ClimatePlan is excited to announce our next webinar, “Local Ballot Measures: The Future of CA Climate Policy?”. It will be next Tuesday, July 26th, at 4 pm; click here to register.
This webinar is part of our decolonizing transportation funding campaign. The campaign aims to increase transparency and access regarding transportation decision-making, policies, and funding. Read more about the campaign here. Our most recent effort was a report card that graded ten state transportation funding programs against ten criteria important to the ClimatePlan network.
Now we want to zoom into the local level. Specifically, we want to explore ballot measures and local option sales tax (LOSTs). LOSTs are a common source of local transportation funding.
Update: Watch the webinar recording here: https://youtu.be/HSn6w_kQJcA
Background on Local Option Sales Tax (LOSTs)
Counties often opt to enact a LOST because of the economic benefits and freedom to decide what projects to prioritize and invest in. A sales tax provides a guaranteed source of funding on a set schedule. According to the National Academy of Science, Transportation research board (2018), these taxes have produced over $4 billion per year for transportation construction and maintenance in California. The link to the report is here. LOST also provides flexibility in that counties, citizens, or special interests can put their priority transportation projects on the ballot. While it takes a two-thirds majority vote to pass (which is hard to get), once it is passed, funding can start.
While this can be beneficial, one major drawback is if projects don’t support the state’s climate goals, there are limited regulation and accountability mechanisms to stop the project or mitigate its effects. In the same report above, the National Academy of Science, Transportation research board found that, in California, an average of 60% of LOST expenditures were funding road projects (local roads and highways). And over 30% were allocated to transit projects. While the report doesn’t specify if road projects were for maintenance or expansion, we know transportation funding investments need to be investing in active transportation infrastructure and transit, equally if not more. Investing in active transportation and transit will help reduce reliance on driving and help achieve the state’s climate goals.
The webinar will feature a panel of guest speakers from across the state. Speakers will discuss how they are mobilizing around local ballot measures to ensure they are effective in keeping regions on track with GHG emission goals and VMT reduction. Below are our speakers!
Bee Mittermiller and Steve Gelb, volunteers at San Diego 350
Bee Mittermiller has been a volunteer with SanDiego350 since 2017, working as a Co-Chair of the Public Policy Team's Transportation Committee.
Steve Gelb is co-chair of SanDiego350’s transportation committee and a member of the San Diego Transportation Equity Working Group. He taught for 26 years in the University of San Diego’s teacher education and leadership studies programs before retiring in 2015. In addition to working for the environment, he has organized and facilitated conflict resolution workshops in California state prisons, volunteered at the Jewish Family Services migrant shelter in San Diego, supported immigrants imprisoned in the Otay Mesa Detention Center, and mediated community disputes for the National Conflict Resolution Center. He is an avid cyclist and supporter of active transportation.
Olivia Seideman, Climate Policy Coordinator at Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability:
Olivia Seideman (she/her) is the Climate Policy Coordinator at Leadership Counsel, a community-based organization that organizes alongside impacted communities in the San Joaquin and Eastern Coachella Valleys to eradicate injustice and advocate for policy change. Previously, Olivia led civic engagement advocacy at Leadership Counsel, and her portfolio now focuses on climate resilience and transportation policy in California. Originally from the Bay Area, Olivia enjoys hiking, going to art museums, and exploring California in her spare time.
Anne Stausboll, former chair of the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change:
Anne Stausboll served as the Chair of the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, launched by the Mayors of Sacramento and West Sacramento in 2018. Since the Commission completed its recommendations in June 2020, she has continued to work with local advocacy groups to advance implementation. Anne has a longstanding passion for addressing climate change and sustainability issues. She previously chaired the Board of Ceres, a national nonprofit coalition of investors, environmental groups, and companies advocating for sustainable business practices.
The Local Ballot Measures the Webinar Covers
ClimatePlan will be developing a fact sheet that has more background information on local ballot measures and LOSTs. Be on the lookout! In the meantime, get some background information on some of the ballot measures our panelists will discuss - recent local news coverage on them is linked below:
We invite everyone to attend our webinar, “Local Ballot Measures: The Future of CA Climate Policy?”. Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/8016572238671/WN_mQdkYvkTTa-er9TEKFzzxQ.
In the meantime, if you have any questions contact Nailah Pope-Harden at [email protected].