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Vehicle fee increase workshops planned

Submitted by on 1, March 18, 2010 – 5:00 am5 Comments

Ani Dimusheva

The Alameda County Congestion Management Agency is planning to place a $10 increase in the Vehicle Registration Fee for Alameda County residents on the November ballot, and is soliciting input from residents in a series of public workshops that start today.

The fee increase is expected to raise $11 million, which would be used for transportation infrastructure and service improvements throughout Alameda County — including the City of Alameda.

Four workshops will be held to gather input on the needs of individual communities. A presentation on the issue to the Alameda City Council is planned for May 4.

Because the proposal is for a special purpose fee (as opposed to a tax), the money could only be used on projects that create a measurable transportation improvement benefit. Those could include fixes from pothole filling to a more efficient express commuter bus service.

Dennis Fay, executive director of the congestion management agency, said the agency’s board is committed to ensuring communities receive a direct return of benefits in proportion to their contribution but that some projects will naturally come closer to this goal than others. A bus service enhancement, for example, would likely serve several communities. An expenditure plan will be crafted as a result of the agency’s outreach efforts.

In an e-mail released to cities, the board lists the following general goals for the proposed fee measure:

• Help fund roadway repairs and maintenance that make roads safer for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

• Provide investments that will help to create a smarter, more efficient transportation system.

• Establish a reliable source of funding to help fund critical local transportation programs.

The fee proposal was authorized by the passage last year of SB 83, authored by Senator Loni Hancock, D-Oakland. It will need a simple majority to pass.

Workshop dates and locations are below. All four workshops will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

March 18,
 Bay Fair Center Mall, 15555 East 14th Street, San Leandro

March 31, Fremont Library 
2450 Stevenson Boulevard, Fremont

April 8, Dublin Community Library Room 
200 Civic Plaza, Dublin

April 15, City of Oakland Hearing Room 3, 
One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland

5 Comments »

  • Dennis Green says:

    I thought that the existing Motor Vehicle Fee was supposed to achieve all these objectives. Are they saying they need an extra layer of taxes to do their job? Just curious.

    Dennis

  • Goldberg says:

    I commute from Alameda to Sunnyvale every day. The only way to get there is by car. I cannot move down there, because my family is established here. The geniuses who run our County think they should take money from me (a car owner) and re-distribute to people who ride on buses. They already do this with the bridge tolls, don’t they?

    If they’re going to do this anyway, I’d like to know how much bus drivers and these other employees will be paid, and what kind of pension obligations the County is making to employ them.

  • RM says:

    Ani–Thanks for writing about this. These “stealth taxes” will become more and more common.

    I’ve heard that there will be sixty propositions on the November ballot. How can we possibly know the true ins and outs of all of them?

  • AD says:

    Just a clarification: This proposal is for a fee, not a tax. Hence the 50% threshold and the direct benefit requirements. Also, the collected funds will be distributed in accordance with whatever need a stakeholder (city or transportation authority) states and the approval of the board—and that could be fixing streets for drivers. Since none of the workshops will be held in Alameda, and the Alameda presentation is the last on the calendar, I think it is important that we get some representation early. AC Transit and BART are “stakeholders” in this as well.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Dennis, Goldberg,

    The State of California has been stealing local funds from many sources, including transportation and road maintenance, to avoid “raising taxes.” This drain has undercut all local transportation initiatives, from fixing potholes to running transit systems. (And, BTW, auto drivers get at least as much in government subsidies per passenger mile as transit users do.)

    User fees are one of the few methods still available to us on the local level for funding any government programs, including fixing sidewalks and potholes. Since drivers do not yet “pay their fair share” it is entirely OK with me to pay the tiny user fee as a car owner and driver.( I am also a transit user, a bicyclist, and a pedestrian.)

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