Page One

Many show support for Measure B

By William Inman Daily Planet Staff
Friday October 13, 2000

At a ceremony last week when a low-emission AC Transit bus was dedicated to the city of Berkeley, Mayor Shirley Dean rallied support for Measure B. 

“We can’t have a first-class city without a first-class transit system,” she said. 

The mayor is on a long list of politicos and organizations that are in full support of Measure B – a half-cent sales tax over 20 years that will fund transit projects throughout the county – that will appear on the November 7 ballot in Alameda County. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass. 

Measure B – Alameda County’s transportation funding measure – was originally passed by voters in 1986, but is set to expire in 2002. 

“This measure has the attention of the entire state,” said Stuart Cohen, co-chair of the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition. “It’s the only one requiring a two-thirds majority that has a chance to pass.” 

But Cohen says that it’s going to be a fight. 

An earlier attempt at passing a renewal of the transportation measure in 1998 failed, having met opposition from environmental organizations including the Sierra Club and the Greenbelt Alliance.  

Ted Nordhaus, working with the Measure B campaign, said that the measure was opposed by the environmental groups because “there was too much money allocated for roads and highways, as opposed to mass transit.” 

Cohen said that the new plan has improved greatly on the 1998 plan and both the Sierra Club and the Greenbelt Alliance are actively supporting the measure. 

“Some people just vote no on all taxes,” Cohen said. “It’s important that we get the word out that this measure is crucial for the area.” 

The measure will generate $1.4 billion over 20 years. The cash-strapped AC Transit will receive a projected $316 million making it the largest single recipient of Measure B funds.  

Other mass transit systems such as BART, Union City Transit and ferries will receive 20 percent of the funding. 

AC Transit Director Miriam Hawley said that the new funds will mean frequent, more reliable service, longer hours and new routes in key areas. 

Hawley said 22 percent of the money will go directly to cities to repair streets. The amount each city will receive will be based on each city’s population. 

The measure would also provide another 18 percent for capital projects on highways county-wide. 

Paratransit programs would receive a projected $149 million, or 11 percent, opposed to just $17 million provided by the old Measure B. 

According to the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition, five percent of commute to work trips are on foot or bicycle. The measure would provide $71 million, or 5 percent, for a bike-ped program. 

Cities, the county and the East Bay Regional Parks District would use the funds to close gaps in the existing network, increase access to transit centers and improve safety countywide. 

Nordhaus said recent polls indicate an 80 percent support for the measure, and said that there is no organized opposition to the measure. 

No arguments against the measure were filed with the Alameda County registrar’s office.