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Election? Oh, Right. We Also Voted on Transportation Taxes in California

12:54 PM PST on November 9, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 12.34.47 PM

There is some good election news today, believe it or not. Some of the transportation sales tax measures we've been writing about ad nauseum look like they will pass, even with some mail-in ballots still to be counted. The vote counts listed below are from the local county election sites, most of which were updated late last night.

L.A.'s Measure M is the big win here, garnering almost 70 percent of the vote (it needed 66.6666 percent to pass). This is huge, because Measure M allocates more than half of its revenue to transit, holding the promise of shifting the conversation on transportation in this car-reliant city.

“With the passing of Measure M, voters in Los Angeles County overwhelmingly supported the construction of a comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system in Southern California,” said Climate Resolve in a press release this morning. The measure will lead to “less traffic, cleaner air, and a reduction in climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.”

In the Bay Area, Contra Costa's Measure X, which had some innovative ideas for spending its revenue on Complete Streets, doesn't look like it will pass. As of now it only has 62.54 percent of the vote. The 2/3 threshold is difficult to achieve, and in this case, like others, even though a majority of voters approved of the measure, it didn't get enough votes.

Santa Clara County's more highway-focused Measure B got a resounding yes, garnering 70.91 of the vote. It is likely to be out of the “no” zone—although, as Alameda and L.A. counties have learned in the past, those late votes could close the gap.

San Francisco's twin J and K measures both needed only a simple majority to win, and J, which creates a fund for homelessness and transportation, did so with 66.4 percent of the vote. But K, which would have raised sales taxes to pay for J, only got 34.95 percent, essentially defeating both measures.

Reader Robert Prinz reminds us that Oakland also passed an infrastructure bond measure, Measure KK, with 82.4 percent of the vote. The bond will fund street fixes, including pavement, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and traffic calming, as well as put some money towards public facilities and preserving affordable housing in this increasingly expensive city.

Meanwhile two transit agency measures in the Bay Area—BART's Measure RR and AC Transit's Measure C1, got high approvals from voters. RR is ahead with 70.86 percent of the vote, and AC Transit, which serves Alameda and Contra Costa counties with buses, got a whopping 81.9 percent of approval from voters to continue an existing funding measure.

Both Sacramento County's Measure B and San Diego's car-focused Measure A are losing, although Sacramento's came close to passing. In Sacramento, 65.8 percent of the voters said yes—close to the threshold but not enough to win.

In San Diego, Measure A only won a slight majority; the 56.93 percent it has at this point isn't near enough to pass the measure.

The state's smaller counties had widely varying results:

    • Santa Cruz's Measure D looks like it will pass. It's very close, but currently over the threshold at 67.12 percent of the vote. It's unclear how many ballots remain to be counted—but see the comment about Santa Clara above.
    • In Merced, voters said "Yes please," passing Measure L by 69.15 percent, well ahead of the necessary 2/3 threshold. Stanislaus County gave even more solid approval to its Measure L, voting 70.57 percent to approve it.
    • Monterey County's Measure X will win if the final count stays at 67.36 percent of the vote, which is just above the necessary threshold. Meanwhile the county also approved an anti-fracking measure, Z, with 55.8 percent of the local vote.
    • Humboldt County soundly defeated Measure U, which got more “no” votes than “yes votes: only 42.89 percent approved of the measure.
    • Placer County's Measure M came close to winning, with 64 percent of the vote—but again, not quite enough.
    • San Luis Obispo and Ventura both defeated their transportation sales tax measures. SLO's Measure J got only 65 percent of the vote, and Ventura's highway-focused Measure AA got only a bare majority at 56.91 percent.

We'll keep tracking to see if any of these change in the coming days.

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