RM3 now before CA Supreme Court

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) filed a Petition for Review with the California Supreme Court today. The Petition asserts that prior to Proposition 26, a clear body of law differentiated between taxes and fees. Whereas the Proposition was enacted to close several loopholes, the Court of Appeal decision opened up a brand-new huge loophole that would allow any fee for access to public property to be imposed without a two-thirds vote. In addition, the Petition points out that a different division of the same Court of Appeal had issued a ruling that was opposite to the RM3 ruling, creating…

Continue reading

Brighter days for RM3 litigation?

Appellant Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a Petition for Rehearing with the Court of Appeal.  Although the Petition offered a brilliant new argument, the Court denied the petition. It is expected that the Appellant will seek review by the California Supreme Court.

Continue reading

Sad day for RM3 litigation

The First District Court of Appeal handed down its decision today, affirming the lower court’s dismissal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s challenge to the Bay Area Toll Authority’s Regional Measure 3 (RM3). The decision, which echoed the detailed textual analysis of the trial court’s decision, had one new significant element. Another panel of the same appellate court had recently ruled on a very similar matter. The Zolly court ruled that Proposition 26 placed the burden on the state or local agency imposing a purported fee to demonstrate its reasonableness in relation to the value received by the fee payor.…

Continue reading

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

TRAC comments on HSR Business Plan punch hard

The Train Riders Association of California, now led by TRANSDEF’s President David Schonbrunn, filed comments on the 2020 HSR Business Plan. It identified the infeasibility of building anything beyond the Governor’s proposed Merced-to-Bakersfield line, and identified far worthier rail investments instead of building that. Interestingly, the Transportation Committee Chair of the State Assembly has introduced HR-97, a resolution that would instruct CHSRA to not sign any contracts for track, signals and electrification, or a vehicle procurement, prior to getting funding approval from the Assembly. The bipartisan cosponsors make up more than a majority of the Assembly, so it looks like…

Continue reading

Measure J on March Ballot

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority placed Measure J on the March 2020 ballot. Measure J would have doubled the existing transportation sales tax. On election night, Measure J received a humiliating 48.94% of the vote, where 66.67% was required to pass. That vote slowly climbed until it reached 51.69%, a resounding rejection of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the leadership of Contra Costa’s elected officials, who nearly unanimously endorsed the measure. TRANSDEF organized the submission of ballot arguments opposed to the Measure. See Recent Contra Costa Transportation History for a broader understanding of the issues facing voters.  

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