Politics and Issues
Vote No on Measure ZOctober 2008
By Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate, Sierra Club California
Measure Z, on the Monterey County November ballot is a half-percent sales tax to raise $980 million over 25 years. Called the Transportation Investment Plan, it is part of a $1.8 billion transportation funding program, with another $470 million proposed by Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) in matching state and federal money, and $320 million in regional impact fees paid by developers. It requires a 2/3 vote to pass. The Ventana Chapter opposes Measure Z.
Sierra Club has a policy against widening highways. Transportation studies show that building or widening highways induces more traffic. Shortly after widening, traffic will increase by 10 - 50% as public transit or carpool riders switch to driving, or motorists take more or longer trips or switch routes. After about three years, as the new roadway capacity stimulates more sprawl and motorists move farther from work and shopping, traffic increases 50 - 100%, clogging local streets at both ends of the highway.
This is TAMC's 4th try on a tax to expand roads; the last one failed in June 2006.
Other reasons the Club opposes Measure Z are:
• Measure Z does not include fair share contributions from agriculture and the hospitality industry even though they could benefit from the measure.
• Measure Z may afford very little net improvement. TAMC admits some roads will even be worse. It also does little to address the county road deferred maintenance costs of $800 million.
• Measure Z offers no guarantee to receive state or federal matching funds. Historically, the state has shown preference to metropolitan areas. With state and national budgets in crisis, where will matching funds come from?
• Measure Z is growth inducing.
• Proponents claim that the highway projects will improve safety, yet almost 40% of the funding for roads and highways would be used to widen Highway 156 which is number 12 on the list of the 16 most unsafe highways in Monterey County.
• Since the Investment Plan can be amended by the TAMC Board of Directors, there are no safeguards for voters including no penalties for misuse of funds and no assurance that the priority for projects will be followed or even funded.
Vote NO on Measure Z.