East Bay voters approve transit and parks

November 5, 2008 5:06:07 AM PST
Voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties passed two regional tax measures by slim margins over the two-thirds threshold needed to win, according to complete unofficial election results.

Measure VV, an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District measure that will increase the existing parcel tax for residents by $4 per parcel per month, which is $48 a year, for 10 years, won by 71.6 percent to 28.4 percent.

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The bus agency's board of directors had been considering increasing fares to deal with the agency's large budget deficit but instead placed the parcel tax hike on the ballot, saying it will bring in an extra $14 million annually and avoid having to raise fares.

Supporters, including Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan and Andy Montgomery of the United Seniors of Alameda County, said in their ballot argument that AC Transit is facing a $19 million cut in state funding and local bus services are at risk.

They said that without additional funding, AC Transit would no longer be able to guarantee affordable transportation for seniors, people with disabilities, students and others who rely on bus service.

The parcel tax increase was on the ballot in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland, Piedmont, Richmond, San Leandro, San Pablo and some portions of unincorporated Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

However, the tax wasn't on the ballot in Fremont and Newark, which are in a separate part of the transit district.

Measure WW, which will extend the East Bay Regional Park District's bond to continue restoring urban creeks, protect wildlife and purchase and save open space, won by a nearly identical margin, about 71.5 percent to 28.55 percent.

Supporters, including Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Norman La Force, the chair of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the measure is needed to preserve vanishing open space, available parklands and shoreline, and merely extends the existing parks bond measure passed by voters in 1988.

But opponents, including the presidents of the Alameda County and Contra Costa County farm bureaus and a taxpayer group, said in a ballot statement, "Amid high food and fuel prices, home-mortgage and property tax defaults and other severed economic hardships, Measure WW perpetuates taxes that would otherwise expire."

Opponents also charged that the park district "wants the land of family farmers."

But supporters said the measure allows ranching to continue in the district's parklands and ensures that agriculture remains in the East Bay.


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