Early on, Bruce Frohman realized Measure L was part of a much larger urban development strategy. He authored two arguments against Measure L in the 2016 Stanislaus County voter handbook. We’ve published the first argument here.
Below is the rebuttal to arguments in favor of Measure L that will also appear in the 2016 voter handbook (in italics). The rebuttal is followed by a discussion of the ambitious development plan for our new “Mega-Region.”
Rebuttal to Argument In Favor of Measure L
When proponents misinform voters in campaign statements, the law says that an approved tax is valid. If we vote yes, we will pay higher taxes for 20 years with no recourse. Per a consultant’s advice, proponents are using “safety” and promising help for senior transportation so you will vote yes.
This tax does NOT fund 911 services or hire more police. Every roadway is already designed for safety.
Seniors and disabled are currently shuttled by federally funded dial-a-ride. Many elderly citizens live in poverty. This tax will hurt seniors; reduces their buying power.
This year, because of good economic conditions, property taxes are jumping; sales tax revenue has increased. Why should citizens pay even higher taxes?
Local government receives hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. How much is needed to fill potholes? Modesto synchronized signals for only $80,000. A tax increase is needed to pay for that?
Proponents want to use sales tax revenue for Highway 99 congestion mitigation. The project will be funded primarily by state and federal gasoline taxes. Since new development increases congestion, developer capital facilities fees should fund any shortfall. Taxpayers should not subsidize new development.
Measure L requires an “independent” citizens’ oversight committee. Can a committee be packed with developers and associates?
Every city in Stanislaus County voted for Measure L because they will share the revenue.
Websites for reference: thevalleycitizen.com and bayareaeconomy.org.
Please vote “NO.”
Welcome Bay Area Commuters
The revenue that will come from the increased sales tax proposed by Measure L falls neatly into a vast urban development blueprint. Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced Counties are now within “The Northern California Megaregion,” a concept developed by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute; the web site provides a template for megaregion development.
The megaregion is comprised of 21 counties in four smaller regions described as the Bay Area, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, and the San Joaquin Valley. The megaregion concept interlinks the economies of all four regions.
Within the megaregion, Stanislaus County mainly provides housing for Bay Area commuters. Measure L’s role is to bring Stanislaus County into the megaregion by providing infrastructure funding for roadways that will serve ever-expanding urban development; eventually, wall to wall housing will result. Measure L provides subsidies for the new development.
This is being done with virtually no public discourse. Elected leaders have not revealed their intent. The proponents’ ballot argument makes no mention of this plan because disclosure would probably cause the defeat of the measure.
Stanislaus County has a serious jobs-to-housing imbalance. Many more houses exist than jobs for the residents, resulting in higher regional unemployment than the state average. Since 2000, the population of Sacramento and San Joaquin regions has grown faster than the Bay Area, but three fourths of all job growth has been in the Bay Area. As a result, the number of commuters from the Valley to the Bay Area has doubled in less than 16 years. Measure L will encourage even more commuters when Stanislaus County provides roads for new housing.
While the megaregion plan allows for the continuation of farming, some politicians have said to me that they want to see housing built to the county line; they say Stanislaus County farmers only grow luxury crops that are unimportant for sustaining society.
Collecting More Money than Immediately Needed
If one analyzes the tax revenue to be raised from the Measure L sales tax, one concludes that much more money will be raised than the cost of the items promised in the proponents’ argument.
For example, the proposal includes synchronized signals. While Measure L will raise hundreds of millions of dollars, the cost to synchronize signals in the entire county can be done for less than 300 thousand dollars. Of course, the cost will rise substantially if the entire county is urbanized like Santa Clara County.
The cost to provide transportation to seniors is small, unless the plan is to take over federally funded Dial-A-Ride.
Supposedly, many roads are unsafe and Measure L is needed to fix them. If a road is unsafe, it is immediately fixed. If this were not done, lawsuits would bankrupt communities in no time.
Twenty years ago, a Caltrans engineer told me that for 15 million dollars, Route 132 could be made perfectly safe. K-rails could be installed in the center of the road with other inexpensive enhancements. Elected leaders chose not to pay for safety features that would save lives. Yet, Measure L is needed for public safety? The safety issue was the consultant’s idea to gain passage of the measure, not one of real priority.
Route 132 is without K-rails; more people may be killed in accidents. When people die, politicians say that a freeway is needed to make the roadway safe. A new freeway will induce additional urban growth.
For all the talk about safety, two six lane expressways were built in north Modesto while Route 132 is called unsafe. If Route 132 received the safety upgrade before the expressways were built, developers would not have been able to enjoy the urban growth inducing expressways. Their needs appear to come before the needs of the general population.
Misleading politics is common throughout California history. Will voters allow themselves to be misled with Measure L? Those who vote without reading the full arguments may cause all of us to pay a lot more taxes for the next 20 years.