Published Tuesday, December 9, 2003, in the San Mateo Daily Journal
Transit tax blasted over representation
By Michelle Durand
Daily Journal Staff
County residents are invited to offer an opinion tomorrow night on
what transportation projects should be funded by a half-cent sales
tax if it is re-authorized, but a citizens group is already blasting
a suggestion that some money go to BART.
The Citizens for Better Transit, a watchdog group formed to monitor
the campaign process of Measure A, said the idea of bailing out debt-
ridden Bay Area Rapid Transit is akin to taxation without
The BART district does not include San Mateo County despite the
recently completed Millbrae/San Francisco International Airport
extension. Since BART ridership revenue is down, San Mateo County may
be left holding the bag when it comes to financing its operations.
Having Measure A pay for some of it could relieve the current burden
on the county.
But using county coffers to pay for BART forces residents to pay for
a project in which they have no decision-making power, said San
Carlos City Councilmember Matt Grocott, who also belongs to the group.
"I can say that all the people around the table at CBT meetings feel
like BART is a huge behemoth that sucks up money faster than it can
be accounted for and that it's unfortunate to include it in Measure A
for funding," Grocott said.
Supervisor Jerry Hill, a strong proponent of Measure A, said it is in
county residents' best interest not to have a say in the BART
"We should be thankful we don't have membership or the taxes of the
county would be extraordinary. But saying that, we do have a say. Our
agreement with BART states any service levels or fare structure or
anything that occurs has to be a joint decision," Hill said.
The BART idea was raised at the first public meeting over Measure A
in Pacifica. The next public forum is Wednesday night in Daly City.
Regardless of what is proposed at either, all suggestions are given
fair consideration, Hill said.
"Everything is on the table. Nothing is being initially excluded and
BART is certainly something a large segment of the community
supports," Hill said.
Grocott said his group believes that BART undermines other worthy
projects, such as electrifying Caltrain, implementing ferry service
or creating pedestrian and bicycle lanes.
Measure A is a sales tax specifically used for transportation issues
throughout the county. The current tax sunsets in 2008 and, if re-
authorized by a two-thirds majority, will stand for another 20 years.
To qualify for funding, a project must be specifically listed on the
ballot in either 2004 or 2006.
The tax typically raises $50 million to $60 million a year and has
been used for raising train tracks and creating auxiliary lanes on
CBT announced its formation at the end of October to weigh in on
proposed projects as well as the campaign process to get the measure
Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: michelle@...
or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 104. What do you think of this
story? Send a letter to the editor: letters@...