This post was updated on July 24, 2018 to reflect that the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors also approved the funding plan and ballot measure.
Over the last year, Transportation Equity Allied Movement Coalition (TEAMC) along with local partners (YOU) have been fighting for more transportation funding for bike lanes, sidewalks, more frequent buses, and more. SVBC’s goal has been to ensure that the expenditure plan for San Mateo County’s transportation sales tax, scheduled for November 2018, includes increased funding for bike and pedestrian projects and that other funding categories include Complete Streets considerations so that bike/ped facilities are not excluded. We’ve achieved that goal: last week SamTrans Board approved an expenditure plan that drew heavily on community input, an investment plan that will guide how $80 million in tax revenues are spent annually, shaping the future of transportation on the Peninsula for years to come. The last step is to make sure the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors votes to put the measure on the ballot at their July 24 Board meeting. See more details below.
We worked hard together to advance our shared principles: – collectively organizing and attending community meetings, meeting with elected officials and staff, generating position papers and factsheets, mobilizing our members to take part in the official surveys, collecting our own survey results, held community meetings, and shared concerns in public meetings.
There’s a lot to celebrate.
- The core principles (pg. 5-6) are a direct reflection of TEAMC’s principles and our involvement in the Stakeholder Advisory Group and these will be tied to funding implementation.
- The principles include Complete Streets: “Incorporate the inclusion and implementation of Complete Streets policies and other strategies that encourage safe accommodation of all people using the roads, regardless of mode of travel.”
- Bike/ped components of highway interchange projects would be eligible in the highway category, preventing situations like what happened with Holly/101 in San Carlos. This is a huge win for us and cities that have interchange projects and want to include safe bike and pedestrian facilities, which often come with a huge price tag. Examples include: Woodside/101 undercrossing and 101/92 interchange, which will need a separate bike/ped facility.
- Bike/ped projects and programs are also eligible in the Local Safety and Congestion category and cities have more flexibility to spend their allocation on things beyond repaving.
- Though SVBC pushed for 10% for the bike and pedestrian category, the plan will see an increase over the previous SMC measure, both in percentage (3% -> 5%), and in real dollar amounts ($45 million in 2004 dollars -> $120 million in the proposed measure, or $4 million/year). Bike and pedestrian projects will also be eligible for funding in other categories, as noted above, and a Complete Streets policy will require all projects to consider all modes of transportation.
- The plan includes a commitment that the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA), which would administer the funds, will undergo a Strategic Plan process in the next year that will identify funding prioritization criteria consistent with the core principles. We appreciate this attention to accountability in the plan and look forward to continuing that work with the SMCTA. This process will incorporate community input from the get-go and craft the guidelines for the measure’s spending after November. This will help maximize the community benefits even after the measure has passed as well as holding future decision-makers to the principles of the plan.
- The independent oversight committee would include a bike and pedestrian representative, among other important community stakeholders.
SamTrans staff, who have led the Get Us Moving effort along with a handful of consultants, have made a real, concerted effort to engage the community. Some of their results:
- 14,000 surveys completed
- 5,000 participants in in-person, telephone, or online town halls
- 100 presentations to City Councils, business, community, and civic groups
- 1,031 people polled in scientific poll
Beyond the public outreach, they’ve had monthly Stakeholder Advisory Group meetings and really worked with us as members to ensure our recommendations were in the final plan.
What happens next?
This is the perfect time to let the SamTrans Board of Directors know how much we appreciate that they listened and that we are excited about the investment plan that they just approved. Help us pat them on the back by sharing out a post on Facebook and Twitter.
The next step is to make sure the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors votes to put the measure on the ballot at their July 24 Board meeting. Use this email template to let them know you support the plan [UPDATE: The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved the ballot measure on July 24, 2018.]
Collectively, we have pushed SamTrans to have much stronger community engagement, think critically about future transportation needs, and ultimately moved the needle for transportation funding in SMC. The core principles in particular show a huge shift in how the county thinks about transportation, specifically moving away from a focus solely on single-occupancy vehicles. The Complete Streets language is a key win that brings SMC in line with SCC and MTC. A majority of the measure would go toward good projects that we directly support and we will continue working hard with TEAMC in the follow-up process to have strong criteria that ensures that the funding directly adheres to the core principles, regardless of the category. Though 5% for bike/ped will not fund a full build out of a high quality bike network, the eligibility in multiple categories will bring additional funding toward these projects and the flexibility of the local money will provide an opportunity for cities to leverage funding for other grants. Specifically, having bike/ped over/under crossings of freeways eligible in the highway category will free cities from having to shop for funding from multiple sources and prevent the debacle of Holly/101 from happening again. We feel that SMC has made a lot of progress. We support the draft final expenditure plan.