BayRail general meeting

Alameda County Measure B

First Measure B passed 1986, expired 2002.

First renewal attempt failed 1998.

Current Measure B passed 2000, expires 2022

Alameda“B”1986

Sponsors- Developers

Planning Style- Back-room negotiations with nod to public process; avoidance of controversy; horse-trading at end.

 Time to Approval- 12 months

Alameda“B” 2000

Sponsors- Developers; Business; Labor; Transit Riders; Disability Groups; Environmentalists

Planning Style- 1998: High-profile public consensus-building process. Emphasis on technical evaluation, geographic equity, and polls.

  2000: Closed door negotiations with former opponents.

 Time to Approval- 52 months

In 1986, Alameda County voters passed, with a 57% approval, a half-cent sales tax (Measure B) to finance various transportation improvements. The 1986 sales tax measure, which expired in 2002 and was replaced by a new 20-year half-cent measure approved by the voters in 2000, still funds several remaining projects under the auspices of the Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTA). In the November 2000 elections, 81.5% of Alameda County, California, voters supported the measure to extend the one-half cent sales tax dedicated to both transit and highway improvements for twenty years.

Measure B had a large base of support from a broad assortment of public interest groups, ranging from homeless advocates, regional Gray Panther and other senior groups, the Sierra Club and other environmentalists, to the League of Women Voters; and an unusual alliance of construction interests, led by the California Alliance for Jobs, and environmental and transit advocacy organizations, led by the Sierra Club. The Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC) brought together many of these organizations to create a common platform and to work together.

It had the support of just about everyone, including the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. This was due to the perception that the road portion would be beneficial to the environment. 

TV ads promoting Measure B showed BART and other transit. Not one picture or mention of the fact that 41% was for roads, including freeway widening. The environmental groups misleadingly claimed that "only 18%" went for highways by excluding "arterial roads" in the count. In fact, 41% went for roads. They also avoided the use of the word "freeway" when in fact freeways 680, 580 and 238 will get added lanes. There was a deliberate toning down, even hiding, of the freeway projects to make Measure B palatable to people who consider themselves environmentalist.

November 2000 election was the last chance for voters to approve an extension of the tax, rather than having to vote to reinstate the tax. An earlier measure - presented in 1998 to extend the one-half cent transportation sales tax for 15 years - received support from 58% of voters, but did not pass because the California Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that a two-thirds supermajority was needed for special purposes, including transportation taxes. The 1998 measure failed to garner the necessary support because environmental concerns and concerns from other geographic groups actively opposing the measure.

Some of these organizations were dissatisfied with their lack of involvement in the decision-making process and not were not in favor of the funding allocations; they wanted less money allocated to highway construction and more money allocated for transit operations. Due to the lack of environmental groups’ support, some local politicians opposed the 1998 measure.

Measure B needed a two-thirds supermajority countywide to pass on the November 2000 ballot. The previous attempt in 1998 failed due to environmental opposition even though the measure received 58 percent of the votes. Improvements in the 2000 Measure led to unanimous and active support for the expenditure plan from the coalition groups. No organized opposition existed in the 2000 campaign based on the coordinated efforts with key stakeholder groups.