Reports have shown that Contra Costa residents have some of the longest commutes in the region. The suburbanization of poverty is well underway in the County as people priced out of urban job centers like San Francisco and Oakland move further east. Better, more affordable transportation options paired with strategies to ensure the county remains affordable for people of all incomes are sorely needed.
It is within this context that the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) moved to create a new half-cent sales tax measure, to be put before voters on the March 2020 ballot. The CCTA’s previous attempt at this sales tax, Measure X in 2016, was not the transformative transportation solution the County needed.
When the CCTA began to develop the measure with an eye towards more of an outcomes-oriented approach, TransForm saw a multibillion-dollar opportunity to turn the measure into something impactful and jumped into action. We worked with key allies to form a coalition of local and regional groups, created a platform calling for stronger equity, climate, health, safety, and accountability outcomes, attended and spoke at public meetings, and held countless meetings with individual commissioners, staff, and County stakeholders. The late-night policy discussions and tireless advocacy paid off when the CCTA Board voted unanimously to support what we believe is a precedent-setting measure for the County and in some respects the region.
TransForm and our allies at Bike East Bay, Greenbelt Alliance, Save Mount Diablo, Save the Bay, Urban Habitat, Monument Impact, Sierra Club, and a collection of grassroots climate action groups worked closely together to achieve the following transportation funding and policy outcomes:
- Allocates unprecedented levels of funding for sustainable modes for the county, with over twice as much funding for bus transportation and at least 20% more funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programs than proposed in Measure X.
- Prioritizes funding for projects that reduce vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions, and requires measure-funded projects to meet state-mandated greenhouse gas and VMT reduction goals.
- Establishes a VMT mitigation bank — the first of its kind in California. Any measure-funded project that does not decrease VMT will have to offset its impacts by funding VMT-reducing projects such as transit, walking, and biking improvements. Infrastructure or development projects outside the scope of this measure can also participate, increasing the overall climate reduction benefits of this new tool.
- Prioritizes traffic safety and access for people who walk, bike, and use public transportation by requiring all roadway funding to abide by new Transit, Complete Streets and Road Traffic Safety policies.
- Commits to ensuring proportionately greater benefits for low-income residents and continues the CCTA's commitment to incentivizing housing production at all income levels, along with new requirements for every jurisdiction to have at least one anti-displacement policy and to comply with the Surplus Lands Act. These equity and housing goals and requirements are among the first in the region and possibly the state for a transportation funding measure of this sort.
- Expands the role and influence of the Public Oversight Committee to ensure a higher degree of accountability and public involvement in the measure’s implementation.
Where do we go from here?
Over the next two months, each city in Contra Costa County will have the chance to adopt a resolution of support for the strongest Transportation Expenditure Plan that’s ever been put before them. Alongside our coalition allies, we’re looking forward to supporting this measure as it moves from Contra Costa city councils and the County Board of Supervisors to the March 2020 ballot.
You can help ensure this measure makes it to the ballot by attending an upcoming City Council meeting and showing your support. If you’d like to provide public comment at your local City Council meeting or join the campaign to help pass this measure, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working together to pass this measure to better connect Contra Costa residents and commuters to the places they need to go while preserving the county’s cost of living, beautiful open spaces, and quality of life.