RM3…the Aftermath

Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG)

June 12, 2018

RM3 Approved…..the Aftermath

RM3 was accepted by the voters of the Bay Area on June 5, 2018. This has created a gigantic $4.45 billion slush fund for regional planners to dispense. Considering that the “Yes on RM3” side outspent the “No” side by least 250 to 1 and yet won by a scant 53.9%, the “Yes” side has little to cheer about. Especially since the votes for successive regional transportation funding measures have been dropping.

RM3 Unfair:  As might be expected, non-bridge users voted mostly for RM3 and frequent bridge users voted mostly against it. All else aside, RM3 was patently unfair in terms of who pays and who gets the proceeds of the bridge toll increases.

RM3 Violates California Constitution:  In addition, the RM3 bridge toll increases are being improperly treated as fees (requiring a 50% vote) when they are in fact taxes (requiring a 2/3rd vote).  On November 5, 1997 the Californa voters passed State Proposition 218 which added Article 13C to the California Constitution.  According to Article 13C a bridge toll increase is a fee only “if it is imposed for the exclusive privilege of the payor (driver & passengers)…”  Since the sponsors of RM3 plan to use the bridge toll increases to pay for expensive projects scattered around the Region including in areas where most of the voters virtually never use the bridges, the proceeds of RM3 are clearly not fees.  Since this puts RM3 in direct violation of Article 13C and since the measure passed by 53.9%, not 2/3rds it should be nullified by the Courts.

RM3 Doesn’t Address Regional Transportation Problems:  Another equally fundamental defect in RM3 is that it neither reduces regional traffic congestion nor bolsters the Region’s lagging public transit networks. There are a few worthwhile projects in RM3, but there are also many turkeys.  RM3 loosely defines 35 projects. Here are some highlighted allocations:

  • BART and Muni fleet replacement: $500 million and $140 million (this is needed)
    Caltrain Downtown Extension: $325 million (also needed)
  • Capitol Corridor Upgrade and Dumbarton Rail Crossing: $90million and $130 million (also needed but the allocations are much too small)
  • Ferrys: $300 million (incredibly, 7.3% of RM3 has been allocated to a system that accounts for only 0.05% of Bay Area trips)
  • BART to San Jose: $375 million (needed perhaps, but the anticipated ridership comes no where close to justifying the cost)
  • Fourteen backward-looking, traffic-inducing highway projects: $2,390 million
  • Vaguely defined transit, transit access and trails improvements: 4 projects; $615 million
  • RM3 allocations lavished upon non-bridge using Santa Clara County: $755 million

Conclusions:  Does BATWG think that RM3 will cause the highway backups and the urban congestion to ease? No….we don’t.  Does BATWG think that the increased bridge tolls are taxes and not fees and that therefore RM3 violates the State Constitution?  Yes we do.

For more information about BATWG, go to www.batwgblog.com

Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) – No on Regional Measure 3

In an economically dynamic region like the Bay Area the ability to get around is paramount.  Yet in recent years the movement of people and goods in this region has been slowing down.  The highway backups have been getting worse and the hours of delay longer.  Urban traffic congestion has been getting ever more constrictive.

In the past 25 years there have been many opportunities to deal effectively with regional gridlock.  These opportunities have been largely ignored.  Instead, billions of dollars of scarce transportation resources have been lavished on backward-looking highway expansions and ill-conceived parochial and pet projects, mostly of small consequence.

For the following reasons BATWG rejects RM3 as being just more of the same.

  • RM3 contains no unifying plan for addressing the region’s main transportation problems; namely, the excessive freeway backups and urban traffic constraints, and the poorly integrated and otherwise defective regional network of public transit lines.
  • Instead of a well thought out regional plan for returning a healthier balance to Bay Area transportation, RM3 is comprised of a slapped-together $4.45 billion dollar hodgepodge of 35 disjointed individual projects.   A handful of these are worthwhile; however the package as a whole falls far short.  In fact RM3 promises to bring nothing but more backups and more congestion.
  • Another problem is caused by the common practice of MTC, the large transportation agencies and local jurisdictions of diverting funds from voter-approved projects to other uses. BATWG’s efforts notwithstanding, the Sponsors of RM3 have steadfastly refused to guarantee that the money raised will be spent on the projects listed in the Voter’s Handbook.
  • And finally, there’s the matter of RM3’s constitutionality.  In order to qualify RM3 for a 50% “do pass” vote, it was necessary for the sponsors of the Measure to define the $3 + in additional bridge tolls to be imposed by RM3 as “fees”.  However under the California Constitution fees are clearly intended to produce benefits for the fee payers.  Since most of the voters who would be receiving the $billions in new highway and transit projects if RM3 passes would notbe fee payers, RM3 comes nowhere close to meeting that standard.  RM3 is therefore about new taxes, not new fees.  And tax measures require a 7% vote, not a 50% vote.  This puts RM3 in direct violation of the California Constitution.

For these reasons BATWG believes that this deceptive, unfair and illegal measure should be voted down.  By refusing to go along with “just more of the same”, the voters would be sending a message demanding something better; namely a straightforward regional plan that addresses and deals with the Region’s most pressing transportation problems.

Download the doc. (RM3 Opposition May 1718)