Francisco on the Ferry - SMART has a bright future.

While traffic on 101 still causes headaches, SMART provides an alternative, helping reduce congestion and greenhouse gases. We’ve invested in SMART’s vision for the future. Our money has been more than doubled by state and federal matching funds to the tune of $328 million.

Now’s not the time to pull the plug. Now’s the time to protect and expand an alternative to traffic on 101.

Stay Green, Keep SMART. Vote Yes on Measure I.

Mayor of San Rafael


Marin County Sheriff

Executive Director Resilient Shore

Novato Councilmember

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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure I

Organizations (2)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure I
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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