Comments to Caltrans on SB 743 implementation

With the new SB 743 requirement to use VMT as the metric for evaluating transportation impacts under CEQA, Caltrans has reached out for comments on its draft documents. Those documents imply that Caltrans pretty much expects life after SB 743 to be similar to life before it. Caltrans expects to keep on widening highways, which will increase VMT due, in part, to the phenomenon of induced demand. TRANSDEF’s comments stress a broader perspective: the entire mission of Caltrans must change in response to the recognition that the State’s largest obstacle to achieving its climate change targets is the ever-increasing amount…

Continue reading

Lawsuit charges CCTA with misrepresenting Measure J benefits

After its role in drafting the ballot arguments opposed to Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s (CCTA’s) Measure J on the March 2020 ballot, TRANSDEF became concerned about the misleading language of the question on the ballot. Working with our attorney, we sent multiple letters to the County Registrar of Voters, the Board of Supervisors, and Contra Costa County Counsel. The second set of letters was sent after we discovered that County Counsel had modified her Impartial Analysis of the measure, taking out the first paragraph reference to the proposed sales tax being an additional tax. We decided that this was an…

Continue reading

State losing its war on carbon

Dan Walters had it partly right in his piece “State losing its war on carbon” in explaining why the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions are going up instead of going down as planned. Yes, it’s true that “So far, Californians aren’t buying what their politicians are selling” when it comes to buying electric vehicles and increasing their use of transit. Those numbers are disappointing… But the problem is much bigger than that: The public keeps driving more (as measured in Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT) because suburban development makes its residents dependent on the automobile. With a large percentage of…

Continue reading

Update: Lawsuit challenges claims made by Measure J

A lawsuit was filed on December 30, 2019, seeking to have the ballot letter designation, the ballot question and the Impartial Analysis modified before the Voter Guide for Contra Costa County is printed. The suit was granted priority status, because it is an election matter. A hearing was held Monday, January 6 on the merits of the suit. The court dismissed the suit, asserting it had been filed two days late, after the 10-day inspection period had passed. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, and sought an early hearing date, which was denied. Petitioner then filed a Notice of Appeal,…

Continue reading

Chronicle endorses J

The San Francisco Chronicle printed its endorsement of Measure J on January 29. While TRANSDEF was disappointed, we were pleased that the newspaper gave serious coverage to our rationale to oppose the tax: to avoid creating institutional momentum for decades of further sprawl development that will result in impassable highways. We believe that future development needs to be within walking distance of frequent transit, a model that doesn’t work in widely dispersed neighborhoods.

Continue reading

TRANSDEF debates Measure J on TV

TRANSDEF’s President David Schonbrunn debated Newell Arnerich, a member of the CCTA Board and Danville City Councilmember on Contra Costa TV.  The highlight of the debate was the discussion of suburban sprawl at 18:00, culminating with a take-down of Contra Costa’s vaunted linkage of transportation and land use. The subject came up again, with a particularly good discussion of sprawl at 29:00, peaking at 31:00, with TRANSDEF’s statement that “Single-story ranch homes–that’s obsolete, in terms of new construction.” Moderator: “But people like that! That’s why they move here.” TRANSDEF’s response: “They may like all kinds of things, but when you…

Continue reading

East Bay Times Editorial: Vote No on Measure J

In a strikingly comprehensive editorial, the East Bay Times described the flaws of Measure J and recommended voters say No. Here is a list of those flaws, as articulated by the Times: The ballot language doesn’t mention that Measure J would double the existing transportation sales tax. Measure J is not the promised “transformative plan.” We cannot pave our way out of the congestion crisis. Allocating nearly 20% of tax proceeds for local road maintenance bought support from local government, but duplicates existing funding. Asking county voters to pay for BART improvements makes no sense when BART has its own…

Continue reading