I’m still catching my breath (and drinking some extra coffee) after an exciting election night in California. While the new composition of the U.S. Senate means we may expect less federal funding for public transit over the next two years, there is great news for transportation choices here in the Bay Area.
Overall, voters agreed with TransForm on each and every one of our seven recommendations. The big takeaways are:
- We can achieve 2/3 if there is strong consensus and a good plan, even in a non-presidential election year. Both Alameda County’s massive Measure BB and San Francisco’s Proposition A exceeded 69 percent!
- Voters are too sophisticated to be taken in by simplistic measures that try to undo progressive city policies. San Francisco Proposition L and Berkeley Measure R both failed, big time.
- People understand that the skyrocketing cost of living that may lead to displacement, and growing economic inequality, means we need a real living wage. Both Oakland and San Francisco measures passed by huge margins (as did many across the country).
Here’s a rundown of the results on the individual ballot measures we supported or opposed, and our initial reaction to the news:
We did it! Thanks to thousands of hours of volunteer effort and the support of an even broader coalition than in 2012, Alameda County voters approved critical transportation investments focused on the things we need most: restoring bus service, improving BART, upgrading our local streets and roads, and investing $1 billion in safer biking and walking. We’re thrilled that Measure BB overcame the odds and pulled in 69.56% of the vote in a mid-term election. Read our blog summarizing the measure, or our detailed analysis. Now we have to start the hard work of making sure all those funds are used wisely!
San Francisco Proposition A: Yes
(Yes 71%, No 29%)
San Francisco voters wisely approved this $500 million investment in updating the City’s 100-year-old transportation system, including sorely needed Muni repairs and improvements for bicycle and pedestrian safety. There’s a long list of projects that the “G.O. Bond” will fund, and we’re thrilled that the City can move forward with them – especially since it’s complemented with the approval of Prop B (below).
San Francisco Proposition B: Yes
(Yes 61%, No 39%)
Better Muni service is coming your way, San Francisco, because voters approved this City Charter amendment to increase the share of general funds allocated to transportation each year, based on population growth, to help address the backlog of transportation needs plaguing the city. Prop B will be used for new buses and trains and more public transportation operations – things the voters clearly know are essential to keeping the city on track.
San Francisco Proposition L: No
(No 62%, Yes 38%)
San Francisco voters saw through this misguided attempt to roll back San Francisco’s forward-thinking parking policies, which would have resulted in increased traffic, making the city’s streets more clogged and more dangerous. Prop L’s failure reinforces the city’s commitment to “Transit First” and making the city’s streets safer for people who walk and bike. We're excited to see the city reject what would have essentially been a "Cars First" policy by a significant margin.
Berkeley Measure R: No
(No 74%, Yes 26%)
We’re incredibly relieved that Berkeley voters defeated this troubling attempt to undo several key components of the Berkeley Downtown Area Plan. TransForm worked hard to make the existing plan great. Measure R would have required more parking, slowed the creation of desperately needed homes, brought more traffic, and made it even less affordable to live in Berkeley. We hope Berkeley can now turn its attention to moving forward with the Downtown Area Plan. If we need improvements, opponents of the plan are now more likely to use transparent and participatory methods.
San Francisco voters approved Measure J to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018, and into the future indexed to inflation. Oakland voters took a step towards preventing displacement with the approval of measure J to raise the minimum wage to $12.25/hour, with sick days and future cost-of-living increases. We’re thrilled to see that wages for the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents will be increased. Combined with better transit, more housing choices, quality education and more, these measures can help address the growing economic inequality and displacement we are seeing in the Bay Area.
In related news …
We never take a position on elected officials, but since we work closely with both the BART and AC Transit Boards of Directors, we also wanted to let you know who won seats for the following districts over the next four years.
BART District 2: Joel Keller (re-elected without opposition)
BART District 4: Robert Raburn
BART District 6: Tom Blalock (re-elected without opposition)
BART District 8: Nick Josefowitz
AC Transit Ward 4: Mark Williams
AC Transit Ward 5: Jeff Davis
AC Transit At-Large: Joel Young
Thanks again to everyone who cast a vote for smarter transportation choices yesterday. We truly believe that Californians want great transportation options and walkable, affordable communities – so the more we speak up on Election Day, the better off we are on the other 365 days of the year as we continue our work to transform our communities, our transportation, and our future.