Recommend VTA Quarter-Cent Sales Tax Scenario
Chairperson Pirzynski noted for the record the following: VTA’s Revised Agenda Item #22 – Modified VTA Quarter Cent Sales Tax Scenario Recommendation, City of San Jose and North County Cities’ comments, as included in the packet, City of San Jose’s memorandum dated November 30, 2005 – San Jose Positions on the VTA Long-Term Capital Expenditure Plan, and San Jose Council Member and VTA Board Member Cortese’s letter received December 1, 2005 regarding the Downtown East Valley (DTEV) improvement plan. Chairperson Pirznyski noted that the San Jose Position presented 14 proposed amendments to the VTA Scenario.
Alternate Board Member Yeager took his seat at 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Burns provided a brief background on the item and stated that the direction to seek additional revenue from another tax measure originated from the Ad-Hoc Financial Stability Committee recommendations that were adopted by the Board. Staff and the Board of Directors have worked intensely to assemble an expenditure plan that could form a Ballot Measure in November 2006. Mr. Burns explained that under the direction of the Board of Directors and after consideration of the input received during various public discussions, staff prepared an expenditure plan, called the VTA Scenario, for a � cent sales tax with 30-year sunset. This VTA Scenario was presented to the Board of Directors in October 2005 and reflects a compromise and an acknowledgement that not all projects could be funded with the � cent sales tax. Mr. Burns added that the VTA Scenario reflects the objective to come up with a plan that could garner support and provide the best opportunity to pass 2/3 vote of the public as a measure on the ballot.
Mr. Burns noted that during the public process, it was evident that there is a need for a fixed route people mover that would serve the Minetta San Jose International Airport. He reported that the City of San Jose and VTA staff conceptualized utilizing the City of San Jose’s bonding capacity to fund and complete this project by 2018. Under this concept, the other projects will not be impacted.
Board Member Gage left his seat at 10:23 a.m.
Jack Collins, Chief Construction Officer, briefly discussed the changes between the original proposal in the packet and the revised memorandum, highlighting: 1) Reduced projects in the completion plan from an estimated $1.9 billion to $1.3 billion by moving the Airport People Mover Project to the initial program; 2) Providing an alternative plan that involves coordination with the City of San Jose to secure additional bonding capacity to provide direct Airport People Mover and VTA would make payments; 3) Prioritize putting the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Transit Corridor from the completion program to the initial program as soon as the preferred transit mode alternative has been decided; 4) Modified increase of service by phasing the increase of 24 percent from 2020 to 2023; 5) Move up completion dates for Eastridge and Nieman extensions, if funding allows and adjust bus service between Eastridge and Nieman when future development requires increased bus service.
Board Member Gage took his seat at 10:30 a.m.
Ex-Officio Board Member Beall left his seat at 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Burns concluded that the VTA Scenario is over a year’s work involving a very public process. The VTA Scenario does not have adequate capacity to complete all projects and a compromise had to be done to fit the VTA Scenario into the overall financial reality. The VTA Scenario also contains a commitment for annual reviews to address changes in circumstances that may arise in the future.
Ex-Officio Board Member Beall took his seat at 10:34 a.m.
Board Member Kniss left her seat at 10:36 a.m.
Board Member Gonzales thanked staff for their presentation and the work involved in the VTA Scenario.
M/S (Gonzales/Williams) to recommend that the Board of Directors adopt staff recommendations with the following amendments from the City Council of San Jose: 1) Accelerate construction schedule of BART before 2018 but no sooner than 2015 by making it the first funding priority if and when a) Measure A or other revenues from any 2006 tax measure exceed projections, b) when new revenue sources are identified, or c) there are Measure A project costs savings; 2) Move People Mover into the Initial Program regardless of when it may be constructed; 3) After the public review processes have been completed, amend the expenditure plan to include the fully funded preferred transit mode for the Alum Rock-Santa Clara corridor in the initial program with a concurrent commitment to construct the project consistent with the construction schedule for the BART Project; 4) Commit to complete the construction of the Light Rail to Eastridge project by 2012; 5) Retain funding for the Caltrain electrification project and re-allocate funding to other Measure A projects throughout the region that are ready for construction – except BART - if San Francisco and San Mateo counties have not secured their shares by 2016; 6) Support the VTA proposal for an annual review of the Expenditure Plan to allow flexibility to strategically respond to changing circumstances, needs, and priorities; 7) Develop a “reward policy” for local agencies that use local and/or private development funds to implement regional transportation projects and thereby granting priority for such agencies for other regional funding allocations.
Board Member Kniss took her seat at 10:40 a.m.
Board Member Gage expressed concern that the San Jose recommendation does not address Morgan Hill and Gilroy’s concerns. He stated that the proposal is a significant 30-year plan and noted that there should be more discussion. Board Member Gage recommended that the VTA Scenario and the recommendations put forward by San Jose be brought back to PAC, Standing Committees, and be discussed at a Board Workshop as the Board of Directors did not have the opportunity to review other alternatives. Board Member Gage cautioned that making a decision now may create more complications as once the VTA Scenario is approved, it will be more difficult to change the priorities in the future.
