Millions of Bay Area commuters could breathe a sigh of relief Tuesday when 70 percent of voters passed Measure RR to fix and upgrade BART, the region’s aging and overcrowded mass transit backbone. The Bay Area Council was a leading advocate for Measure RR, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the campaign and countering vocal, but misguided opposition led by state Sen. Steve Glazer that would have been content to see the measure fail and watch BART descend into chaos. The $3.5 billion Measure RR raises will help keep the system running, increase ridership capacity, keep cars off congested roads and highways and keep the region moving.
It was one of several successful measures across the region that the Council was backing to invest in affordable housing and transportation. Measure B in Santa Clara County also reached the 70 percent threshold and will generate $6.5 billion to extend BART to Silicon Valley, expand Caltrain and fix local roads. That campaign was led by Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino. Also in Santa Clara County, Measure A passed with flying colors and will provide $950 billion for a variety of affordable housing programs. In Alameda County, Measure A1 will provide $580 billion for affordable housing. The Council also endorsed Measure KK in Oakland to invest $600 million in affordable housing, transportation and other vital city services.
On the Presidential front the nonpartisan Council didn’t take sides, but is now working to see where we may have agreement with President-elect Donald Trump and where we may need to advocate on issues important to ensuring the Bay Area economy remains strong. Trump signaled during the campaign his support for massive infrastructure investment, including for transportation, water and energy. He also identified early education as an area he supports. On trade, the President-elect has voiced strong concerns about free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership which the Council supports. A report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute is preparing to release next week examines the huge benefits of foreign trade to local, state and national economies. Trump’s position on climate change may also put him at odds with California’s global leadership on clean energy technology, a growing area of the state’s economy that the Council has long embraced. Immigration may be another area where the Council calls for moderation on policies that could hurt the ability of employers to attract needed talent.
Statewide, the Council nearly ran the table in its endorsements. Of the eight propositions for which the Council took a position, all but one went the right way.