Pros & Cons: Alameda County Measure BB Nov. 2014

Measure BB: Sales tax for Transportation Nov. 2014

  • 2/3 Majority Required

The Question: Should we approve increasing the current half cent per dollar sales tax for transportation infrastructure and services to 1 cent, to be in effect until 2045?

The Situation: In 2000, Alameda County voters approved Measure B, a half cent per dollar sales tax for county transportation projects; Measure B will expire in 2022. Needs for transportation infrastructure and services have increased as the population has grown. Funds for transportation capital and operating expenses from federal and State sources have been reduced or eliminated. Measure BB is designed to make up for reductions in funding and to help maintain and improve the County’s transportation systems.

No funds are available for new projects. Most of the capital projects included in the 2000 measure have been completed. Another Measure B on the November 2012 ballot failed to pass by less than one percentage point. Approval of BB will provide new capital and other funds.

What would Measure BB Do: The current half-cent sales tax for transportation would be increased to one cent and extended to April 1, 2045. Over this 30-year period, the revenues from the tax are expected to be almost $8 billion. Over three quarters of this amount would be allocated to two categories: maintenance and repair of local streets and roads and transit, including paratransit. Lesser amounts would be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects, to fund a pilot project for transit passes for high school students, to maintain and improve freeways and highways, and to expand carpool lanes for the use of solo drivers who pay a toll. Paid lanes for solo drivers are HOT lanes.

Measure BB differs in several ways from the 2012 Measure B that was defeated by voters. The changes include:

  • The tax will expire in 2045, rather than be continued in perpetuity, as originally proposed;
  • The projects and programs funded by the plan will be evaluated for performance and cost-effectiveness;
  • Funds for the Dumbarton Corridor will be used for express bus services that would be more cost-effective than a proposed rail project. Some funding for BART to Livermore is included; and
  • If current residents are displaced by new BB projects, project must mitigate the impact.

Supporters Say: Measure BB:

  • Is supported by nearly everyone who has studied the measure, including the Alameda County Taxpayers Association, major environmental organizations, and every city in Alameda County.
  • Provides essential funding to help cities and unincorporated areas repair and maintain local streets and roads. Needs of all users will be considered.
  • Would result in a 130% increase in daily transit trips, slow the increase in driving, and reduce air pollution.
  • Nearly doubles current funding for paratransit for the growing population of seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Fixes bottlenecks on roads and freeways to reduce congestion and improve the movement of people and goods.
  • Funds a pilot program for a youth bus pass that can be expanded and would improve school attendance among low- income students.
  • Links transportation and land use using some the revenue to encourage housing development near transit services.
  • Provides its greatest measurable benefits to low-income households by significantly improving their access to jobs, schools, and public transit.

Opponents Say: Measure BB:

  • Is similar to past transportation measures that have provided billions of dollars to Alameda County, but failed to decrease traffic congestion or sustain transit use.
  • Would squander money on another low-ridership, high-cost BART extension.
  • Would not reduce traffic; the number of miles traveled in vehicles is expected to increase by 46% by 2035.
  • Lacks measurable standards of cost-effectiveness for its projects.
  • Does not provide enough bus transit funds to restore all recently cut services and to meet the future needs of a growing population.
  • Fails to reduce the incidence of traffic accidents.
  • Does not significantly reduce greenhouse gas
  • Is funded by a sales tax that is regressive: that is, low-income households will pay a greater share of their income than higher-income households.


Three minute video on measure BB.

© League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville 2014

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