Election 2016: Neutral Position on Measure X in Contra Costa Co.
Measure X establishes a new ½ cent sales tax to fund various transportation investments across Contra Costa County and enacts new countywide land-use policies. The measure augments an existing ½ cent sales tax—Measure J from 2004.
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) prepared the measure and placed it on the November 2016 ballot. If approved, it would raise $2.8 billion over 30 years.
Greenbelt Alliance has taken a neutral position on Measure X.
We were deeply engaged in the development of Measure X and worked diligently to make sure that these new transportation investments would improve our transportation choices and foster more walkable, transit-friendly communities for everyone in Contra Costa County–rather than fueling new sprawl development on our farms and natural lands.
The final measure includes several important features that aim to link transportation, growth management, and infill development. It establishes new policies meant to protect natural and agricultural lands and calls for the creation of an Advance Mitigation Program to improve the process for mitigating the environmental impacts of major transportation projects on open space. It also commits to developing a performance-based review system to assess and compare potential transportation investments, taking into account issues like greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled. Compared to Measure J-2004, there is more investment in transit, walking, and biking, and fewer major highway projects that have the potential to encourage sprawl development. The measure also includes a funding program to incentivize new homes and jobs near transit.
At the same time, Greenbelt Alliance remains concerned about several elements of Measure X.
In particular, we’re troubled that the measure’s Growth Management Program still contains a loophole that allows residential and commercial development outside of voter-approved Urban Limit Lines without a vote of the people. That’s not an idle concern; the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is currently considering using this loophole for the first time to approve a sprawl development project called “Tassajara Parks” just east of Danville and San Ramon.
Similarly, we were disappointed that funding to support infill development was reduced compared to Measure J-2004. We will also remain vigilant that new highway investments don’t threaten Contra Costa County’s treasured farms, ranches, and natural lands.
In addition, several of the important policies in the measure, such as the performance-based review system, have yet to be fully developed. We’re hoping that CCTA commissioners will work closely with us and other stakeholders in the coming months to ensure that they are implemented in ways that protect our environment, advance social equity, and strengthen our economy—so that everyone in Contra Costa County benefits from these new investments.