Endorsement: Yes on Measure B

San Jose voters face several difficult and contentious decisions tomorrow—this is not one of them. Measure B will create a $10-per-vehicle annual fee to repair San Jose’s neighborhood streets and thoroughfares. The countywide initiative would provide $14 million per year, every year, to transportation Authority—more than $5 million to San Jose.

It’s necessary because San Jose has the worst roads of any big city in the nation.

Two simple reasons to approve this measure:

• Fixing our roads now will cost a lot less than if we allow them to further deteriorate. It will cost around $100,000 per mile to repair San Jose’s roads in the next couple of years; if we wait, that number skyrockets to almost $1 million per mile or more.

• Our bad roads already cost us money. According to a study commissioned by city staff, the average San Jose driver spends $300 per year more on auto repair than the national average; part of that is likely the result of potholes.

A “yes” vote on Measure B is a smart answer to the question: “Pay me now or pay me later?”


  1. $100K to $1MM per mile?  China builds HSR for a Million a mile or close to it.

    If the San Jose driver is paying more for car repair does that mean we are paying less in our taxes to maintain the roads to the level as the rest of the country?

    Or do we have an city government that can’t fix potholes in a cost effective manner?

    I cannot remember that last time city government built something that came in on time and within budget.  One glaring case in point is the architectual wreck of a building we now call city hall.  For a 1/2 Billion $ we were supposed to get a facility that would save us enough money over 50 years to pay for itself.  It ended up costing $1BB so we should expect a ROI a century from now.

    My point is why aren’t our streets being maintained already in the taxes and fees we pay. This is just the nose under the circus tent.  Expect next, a small fee to keep street lights on at night and a hundred other necessities that we are already being taxed for.
    Just my 2 cents, er – ten bucks

    • But we have an Office of Cultural Affairs employing 16 people…and a person at SJC who does nothing but check compliance with the “living wage” requirement.

      Maybe we should abolish all local taxes, then put a bunch of single issue propositions on the ballot.  That way we’d get what we want, instead of what the politicians want us to have.

      • OCA is not funded from General Fund money.
        Living Wage enforcement pays for itself by being
        a cost recovery program.
        Got any more great ideas that won’t have any impact on our current financial problems?
        And you want uninformed folks to vote for “what we want instead of what the politicians want us to have?” I’ll take my chances with electing better politicians rather than having ignorant voters pick and choose through propositions sponsored by special interests.

  2. Get a clue!  Whenever parcel taxes are implemented and “dedicated” to the issue at hand, the City simply cuts existing general fund revenue by the same amount.  Net, net, funding for roads will remain unchanged. 

    People who must drive in SJ should buy nothing but gas-efficient SUVs, ones with suspensions capable of navigating our Third World roads.

  3. I voted “no” on B for the reason Greg Howe cites: we already pay too-high taxes and we are not getting jack. Passing this new tax/fee will just divert other tax money that should be used for roads away to other pork.

  4. so such proposition should be voted for unless it contains clauses that the money cannot be diverted to other uses and that general fund spending for whatever the purpose the propoisition sets forth cannot be reduced by any amount.

    Short of that, vote no on all such taxes, however funded.

  5. Johnmichael,
    I encourage you to read the complete text of the Measure language, which explicitly requires that all revenues be used for road maintenance and repair—80% for the cities, 15% for the county, and no more than 5% for adminstration. Please look at the language on the registrar’s portal: http://www.sccgov.org/SCC/docs/Registrar of Voters (DEP)/attachments/E83 November 2, 2010/SBVIP/Measure B Valley Transportation Authority.pdf
    A citizens’ watchdog committee will be responsible for oversight and for performing annual audits on expenditures.  As for the idea of preventing any future Council or Board anywhere in the County from diverting any General Fund money from roadways, appreciate the intent, but it would never be workable; good luck (a) getting that past the lawyers, and (b) enforcing it meaningfully.  This is a measure that invests in infrastructure that we’ve long neglected, and our ongoing neglect costs the average motorist over $730 every year in car & tire repair and maintenance costs (the national average is only about $400).  We can continue to neglect investing in it—to our peril.

    • Sam,

      You missed the point.  Why should we voters pay a dollar of dedicated additional revenue to the “road fund” when the City will, most certainly, cut general fund monies for road maintenance by a dollar?

      Voters are damn tired of the City government shell games and frustrated that SJ pours billions into a nearly dead downtown, a showplace airport with little traffic to sustain it, and a bogus city hall that does not house anywhere near the number of employees promised. 

      I would bet a dollar to a doughnut hole that the the extra dollar left in the general fund will simply buy more political pork.  Can you say “Measure B is toast?”

      • “Why should we voters pay a dollar of dedicated additional revenue to the “road fund” when the City will, most certainly, cut general fund monies for road maintenance by a dollar?”

        Good point.  I wish I’d voted against it now.

  6. Novel idea Mr CouncilmaN: learn to spend wisely like the rest of us. You are untrustworthy and your spending records merits “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

  7. This “fee” which is really a tax, should have needed 2/3 vote to pass but because they misrepresented what it actually is, they were able to bypass the system and push the tax onto all of us. My guess is (and what several major newspapers have reported) is that this will be battled out in court.

    If Campbell for example was getting $100k from this program and it’s city budget already had $100k budgeted for road repairs, they’re simply going to take this new money and allocate the $100k they were planning to spend, on something else.

    So what’s the point of this “fee”? To force Californians into paying even more outrageous fees for the ability to operate their cars on the road? I already pay $240 per year in “fees” to get my car registered… compared to other states, that is absurd.

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