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Published June 15th, 2016
Orinda Leads the Way Backing County Transportation Tax
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Orinda City Council became the first Contra Costa County municipality to give the county's half-cent sales tax proposal the thumbs up.
In order to make it onto the November election ballot, the measure must secure the approval of a majority of the municipalities representing a majority of the population of the county.
Moraga also approved the tax and Lafayette will weigh in this week.
At a special meeting of the Orinda City Council on May 31, the council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the county wide imposition of an additional half-cent sales tax to fund transportation improvements.
The council heard from Bruce London, who urged the council to reject the measure, arguing that Orinda should pay for its own roads. This plea was soundly rejected by council member Amy Worth, former chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, who pointed out that Orinda's residents commute on BART to San Francisco or on Interstate 680 to Silicon Valley, or on Highway 24 through the Caldecott Tunnel and they will benefit from the county transportation plan.
She praised the plan as enabling the Lamorinda School Bus Program to add routes, and to focus on the area's growing senior population by looking towards the latest technology for "the last mile." She explained the importance of not only having public transportation like BART, but of getting riders the last mile home.
Among the improvements planned are a new train control system to enable BART to run longer, more frequent trains. In addition, a minimum of $100 million will be set aside for BART station improvements in Contra Costa county, including parking.
The new half-cent sales tax would run for the next 30 years and would overlap with the previous half-cent sales tax transportation measure, Measure J, which runs through 2034. Twenty million dollars in revenue is attributable to Measure J, with $10 million having been spent to date. The next tax, if approved, is anticipated to generate $2.8 billion. Over 23 percent of the revenue is intended to maintain and improve local streets. Other funding categories include pedestrian and bicycle facilities, bus transit and ferry services, transportation for seniors and people with disabilities and safe transportation for children to get to school.

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