When taxpayers approved Measure B in 2016, $250 Million in future spending was dedicated to creating better program and infrastructure for bicycling and walking. Cities and Santa Clara County will actually build the projects. VTA is responsible for defining the rules by which projects get approved for funding. Initially, there were nine criteria including closing network gaps, improving safety, connecting schools and employment centers and target communities with specific needs. We were encouraged that the first draft of the rules, 2016 Measure B Bicycle & Pedestrian Capital Projects Competitive Grant Program, included up to five points out of a maximum of 115 points, (about four percent) for projects that ‘target communities with specific needs’.
Target communities with specific needs definition is “50% or more of the project limits is located within reasonable proximity to, or have a direct connection to a Community of Concern (COC).The project sponsor must articulate the benefit of the project to the COC.”
“Communities of Concern” is a MTC definition for disadvantaged neighborhoods defined at the census block level (Click here to see the map). Some richer cities have no or only a few Communities of Concern areas. Poorer cities have more.
Now the four percent COC weighting, along with other factors, is being reconsidered. Some cities are pushing back against including COC in project ranking. Those cities are concerned giving points to projects for helping a Community of Concern will lead to fewer projects being approved for Measure B funding in their city.
SVBC is working to preserve the four percent CoC weighting in the project ranking. We believe it is important to have a factor that promotes equity in selecting projects. We are encouraging VTA to give COC an even higher weighting of up to ten percent. Why? Communities of Concern have often suffered underinvestment in the past. Therefore those areas have lower quality infrastructure. People living in COC tend to have higher mortality rates, and more people who rely on biking and walking than wealthier communities. Keeping the four percent CoC weighting is important for reducing past inequities. SVBC wants the 2016 Measure B Bicycle & Pedestrian Capital Projects Competitive Grant Program to keep the four percent weight for COC as a minimum and hopefully higher. See more about our work toward equity.
The various VTA commissions (BPAC, TAC, and PAC) will be voting on the revised 2016 Measure B Bicycle & Pedestrian Capital Projects Competitive Grant Program this summer. If the COC weighting has been reduced or eliminated, expect a call to action from us asking you to urge the VTA board to vote to put the COC weighting back up to four percent or higher. Everyone deserves to have equal access to safe and comfortable bike lanes and intersections funded from Measure B. Help us support more equitable distribution of project funding so the communities who have gotten less in the past will be justly prioritized.