Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Supervisors Place Transit Tax on June Ballot

Supervisors Place Transit Tax on June Ballot
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - A county half-cent transportation sales tax will be on the ballot for a third time, but with a difference - it appears to have the support of orderly growth advocates.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved placing the tax measure on the June 6 ballot. It would raise an estimated $1.57 billion over 30 years for such things as helping to fix the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange, more mass transit and fixing potholes.

Past versions of a transportation sales tax failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote, or 67 percent. Measure E got about 60 percent in 2002. Measure A received almost 64 percent in 2004.

Orderly growth advocates took a neutral stance on the first measure and opposed the second. They've wanted more mass transit and have expressed concern that better roads would fuel sprawl growth.

Supervisors Duane Kromm and Barbara Kondylis opposed the last tax measure because of growth concerns. They said Tuesday they support the new version.

Kondylis said she'll support the new measure "enthusiastically" and sang a chorus of "Kumbaya" to dramatize the new spirit of cooperation. Kromm said he's "glad" to support the measure.

"There's a bit of a caution," Kromm added. "If something falls apart in the next few weeks on orderly growth, there could be trouble."

Kromm sees a link between road improvements and where growth takes place. He wants to see the county's orderly growth law on the November ballot for a 30-year renewal.

The law, first passed by voters in 1984, says that most farmland can be developed only if annexed by a city.

Transportation tax advocates and orderly growth advocates met in recent months to try to forge a common vision. Mayors from the county's seven cities have said they support the orderly growth law principles.

Kromm on Tuesday said developers might donate money to an orderly growth law campaign. He's encouraged an orderly growth ballot campaign might get support from labor groups.

"It looks like this is working well," Kromm said.

Lou Franchimon of the Napa/Solano Building Trades Council said his group backs the transportation tax. Next, it will see what type of support it might give to an orderly growth measure.

"We're talking about doing it," Franchimon said after the meeting. "There's a good possibility we could get our members to go along with that."

There are 25,000 union trade members living in Solano County, Franchimon said. Support from even half would help get the signatures needed to qualify the orderly growth renewal as a voters initiative, he said.

Various features of the transportation ballot measure pleased Kromm and Kondylis.

About $155 million from the measure is to go to cities for their own, local transportation projects. Projects are to be consistent with Transportation for Livable Communities principles, the measure says.

Transportation for Livable Communities is a regional program that stresses pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and development near mass transit centers.

Kondylis also expects movement toward forming a countywide parks district, she said. Such a district could turn open space owned by the Solano Land Trust in the hills between Fairfield and Vallejo into a place to hike, bike and ride horses.

The trade-off for more dense growth is people need open space for recreation, Kondylis said.

Ernest Kimme of the Orderly Growth Committee didn't attend the meeting. In an interview afterward, he said orderly growth advocates could take an active role in the transportation tax campaign - if that's what transportation tax advocates want.

"If they want us to be silent, we'd be silent," Kimme said. "If they want us to raise our voices, we'd do that."

Suisun City resident George Guynn made it clear at the meeting the tax could face opposition. People are already bearing a heavy tax load, he said.

Guynn questioned the premise that having the support from the environmental community will put the transportation tax measure over the top.

"I have a feeling you're going to be surprised," he told county supervisors.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive