Marin’s Measure AA

The Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) has placed Measure AA, a 0.5 % sales tax for transportation on the November ballot. The measure would replace the existing Measure A that voters approved in 2004. Measure AA would run for 30 years before the voters would be asked to approve a subsequent measure.

Marin is facing a transportation crisis: traffic congestion keeps getting worse while greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles keep getting higher. TRANSDEF opposes Measure AA because the measure doesn’t even acknowledge there is a crisis. Instead, the measure offers a Business as Usual collection of the programs and projects of the past. It is “more of the same.”

The measure claims it will reduce congestion. While the highway projects proposed by AA may have an effect on localized congestion, nothing in the measure is going to change the ever-increasing numbers of cars on the roads. Traffic will continue to get worse, as a result.

Transportation is in a state of tremendous technological change. Measure AA recognizes this change, tasking TAM’s Board with periodically reassessing the needs of the County. It would initiate procedures for changing where taxes get spent.

Based on recent history, TRANSDEF is unwilling to trust the TAM Board to steer the course for the next three decades. TAM spent a great deal of time and money preparing a so-called Strategic Vision Plan. The adopted plan, however, offered no actual vision, other than raising more money. It was highly self-congratulatory, calling out TAM’s successes.

The Strategic Vision Plan completely failed, however, to address the simultaneous crises of increasing congestion and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Nor did it offer any quantitative projections for what the proposed projects would accomplish.  That made it a wishlist, not a plan. The lack of any adopted strategy for approaching the future makes TAM uniquely unqualified to be asking the public for discretion to spend money as it sees fit, until some day far off in the future.

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