VTA Admin and Finance committee advances Caltrain ballot measure to full board

On May 21st, the VTA Admin and Finance board committee advanced the Caltrain 1/8 cent ballot measure to the full board for review.

On the committee, both Mayor Liccardo and Supervisor Chavez raised issues of Caltrain governance, which is currently being reviewed by a subcommittee of the Caltrain board. San Mateo County Supervisor and Caltrain board chair Dave Pine, who helped present the item, described the progress of the governance committee moving ahead at a methodical pace.

Before Caltrain would approve a measure for the ballot, Liccardo wants to see an agreement for the Caltrain Joint Powers Agreement to be revised so that the CEO reported to the Caltrain board which would have hire/fire authority; and Chavez agreed.  Liccardo refrained from calling for immediate replacement of SamTrans as the managing agency, but commented that “the current structure is not the right longterm structure for the agency, or rather the service”

The committee advanced the decision “without a recommendation, to give the full board an opportunity for discussion,” as noted by Santa Clara County Supervisor and VTA Board Chair Cindy Chavez, who had made the same recommendation at the Santa Clara County board committee.

Maybe your blogger is parsing too finely but neither of the two powerful Santa Clara County leaders mentioned the previous wording about making governance accountable to *each* of the counties, which would be a dangerous way to manage a shared resource with synergistic benefits.

In discussing the decision, the Committee members called on Jason Baker of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which is backing the measure, about the timing of polling. Baker replied that the polling would be conducted by mid-June.

While a ballot measure in a pandemic recession may seem dubious, Caltrain’s budget situation is sufficiently dire, with a shutdown being a possibility adding 4 lanes of cars back to the highway, that it’s conceivable that voters would prefer an 1/8 cent sales tax.

The item is slated for the VTA, SFMTA, and Santa Clara County boards in June. If all of these boards give permission, then the Caltrain board will have the power to make a decision by its August board meeting.

6/2 – 2pm SFBOS referral to Committee
6/4 – 5:30pm – VTA Board Action
6/16 – 1pm SFMTA Board Action
6/23 – 9:30am – SCC BOS Action
6/24 – 3pm Caltrain Committee Action
7/2 – 9am – Caltrain Board Action
7/9 – 10am – SFBOS Committee Action
7/21 – 2pm – SFBOS Action
8/7 – Caltrain Board Vote whether to place measure on Ballot
11/3 — Election Day