By Robert Haugh
We got an interesting alert via an email from San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis. It’s a warning that the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is trying to divert funds from street repairs and traffic relief.
Yes, that would be the VTA, the worst transportation agency in the nation.
Yes, that would be the funds that voters approved in 2016 in Measure B.
Khamis and three of his San Jose City Council colleagues co-signed a memo urging their council to oppose the move. The other signers are Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, Councilwomen Dev Davis and Pam Foley.
Here’s what they wrote:
Based on recent discussions during Public Comment at the December 5th VTA Board of Directors meeting, it became apparent that members of the community have a desire to change direction in the pursuit of transportation solutions, namely through the reprogramming of funding dedicated for highways towards other transit categories.
We think that means take money from what voters want and put it into salaries and pensions which are really, really high. That’s one of the things the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury body slammed VTA for in their report a few months ago.
The memo signers gave us more details:
Per the ballot text of Measure B, which voters passed on November 8, 2016 with 71.74% of the countywide vote, commitments to “repair streets, fix potholes [and] … relieve traffic on all 9 expressways and key highway interchanges … ” were made. Funding at stake, per the current Measure B spending plan, is as follows: $1.2 billion for local streets and roads; $750 million for highway interchanges; $750 million for County Expressways; and $350 million for State Route 85 Corridor improvements.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo supports the VTA move, according to San Jose City Hall sources. But he wants to delay the vote this week to try and work out a compromise.
For the sake of commuters everywhere, let’s hope Khamis and his colleagues win and Liccardo loses.
Or if Liccardo comes up with a deal, let’s hope it looks like one like he negotiated last year.
That’s when Santa Clara beat San Jose in 2 lawsuits and got $6.2 million for transportation improvements.
A Liccardo repeat in 2020 would be nice. We could always use more transportation dollars in the Mission City.