South San Francisco, CA July 29, 2020 Submitted by David Burrurto, Chief of Staff, SMC Supervisor Pine
“Today, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an alternative sales tax measure that is illegal, unwinnable at the polls, and unworkable for Caltrain. Unless amended, this poison pill means the Caltrain sales tax is now dead which puts the railroad in great peril.
The alternative sales tax measure adopted by the San Francisco Supervisors is encumbered with conditions such as withholding funds, supermajority voting requirements, and demands for actions related to the governance and structure of Caltrain. San Mateo County Counsel John Beiers and San Mateo County Transit District Special Counsel James Wagstaffe have both opined that such conditions are illegal as they are not permitted by the legislation enabling the sales tax (SB 797) which calls for a stable and dedicated funding stream for Caltrain.
A ballot measure with such conditions would be unwinnable at the polls as it lacks support from numerous transit advocates, business leaders and elected officials and would not be well received by voters who simply want to fund the railroad. Moreover, the alternative measure would fundamentally impair Caltrain’s ability to support the operation and improvement of the rail system and subvert efforts to expand service and provide for means based fares.”