Measure 2022: no public engagement

A group calling themselves A Committee for a Better Sacramento is sponsoring a citizen-initiated ballot measure for the November election, titled “Sacramento County Transportation Maintenance, Safety, and Congestion Relief Act of 2022—Retail Transactions and Use Tax”. (Note: Some people are referring to this as Measure A, but measure letters are assigned by county elections, not by the sponsors. I’ll continue to refer to it as Measure 2022, for now.)

It has been relayed from others that the committee did not feel that it needed to do any public engagement before developing the text of the measure. The rationale is that since the Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) is very similar to that proposed in 2020, and before that in 2016, that is all the public engagement necessary. The TEP was indeed approved by the county and city councils, but there was no real public engagement on the issues. Transportation engineers and planners developed a wish list, and the government bodies adopted it without analysis. Except in the City of Sacramento, where the council challenged the plan developed by Public Works, and demanded a plan that better addressed the needs of the citizens and critical issues such as climate change and equity. None of the other entities did this. So the overall TEP is essentially a list of pet projects of the engineers and planners, developed without any real criteria and without reference to the desires of the community. Some board and council members will claim that they know what the public wants, and their approval is all that is necessary. But the fact is, they never asked the public what they thought.

So, the committee is running with that. No public engagement. This is a citizen-led measure, but the committee decided they didn’t need to hear from anyone else. No meetings, no outreach, no nothing.

We do not know who the committee is, and won’t know who it is until they file the measure with county elections, due July 18. I guessing since they have posted the measure and their sponsors on their website, not listing committee members is likely an effort to hide that information from the public. They will be gathering signatures between now and when they submit. I ask that you not sign their petition. To bring up the old adage: “No taxation without representation.” Therefore, no public engagement, no measure, no taxes.

Search for category Measure 2022 to see posts as they are added.

The Active Transportation Program petition

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, along with a number of coalition partners, has offered a petition to increase the amount of funding for California’s Active Transportation Program (ATP). Information on the petition is at Safe Routes to School California and California Walks. What follows is not intended to discourage you from signing the petition. Rather, I’m suggesting that it doesn’t go far enough.

The petition asks for an increase of $100 million per year in funding. With the existing funding of about $120M, this would be just less than double the current funding, a not insignificant increase.

However, the amount is a tiny fraction the roughly $28 billion spent yearly on transportation in California. The majority of this expenditure is through Caltrans, and the majority of that is to expand the highway and road network. Those expenditures work directly against the goal of walkable, livable communities. Yes, expansions often now include some sidewalks and some bicycle facilities, but the preponderance of the project is not on these afterthoughts, but on increasing lane miles by extending and widening highways and roadways. Of the money expended on the road transportation system, about half comes from cities, counties and regions, about one-quarter from the federal government, and about one-quarter from the state. But because the state controls the federal and state portion, and state standards determine or strongly influence how the rest is spent, things must change at the state level.

Marketing for the petition includes: “Nearly $800 million in shovel-ready walking, bicycling and Safe Routes to School projects and programs were left unfunded in the first ATP awards cycle.” I imagine now that many agencies have started to figure out how ATP works, there will be even more applications this cycle, with an even bigger gap between applications and available funding. So would the addition of $100 million really make much of a difference? We have a long term deficit in active transportation of trillions of dollars. $100 million is not that significant.

The graphic below shows the portion of the state transportation budget (in red) going to the ATP program (in green) and which would be added (blue) if the petition resulted in supportive legislation. You may need to squint.


Continue reading “The Active Transportation Program petition”