Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Special District

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
Measure RR - 2/3 Approval Required

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To preserve Caltrain service and support regional economic recovery, prevent traffic congestion, make Caltrain more affordable and accessible, reduce air pollution with cleaner and quieter electric trains, make travel times faster, and increase Caltrain frequency and capacity between Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, shall the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board's resolution levying a 30-year one-eighth cent sales tax with oversight and audits, providing approximately $100 million annually for Caltrain that the State cannot take away, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters of the Bay Area

The Question

(requires 2/3 majority of all voters in the three counties to pass). Shall the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board’s proposal to levy a 30-year one-eighth cent sales tax to preserve Caltrain service, providing approximately $100 million annually for Caltrain, be adopted?

Note: This Pro/Con information is also available in Spanish and Chinese.

The Situation

The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) is an independent agency, which is responsible for operations, capital projects and planning for three-county train services on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Caltrain’s three funding partners are the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the San Mateo County Transit District, and the City and County of San Francisco. A formula based on ridership determines the yearly contribution from each entity, which has totaled approximately $30 million.

Caltrain is the only passenger rail service in the country that relies on voluntary annual contributions from its three funding partners, in order to cover its yearly operations costs.

The Proposal

Measure RR will provide reliable funding to cover the shortfall from rider fares, to preserve Caltrain service and support regional economic recovery, prevent traffic congestion, make Caltrain more affordable and accessible, reduce air pollution with cleaner and quieter electric trains, make travel time faster, and increase Caltrain frequency and capacity between Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, with oversight and audits.

Caltrain has developed a Caltrain Modernization (CalMod) Program which outlines various stages of upgrades and modernization that would need to occur in order to maximize the ridership and benefits to the region. These improvements include the electrification of the corridor, the addition of high-performance electric trains, installation of an advanced signal system, and station upgrades to accommodate increased service and more riders. Funding has been secured to complete the first phase of the CalMod program, which includes corridor electrification and conversion of 75 percent of Caltrain’s fleet to electric trains.

Additional funding is needed to fully convert Caltrain’s fleet, operate longer trains, lengthen station platforms and upgrade stations to include “level boarding”, which decreases dwelltime and facilitates the operation of more service.

Fiscal effect

A 30-year 1/8 cent sales tax across the three Caltrain counties will generate approximately $100 million per year. The revenue collected will cover the annual $30 million contributions from the three counties for operations funding and will provide roughly $60-70 million per year to fund the aging system’s ongoing maintenance needs and to build new infrastructure that will greatly increase the capacity and efficiency of Caltrain services.

Supporters say

  • Measure RR funding will save Caltrain from shutdown and preserve Caltrain service for thousands of essential workers such as nurses, teachers and first responders.

  • It will fund system improvements, providing faster and more frequent trains, and cleaner, quieter trains to reduce noise and air pollution.

  • It will reduce travel times and provide better all-day, all-week service and improve Caltrain connections with BART and SamTrans, preventing traffic congestion and removing cars from highways.

  • Measure RR will have required financial accountability including oversight and audits.

For More Information: RescueCaltrain.org

Opponents say

  • Caltrain ridership may not recover following the loss during Covid-19. Riders, who are mostly higher income, can continue to work remotely and some riders may be concerned about risks of using public transportation in the future.

  • Low- and middle-income earners and the unemployed cannot afford adding yet another regressive sales tax at this time, yet alone one that will last for thirty years.

  • Caltrain has wasteful and excessive spending on high pension costs and excessive salaries.

  • The existing transportation sales taxes can fund Caltrain at its current service level. The proposed Caltrain sales tax would raise $100 million/year, netting an additional $70 million/year for Caltrain, and an additional $30 million for the other transit agencies.

For More Information: www.SVTaxpayers.org

 

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

James R. Williams, County Counsel, County of Santa Clara

The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPBor Caltrain) has placed Measure RR on the ballot, which would authorize a retail transactions and use tax (sales tax) of 0.125 percent (one-eighth cent) in the Counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo and the City and County of San Francisco (collectively “the Counties) for a period of thirty (30) years, estimated to raise approximately $100 million per yearThe JPB is authorized to place Measure RR on the ballot under Section 7286.65 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code. Prior to placement on the ballot, submission of the measure to the voters was approved by the Boards of Supervisors for the three Counties and the governing boards of Santa Clara ValleyTransportation Authority (VTA), San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA).