Board Member Campos took her seat at 10:44 a.m.
Alternate Board Member Kennedy expressed support for the recommendation of deferring the decision. He noted the importance of having a very broad-based support of all cities, County, and other entities for the � cent sales tax. He commended the City of San Jose for bringing forward their comments. However, he noted that the proposal needs to be further studied and analyzed to ensure that it will pass with the voters. Alternate Board Member Kennedy added that it would be appropriate to discuss questions about the VTA Scenario in a Board Workshop.
Board Member Kniss commented that the process is pre-emptive and exclusive and she expressed concern that the public process should be strictly adhered to. She referred to the Santa Clara County poll and reported that VTA Scenario “does not feel good” to the North end of the County because they are hardly getting a fair share. She strongly urged that the Board consider referring the VTA Scenario back to the Board committees and obtain full support.
M/S (Gage/Kniss) that the VTA Scenario goes back to the Standing Committees, and to a Board Workshop before coming back to the Regular Board Meeting for adoption.
Board Member Gage noted that the goal is to discuss the VTA Scenario with all the communities within the County and to ensure that all needs are taken cared of and alternatives identified.
Board Members Casas and Kniss left their seats at 10:51 a.m.
Board Member Williams urged the Board of Directors not to postpone the decision and noted the importance to move forward.
Board Members Casas and Kniss took seats at 10:52 a.m.
Ex-Officio Board Member McLemore left his seat at 10:55 a.m.
Supervisor Pete McHugh, representing District #3 which is largely the City of Milpitas, expressed appreciation to VTA Staff, VTA Board of Directors, and City of San Jose for their diligent work. Noted that the VTA Scenario and what is being proposed is an important 30-year transportation measure, thus, action should be deferred and more deliberation should be done to allow the Board of Directors to take a formal position. He added that doing so will be more beneficial and helpful in the passage of the measure.
Board Member Gonzales left his seat at 10:57 a.m.
Tom Sawyer, Interested Citizen, stated that inconvenience is the biggest problem in public transportation. Mr. Sawyer cautioned that money should be used wisely and noted that there is a great possibility that cars will drive itself in the future.
Board Member Gonzales took his seat at 10:58 a.m.
Bob Brownstein, Working Partnerships, expressed concern that regardless of whether the � cent sales tax is passed by the voters next year, it would still not generate enough revenue to address all the transportation needs in Santa Clara County. He urged the Board of Directors to have more discussion and work immediately to obtain additional revenues to fund the full spectrum of legitimate projects.
Ex-Officio Board Member McLemore took his seat at 11:00 a.m.
Alternate Board Member Yeager left his seat at 11:01 a.m.
Alternate Board Member Yeager took his seat at 11:02 a.m.
Aaron Morrow, Interested Citizen, supported all projects but expressed concern about the diminishing revenue streams. He noted that Caltrain and light rail extensions are important and added that the People Mover should be moved down on the list. Mr. Morrow expressed concern about focusing all energies and resources on passing a � cent sales tax measure and the ramifications if it does not pass.
Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, representing District #2, noted that the east valley transit dependent residents have been paying their sales taxes for the last 25 years and noted that these residents should get the transportation they were promised. Ms. Alvarado expressed concern that the non-submission of DTEV for federal grant funds may have been due to BART Extension Project. She noted that there has been unanimous support for a single-car light rail for Alum Rock/East Santa Clara and noted that VTA’s staff insistence on enhanced bus undermines the DTEV Policy Advisory Board’s (PAB) work.
Board Member Chu and Ex-Officio Board Member McLemore left their seats at 11:07 a.m.
Mr. Signorino urged the Board of Directors to delay expensive projects such as light rail extensions.
Board Member Chu and Ex-Officio Board Member McLemore took their seats at 11:09 a.m.
David Pandori, former San Jose City Council Member and VTA Board Member, expressed support for Board Member Gage’s motion to defer the decision on the VTA Scenario. He noted that the public was not given the opportunity to comment on the proposal being discussed today. Mr. Pandori stressed that the VTA Scenario needs more thought and public process. He suggested comparing the VTA Scenario versus the City of San Jose’s proposal and further suggested that VTA staff ask the City of San Jose what monies the Airport could contribute for the People Mover.
Margaret Okuzumi, BayRail Alliance and Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) Member, expressed concern that the VTA Scenario should come back to the CAC for discussion. She stated that the scenario presented is an illusion. She further expressed concern that the scenario does not explore a No-BART option. She urged the Board to deliberate on the scenario very carefully and give the public the opportunity to discuss further.
Ex-Officio Board Member McLemore left his seat at 11:12 a.m.
Kelly Fergusson, Menlo Park City Council Member, urged the Board of Directors to fund a higher level of service for Caltrain. She noted that there is a lack of operating funds and expressed concern on its impacts on land-use decisions. Advocated for a guaranteed share of Caltrain’s operation in the proposed tax measure.
