With Measure B Tax Revenue Freed Up, Work Begins on Critical Transportation Improvements

Nearly two years after Santa County voters OK’d a $6.3 billion sales tax to bring BART to downtown San Jose, upgrade Caltrain and repair the region’s crumbling roads, the public will finally start to reap its rewards.

That’s because the California Supreme Court this past week refused to hear an appeal by Measure B foe Cheriel Jensen, a Saratoga resident who single-handedly held up hundreds of millions of dollars by suing to block the half-cent sales tax. In her complaint, Jensen more or less claimed that a BART extension to the heart of San Jose wasn’t feasible because it would disturb an aquifer.

The octogenarian, a retired urban planner who didn’t respond to San Jose Inside’s calls for comment, has a history of headline-grabbing—if not misguided and scientific-consensus-defying—environmental and health activism.

In 2015, Jensen sued the county to stop it from spraying mosquito-killing pesticides designed to prevent the spread of West Nile virus. A judge dismissed the claim.

Last year, she introduced a long-shot state initiative that would ban genetically modified organisms, nix school vaccination requirements, outlaw over 300 chemicals, including fluoride and chlorine, and establish a new environmental oversight agency.

Jensen’s attempts to halt the Measure B sales tax froze $360 million in escrow while the court decided the case. Thankfully for the 72 percent of voters who passed the measure in 2016, the state’s high court refused to consider the appeal, which effectively upholds the sales tax until it sunsets in three decades.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo applauded the court’s decision.

With this victory, we can immediately put hundreds-of-millions of dollars to work paving our roads, improving our highways and expressways and upgrading our mass transit systems,” he said in a news release. “Today, we’re one step closer to building the 21st century transportation infrastructure that our residents deserve.”

One of the first orders of business for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the agency presiding over the Measure B’s tax revenue, is to divvy it up to local cities for pothole repairs.

“We are ready to provide $9.5 million dollars in advance to cities to relieve the ‘pot hole pain’ they’ve endured for so long,” Santa Clara Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill, who chairs the VTA board, told reporters Wednesday. “We look forward to signing the agreements with all of our partner agencies in Santa Clara County, so we can get this much-needed work done to improve mobility for the millions of people who rely on us to keep them moving where they work, live and play.”

To see how else the VTA plans to spend the proceeds, click here.

VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez (far left, back row) poses with a host of local city officials to memorialize the legal victory, which frees up tens of millions of dollars for critical road repairs.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

14 Comments

  1. That “pot hole pain” was because the Legislature “borrowed” the money that was taxed to maintain our roads and bridges (they “borrowed” the money because the law specifically states that it must be used for its intended purpose).

    Then, with the roads deteriorating, the electeds, bureaucrats, and the unions that crave that high cost work all joined the chorus: “The infrastructure needs fixing!”

    Well, of course it does. But we’ve already paid for it once. So now the public is in the position of having to pay TWICE for the same thing!

    And there’s nothing in the article about VTA’s fiscal incompetence. Every friggin’ year they’re in the red. And they get rewarded for it!

    What planet are we on, anyway?

  2. Gee! They’re going to spend TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION BUCKS to making bicycling and pedestrianing SAFE.

    Maybe they could START by telling us how fricking DANGEROUS bicycling and bike lanes really are!

    Maybe the SAFEST thing to do is to SCRAP the whole stupid bicycling circus.

    • I thought the were going to spend $250,000,000 just yesterday to pay off land owners and pot farmers not to develop the Coyote Valley. Where’s all this free money coming from?

  3. Public employee lawyers, judges, stenographers , clerks, interns, etc. cashed in for two years.
    Heretic conservative non believers were put in their place.
    The public got screwed.
    Who says Big Leftist Government doesn’t work?

  4. This is great news, pot holes in the bike lanes are going to be repaired. Guess where we can ride our motor bikes?

  5. Cheriel Jensen is a busybody who believes that vaccines cause autism. Glad to see that her hairbrain activities are now out of the way and we can actually get our roads fixed.

    Just to give a nod to a comment left here by The Bubble, bikes and bike lanes are dangerous, yes, but mainly because of drivers of cars. Get out of your car or pickup truck, get some fresh air, you might find you like it once all those exhaust fumes clear out of your bloodstream.

    (BTW, fix your caps lock key, it seems to be sticking.)

    • > Just to give a nod to a comment left here by The Bubble, bikes and bike lanes are dangerous, yes, but mainly because of drivers of cars

      Finally, some signs of clear thinking by SCResident.

      And likewise, falling is dangerous, too, but mainly because of gravity. Get rid of gravity, and the planet would be a safer place.

    • Bicycle lanes are dangerous because bicycles were never intended to share the same roads with motor vehicles. In any collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, who loses?

      People were much more polite and civil back when our streets and roads were first laid out, and drivers were happy to share the roads with any bicycle riders foolish enough to take their chances riding with cars and trucks.

      But for many years now the bicycle contingent has been conniving behind the scenes to take over up to half the traffic lanes. Then they blame every accident on drivers — but they refuse to cooperate when asked for credible, verifiable accident statistics.

      Why would that be? If bicycle/motor vehicle collisions are mostly the fault of the latter, they should be happy to cooperate with drivers to produce verifiable accident statistics, rather than arguing with baseless assertions.

      Drivers regularly see scofflaws pedalling in and out of traffic lanes, rollling through stop signs, almost never using turn signals, and in general, ignoring the rules of the road simply because they’re inconvenient.

      Commuting by bicycle is ipso facto dangerous. There is no doubt. So how mentally deficient does someone have to be to peddle in and out of traffic every day? There are hundreds of miles of bicycle paths outside city limits, where it’s much safer. But the 99%+ of commuters who drive to work are now expected to conform to what a tiny minority of bicycle commuters want. Their attitude is no different than someone who buys a house under the airport’s flight path, then complains about the noise.

      Thomas Jeffersion wrote: Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities. This situation is far worse: bicycle commuters aren’t even a slender majority; they’re a very tiny minority that conspired behind the scenes to get their plan adopted while the majority was working and raising kids.

      So there was never any serious debate among all commuters, along with the neighborhoods affected by this radical innovation. Instead, they were very sneaky about it, because they knew that a real debate would nix their selfish “road diets.”

      Now they’ve caused much greater traffic congestion, they’ve made the roads less safe, and their scheming has made life more difficult for everyone else.

      The one in four hundred bicycle commuters have been co-opted by the UN’s Agenda 21 people, with their plans to confiscate up to half our streets. ‘Greedy’ and ‘self-serving’ doesn’t begin to describe this situation.

      The sad thing is that most of them don’t even realize they’re being controlled by people in Brussels. They probably believe that’s preposterous, since they’re mostly young and naive. But by the time they wake up, it will be too late.

      • > Bicycle lanes are dangerous because bicycles
        > were never intended to share the same roads
        > with motor vehicles.

        That’s patently false. You’re making stuff up here. That’s even more apparent when you invoke “agenda 21”. Give us a break.

        • Every time I see a light rail train go by, it has maybe 2 people per car. Best shut it down and put in hand cars, now that would be a green idea and we tax payers in cars could enjoy driving around on smooth roads with out bicycle dent’s in our cars.

  6. Any word on if this means the planned VTA cutbacks on service no longer need to happen? Do any of the VTA board members actually use VTA as their primary service. I get the sense they are out of touch with regular folks who use their services.

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