Six Reasons We Can't Wait to Vote Yes on Measure D

Why Hilltromper is supporting Measure D, the transportation ballot measure for Santa Cruz County.

Oct. 31, 2016—We support Measure D because, in addition to giving some crucial transportation projects a big push forward, it is the most environmentally sustainable plan of its kind in the state*.

Here are the top six reasons we are pleased to support Measure D.

1: Make Neighborhoods Safer—and More Fun!
The biggest single chunk of money from this 30-year, $500 million sales tax goes to neighborhood projects. We're talking more than $150 million for repaired potholes, miles and miles of bike lanes, even a couple bike/ped bridges over Highway 1. How cool is infrastructure?! Doesn't it just make your civic heart swell?
Much of this money is being directed to roads around schools. So expect to see a lot more kids on bikes and a lot fewer parents schlepping them around in cars. The children of today and the children of the future thank you. And so do their parents, aunts and uncles.

2. A Bicycle Highway from One End of The County to the Other.
Our friends at Land Trust of Santa Cruz County have already been working for a couple years on a 32-mile car-less roadway from Watsonville to Davenport. The Coastal Rail Trail will revolutionize the way we get around in the county. It’s perfect that it follows the railroad tracks, since all of the cities up and down the county were—hello!—built around the train. An estimated $85 million from Measure D, combined with the money Land Trust has raised and/or committed, will mean the whole big awesome project will be two-thirds funded. Bonus: Measure D will also fund a $10 million study of how to best utilize the corridor for possible future smart-rail service.

3. Survival for Mountain Lions; Fewer Dead Deer.
We have been documenting the fascinating biological reasons why our mountain lion neighbors must have a way to get past Highway 17, which now artificially limits their territory. The wildlife tunnel (another Land Trust project, which, BTW, Caltrans agreed to help fund just last week), will solve the big cats’ big evolutionary problems, and also save the lives of hundreds of deer. It will also make Highway 17 safer for drivers. Measure D provides $5 million to the tunnel so…yes.

4. Much-Needed Help for Metro and Lift Line.
Admittedly, we wish this measure delivered more money to Santa Cruz's suffering mass transit system. But the $100 million that the measure does deliver—20 percent of the total—will make a huge difference. The $20 million dedicated to Lift Line will help our neighbors who need it most.

5. All Of Our Friends (Except One) Support Measure D.
Here at Hilltromper HQ, your faithful scribes have been studying, writing about and advocating for local progressive social and environmental causes for almost 20 years. Over that time we have made a lot of friends, who, to be honest, do not always agree on everything. In this case they have all decided to pull in the same direction. The list of Measure D supporters is so long, reciting it becomes tedious and then a little bit funny.
The handful of opponents (hi, Micah) say we should wait two years, or four years, and then pass a measure that excludes highway funding, therefore satisfying one rigid ideological demand. A: We don't want to wait. B: Their ideologically pure measure will never, ever pass.

6. We Actually Have No Problem With Getting Some Traffic Relief on Highway 1.
Granted, the modest lane expansion in this proposal is only going to provide slight relief. We'll take it.

* Update (11/3/16): Between the Rail Trail and bike/pedestrian bridges, Measure D allocates 18.4% of its funding to bicycles—more than any of the other 14 transportation ballot measures in the state. The closest contenders are San Luis Obispo County (14%) and San Francisco (12%). Take that, San Francisco!


Field Notes

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When I first read Measure D, I supported it and even stood at a public hearing to express my support. I have changed my position after studying the facts of the controversial auxiliary lanes which would consume 20% ($100 million plus bond interest) for the next 30 years. I bike by choice about 4 days/week, so I certainly would love the coastal trail to be completed with Measure D funds. (It's already funded from Natural Bridges to the Municipal Wharf with other money.) I also would like the other 80% to be spent on the projects for restoring part of the money cut from the Metro bus system and road repairs, Hwy 9 improvement, etc. The dilemma for each of us is do we accept wasting 20% of the money to get the 80% good things?

You've read the carefully worded pro arguments in numerous mailers and opinion articles: the auxiliary lanes on Hwy 1 will reduce congestion, deter cut-through traffic, speed up emergency vehicles, shorten commute time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18%, relieve commuters' misery. They won't.