CurrentlyCaltrain is primarily funded through passenger faresAdditional funding for Caltrain comes from member agency contributions from VTA, SamTrans, and SFMTAThe stated purpose of the sales tax is to establish a newdedicated source of revenue to fund the operating and capital expenses of the Caltrain rail service, and for no other purposes. As stated in the full text of Measure RR, the tax proceeds from the measure will be prioritized as follows:

1. To support the operation of Caltrain service levels throughout the corridor from San Francisco to Gilroy;

2. To support the expansion of Caltrain peak hour service from six trains per hour per direction to eight trains per hour per direction, as well as the expansion of the Gilroy service to a minimum of five morning and five afternoon trains;

3. To develop and implement programs to expand access to Caltrain service and facilitate use of the system by passengers of all income levels;

4. To help leverage other local, regional, state and federal investments to advance capital projects necessary to implement the Caltrain Business Plans 2040 Service Vision, adopted by Caltrain on October 3, 2019; and

5. To provide Caltrain with a steady stream of funding to support the annual operating, maintenance and capital needs of an electrified Caltrain service with increased frequency and capacity.

The tax will be administered and collected by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. An independent citizens’ oversight committee will review the administration of the proceeds of the sales tax.

A yesvote is a vote to approve a salestax of 0.125% within the Counties for thirty years.

A “no” vote is a vote to not approve the sales taxIf at least two-thirds of all voters casting ballots vote “yes” on Measure RR, the sales tax will be approved.

/s/ James R. Williams County Counsel, County of Santa Clara

/s/ Mary E. Hanna-Weir Deputy County Counsel

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Vote Yes on Measure RR to prevent traffic congestion and save CalTrain, a vital lifeline for the Peninsula.

Caltrain is an essential part of the Bay Area's transportation network but we're at risk of losing it due to COVOID-19.

The pandemic won't last forever and traffic will return. Imagine how much worse it will be without Caltrain keeping millions of cars off our roads every year.

Measure RR will save Caltrain from shutdown and improve the system, providing faster and more frequent trains, better connections to BART and SamTrans, thousands of good-paying jobs, and cleaner quieter trains to reduce noise and air pollution.

Transportation studies indicate that Measure RR's improvements would put the equivalent of two lanes of traffic on Caltrain instead of our highways.

Strict fiscal accountability - including citizens' oversight and annual public audits - will ensure that every penny of Measure RR is spent as promised. Legally, all funds must support the Caltrain system within San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties - nothing can be taken by the State or used for any other purpose.

Voter Yes on RR - Prevent Traffic, Reduce Pollution, Save Caltrain

 - prevent traffic congestion

 - ease traffic on Highways 101, 92, 280, and El Camino Real

 - preserve Caltrain service for thousands of essential workers

 - reduce air and noise pollution with cleaner and quieter electric trains

 - create local jobs

 - reduce travel times and provide better all-day, all-week service

 - improve Caltrain connections with BART and SamTrans

 - increase rider and pedestrian safety

that's why regional and local leaders, envinromental advocates, traffic experts, local labor unions, and the business community all support Measure RR.

As the Bay Area recovers from the pandemic and people get back to work, traffic congestion will return. Let's make sure we don't lose a vital lifeline and affordable transit alternative in the process.

Vote Yes on RR.

/s/ Dave Pine, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

/s/ Karyl Matsumoto, Chair, SamTrans Board of Directors

/s/ Rosanne Foust, President/CEO San Mateo County Economic Development Commission

/s/ Julie Lind, Executive Secretary/Treasurer, San Mateo Central Labor Council 

/s/ Adina Levin, President, Friends of Caltrain

Arguments AGAINST

Imposing A One-Eight of One Percent Retail Transactions and Use Tax

Local governments have been placing sales tax measures on the ballot in response to alleged budgetary problems. Such budgetary problems are the result of wasteful and or excessive spending by local government officials, including high pension costs and excessive personnel costs.

Sales taxes are very regressive taxes that disproportionately burden the lower income (poor) members of our community. There is little to no relationship between the amount of increased sales tax paid and the benefits received by the taxpayer. Local sales tax increases geographical variations in sales tax rates which place local businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The facts are, one, an overwhelming number of commuters/ riders of CalTrains make an average of $120,000 annually; two - the overwhelming number of commuters/riders work in corporate America and are not classified as essential workers, can and do work from home when we are in times like are in; three - blue collar/essential workers do not have the ability to work from home and CalTrans is not their first option for commuting to work. Bottom line, this is a public transportation service that primarily serves the rich/powerful/and affluent population here in the Bay Area.