James Janz, Town of Atherton, noted that Santa Clara County should support Caltrain operation the same way that San Mateo County’s Measure A does. He noted that having full support throughout the whole county will be helpful in passing the measure. He noted support for further review and delay of the decision.
Noel Tebo, Modern Transit Society, submitted a draft plan entitled “Go West, Young Bart,” an alternative plan that would ensure that the BART Project is completed.
Board Member Chu thanked Board Member Gonzales for starting the discussion on the VTA Scenario in early summer. He expressed support for BART Project completion in 2018 as it is a regional project. He referred to the City of San Jose’s November 30, 2005 letter providing conclusions and recommendations associated with the VTA Scenario and stated that there was not enough time to review and answer all the questions created by that letter. Board Member Chu expressed concern that a split vote on the VTA Scenario at this time would not be helpful in gaining voter support, therefore, it is appropriate to delay slightly the decision and to obtain input from committees and answers from staff.
Ex-Officio Board Member McLemore took his seat at 11:27 a.m.
Board Member Gonzales opposed deferring the decision regarding the VTA Scenario. He noted that the Board is currently not approving a tax measure but instead approving an expenditure plan that would still be reviewed in the future. He added that the VTA Scenario has gone through a great deal of public process over the last several months.
Upon request of Chairperson Pirzynski, Suzanne Gifford, General Counsel, clarified that the action required by this item is approval of an expenditure plan. She added that the word “establishes” in the recommendation should be changed to “assumes.”
Board Member Campos expressed concern that there is no complete service that connects East San Jose to the other parts of the region. Board Member Campos added that there has been tremendous discussion over the last couple of years about DTEV and yet the preferred mode of the DTEV PAB is not reflected in the VTA Scenario.
Board Member Gage clarified that his recommendation to defer decision is a common courtesy and not a delay tactic. He noted that that there should be adequate time for public officials to discuss the revisions to the VTA Scenario with their constituents to determine if there are alternatives. He expressed concern that not allowing the community to discuss the issues is a disservice and causes mistrust. He added that in order to gain support of the community, it is important to let the community weigh in the issues.
Chairperson Pirzynski commended the City of San Jose for their continued efforts for increasing awareness about the needs of their community and the regional issues associated with their needs. He stressed the importance of moving forward as a region and as a united Board of Directors. However, he expressed concern that the City of San Jose’s proposals/amendments are not analyzed in relationship with the VTA Scenario. Chairperson Pirzynski noted that he supports deferring the decision to come up with a congruent, viable option that is clearly understood by the public. He added that the public should be educated as quickly as possible.
Board Member Gonzales recommended a friendly amendment to defer decision on the VTA Scenario no later than February 2006. Board Member Gonzales expressed appreciation to Board Members Casas and Gage for their comments and expressed willingness to defer the decision to February 2006 to ensure more support. Board Member Gonzales noted that the region should pay better respect to the City of San Jose for their efforts and stated that the Board of Directors should act on this regional business.
Board Member Gage accepted the friendly amendment. Board Member Gage acknowledged the City of San Jose’s efforts. He noted however, that the City of San Jose’s proposal was provided with short notice and is completely different from staff recommendation in the VTA Scenario. He explained that if there is more consensus, there is better chance that the proposed measure will pass with the voters.
Board Member Kniss expressed concern that the proposed decision date of February 2006 does not provide the County Board of Supervisors ample time to discuss and analyze issues.
Board Member Williams stressed that it is important to make a decision today but noted support for the deferral of the decision if it would create consensus. He stated that he would not support deferring the decision beyond February 2006.
Board Member Gage noted value on analyzing everything including staff recommendation and the City of San Jose’s proposal.
Board Member Matthews expressed opposition to the deferral of the decision. Board Member Matthews noted that staff recommendation is inclusive and accomplishes major goals. Board Member Matthews further noted that deferring the decision does not gain voter support.
Ex-Officio Board Member Beall requested that City of San Jose staff make a presentation to the County Board of Supervisors on January 10, 2006.
Board Member Chavez expressed concern on the deferral of the decision. She requested that the General Manager meet with the incoming Chairperson (Board Member Chavez) and Vice Chairperson (Board Member Chu) to discuss strategies on how to get communication flowing. Board Member Chavez further requested that staff meet individually with incoming Board Members to provide them with background of the projects as well as the historical context of the projects.
Board Member Casas expressed appreciation to the current Board Chairperson Joe Pirzynski for his efforts in trying to build consensus among the Members of the Board. He noted that the new leadership of the Board of Directors in the following year should maintain and build upon what Joe Pirzynski has accomplished. He thanked Board Member Gonzales for his amendment to defer action to February 2006.
M/S/C (Gage/Gonzales) on a vote of 11 ayes, 1 noes, and 0 abstention to defer the adoption of the VTA 2000 Measure A Transit Program with a Revenue and Expenditure Plan that establishes a new 30-year, quarter-cent, local sales tax supporting the construction and operation of the 2000 Measure A projects to February 2006. Board Member Matthews opposed.