The truth is in the RTC website. There is no analysis of the 6 auxiliary lanes together. The 2012 Traffic Operations Report studied them individually in isolation. The RTC admits that adding together the separate analyses is flawed. The Environmental Impact Report did not find that these lanes would decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

The 3 northbound lanes may decrease the 1-hour morning commute by 2 to 5 minutes, but the report did not consider the bottleneck at the exit from Highway 1 onto Highway 17. Getting cars to the interchange faster would not get them through it any faster and may worsen the backup there. It found that 2 of the southbound auxiliary lanes would actually lengthen the evening commute by 3 minutes each in the peak hour and by 1 minute each over the entire commute period. The other lane shortens the evening commute by only 3 minutes. Is a 3-minute saving in the hour-long commute worth over $100 million? I think not.

I've been observing the congested Hwy 1. There are no backups of exiting cars into the travel lane. Cars and trucks have little trouble merging into the slow moving traffic during the commute nor into fast moving traffic in non-commute times. The auxiliary lanes will not make traffic flow more smoothly nor be any safer. They will not decrease congestion nor get people to their destinations any quicker. The only purpose of the auxiliary lane project would be to widen the freeway as the next step toward adding 2 more lanes in the median, which is the project rejected by voters in 2004. The RTC is not giving up on that goal, just trying to move it forward incrementally. This isn't a compromise among good expenditures of tax money. I like compromise, but this isn't fair. It's intended to coerce us into funding the widening by tying it to the other much needed projects.

Even if the added lanes would increase the capacity of the freeway, they wouldn't reduce congestion. It is now an established fact that any capacity or speed increase is futile because drivers alter their driving habits and choice of routes, causing the freeway to be just as crowded within a few years as it was before the costly construction. Los Angeles spent $1.1 billion on adding lanes in the Sepulveda Pass of I-405, only to declare it a failure a few months later when traffic congestion was just as bad as before the 5-year construction project. This has been the experience with freeway widening all over the world. It doesn't relieve congestion. Los Angeles has decided to build more public rapid transit instead of expanding its freeways.

Are you so hungry for the 80% good things that you are willing to let the county waste 20% of the tax increase on futile auxiliary lanes connecting on-ramps to the next off-ramp? There are better ways to spend that money that will actually give commuters an alternative to the congested highway.


Stanley: As you know 80-plus percent of the money raised by Measure D goes to infrastructure that supports non-auto transportation. (The 25 percent earmarked for the highway also pays for two pedestrian / bicycle bridges.) By voting 'no' you are voting to put a stop to all of that work. Is it really your position that, unless you get 100 percent of what you want, the rest of us get nothing?


voting NO on Measure D because I disdain the idea that lawmakers can hold
hostage funding for things we want, by forcing us to vote for things we
really don't want or need. My NO vote on Measure D rejects this practice.
Additionally, the mentality that we need to widen the highway to relieve
traffic congestion is the same mentality that has led to the "pipeline
wars"; namely, the mentality that says we must enable the fossil fuel
industrial complex by continuing to expand its infrastructure. My NO vote
on Measure D rejects the idea that we must simultaneously expand the
infrastructure of the fossil fuel industrial complex in order to fund the
expansion of sustainable options.


Are you saying that Santa Cruz county doesn't want to support senior citizens using the transit services provided by Metro and Life Line? Or we don't want to support the Freeway Service Patrol, the tow trucks that remove stalled or disabled vehicles on HWY 17? We don't need to fix the enormous amount of potholes everywhere? Or we don't need to improve the safety of our children biking or walking to school?

I can continue listing off all the reasons why Measure D is important to Santa Cruz county, but it is already listed on the ballot.

Measure D is exactly what Santa Cruz county wants and needs. This is why I'm voting Yes on D.


I'm voting YES on D because it truly does get our county moving on balance in a sustainable way. It pays for:
• Coastal Rail Trail
• 2 Bike & Ped bridges over Hwy 1
• Senior & Disabled transit
• METRO bus
• Safe bike & walking routes to school
• carpool & vanpool info services
• fills potholes
& more.
80% great and 20% not so good. I'll take that compromise as President Obama said“If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want,” And neither will the rest of community.


The best reason for supporting Measure D is that in addition to giving some crucial transportation projects a big push forward, it is the most environmentally sustainable plan of its kind in the state. He has done a great job in doing such amazing tasks. You know best essay writing service wishes him a very best of luck for such innovations and promotes his ideas at highest level.


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