Last but certainly not least, the CEO of Cal Trains, Jim Hartnett's annual salary is $5434,792 - as compared to our governor, Gavin Newsome, whose annual slary is $201,680. Mr. Hartnett and the board of Cal Trans should be ashamed of themselves!

Please join me in voting against this measure.

 

/s/ Mark W.A. Hinkle, President, Silicon Valley Taxpayers Assn.

/s/ Thomas Weismiller, Retired Army Officer

/s/ Maria Christina Laskowski, Business Transformation

/s/ Catherine Hart, Sales Rep

/s/ James Lawrence, Former Mayor 

Replies to Arguments FOR

The proponents of Measure RR are again misleading the public. Caltrain is not an essential part of our transportation network. Public transportation is changing. Working from home is the new norm. Autonomous vehicles are our future. It does not make economic sense to invest in an obsolete & dying system. Even post pandemic, Cal Train ridership will never be what it was.

Please note that the majority of signers in favor are essentially "aging politicians" - receiving and living off public dollars ... your taxes.

Again, they want to raise our taxes ... they never operate within their means ... with their steadily increasing salaries and fully paid pensions, they now, again, they want more.

You and I do not use Cal Train. The majority of Caltrain riders are the highest wage earners on the peninsula, making 6 figure salaries.

But they want "us" to susidize their commute cost!

Cal Train needs to manage within their existing budget ... with a CEO's salary two times larger than our Governor ... where is their moral compass? Their focus should be on the future transportation needs ... not trying to save a dinosaur ... and certainly not burdening us with more taxes.

JUST SAY NO to more regressive taxes that only harm the average wage earner and our children.

Let those high-end riders - FAT CATS - pay their own commute costs ... if they want this dilapidated system.

We should focus on preparing for the future.

Please join us in voting NO on Measure RR.

Do not be railroaded!

For more information: www.SVTaxpayers.org

 

/s/ Mark W.A. Hinkle, President, Silicon Valley Taxpayers Assn.

/s/ Thomas Weismiller, Retired Army Officer

/s/ Maria Christina Laskowski, Business Transformation

/s/ Catherine Hart, Sales Rep

/s/ James Lawrence, Former Mayor 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Measure RR is supported by small businesses, regional and local leaders, organized labor and community groups fighting for our county's seniors, veterans, disabled residents and low-income families and individuals. Would they support Measure RR if they didn't think it would make a meaningful difference for traffic relief and public transit in San Mateo County?

Here is what our opponents failed to mention:

Thousands of essential workers - like nurses, teachers, and first responders - rely on Caltrain daily. They deserve fast, consistent, and safe transportation. while many of us have the luxury of working from home during the pandemic, these local heroes rely on Caltrain to do the work that keeps us safe.

Voting Yes on RR will remove thousands of cars from our highways every day. Without Caltrain, traffic congerstion will soon be worse than before COVOID-19.

Citizens' oversight and independent financial audits will promote transparency and accountability, ensuring that Measure RR funds are used to improve transit and reduce traffic, not fund administrator salaries. Every penny must support Caltrain's efforts to relieve traffic congestions, reduce pollution, and increase efficiency.

Measure RR invests in cleaner, quieter, and more environmentally friendly trains that reduce air and noise pollution. That's good for everyone, regardless of where you live or how much you make.

Don't fall victim to the naysayers' scare tactics: Measure RR only adds one penny to an $8 purchase and essentials like groceries and medicine are exempt. That's a small price to pay to prevent traffic congestion and save Caltrain.

Yes on RR - Rescue Caltrain, Reduce Traffic.

RescueCaltrain.org

 

/s/ Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator

/s/ Anna G. Eshoo, United States Congresswoman

/s/ Amy Buckmaster, President/CEO, Redwood City/San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce

/s/ Christine Kohl-Zaugg, Executive Director, Sustainable San Mateo County 

/s/ Amdrew Hamer, Redwood City Firefighter

More information

Videos (2)

— October 12, 2020 League of Women Voters of Cupertino-Sunnyvale
— October 18, 2020 League of Women Voters of Southwest Santa Clara Valley
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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure RR

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Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure RR
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